Day 4 Replay: The North Rim, Waterhole Canyon and Page, Arizona
Drank my tea on the back patio of the Zion Park Motel, overlooking the mountains before anyone else woke up = HEAVEN on Earth
Breakfast: Family made breakfast in the full kitchen! Mom cooks, save money and time.
Clean up/ Pack up (we're pretty efficient)
Snapped a family pic out on the back patio before loading up – Excited to be breathing the air and seeing the sights!
*Leaving Zion, drove out the scenic route and took some photos, wandered a little off the path but not too far!
*Subway stop to grab lunch for our picnic 🥪
*North Rim Grand Canyon
*Point Imperial - Drove to the highest elevation to have the full majestic view
*Picnic at benches at Point Imperial
*Drove down to the Visitor’s Center - Hiked Rim briefly
*Left promptly for Water Holes Canyon - Tour at 4:30 (the last tour of the day)
*We knew the drive was 2 hours and 20 minutes. We hated leaving so quickly.
*ENJOYED a very scenic drive
*Stopped on the road for some impromptu rock climbing – huge boulders at the side of the road (Yes, watching the time)
*Waterhole Canyon tour ** Serious Highlight**
*Checked in at our hotel – the Knights Inn, Page, Az.
*Dinner at the Dam Bar – Highly recommended
*The Levi Outlet
* I have to say after some time has passed, and this trip has been discussed many times since - all 5 of my family members agree (and it's difficult to get a consensus) THIS DAY WAS THE BEST of our trip!!!! I planned this whole trip for the Grand Canyon South Rim/ North Rim. We loved each day - but when we talk about the Water Hole Canyon Tour we know that was something truly special. If it is in your ability to visit, you will never be sorry you did!
On our way out my oldest insisted on a pit stop and got bumble berry pie which he shared - and we were all much appreciated. We devoured that deliciousness! We drove into Zion stopping at several places to take photos and the boys found an under the road turn off/walkway that they went in on one side and came out on the other! A little bit of exploring goes along way. We went back through the tunnel under the road and out into the world beyond Zion.
We had planned to stop at a Subway on our way out of town but unfortunately it was closed down! Fortunately we just happened to see one on one of the back roads leading us on our way. We quickly pulled over and went in. I think we were there first customers of the day. They were still setting up. But as we were checking out a busload of tourists were piling in behind us! We just happened to get lucky on the timing :-)
We drove two hours to get to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We drove through Kaibab National Forest and saw snow again lining the road! There is only one road in and out of the Park, route, State Road 67. The deeper we drove in the more remote we felt. The Kaibab National Forest surrounds the Grand Canyon and has miles of Alpine Meadows, fir and Pine trees. For the most part the road was street and like a ribbon driving in with a few other cars on the road. Many cars will pass you if you’re not keeping up to speed. I passed a few motor homes traveling and kept in line with the other travelers. There was evidence of recent fires and we saw the burned land scorched and vacant. Arriving at the north rim of the Grand Canyon was being in the middle of nowhere. It’s still several miles until you get to the actual rim from the gate. But I knew it would be best to start high and work our way back down so we traveled a little longer to get up to point imperial. Driving Driving Driving... How much longer mom....
Wow!! We drove up to the highest point of the Grand Canyon and the view began to materialize. Point Imperial - We shared the lookout point with just a few other people, but had unlimited viewing for miles! The crowd was sparse and we stood out on the lookout point chilly and breezy taking some family photos while looking over the edge. The colors and the ranges of the land while being able to see extensive topography are breathtaking. It was chillier than expected. Even with sweatshirts we were chilled. We ate at a picnic bench enjoying our subway subs! We went out for a little more looking around before venturing down toward the visitors center and rim. We walked by the Grand Canyon Lodge and visitor center. This was one of those times I wish we had more time! My sons went to the restroom and we walked out to the rim overlook enjoying the view and taking some photos. I really would’ve liked a couple of hours here. I had actually planned more time but stopping for photos and exploring at Zion played into the north rim allotment. I would have taken time but we had a 4:30 tour scheduled at Waterhole Canyon which is the last tour slot of the day. I knew we had to be driving by 1:45 to make it on time. We kept on schedule. But I do think there were some trails here we would have greatly enjoyed. Such a remote location, and much less seen and traveled terrain.
