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         Junior Ranger for Life
         North Rim of the Grand Canyon, AZ (July 2009)
Overall Rating: B
Kids at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon
    The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is even more spectacular than the South Rim.  In addition, because it is so remote the crowds stay away providing a relaxing get away.  However, don't expect the views to impress the little ones for very long.

The North Rim views are more spectacular because it is 1,000 feet higher than the South Rim with a one mile nearly sheer drop to the Colorado River.  At 8,000 feet in altitude the North Rim is also much more pleasant in July with days in the 70's to 80's and cool nights.  The cool pine forests provide plenty of shade and present a striking contrast to the red sandstone cliffs.

We stayed in a small two bedroom cabin perched on the side of the cliff.  While completely safe, a ball placed on the sidewalk in front of our door would have rolled into the bottom of the canyon.  Not the kind of place to let the kids roller skate!

After about 10 minutes of canyon views the kids were ready for some fun, after all, this was their fourth day of looking at red rocks.  Even Toni reached her red rock sightseeing limit by day six.  Luckily, my nephews had joined up with us at this point so they had new kids to pester.  For the most part, they were entertained by the little things kids enjoy:  climbing rocks, chasing lizards, spotting deer and buffalo, etc.

Toni was entertained our first night when she was awakened by a rustling bag of Doritos.  "What's that?", she said loud enough to rouse me from my slumber.  My response "probably a mouse", didn't end the conversation.  Instead, I spent the next five minutes chasing the hungry little mouse (according to Toni the correct term is "rat") out of the cabin. 

Kyle was disappointed at dinner to learn that his first menu choice: "filet mignon" is French for cow's liver.  I offered this helpful advice when I spotted the price.  My mother said it was karma for all the times I wanted to order lobster.  The trip turned around the next day for Kyle when he earned his Junior Ranger badge.  He had to complete a series of tasks and attend a ranger lecture.  I think Kyle carried the badge for the rest of the trip.  To this day, whenever we run into a park ranger Kyle will non-chalantly engage him in some professional chit chat after proudly informing him, "I'm a Junior Ranger from the Grand Canyon!"


-  Brian


 

 
Gotta Go!
1) Junior Ranger
2) Cape Royal
3) Grand Canyon Lodge




View from North Rim of the Grand Canyon

View of North Rim of Grand Canyon from the Lodge
View from North Rim of Grand Canyon II

Family Grades
Toni (Mom) - B -  "I liked the views and staying in the cabin.  However, once in a lifetime was enough."

Sean (10 yrs) - B - "I liked all the cool twisted trees.  However, I thought it was a little too high up.  I was freaked out!"

Kyle (9 yrs) - B - "There really wasn't a bunch to do there.  I liked becoming a junior ranger but it is a whole bunch of responsibility."

Emi (5 yrs) - A+ - "I liked it because I was able to sit on the tree."

Details
Junior Ranger, Cape Royal, Grand Canyon Lodge
Junior Ranger
Why Go
1)  Keep 10 year olds entertained
2)  Kids might even learn something
Getting There
Pick up the Juinor Ranger materials and turn them back in at the National Park Service's visitor's center at the Grand Canyon Lodge.  

Advice
1)  To obtain the badge, the junior ranger must complete a booklet of puzzles and questions about the geography, flora and fauna of the Grand Canyon.  In addition, they must attend a park ranger program and have the ranger sign the booklet to confirm their attendance.  An itinerary of ranger programs is available at the visitor's center.

2)  Once the booklet is completed, simply return it to the visitor's center to get the badge.  There is a brief swearing in ceremony.

3)  Kyle was really into getting his badge and still informs all rangers he meets that he's a junior ranger!
Cape Royal
Why Go
1)  Cape Royal is a broad peninsula at the inner bend of the canyon which provides a grand sweeping 270 degree view.

2)  A good way to entertain the family for half a day.

3)  Stop at the other vistas and Cape Imperial on the way back.
Getting There
Cape Royal is east of the Grand Canyon Lodge on the North Rim.  You head back towards the park entrance and then turn east and arc south again (map).
Advice
1)  There are latrines at several of the lookouts but no running water, so bring some drinks and snacks as it will take several hours to visit all the lookouts.

2)  If looking for more adventure and you have a vehicle appropriate for dirt roads I'd recommend heading out on any of the several dirt roads which lead deeper into the park.  I headed off on my own one night and found beautiful empty meadows of wildflowers and flocks of turkeys.  I did eventually reach a point where my toy SUV couldn't pass, so I had to turn around.
Grand Canyon Lodge
Why Go
Besides camping, this is the only lodging on the North Rim.  Small cabins are scattered through the forest behind the lodge.  The lodge and restaurant are perched right on the canyon wall and offer spectacular views.
Getting There
The Grand Canyon Lodge is on the north rim of the Grand Canyon and is at the very southern end of the road through this part of the park.
Advice
1)  Make reservations for the lodge as early as possible.  You'll also want to make dinner reservations for the main restaurant.

2)  I'd recommend cabin #309 as it has the most impressive views, being perched right on the canyon wall.

3)  Keep food out of the cabin or well stored.  Otherwise, you may be forced by your wife to chase a mouse around the cabin in the middle of the night.


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