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GRAND CANYON (NORTH RIM) Without a doubt the Grand Canyon belongs to the most amazing natural phenomena in the world and can be described using so many adjectives, but the main ones that come to mind are: beautiful, majestic, dignified and enormous. This is one of those places you really should visit at least once in your life. And please believe me when I say that no picture or movie will ever be able to convey how spectacular it looks, simply because how can such a small form express the true appearance of something so multi-dimensional and gigantic? Even a 3-D medium could hardly aspire to relay even a fraction of the real-life impression! The Grand Canyon, being a canyon, has two rims that you can travel to. There’s the South Rim, a most popular tourist hotspot, with the famous Skywalk and a whole village offering multiple accommodation and entertainment opportunities. Have you ever heard about those horrible bus tours? You know the ones where you drive there for what feels like a week, get out to gawk at the incredible landscape for an hour, take some pictures, buy a few fridge magnets and head back? Well, this is the place it all happens. Needless to say, the South Rim is very, very, very busy. It seems highly unlikely that you will ever get the chance to admire any of the stunning views by yourself, as you will probably be surrounded by dozens of fellow enthusiasts seeking, ehem, the peace and solitude the Grand Canyon is so famous for. So if, like me, you also possess a rather hesitant attitude towards mass tourism consisting of traveling in packs like well-squashed sardines, the North Rim would be your ideal destination. And for those smarty-pants wanting to point out that cans of fish do not indulge in taking trips, I can only say that they still get driven to the supermarkets, don’t they? Only a very small percentage of the annual tourism ever finds its way there: it’s a lot wilder, fairly unspoilt and preserved almost in the state of its natural and pure grandour. This comes, of course, with a price. If you are partial to luxury, whirlpools and room-service delivering you chilled champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries to your room, as well as some late night clubbing then I would say this might not be your first choice. There is only one resort on the North Rim, namely the Grand Canyon Lodge and a camping area a short drive away. Any other accommodation is already way further down the road and does not offer you direct access to any of the Rim attractions. The Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim, although quite lovely, must be described as rather basic. Besides all the cabins there is the main Lodge, with the reception area, lobby and dining room (the only restaurant there), as well as a gorgeous terrace (one on both sides), where you can sit, enjoy a glass of wine and admire the Grand Canyon in all its splendor, be it during a fiery sunset or a fierce thunderstorm. Inside the main building you can relax in a comfortable and spacious Sun Room, a great option (covered and glassed-through) of taking in the view even on those rainy, windy days. Other venues include the Roughrider Saloon and the Deli in the Pines, a Post Office and a Gift Store, well stocked with all sorts of souvenirs and things you might need during your stay. The Visitor Center is situated just a couple of minutes from the main complex, there you can obtain all the information about the current weather status, as well as trails and other points of interest. Being the smart cookie that you are, you are probably already experiencing the growing suspicion that this is the kind of place where you will be roughing it a little. Indeed, it is really meant for people that enjoy the outdoors and want to spend their time in the fresh air, hiking and exploring all the fascinating gifts this National Park has to offer. If you’re not into that then you will get bored quickly, because there really isn’t anything else to do. The night-life is virtually non- existent: the only bar on the premises closes at 10:30 PM. By 11 the whole place appears completely dead and for a good reason. At this point I will share a little story with you that shall shed some light onto this mystifying state of affairs.  