North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona

Steven Dutch, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay
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Above: the only approach to the North Rim is Arizona State 67. The North Rim is much less visited than the South Rim (15 miles away by air or almost 300 by highway); even so, when we visited the campgrounds were full.

Below: Detail of the accessible North Rim. The Kaibab Plateau of the North Rim is in yellow, the plateau south and east of the river is in green. Note that the southern and eastern plateau is a kilometer lower than the Kaibab Plateau.

The topographic map above shows clearly that the canyon didn't cut down, but that the rocks were uplifted across the course of the river. East of the uplift the canyon is much shallower than in the Grand Canyon proper.

Below: a simplified physiographic map of the canyon. Canyonlands are in green. Areas above 1900 meters (6,200 feet) are in yellow, above 2200 meters (7,200 feet) in orange. Even though the north rim is higher than the south rim, the rock units exposed are pretty much the same because the land surface is a dome in the Permian Kaibab Limestone.

If you've ever wondered how one rim of a canyon can be much higher than the other, this is how: the canyon is cut in the flank of a domal uplift. Actually, the river stayed where it was and the land lifted up, but more to the north than to the south.

The Approach

North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona The drive in reaches altitudes of nearly 9000 feet but is a monotonous 40 miles through pine forest.

Below: a few open areas break up the forest.

North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona
North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona Left and below: Remarkably, the limestone plateau that rimes the canyon is a low-relief karst landscape and there are numerous small sinkholes.
North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona 

North Rim (Bright Angel Point)

North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona Views of the Visitor Center
North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona
North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona The Grand Canyon is spectacular any place, any time, but unlike the South Rim, there aren't many places to reach the North Rim. Unless you hike the trails or take some very long unpaved roads, what you see from the Visitor Center is what you get.
North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona
North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona
North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona
North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona
North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona
North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona
North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona
North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona
North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona
North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona
North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona
North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona
North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona
North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona
North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona
North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona
North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona

Below: panorama from the North Rim (Bright Angel Point). The panorama shows Bright Angel Canyon extending back into the canyon rim on the left, and extends from north on the left through over 300 degrees to northwest on the far right.

North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona

East Rim (Point Imperial)

North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona The East Rim is probably even less visited than the North Rim but offers a spectacular view of the Coconino-Kaibab Uplift dropping off into the Colorado Plateau.
North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona
North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona
North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona
North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona
North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona
North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona

Below: panorama from the East Rim

North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona 

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Created 14 July 2003, Last Update 01 July 2012

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