Today, we present an epic battle for supremacy in Grand Canyon National Park.
Which side is better -- north or south?
In the war between the rims, let’s consider the fantastic aspects of each side of this geologic wonder, carved a mile deep by the Colorado River over a dramatic 277 miles.
From a popularity standpoint, the south wins in a landslide. More than 5 million people visit the park every year, and 90 percent of them go to the South Rim because access is much easier from Arizona’s southern population centers.
Here’s the southside argument:
Drive-through views: If you want, you never have to leave your car to get fantastic views of the Grand Canyon from the South Rim. Just drive north on Arizona Highway 64 from Williams, Ariz., and follow it through the park.
Better light: In the fall and winter, the low-angle sun is behind you as you gaze into the chasm, lighting up your view northward.
More services: The South Rim stays open all year, with a large, well-equipped village filled with businesses and lodges. The large Mather Campground also stays open -- we stayed there for two nights -- and a full-service (and expensive) RV park called Trailer Village is next door.
Amazing bike riding: A seven-mile section of the South Rim called the Hermit Road is closed to traffic except tour buses. It’s open to bicyclists, however, offering what feels like a deserted ride along an incredibly scenic section of the park. Elsewhere, paved recreation paths allow riding through the park.
Let’s say you’re sick of people -- such as the crazy tour group we saw posing for precarious shots standing on the edge of mile-deep drops of the South Rim. You’ve come to the right place -- the North Rim feels positively deserted.
Here’s the northside argument:
Marvelous isolation: The nearest “town” is Jacob Lake, 42 miles from the North Rim entrance. It’s more of a crossroads, with a gas station, restaurant and motel. You’ll feel far away from the the ever-present tour groups of the South Rim.
Amazing hike to a viewpoint: The hike to Bright Angel Point is a paved, fully accessible hike to a stunning viewpoint overlooking the canyon that just about anyone can do. It’s the kind of hike -- along a knife-edge ridgeline -- that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
Free dispersed camping: Just outside of the park in Kaibab National Forest are hundreds of free, RV friendly campsites, waiting to be used. We stayed for a night just south of Jacob Lake in a beautiful clearing. For free!
Old-school village: The historic Grand Canyon Lodge is a classic, and its log cabins offer picture-perfect views from porches perched along the North Rim. They’re closed from October until May, though.
<h3>And the winner is …</h3>
You, of course. You really can’t lose at the Grand Canyon, whether you choose to see it from your car or go on an aggressive hike all the way to the Colorado River. For those who want quick gratification, the south is the best choice. For those who want a quieter, tour bus-free experience, the north is the way to go.
This week's Going Mobile question: Have you ever had to deal with rodents in your RV? We had one crafty mouse who managed to sneak in while staying on the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. Read more about it on our blog at Spokesman.com. Please send your pest problem solutions to email@example.com.