So the first day we arrived in the late afternoon, did all the checking in etc. and a short (about 30-40 min) hike. We had a nice dinner and decided to get a few dinks afterwards. The bar was practically deserted, with a few guests quickly gulping down their beverages and rushing off with great purpose and determination. It was 10:30. Greatly baffled by it all we enquired about the situation with the barman, only to all agree that everybody here was a wimp, with no stamina and a habit of going to bed together with the chickens (implying turning in early, for those who might get confused and think I am accusing those poor people of some particularly nasty case of zoofilia). Feeling all adventurous, young and vibrant we got our second glass to go and had a great time under the stars on the patio, as the bar was, of course, closing. The next day we went for a 10-mile (16 km) hike, which took us about 6.5 hrs to complete. It was a rough one, but more about it in the “TRAILS” section. So anyway, after barely crawling back to the car we had some dinner and were in bed by 10:30, whimpering softly and frequently, massaging the sore muscles we did not even know existed. Leaving the joys of the bar to another clueless couple of freshly arrived newbies, no doubt wondering why all the wusses here go to bed so early… ACCOMODATION GRAND CANYON LODGE NORTH RIM **** http://www.grandcanyonlodgenorth.com/ Most of the North Rim Grand Canyon Lodge consists of rustic log cabins of different sizes, but it also contains a motel with the more standard rooms. I will not quote the exact prices (only approximate ones for your orientation), because they most likely change annually, so please check their website for details. Planning ahead definitely pays off in this case, because a lot of times everything is booked out months in advance. About six months before your visit seems like the best time to make your reservation. There are four types of lodging options available at this particular resort, namely: - Western Cabins ($180-$200) This is the most luxurious, but also the priciest choice. This cabin is advertised as sleeping up to 4 people, but please be aware that it only consists of the one room. Therefore it might get weird if you are not so comfortable with your traveling companions or even worse, they can easily misinterpret your booking mishap as an invitation to some good old- fashioned swinging. Imagine, you pop out to get some more beer and when you return, you discover your friends all decked out in  leopard thongs, seductively draped all over your bed. And I am just talking about the guys here! These lodges also feature a full bath, a front porch, a fridge and a fireplace. A few of them are situated right at the Rim, offering a magnificent view of the Canyon, but those go quickly and must be booked at least a year in advance.   -    Pioneer Cabins ($170-$190) This one sleeps up to 6 people:  the cabin contains two rooms separated by a bathroom with a shower, so it’s perfect for a family or two couples with a somewhat more conservative attitude towards swinging. It also provides a mini- fridge. - Frontier Cabins ($130) The smallest, most basic option. The tiny room is furnished with two beds (one single, one double), a desk, chair and a suitcase rack, as well as some hangers. The bathroom is equipped with a shower. This is the one we booked and we thought it fun and quaint to live in such crude conditions for a few days; we truly felt very rugged and brave like the first pioneers (albeit with hot water and electricity), ready to wrestle bears, beat up a mountain lion and generally conquer the frontier. However, we were outside the whole day and only came back there to shower and sleep. If you prefer to stay indoors more, this particular cabin can quickly become very claustrophobic. The space seemed clean for the most part, but some elements (like the vents) could really use a good dusting and scrubbing.  Please beware of the walls: they are very thin and you will unwillingly participate in the life and activities of your neighbors. Ours got up at 5:30 AM and proceeded to loudly get ready for an early hike. As I am more of a sunset rather than sunrise kind of girl, I did not appreciate it all that much. Got my revenge the next day by keeping them up after 9PM, way past their bed- time. So in the end all you need is some, ehem,  acceptance and tolerance to live in great pioneering harmony. - South and North Motel ($125) This particular accommodation features the more traditional hotel rooms for those not interested in getting that authentic log cabin experience. This is also the most inexpensive option, but do not expect anything fancy. The motels are situated next to each other, at the very edge of the complex and the furthest away from the main Grand Canyon Lodge area. DINING AND NIGHTLIFE  (http://www.grandcanyonlodgenorth.com/north-rim-dining) If you love variety and being a foodie is of the utmost importance to you, then you might have to prepare your gourmet meals yourself, in a copper pot, over a bonfire. This property only contains one restaurant, one deli and one bar. As far as nightlife goes, there is none. The Lodge Dining Room  **** This large rustic restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Their menu does not really offer a very extensive array of dishes, but I would venture to say everybody should find something they are partial to, having the choice of seafood, salads, pasta and meat dishes. Most of their fare will also satisfy the more health-conscious