In reference to destinations in remote locations, the question most often asked by the uninitiated happens to be "Is the long drive worth it?" Basically, any western location that requires a lengthy drive is well worth the effort, simply because the more remote a destination is, the fewer visitors there will be. The extra travel miles involved do have a way of reducing overcrowding, which is a real problem in the most popular National Parks. The Grand Canyon definitely is a prime example, because the highest percentage of visitors only spend time exploring the South Rim, while relatively few chalk the North Rim on the agenda because of the lengthy travel time. For this reason, the North Rim is like a sigh of relief for those who wish to escape from the big crowds and the opportunity to view the majestic scenery along the way to this remote destination will certainly enhance the journey.
After passing through the North Rim entrance gate, a visitor will still have quite a way to go before arriving at Cape Royal, which is the most remote point of interest in this end of Grand Canyon National Park. There are viewpoints and picnic areas along the way, so there will be plenty of opportunities to stretch the legs. An autumn season trip will reveal the intense colors of the aspens, so this definitely is the best time of the year for doing a North Rim tour all the way to Cape Royal. Best of all, the panoramic views at the endpoint are guaranteed to please the eyes, since the 8,000 foot elevation overlooks the rest of the Grand Canyon landscape.
The Cape Royal hiking trail is a paved pathway that is only a half mile long and the endpoint lands on top of one of the most unique natural arches in the entire west. The hole in this eroded rock shelf is called Angel's Window and all it takes is one peek at the other side to get the urge to stand on top of this towering outcrop, which has a stable flat surface with safety measures in place. The Cape Royal viewpoint is most famous for offering wide sweeping panoramic views of the northeast end of the Grand Canyon, the Navajo Nation high plateau and Marble Canyon. The Colorado River can be seen 5,000 feet below in the distance, so this truly is a mile high vantage point. As can be seen in the photos, the long drive will be well worth it, so be sure to pack a picnic basket for the ride!
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