June 18, 2010
The drive from the North Rim to the South Rim takes about 5 hours, but it is pretty scenic and definitely worth the trip. I was exhausted and actually slept for a lot of the car ride (which I highly suggest doing as long as you’re not the driver)! A lot of the road is empty desert spotted with a few farms and tiny communities when you get into Navajo Nation as many signs will announce. I would highly recommend bringing food from the North Rim Lodge (or South if you are driving the other direction) because there isn’t many places to stop for food. Driving out of the North Rim you will hit Jacob Lake Inn, which is where many people stay when they visit the North Rim as it is only an hour away and is easier to get reservations at. The Inn is really more of a motel and if you can get the reservations at the North (don’t forget to keep calling back as I mentioned earlier) it is another option. There is a visitors center and some nature trails right out the inn. We were told the food was okay, but when we got there the restaurant refused to take anyone because a large tour bus was about to come in and take over the place, an occurrence I was told in the market happens often, so we ordered food to go. We both had chicken sandwiches which were pretty gross and I do not recommend eating there, grab something at the Rim it is much better. There is a gift shop and small market though which has good things to nibble and yummy cookies. Skip the smoothies though they are really thick and not very good, grab a cookie instead- way more worth the calories!
One of the stops along the road is at a bridge which is called both Marble Bridge and Navajo Bridge. This is one of the best places to spot condors, unfortunately we did not, but they often roost in the cliffs and will fly around. The reason we didn’t see any was the time of day we went, when it gets hot they hide deep inside the cliffs because it is cooler, so here is a major tip I wish someone told us: come here in the early morning or late afternoon for MUCH better chances of seeing these amazing birds! The bridge is over Colorado River and I recommend parking and taking the short walk over the pedestrian bridge. It is a beautiful view (even without the condors), you can watch the river rafters float along by below and there’s a clean bathroom at the information center, which you will need because you should be drinking lots of water!
Another nice stop is at the rock homes right by the bridge. They are homes that were built right into giant rocks, creating a type of cave dwelling. There were a few Navajo woman set up there with jewelry and other small crafts. You will see them everywhere along this ride, all of their stuff is pretty much the same. Some of it is really nice, we picked up a few trinkets there, but I suggest buying early because the more you look the more it will all look the same and you will end up not buying anything and regretting it later!