diners. Whatever we tried (Crab Soup, Lodge Dinner Salad, Oven Roasted Chicken, Chicken Parmesan and Sirloin Steak) was really good, but quite honestly after 3 days we kind of run out of things to order. On the positive side: if you eat there you will receive a delicious complimentary treat from the kitchen, namely a whole loaf of Artisan garlic bread, definitely one of the highlights of the dining experience. Wine lovers will not be disappointed, as the restaurant carries a good selection of wines. And the suspicion that those hikers get thirsty can only be confirmed by the fact that our second night there they practically used up all their stock and you had to drink what you could get until fresh supplies arrived the next day. The atmosphere is not bad, pretty lively with dimmed lights and very nice, friendly service. Some tables are located right next to big windows, providing you with a wonderful view to complement your calorie- replenishing endeavors. The one thing missing is music; I think it would have given the place a much more romantic, up-scale feeling if they played some soft tunes in the background. The restaurant usually gets very busy (especially for dinner), so it’s advisable to book your table in advance. Cost: about $40 per person including a glass of wine. Deli in the Pines *** This bistro-style eatery offers some simple snacks and meals along the lines of pizza, chili, sandwiches, ready-made-salads, fruit, yoghurt, desserts and so on. Really basic stuff, acceptable if you want a quick bite on the go, but I would not recommend it as a dining alternative. Especially considering that for what they are the items appear to be rather highly priced: we paid over $30 for two small sandwiches and salads. The Roughrider Saloon **** This bar looks cozy and inviting and offers the perfect, easy-going ambience to relax after a long day full of impressions. It’s decorated like a Saloon, containing Native American and Frontier elements meant to invoke our longing for adventure and the memories of all the Western movies and Cowboy-Indian games of our childhood. It features a surprisingly good selection of beer (also on tap), the same wine list as the restaurant and pretty much any kind of booze your heart might desire, as well as some snacks (pizza, wraps, sandwiches). The bartenders are professionals, who will mix you an elaborate cocktail and patiently listen to your stories about conquering yet another trail like they haven’t heard it a million times before. A nice place to chill out, but as already mentioned before: they do close at 10:30 PM, so if you are a party animal you better start your bar-crawl early. And in this case you will literally have to crawl around the one bar, unless you also crawl a little bit around the neighborhood with beverage in hand and then crawl back. With each additional drink you can then perceive the Roughrider Saloon as a new venue, considering that you might start seeing some aspects of the decorations double or triple, thus assuring a certain degree of variety and excitement. TRAILS AND VIEWPOINTS The most satisfying and challenging method of getting to a viewpoint is, of course, to hike there. This way, swaying at the Rim dripping blood and sweat, as well as experiencing minor equilibrium disturbances (not the most optimal in this particular circumstances alas), you can truly appreciate the spectacular view made even sweeter by your awesome accomplishment. But if you don’t necessarily feel like exploring the trails (some more brutal and murderous than others), then you can also drive up to a few incredible spots offering some of the best vistas, like Point Imperial, Vista Encantada, Roosevelt Point, Walhalla Overlook and Cape Royal. Maps and trail guides can be obtained on site or printed from the Internet. I enclose a link below to two that will give you good orientation about the area: they can be easily used to navigate to all the points of interest described below. http://www.nps.gov/grca/parknews/upload/NRimGuide2013map-spread.pdf http://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/upload/North-Rim-Map.pdf The North Rim, of course, offers multiple hiking choices for both beginners and advanced back-packers, however in the short time we were there and with the weather being rather capricious we did not have a chance to try them all. Below I present the ones we did experience; hopefully it can help you in planning your own trip. Point Imperial Overlook ***** This is the highest overlook on the North Rim (8803 feet). It shows an incredible panorama of the eastern part of the canyon and also provides glimpses of the Painted Desert. You can see different colors in the rock formations: cream, gray, red. The contrast between the green plants growing on the intensively red soil is truly striking. This point offers a large parking, restrooms and a picnic area. The overlooks are secured with rails. Definitely