I read only 10% of visitors to the Grand Canyon make it to the North Rim. When planning this trip I read many facts including how the North rim is cooler, the canyon is deeper on that side and far less crowded. I couldn't resist wanting to share the view with less people. I am not one who doesn't like a crowd, but I will say when you are trying to take it all in the rush of people can take away from the meditative value. So yes!!! The North Rim is worth the time to get there! Also, the ripples in the rock and history of the geology make for great lessons. We talked about how old the Earth is, Carbon Dating, and how it must have been for the Hopi peoples who inhabited this land in its natural state. I appreciate how much preservation is prioritized in that whole place, the less built up, the more the canyon speaks for itself.
On the interesting zig zaggy drive to Paige and Water Hole Canyon we drove through the South West terrain looking at the crazy land all around us. The roads are not just scenic but grand! They are part of the reason to go there.
We stopped for gas. I didn't see many stations around, and I wasn't like LOW yet, but wasn't sure how many opportunities I'd have to fill up. So I quickly fueled then jumped back in to keep going. We drove from Arizona, into Utah and back into Arizona again, but the part of the land we were headed was on Navajo land. We passed part of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. We did not have time or that would have been a pit stop as well. (There's always next time - if you have longer on your route - make sure to see the Peek a boo canyon)
During one stretch of land which just seem to be straight forever we were passing these huge giant boulders on the left side of the road. The boys decided they wanted to climb them and as there was no cars anywhere around us I pulled over so they could. I said you have five minutes! They ran, they climbed in scaled, and then I took a couple pictures before they ran back! Just a quick get out of the car scramble where they could stretch their legs and enjoy the amazing terrain we were traveling.
Arriving at Waterhole Canyon seemed a bit sketchy. It’s basically a random parking lot in the middle of nowhere on the side of the road. It’s hot and dusty. There is a tent in the parking lot where a young girl collects payment and then you load into a van which drives you a couple miles away to the starting point of the hike. Jason who was our guide was wearing a windbreaker with his hood up and a handkerchief over his face along with sunglasses on his eyes. There was only one other couple with us and for a minute I was wondering what I was getting myself into!
Jason explained that we would be walking back through the slot canyon and gave us the dimensions. The van which took us there, left. He asked how we knew about Waterhole Canyon. The other couple said they we’re told by people in town they should go there. I told him I had been online reading TripAdvisor. He said you did your research :-) I said yes I did :-)
2 Points for research!
I was not disappointed. Waterhole and Antelope Canyon were the same price. It is one of the more expensive things we did on our trip. I paid $275 for five of us to have a guided tour and was really hoping it would be worth it.
In reality, it would have been worth double! Although I probably could not have afforded that so I’m glad it wasn’t!
I Can only describe Waterhole Canyon as majestic and glorious. To think that wind and rain and water erosion formed these shapes and designs into rock is another one of those breathtaking moments. Some of the rock is like slate, layered with sandstone. Other parts are bumpy and warty. There were these interesting white circles all over the red services. They’re just dry white circles. Of different sizes through out. Jason our guide was able to describe and explain many of the facts and history of the land and rock around us. We asked questions. He explained herbs, trees, and the environment - and even how they deter rattlesnakes and what to do if we saw one. He used to work at Antelope Canyon and did tours there as well. He may be biased but he definitely preferred Waterhole Canyon and pointed out many of the benefits of being at this slot as opposed to the other. His family owns the land and he had been doing tours since he was 11 years old. As a 19-year-old he was professional, courteous, agile and fun. But it was great to listen to his explanations of the history and dangers of the past. Because the Navajo Nation owns the land and it's tribal significance, I felt more connected to the earth. When I asked him what made all of the white circles he actually said no one knows. And they are only found at Waterhole Canyon and not at any of the other canyons in the area. He said some people speculate aliens. And then he moved on to talking about the lizards but I was just soaking it all in! Jason helped us get professional settings on her phones to take the best pictures. He also took some great family photos for us :-) I appreciated him so much. He gave us some ideas of where we could watch the stars at night and talked about the area very positively. His knowledge and love of the land was a blessing to us.
