Point Sublime – Grand Canyon National Park

What makes a great campsite? Location, solitude, view? I have spent the night at a few amazing campsites. The greatness of each site seems proportional to how difficult it is to reach. Point Sublime on the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park is no different.

Point Sublime at Sunset

My family and I headed out to the Grand Canyon on Memorial Day weekend for my oldest daughters birthday. We knew the weekend would bring in the crowds, and we have seen some of our more popular national parks rival Disney Land on a busy weekend. We didn’t want to mess with the crowds and had heard the remote North Rim receives less than 15% of the park’s visitors. So we made the extra effort to access the North Rim of the park. We spent a few days enjoying the typical sites and points of this amazing park (more on that later). But quickly realized even a small crowd is still a crowd. So in an attempt to find some solitude on one of the busiest weekends of the year, we headed out to remote Point Sublime to spend the night.

Point Sublime

Point Sublime is different than most backcountry campsites I have used. Most sites require packing in your gear on foot, something I enjoy quite a lot. Point Sublime, however, is accessible by car, but that doesn’t make it any easier to get to. 18 miles down the poorly maintained Widforss Road. The sign making the way says “Rough Road, High Clearance or 4 Wheel Drive Recommended.” This “recommendation” shouldn’t be taken lightly. While we were at the park two people became stranded attempting to visit Point Sublime. One spent the night at the point only to find down trees blocking the road when they tried to come back. The other attempted to drive the rugged road in a small passenger car. The latter made it a surprising 10 miles to one of the toughest sections of road before eventually getting stuck.

Widforss Road Grand Canyon National Park – High Clearance or 4 wheel drive recommend.

Down Trees are a common occurrence in the backcountry, The Park Service recommends carrying a saw and tow strap when venturing off paved road.
A small car stuck on Widforss Road – This car had no business being out this far.

We checked with the Backcountry Office to find out if the road was open. The ranger said he had been out multiple times that week clearing fallen trees off the road, and that a broken down vehicle was blocking part of the road, but we should be able to access it if we wanted to. He warned us to be prepared to spend extra nights in the event of more fallen trees. We were prepared for nearly every situation and looked forward to getting away from the crowds.

Widforss Road – Grand Canyon National Park
Thick Aspens along Widforss Road – Grand Canyon National Park
Sign for Point Sublime
Parts of Widforss Road hugged the North Rim very closely.

After about 12 miles the Widforss Road begins to hug the canyon rim. There was a small fork in the road that led out to the Crystal Canyon overlook. We hopped out of the car to see this spectacular canyon, and stood on the rim for the first time with no one else around.

Crystal Canyon – Grand Canyon National Park
Crystal Canyon – Grand Canyon National Park
Me at the Crystal Canyon Overlook

Another six miles down the road we arrived at our final destination just in time for lunch. One other person was occupying one of two sites out on the point. We got out and introduced ourselves to Mark, a nice gentleman from California. Mark showed us some ancient cliff dwellings deep in the canyon behind us. The dwellings were so high and so remote I stood there forever wondering how the natives ever reached them.

Cliff Dwellings in Grand Canyon National Park

We set up camp no more than five feet from the Canyon’s rim, and instead of circling around a campfire we all pointed our camp chairs at the view. As the afternoon progressed two more people joined us out on the point. Ed and Kevin had come out to see the Sunset. Kevin came towing a small Australian pop-up camper and planned to spend the night. This worried us a little. There were only two sites at Point Sublime with three people wanting to camp. Someone, either one of us or the park system, had made a mistake, but no one was going to tell any of the others they had to leave. so we made the best of it and everyone had a spot to sleep that night.

My first view of Point Sublime – Grand Canyon National Park
Point Sublime – Grand Canyon National Park
Our Campsite at Point Sublime – Grand Canyon National Park
The view from our campsite

For a backcountry Campsite, Point Sublime was pretty nice with a very clean compost toilet. 
Very clean compost toilet at Point Sublime, be sure to bring your own TP. 

We all gathered at the furthest most point to watch the canyon glow warm and red as the sun set below the horizon. We sat feet from the edge staring thousands of feet down to the canyon’s depths, watching as shadows slowly overtook more and more of it. The grander of the canyon cannot be expressed in words. And, although the canyon is very photogenic, pictures cannot capture its vastness. We were surrounded on all sides with deep, breathtaking views, that made you question your own significance. The Grand Canyon is truly something that has to be experienced.

Point Sublime at Sunset – Grand Canyon National Park
Point Sublime at Sunset – Grand Canyon National Park
Watching the Sun Set at Point Sublime – Grand Canyon National Park
Point Sublime after the sun went down. 

I woke up early the next morning to catch the Sunrise. My family opted to sleep in and I expected to be the only one out on the point that morning. When I got there, I found Kevin up early cooking coffee. The two of us sat on the rim talking and watching the light play with the canyon’s shadows. Kevin proved to be a really nice guy, the kind you don’t mind sharing a nice view or remote campsite with. I would later come to need Kevin’s help in a tough situation. Today, I was happy to get to know him better before packing up to leave the Grand Canyon behind. Little did I know, that as I headed out that day my family and I would become stranded in the backcountry.

But thats another story for another post… Read about it here

Point Sublime at Sunrise – Grand Canyon National Park
My new friend Kevin at Point Sublime
Point Sublime at Sunrise

Getting There:
From the Widforss Point Trailhead parking lot, travel west on the dirt road for .3 miles to an intersection and turn left to the Point Sublime primitive road. The road travels through forest and then eventually into a large clearing. At the clearing there is a road that branches to the left or right. Take the right. Continue through the long clearing which ends and the remainder of the trip will be in the forest. At 10.7 miles there is a pullout on the right which affords a nice viewpoint into Crystal Canyon. At 11.3 miles another intersection is encountered; a right at this junction goes to Firepit Swamp Point and a left turn continues to Point Sublime.

GPS File of Point Sublime and Widforss Road (gpx) 

Widforss Road – Grand Canyon National Park

Resources:
Maps and Books I used while visiting the Grand Canyon. Purchase them through the links below to support MyLifeOutdoors.

 

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9 thoughts on “Point Sublime – Grand Canyon National Park”

  1. Wow, what a beautiful place! And your photos are great. I've never been to the Grand Canyon, but it's high on my bucket list.

  2. Lovely photos and review. Being from Arizona, I have been to the Grand Canyon many times, both the north and south rim. I've hiked, camped, rafted down and even painted (I'm an artist) the canyon. But I have never been to Pointe Sublime but will add it to my list. Thanks for your great post 🙂

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