worth visiting, as it enables you to experience some of the best vistas on the Rim. Cape Royal Overlook ****** This viewpoint seems to give you a good insight into the enormity and diversity of the canyon and constitutes the only publicly accessible place on the North Rim from which you can actually see the Colorado River. To get there you can leave your car on the parking lot (restrooms available) and follow the short Cape Royal Trail (about 30 min. round trip). On your way you will encounter Angel’s Window (a natural arch) and participate in a little “nature walk”, with markers along the paved path describing the flora and fauna of the region. The Cape Royal overlook also offers some of the best vistas. The viewpoints are secured with rails, so you can take all kinds of pictures at every angle without worrying about enjoying the bottom of the Grand Canyon a little sooner than you anticipated. A weary hiker has the chance to sit down and rest on one of the rocks or benches scattered around. Angel Point Trail and Overlook **** This is a short (about 30 min. round trip) trail starting right at the back veranda of the Lodge. Following its path you will encounter several viewpoints with incredible vistas of the canyon.   Because of its accessibility and low level of difficulty it can get a bit crowded. It’ also pretty steep up there, the path is narrow, so please exercise caution. Especially if you have children or suffer from height anxiety, this otherwise easy walk may turn perilous. Generally on the subject of kids at this point: I would really not recommend bringing small toddlers on a trip to the Grand Canyon. Obviously they cannot hike all day, so there will be very little for you to do. And this beautiful landscape contains countless dangers for your baby, a lot of spots are not secured with rails, so one moment of distraction and the consequences can be tragic. Therefore I would strongly advise you to use your common sense here. Luckily most people do, because in the whole of three days of our stay we only saw one or two small children there. This trail can certainly be advertised as a great place for spending some romantic quality time with your Darling while watching the sunset. It’s also an excellent choice for your first walk right after you arrive; a way to just acquire those first impressions and discover what awaits you in the days to come. Widforss Trail ****** This is a 10 ml (16km) trail, which starts at the Widforss Trail Parking Area (restroom available). No problem you say. 10 miles-that should take what, about 3 hrs? Piece of cake! Well, unless you like your cake with shards of glass in it you might just choke on those words!  Even though we work out a lot and would like to think we’re fairly fit, it still took us about 6.5 hrs to complete the hike. Granted that we did stop a lot to take pictures and admire our surroundings, nonetheless this is still a very strenuous undertaking, with lots of steep uphill sections providing some very effective, albeit most of the time rather unwelcome interval training. The path leads through the forest, but on your way you frequently encounter openings, through which you can get a glimpse of the canyon. Some of the views really take your breath away! If you enjoy spotting wildlife, this is the perfect trail for you. You will discover a gratifying abundance of all kinds of creatures on your way: different birds, lizards, squirrels, chipmunks, little mice and even some very unfit tourists desperately trying to conquer the next uphill segment and rather sadly losing the battle. You will be enchanted by all the exquisite flowers, which come in all colors and shapes as well as a great variety of mushrooms (mostly poisonous, so please don’t attempt to try broadening your culinary horizons by eating the cute looking red ones). The lush forest features the most amazing ponderosa pines (some are gigantic) and spruce fir trees, as well as some lovely birches. At the end you will be rewarded by a wonderful vista of the Grand Canyon: the Widforss Point Overlook allows you to see five of the unusual rock formations called temples. Because this trail does not belong to the easy ones, it’s not nearly as popular as some of the others and you can really enjoy a certain degree of solitude and quality time with Mother Nature. On our way back (so we are looking at a time frame of about 3hrs), we only ran across one hiker. But this advantage can quickly turn into disadvantage if you are not well prepared, so please look up tips for safe hiking before heading out if you are still more on the inexperienced side. Otherwise you might just be spending the night with the squirrels until the early hikers (without a doubt our neighbors) find you the next morning. You can ask for a self-guiding brochure at the Visitor Center, which will explain the significance of the marked sites along the way.         