Of all of the parts of this trip, Waterhole Canyon was costly - but truly worth it. How satisfying to walk between the narrow hallways of the steep red rocks. Since we did not get to go into the Narrows to hike at Zion this was comforting. Touching the sand stone and feeling the lines of erosion made quite an impression on each person in my family. It’s hard for us all to agree on anything that we all agreed this was a highlight of the most amazing trip ever. We all also really like Jason! When I asked them what their favorite part of Waterhole was they all said Jason :-) he was my favorite part also. My daughter and I joked that we need to find some Navajo boyfriends!
After Waterhole Canyon we continued a few more miles into Page to check into our hotel for the night. Then we planned to go out for dinner and decide how to spend a little additional time.
We stayed at the Knights Inn. And this is one of the best quality deals of our trip. Our room for the night was $99 with taxes came to $114. This is by far the cheapest room on our excursion! It was clean, easy to access, comfortable, and had free breakfast! So yes I strongly recommend the Knights Inn. We had a corner room in the back row and I don’t know if that contributed to the size of our bathroom or not but our bathroom was huge! The shower was very large. We had a microwave and refrigerator in the room, and free breakfast also! While checking in there was another customer giving to the lady at the front desk a very hard time. She remained very professional and courteous while dealing with them and helped me to get registered very quickly.
We were in and unpacked pretty quickly then back out again. At this point my daughter decided to stay in the room to do some school work as her online classes had some assignments requiring her time. Many times on this trip she did not have internet. Since she had a good connection, she took advantage.
The Dam Bar - The boys and I went to dinner and brought her back food. It was close by and perfect for us. There was a variety of foods and we were all able to get exactly what we wanted. I had some kind of fish with rice and vegetables. I also had a glass of wine which was exactly what I needed at that point! My oldest had the nachos, my other two boys had a variety of wings. And I ordered a burger to take my daughter. The waiter did not write anything down but brought everything exactly as requested. The ambiance of the place was fun and upbeat, a great place for families. Nice pictures on the walls, and in a good spot. We each ordered something different and we each were very happy with our choice. 5 Star Review!
After dinner we walked next-door to the Levi’s Outlet and the boys made a purchase or two. They would have like to have made more! My 16 year old was trying to convince me to buy a wind breaker, but it was too early in my trip for me to start spending on any extras.
Around 9 PM we headed back to our hotel and I think I was asleep before my head hit the pillow, day four was a total success!
Daily run down and costs:
Subway - $55.00 (definitely the touristy overpriced subway)
North rim (America the Beautiful pass)
Waterhole Canyon - $275.00
Knights Inn - $114.00
Dam Bar - $106.00
Levi’s Outlet – No purchases (my oldest got a good deal on two tee shirts)
Sleep – Priceless !
Total Cost for the day: $574.00
Tips: Don’t spend that much at Subway. Because the original Subway was closed, and we stopped at the Subway in the tourist/ gift shop/ rest stop - the prices were much higher than anticipated. There is a little town on the way, you will pass other fast food options (McDonnalds if you like that) and even a grocery shop stop is more savvy than that meal! It did serve its purpose, but also as it was already an expensive day by nature, this inflated food struck a nerve. If I am spending that much money I would have liked to have sat down and had a hot meal. Since we were trying to save time we didn’t – but still paid this price.
Leave earlier and save more time for the North Rim. The Bright Angel Point Trail is paved and easy to access. If we had an hour more this would have been out next move.
**One of my notes about this trip I said I did not make the kids crazy with super early start times. On this day, I wish I'd had another hour... or two.
Take photos on pro settings! With an Iphone, Vivid warm captures those canyons like no other!
Antelope Vs Waterhole Canyon – So far everyone I’ve seen review both places prefers Waterhole! I’d love to do both and have my own opinion. I am so happy that we went with Waterhole. The shadows and light of the sun moving above create drastic effects at different times of day. We were there at the latest tour. I’d like to do a noon time and an early morning tour. I’d love to return.
Cons – NONE! (other than over paying at subway)
THIS ENTIRE DAY WAS FANTASTIC! Magical and wonderful trip to the South West. Seeing Zion, the North Rim and Waterhole Canyon in the same day may seem crazy but to us it was the best of the best all at once. We were ALL elated.
See Page 5 for Navajo Monument, Betatakin, and Monument Valley