Grand Canyon - North Rim - Introduction - Vol.1
Updated: Apr 2, 2019
Sometimes you can plan all you want, and still have something come along to change them. I had planned this trip months in advance. I made my campground reservations the first day that reservations were open, booked the flight and minivan well in advance, and researched shooting locations using multiple resources. I had not planned for a fire to breakout a couple miles east of the North Rim Lodge, on the Walhalla Plateau, 2 days before my visit.
I timed my visit for the August monsoon season to increase the likelihood of clouds and storms. These would add interest to my photographs. I actually ran into 2 different photo workshops while I was there for the week, so apparently they thought it was normally a good time to come too.
The little national park campground is terrific, with showers, laundry, a large camp store and a small gas station. The campground is a very short drive to the Grand Canyon North Rim Lodge, which has a restaurant, coffee shop/bar, and small lunch cafe.
I slept in my rented minivan, on a $10 air mattress I picked up at Walmart on the drive from Las Vegas to the Canyon. The days were warm and the nights cool.
The forest fire effectively eliminated all but two of the North Rim viewpoints in the Grand Canyon National Park. There are a number of great locations on the Walhalla Plateau to photograph from, most notably Cape Royal, but the entire area was closed off to the public for the length of my visit. Point Imperial remained open as well as the Bright Angel Point, and trails surrounding the Lodge area. The North Kaibab Trail, used to hike to the bottom, was also open. In addition to closing a large part of the Park, the smoke from the fire did not generally contribute favorably to the photographic conditions. Depending on the wind direction, conditions at Lodge area and Point Imperial, 10 miles away, could be quite different.
Important tip: There are no cell towers on the north rim, so the back patio of the Lodge (which faces the south rim) had the best cell coverage I could find. It was strong enough for me to even get a little work done tethering my laptop to my phone. At the campground it was hard to get a signal at all. There is no Wi-Fi at the lodge. The campground store had Wi-Fi, but it was, for me at least, useless.
If you don't stay at the NP Campground or the Lodge, the next closest lodgings are quite a ways away. I was up before dawn every day, so I was not interested in driving an additional half hour or more to get to my morning shooting location.
There are a couple of other North Rim viewpoints, Toroweap Overlook and Point Sublime, that have excellent photo opportunities but they require very long drives down dirt roads that really require high clearance four wheel drive vehicles.
I discuss the two "areas" of the North Rim I visited over the course of a week on the following links.