From Grand Canyon to Zion National Park in a Jeep Cherokee Rental

keyhole rock north rim grand canyon
Today we get to see the North Rim of the Grand Canyon! We rented an old Jeep Cherokee and went exploring,

If you’re just joining us, our family took a vacation in 2018 that started a little disastrously, with lots of car trouble. You can read about Day One here and Day Two here. Once you’re caught up, here’s Day Three:

The next morning Justin left bright and early to drop the van off with the mechanics in Kanab, Utah, and pick up a rental vehicle so we could at least SEE the Grand Canyon before we had to move on (bless his heart, he was so tired at this point).

While he has gone, we wondered what kind of rental he would come back in. A few years ago, we had gone to Yellowstone and Mom had rented us a massive, super-plush Ford Expedition with all the bells and whistles. I still remember that vehicle fondly, and hoped he could get something similar. Even a minivan would be fine, right? I wasn’t asking for much.

Imagine our collective surprise when he drove up in a 2001 Jeep Cherokee with 180,000 miles on it! Rental car for trip to Grand Canyon

Shocked and a little horrified, the first words out of my mouth were, “Did you buy this?”

That may seem like a strange response, but I could not believe that any reputable car rental business was renting out vehicles this old with such high mileage, so my brain, casting about for a logical reason that this was our vehicle, assumed that he had just sold our minivan for a beater that looked very similar to what our teenage son drives. But no, the car rental place was all out of “normal” cars and the Jeep was one they rented to people going off-roading. I should have been glad that he could get a car at all! Plus it came with a shovel for digging out of sandy situations. With our luck, we would probably need it.

We loaded up with three squeezed in the back bench seat and headed off to the Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon North Rim

It was amazing.

My original plan to hike the North Kaibab trail down the rim a bit and back up was shot – just not enough time – but we did get to view the Canyon from several different places and hike a bit.

Emma at North Rim Grand CanyonWe also saw a bison herd on the way in, which is always a treat. It actually started raining and then sleeting on us at one point (of course it did) but even that was OK. If nothing else happened, we had seen the Grand Canyon.

keyhole rock north rim grand canyon

We drove over to see the historic Grand Canyon Lodge and use the bathroom. The North Rim Campground (where we had two nights of reservations that had gone to waste) was also nearby, but I didn’t want to see it. It still stung that we had not been able to stay there.

Grand Canyon Lodge

I looked at all of the people in the lodge, comfortably chatting or reading, and I was filled with envy. Why did this have to be so hard for us? I was really mad. I walked out to the Bright Angel Point – nothing like terrifying heights to help you forget your anger! Even though the wind was blowing really hard and I couldn’t bring my chicken self to walk all the way out to the edge, it was still really beautiful.

We were still at the Grand Canyon, though the journey was looking completely different from what we had expected.

After spending our second night at the Jacob Lake campground, it was time to move to Zion National Park the next morning. Because of our car woes, we had already missed our first night there. Justin had spent the afternoon and early evening talking with the mechanic in Kanab and automotively-savvy family and friends. Everything pointed to a fuel pump issue now, but the mechanic said he didn’t see anything wrong with it and it was an expensive part to replace (nothing new to us by now). After some debate, Justin told him to go ahead and replace it, which meant we were without the van for another day. We would end up commuting to Zion from Jacob Lake in our good ol’ high-mileage Jeep.

Things seemed pretty dim on the car front, but despite all we’d been through, at least we’d seen the Grand Canyon, and had a (mostly) pretty day for sightseeing.

Out West Trip 2018 Motto: There’s Still a Lot to be Thankful For.

water bottles north rim

To Be Continued>>>

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