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GRAND CANYON (NORTH RIM) Without a doubt the Grand Canyon belongs to the most amazing natural phenomena in the world and can be described using so many adjectives, but the main ones that come to mind are: beautiful, majestic, dignified and enormous. This is one of those places you really should visit at least once in your life. And please believe me when I say that no picture or movie will ever be able to convey how spectacular it looks, simply because how can such a small form express the true appearance of something so multi-dimensional and gigantic? Even a 3-D medium could hardly aspire to relay even a fraction of the real-life impression! The Grand Canyon, being a canyon, has two rims that you can travel to. There’s the South Rim, a most popular tourist hotspot, with the famous Skywalk and a whole village offering multiple accommodation and entertainment opportunities. Have you ever heard about those horrible bus tours? You know the ones where you drive there for what feels like a week, get out to gawk at the incredible landscape for an hour, take some pictures, buy a few fridge magnets and head back? Well, this is the place it all happens. Needless to say, the South Rim is very, very, very busy. It seems highly unlikely that you will ever get the chance to admire any of the stunning views by yourself, as you will probably be surrounded by dozens of fellow enthusiasts seeking, ehem, the peace and solitude the Grand Canyon is so famous for. So if, like me, you also possess a rather hesitant attitude towards mass tourism consisting of traveling in packs like well-squashed sardines, the North Rim would be your ideal destination. And for those smarty-pants wanting to point out that cans of fish do not indulge in taking trips, I can only say that they still get driven to the supermarkets, don’t they? Only a very small percentage of the annual tourism ever finds its way there: it’s a lot wilder, fairly unspoilt and preserved almost in the state of its natural and pure grandour. This comes, of course, with a price. If you are partial to luxury, whirlpools and room-service delivering you chilled champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries to your room, as well as some late night clubbing then I would say this might not be your first choice. There is only one resort on the North Rim, namely the Grand Canyon Lodge and a camping area a short drive away. Any other accommodation is already way further down the road and does not offer you direct access to any of the Rim attractions. The Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim, although quite lovely, must be described as rather basic. Besides all the cabins there is the main Lodge, with the reception area, lobby and dining room (the only restaurant there), as well as a gorgeous terrace (one on both sides), where you can sit, enjoy a glass of wine and admire the Grand Canyon in all its splendor, be it during a fiery sunset or a fierce thunderstorm. Inside the main building you can relax in a comfortable and spacious Sun Room, a great option (covered and glassed-through) of taking in the view even on those rainy, windy days. Other venues include the Roughrider Saloon and the Deli in the Pines, a Post Office and a Gift Store, well stocked with all sorts of souvenirs and things you might need during your stay. The Visitor Center is situated just a couple of minutes from the main complex, there you can obtain all the information about the current weather status, as well as trails and other points of interest. Being the smart cookie that you are, you are probably already experiencing the growing suspicion that this is the kind of place where you will be roughing it a little. Indeed, it is really meant for people that enjoy the outdoors and want to spend their time in the fresh air, hiking and exploring all the fascinating gifts this National Park has to offer. If you’re not into that then you will get bored quickly, because there really isn’t anything else to do. The night-life is virtually non-existent: the only bar on the premises closes at 10:30 PM. By 11 the whole place appears completely dead and for a good reason. At this point I will share a little story with you that shall shed some light onto this mystifying state of affairs.  