Point Sublime, on the Grand Canyon’s North Rim is located 18 miles off the beaten path. Although a day trip is possible, we obtained an overnight permit weeks ago so we could watch the sunset and the sunrise at a place that can make one feel at peace and insignificant in the same moment.
Research and Planning
For several years we spoke of visiting the Grand Canyon, but never made time for the trip. Many barriers, some real and some self-imposed, prevented the trip from occurring. But we finally got serious in 2015 and started researching and planning. An important decision was soon made, we are skipping the “tourist trap” on the South Rim, and are headed to the less visited North Rim. So after many additional hours of reading reviews, studying how to prepare, what to bring and watching many online videos, we are ready to roll out with specific plans to tent camp at Point Sublime. After many discussions, Tricia is mostly convinced that this camping trip in the wilderness is a great idea, . “We’ll be fine”, I say, as she looks at me with a cautious expression.
On our way
The road to Point Sublime starts a couple of miles North of the Grand Canyon North Rim Lodge.
The first views of the Grand Canyon are profound, unexpected; our imagination does not prepared us for the first glimpse through the ponderosa pines! Viewing images and videos of the Grand Canyon are beautiful, but fail to capture the scale, the breadth and the depth of the actual experience.
The 2.5 hour off road trip is an awesome visual time warp. As we travel, we enjoy the ponderosa forest, highland meadows, wildlife, Grand Canyon views and the off-road trail. We see no one else for the entire trip. After all the previous discussions about, and preparations for potential vehicle break-downs, getting stuck, trees blocking the road, wildlife encounters, we safely arrive at Point Sublime. At the end of the road, Point Sublime juts out into the Grand Canyon, creating a narrow peninsula. Trish and I stand in one spot, turn and see distant mountains, 270 degrees of red, yellow, orange, white layers of rock, cliffs and canyon with the blue cloud filled sky above.
And the Rainstorms Begin
We thought of everything. We prepared for everything. At least, I thought we did. Even though one of us is scared of heights, we also successfully navigate across the final approach to Point Sublime. This approach is about 150 feet long by one Jeep wide with a drop off on either side into the canyon below. Upon arrival, we explore and admire the views for about 45 minutes, set-up camp, and then notice rain clouds gathering in the distance, with the wind pushing the rain and lightning towards us. For me, potential lightning strikes are a more realistic threat than driving off the edge of the canyon wall. It didn’t take me very long to decide to leave the Point, cross the narrow one lane road again and hide in the Ponderosa forest until the storm passed.
What a relief, most of the storm passes further South of us. We drive back to camp, while Tricia says something about that “d#@*d narrow, skinny, road again!” Although, this time I think both of us kept our eyes open, to watch the road and experience the adrenaline rush for a third time. We made it through the late afternoon, with beautiful rainy views (no lightning), hot dogs and chili, beer and wine; then dove into our tiny tent as the rain and wind started at dusk.
Should we leave?
I know that by dusk, Tricia is thinking about leaving. It starts raining at dark. By 10:00pm, she is not sleeping due to the rain, thin sleeping mat, wet floor, damp blankets and my snoring. By 1:30am, she is still not sleeping, due to the blowing rain, wet bedding, wet pillow, howling canyon winds, shaking, vibrating tent and my snoring. By early morning, 4:30am, her description of the experience is definitely different from mine. She demonstrates this by starting to pack in the dark, with a flashlight. In many unspoken words, I’m sure she is questioning my sanity as I state and question, “Sunrise, sunrise is not for an hour. We can’t leave yet. OK, ok, ok?” As I walked around in the dark, with my camera around my neck, I assist in the packing while waiting for the clouds to clear and the sun to appear.
A Late Compromise
A compromise is reached. We wait for the sky to clear, and are rewarded with a few minutes of sunshine. Patiently, we hope for more sun, but after a couple of hours of daylight and a few intermittent sunlit moments, we drive across the “d#@*d narrow, skinny road” for the last time.
Would we do it again?
Yes! We will do it again! As we navigate our way back to the RV via a different and longer route, we discuss and relive our grand, imperfect Point Sublime experience. We realize that our trip was not everything we wished, but we did not get hurt, get stuck, break-down, get blocked by fallen trees, encounter any dangerous animal or run out of beer, wine or food. It was “all good”; a successful trip off the beaten path; providing a few adrenaline filled moments.
What would we do different?
Here is what you can learn from us:
- Do not over-pack. We had too many clothes, too much food, etc.
- Test your tent before the big trip
- Stay 2-3 nights at Point Sublime; the weather sometimes makes photography difficult
- Consider a longer stay; the preparation and effort warrant a longer visit
- Invite others to share the trip (our invited couple could not make the trip)
- We did not touch the “tip” of Point Sublime; find it and touch it.
My one memory!
There are many great memories from this trip captured in digital and mental images. One photo, shown below, captures the essence of the experience.
Craig and Tricia are the Cajun Trippers. Our travel blog was started early in 2017 to document our lifestyle change and encourage others to explore their world, their “backyard”. I hope you enjoyed this Grand Canyon story! To read more stories, here is a good starting point; read about at our Hike in Big Bend National Park.