For my birthday in 2019, I put together a road trip to the Grand Canyon with my best friend, Liz. Neither of us had seen it, and this was a perfect opportunity to spend some time together and do some amazing things.
I love to make a plan, and Liz loves to be planned for. So she landed in LA knowing when we’d leave, that we’d be at the north rim of the grand canyon, and when we’d be back. The rest of it, I got to plan to my heart’s content.
Night 1 was easy. Liz landed in the afternoon, so we headed out and camped our first night just north of LA in Calico Ghost Town campground.
The morning we woke up in this campground, a family of quail was nearby. I gripped Liz’s arm and whispered, “My goal this summer was to see a quail!!!” (it was! I thought I wasn’t gonna get it done!!)
Day 2 (and night 2) was meant to be at Quail Creek, Utah. I had planned the trip so that we were only driving 3-5 hours each leg, to give us time to enjoy where we were once we got there! Alas, when we got there, the winds were incredibly bad. 40mph or so? It was beautiful, but it wasn’t gonna happen.
We discussed getting a hotel, but in the end Liz and I are both from the prairie. We can drive for hours. So Liz took the driver’s seat and we decided, fuck it. we’ll go to the grand canyon.
One of the reasons I wanted to go to Utah was its eerie and alien landscape. Part of that is due to the Grand Staircase – and the Grand Canyon is the Grand Staircase, seen from the top.
I didn’t know a lot about the grand canyon beyond the basics. The colorado river goes through it, it’s red and dusty, it’s outside arizona. When planning, I found out about the Grand Canyon’s North Rim. But that didn’t prepare me for the Grand Canyon’s North Rim. I looked up campgrounds, but I wanted to go in without expectations – I love to discover things and be surprised!
After a stop at the grand staircase overlook at the start of the Kaibab National Forest, I started learning about the forest we’d spend the next couple of days in. The plateau that makes up the north rim of the grand canyon is like an island at altitude. A species of squirrel lives in the Kaibab forest and nowhere else – the Kaibab Squirrel, of course!
We landed at Jacob Lake campground, set up shop, made a couple smores, and hit the sack.
The next morning was Canyon Time.