So the first day we arrived in the late afternoon, did all the checking in etc. and a short (about 30-40 min) hike. We had a nice dinner and decided to get a few dinks afterwards. The bar was practically deserted, with a few guests quickly gulping down their beverages and rushing off with great purpose and determination. It was 10:30. Greatly baffled by it all we enquired about the situation with the barman, only to all agree that everybody here was a wimp, with no stamina and a habit of going to bed together with the chickens (implying turning in early, for those who might get confused and think I am accusing those poor people of some particularly nasty case of zoofilia). Feeling all adventurous, young and vibrant we got our second glass to go and had a great time under the stars on the patio, as the bar was, of course, closing. The next day we went for a 10-mile (16 km) hike, which took us about 6.5 hrs to complete. It was a rough one, but more about it in the “TRAILS” section. So anyway, after barely crawling back to the car we had some dinner and were in bed by 10:30, whimpering softly and frequently, massaging the sore muscles we did not even know existed. Leaving the joys of the bar to another clueless couple of freshly arrived newbies, no doubt wondering why all the wusses here go to bed so early… ACCOMODATION GRAND CANYON LODGE NORTH RIM **** http://www.grandcanyonlodgenorth.com/ Most of the North Rim Grand Canyon Lodge consists of rustic log cabins of different sizes, but it also contains a motel with the more standard rooms. I will not quote the exact prices (only approximate ones for your orientation), because they most likely change annually, so please check their website for details. Planning ahead definitely pays off in this case, because a lot of times everything is booked out months in advance. About six months before your visit seems like the best time to make your reservation. There are four types of lodging options available at this particular resort, namely: - Western Cabins ($180-$200) This is the most luxurious, but also the priciest choice. This cabin is advertised as sleeping up to 4 people, but please be aware that it only consists of the one room. Therefore it might get weird if you are not so comfortable with your traveling companions or even worse, they can easily misinterpret your booking mishap as an invitation to some good old-fashioned swinging. Imagine, you pop out to get some more beer and when you return, you discover your friends all decked out in  leopard thongs, seductively draped all over your bed. And I am just talking about the guys here! These lodges also feature a full bath, a front porch, a fridge and a fireplace. A few of them are situated right at the Rim, offering a magnificent view of the Canyon, but those go quickly and must be booked at least a year in advance.   -    Pioneer Cabins ($170-$190) This one sleeps up to 6 people:  the cabin contains two rooms separated by a bathroom with a shower, so it’s perfect for a family or two couples with a somewhat more conservative attitude towards swinging. It also provides a mini-fridge. - Frontier Cabins ($130) The smallest, most basic option. The tiny room is furnished with two beds (one single, one double), a desk, chair and a suitcase rack, as well as some hangers. The bathroom is equipped with a shower. This is the one we booked and we thought it fun and quaint to live in such crude conditions for a few days; we truly felt very rugged and brave like the first pioneers (albeit with hot water and electricity), ready to wrestle bears, beat up a mountain lion and generally conquer the frontier. However, we were outside the whole day and only came back there to shower and sleep. If you prefer to stay indoors more, this particular cabin can quickly become very claustrophobic. The space seemed clean for the most part, but some elements (like the vents) could really use a good dusting and scrubbing.  Please beware of the walls: they are very thin and you will unwillingly participate in the life and activities of your neighbors. Ours got up at 5:30 AM and proceeded to loudly get ready for an early hike. As I am more of a sunset rather than sunrise kind of girl, I did not appreciate it all that much. Got my revenge the next day by keeping them up after 9PM, way past their bed-time. So in the end all you need is some, ehem,  acceptance and tolerance to live in great pioneering harmony. - South and North Motel ($125) This particular accommodation features the more traditional hotel rooms for those not interested in getting that authentic log cabin experience. This is also the most inexpensive option, but do not expect anything fancy. The motels are situated next to each other, at the very edge of the complex and the furthest away from the main Grand Canyon Lodge area. DINING AND NIGHTLIFE  (http://www.grandcanyonlodgenorth.com/north- rim-dining) If you love variety and being a foodie is of the utmost importance to you, then you might have to prepare your gourmet meals yourself, in a copper pot, over a bonfire. This property only contains one restaurant, one deli and one bar. As far as nightlife goes, there is none. The Lodge Dining Room  **** This large rustic restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Their menu does not really offer a very extensive array of dishes, but I would venture to say everybody should find something they are partial to, having the choice of seafood, salads, pasta and meat dishes. Most of their fare will also satisfy the more health-conscious diners. Whatever we