Grand Canyon National Park. Considered one of the seven natural wonders of world. Honored as a World Heritage Site. Visited by five million or more each year. Six thousand feet deep at its deepest point and up to 18 miles across at its widest, the canyon is immense and colorful with steep canyon walls and jutting mesas. Exposed geologic formations chronicle three of the earth's four eras of geologic history, making the Grand Canyon one of the most studied geologic landscapes in the world. Carved by the Colorado River over a period of six million years, it is one of the finest examples of arid-land erosion in the world, averaging 4,000 feet deep for its entire 277 miles. It is also one of the most biologically diverse with several major ecosystems that range from coyote willows at the river's edge to hanging gardens along the canyon walls to ponderosa pines along the canyon rims. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon, sometimes referred to as the "other" Grand Canyon, is less populated with visitors and uniquely different from the South Rim.
With an average elevation of 8,000 feet, the North Rim offers views of the canyon from a higher vantage, in an environment and sub-alpine climate of blue spruce, Douglas fir, mountain ash, colorful lupines and grassland meadows. Look for Kaibab squirrels, goshawks, porcupines, mule deer and elk. From lodging on the North Rim, hike along the rim or into the canyon, take a mule ride into the canyon, or drive to viewpoints and other area points of interest. Trail rides at the North Rim are offered mid-May to mid-October, and provide riders with a sauntering view of the canyon. Hour-long to full-day rides are available. Inquire at the lodge. Viewpoints on the North Rim provide memorable opportunities to look across the expanse of the canyon. Point Imperial and Cape Royal are reached via a winding scenic drive. The trip to both points, with short walks at each and several stops at pullouts along the way, can easily take half a day. Point Imperial, the highest point on the North Rim at 8,803 feet, overlooks the Painted Desert and the eastern end of Grand Canyon. Here the canyon transforms as the narrow walls of Marble Canyon, visible only as a winding gash, open dramatically to become "grand." Layers of red and black Precambrian rocks add contrast and color. Cape Royal provides a panorama up, down, and across the canyon. With seemingly unlimited vistas to the east and west, it is a popular destination to view sunrises and sunsets.