Barely Getting a Glimpse at Grand Canyon National Park North Rim, Arizona

Even though the North Rim of the Grand Canyon was about 3 hours from Snow Canyon, we simply could not justify missing this National Park during our stay. Will and I had both visited when we were growing up, but we really wanted to take Bird. However, had we known what we were going to encounter, we may have thought better of it, but we know what they say about hindsight.

The day we had available to go given both Will’s and my work schedules, was a Wednesday right after a storm had moved through the area. While St. George and Snow Canyon did not get any snow, it turns out most of the areas around us, including the Grand Canyon, actually received quite a bit. Around a foot.

The snow-covered mountains and trees that we encountered, made for a beautiful drive. Driving through the polygamist hotspot of Colorado City, Arizona made the drive interesting. I had recently finished listening to a podcast about the community and had lots of interesting tidbits to share throughout the day.

The closer we got to the park entrance, the more I started to worry that this National Park visit would be like so many of the others: packed and less than enjoyable. However, I reasoned that it was a Wednesday and it had just snowed, so how bad could it be?

Answer: very bad.

The snow had forced the park to close 1 of the more popular roads and attractions on the North Rim, so every visitor was funneled to the Visitor’s Center. We arrived right around lunchtime and circled the parking lot multiple times hoping for a spot to free up and trying to figure out what we were going to do.

When it became clear that we were not going to find a spot, we opted to try to find a spot at 1 of the few pull-offs we had seen on our way in. Luckily, we found a spot that was not too snow-packed and enjoyed our sandwiches.

After lunch, we got out of the truck, bundled us all up, and made our way up the hill to get what would turn out to be our best view of the Grand Canyon as a family. We strategically moved around trees to better our view, then decided to make the best of the situation and let the girls enjoy the snow.

And enjoy it they did.

Once we were all chilled and ready to warm back up, we returned to the truck and decided to try the Visitor’s Center again. We still needed to stamp Bird’s passport and get our commemorative sticker and postcard, after all.

However, the parking lot was no better than it had been on our first attempt, so after we circled once to no avail, I jumped out while Will continued to hope for a spot to open.

I found a ranger with a passport stamp station right next to the rim, so while we had not gotten a great view as a family, I had the opportunity to take a quick look and snap a few pictures. While I was taking in the scenery and stamping the passport, I overheard the ranger talking about the snow and how crazy things were that day. This part of the National Park actually closes in the winter, and so they were completely unprepared for this amount of snow. Typically, the park closes before they see weather like that.

When I made it to the gift shop, it was clear they were winding down for the season, as the selection was very limited. I made my few purchases and returned to the parking lot hoping to have a text message from Will letting me know where they were parked. Instead, I made it to the parking lot in time to see the tailgate of our truck slip out of sight as Will made yet another pass through the parking lot.

Given the snow, people were acting even crazier than the typical National Park crazy. They were parking their compact cars in snowdrifts and then frantically trying to get them out, tires spinning. They were slipping and sliding this way and that. It was truly bananas.

I called Will to let him know I was waiting, and he made his way back to pick me up.

While it would have been ideal to get us all out of the truck,walk to the overlooks, and really take in the Grand Canyon, that was not in the cards for us on this visit. So, we found a quick place to pull over to get everyone situated, then we turned the truck toward home.

Just as we were about the exit the park, however, we saw a beautiful coyote run across a field of snow. We had seen 1 in Yosemite as well, so it felt so fitting and was a positive end to our lackluster visit.

This visit was not at all what we had hoped for, but it has certainly made a return visit a priority. It would have been truly disappointing if Will and I had never been before. Instead, we focused on the fun we all had in the snow and seeing the girls enjoy the experience we did have, not the 1 he and I had hoped for.

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