tried (Crab Soup, Lodge Dinner Salad, Oven Roasted Chicken, Chicken Parmesan and Sirloin Steak) was really good, but quite honestly after 3 days we kind of run out of things to order. On the positive side: if you eat there you will receive a delicious complimentary treat from the kitchen, namely a whole loaf of Artisan garlic bread, definitely one of the highlights of the dining experience. Wine lovers will not be disappointed, as the restaurant carries a good selection of wines. And the suspicion that those hikers get thirsty can only be confirmed by the fact that our second night there they practically used up all their stock and you had to drink what you could get until fresh supplies arrived the next day. The atmosphere is not bad, pretty lively with dimmed lights and very nice, friendly service. Some tables are located right next to big windows, providing you with a wonderful view to complement your calorie- replenishing endeavors. The one thing missing is music; I think it would have given the place a much more romantic, up-scale feeling if they played some soft tunes in the background. The restaurant usually gets very busy (especially for dinner), so it’s advisable to book your table in advance. Cost: about $40 per person including a glass of wine. Deli in the Pines *** This bistro-style eatery offers some simple snacks and meals along the lines of pizza, chili, sandwiches, ready-made-salads, fruit, yoghurt, desserts and so on. Really basic stuff, acceptable if you want a quick bite on the go, but I would not recommend it as a dining alternative. Especially considering that for what they are the items appear to be rather highly priced: we paid over $30 for two small sandwiches and salads. The Roughrider Saloon **** This bar looks cozy and inviting and offers the perfect, easy-going ambience to relax after a long day full of impressions. It’s decorated like a Saloon, containing Native American and Frontier elements meant to invoke our longing for adventure and the memories of all the Western movies and Cowboy-Indian games of our childhood. It features a surprisingly good selection of beer (also on tap), the same wine list as the restaurant and pretty much any kind of booze your heart might desire, as well as some snacks (pizza, wraps, sandwiches). The bartenders are professionals, who will mix you an elaborate cocktail and patiently listen to your stories about conquering yet another trail like they haven’t heard it a million times before. A nice place to chill out, but as already mentioned before: they do close at 10:30 PM, so if you are a party animal you better start your bar-crawl early. And in this case you will literally have to crawl around the one bar, unless you also crawl a little bit around the neighborhood with beverage in hand and then crawl back. With each additional drink you can then perceive the Roughrider Saloon as a new venue, considering that you might start seeing some aspects of the decorations double or triple, thus assuring a certain degree of variety and excitement. TRAILS AND VIEWPOINTS The most satisfying and challenging method of getting to a viewpoint is, of course, to hike there. This way, swaying at the Rim dripping blood and sweat, as well as experiencing minor equilibrium disturbances (not the most optimal in this particular circumstances alas), you can truly appreciate the spectacular view made even sweeter by your awesome accomplishment. But if you don’t necessarily feel like exploring the trails (some more brutal and murderous than others), then you can also drive up to a few incredible spots offering some of the best vistas, like Point Imperial, Vista Encantada, Roosevelt Point, Walhalla Overlook and Cape Royal. Maps and trail guides can be obtained on site or printed from the Internet. I enclose a link below to two that will give you good orientation about the area: they can be easily used to navigate to all the points of interest described below. http://www.nps.gov/grca/parknews/upload/ NRimGuide2013map-spread.pdf http://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/uplo ad/North-Rim-Map.pdf The North Rim, of course, offers multiple hiking choices for both beginners and advanced back- packers, however in the short time we were there and with the weather being rather capricious we did not have a chance to try them all. Below I present the ones we did experience; hopefully it can help you in planning your own trip. Point Imperial Overlook ***** This is the highest overlook on the North Rim (8803 feet). It shows an incredible panorama of the eastern part of the canyon and also provides glimpses of the Painted Desert. You can see different colors in the rock formations: cream, gray, red. The contrast between the green plants growing on the intensively red soil is truly striking. This point offers a large parking, restrooms and a picnic area. The overlooks are secured with rails. Definitely worth visiting, as it enables you to experience some of the best vistas on the Rim. Cape Royal Overlook ****** This viewpoint seems to give you a good insight into the enormity and diversity of the canyon and constitutes the only publicly accessible place on the North Rim from which you can actually see the Colorado River. To get there you can leave your car on the parking lot (restrooms available) and follow the short Cape Royal Trail (about 30 min. round trip). On your way you will encounter Angel’s Window (a natural arch) and participate in a little “nature walk”, with markers along the paved path describing the flora and fauna of the region. The Cape Royal overlook also offers some of the best vistas. The viewpoints are secured with rails, so you can take all kinds of pictures at every angle without worrying about enjoying the bottom of the Grand Canyon a little sooner than you anticipated. A weary hiker has the chance to sit down and rest on one of the rocks or benches scattered around. Angel Point Trail and Overlook **** This is a short (about 30 min. round trip) trail starting right at the back veranda of the Lodge. Following its path you will encounter several viewpoints with incredible vistas of the canyon.  Because of its accessibility and low level of difficulty it can get a bit crowded. It’ also pretty steep up there, the path is narrow, so please exercise caution. Especially if you have children or suffer from height anxiety, this otherwise easy walk may turn perilous. Generally on the subject of kids at this point: I would really not recommend bringing small toddlers on a trip to the Grand Canyon. Obviously they cannot hike all day, so there will be very little for you to do. And this beautiful landscape contains countless dangers for your baby, a lot of spots are not secured with rails, so one moment of distraction and the consequences can be tragic. Therefore I would strongly advise you to use your common sense here. Luckily most people do, because in the whole of three days of our stay we only saw one or two small children there. This trail can certainly be advertised as a great place for spending some romantic quality time with your Darling while watching the sunset. It’s also an excellent choice for your first walk right after you arrive; a way to just acquire those first impressions and discover what awaits you in the days to come. Widforss Trail ****** This is a 10 ml (16km) trail, which starts at the Widforss Trail Parking Area (restroom available). No problem you say. 10 miles- that should take what, about 3 hrs? Piece of cake! Well, unless you like your cake with shards of glass in it you might just choke on those words!  Even though we work out a lot and would like to think we’re fairly fit, it still took us about 6.5 hrs to complete the hike. Granted that we did stop a lot to take pictures and admire our surroundings, nonetheless this is still a very strenuous undertaking, with lots of steep uphill sections providing some very effective, albeit most of the time rather unwelcome interval training. The path leads through the forest, but on your way you frequently encounter openings, through which you can get a glimpse of the canyon. Some of the views really take your breath away! If you enjoy spotting wildlife, this is the perfect trail for you. You will discover a gratifying abundance of all kinds of creatures on your way: different birds, lizards, squirrels, chipmunks, little mice and even some very unfit tourists desperately trying to conquer the next uphill segment and rather sadly losing the battle. You will be enchanted by all the exquisite flowers, which come in all colors and shapes as well as a great variety of mushrooms (mostly poisonous, so please don’t attempt to try broadening your culinary horizons by eating the cute looking red ones). The lush forest features the most amazing ponderosa pines (some are gigantic) and spruce fir trees, as well as some lovely birches. At the end you will be rewarded by a wonderful vista of the Grand Canyon: the Widforss Point Overlook allows you to see five of the unusual rock formations called temples. Because this trail does not belong to the easy ones, it’s not nearly as popular as some of the others and you can really enjoy a certain degree of solitude and quality time with Mother Nature. On our way back (so we are looking at a time frame of about 3hrs), we only ran across one hiker. But this advantage can quickly turn into disadvantage if you are not well prepared, so please look up tips for safe hiking before heading out if you are still more on the inexperienced side. Otherwise you might just be spending the night with the squirrels until the early hikers (without a doubt our neighbors) find you the next morning. You can ask for a self-guiding brochure at the Visitor Center, which will explain the significance of the marked sites along the way.       
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