Grand Canyon National Park with cloudy sky

The Grand Canyon North Rim Lookout Tower

The Grand Canyon North Rim is the rugged untouched alternative to the tourist-friendly South Rim. This region of the canyon experiences harsh winter temperatures and decent snowfall and is only open to the public seasonally during spring, summer, and fall. Instead of restaurants, shops, and paved paths, the North Rim area of the Grand Canyon National Park offers the best experience for those who want to be closer to nature. Here you’ll find spectacular views of the canyon and Colorado River and a variety of day hiking options.  Most notable is the North Rim Lookout Tower, listed on the National Historic Lookout Register, which can be reached on an easy 2.8-mile out-and-back trail. 

Accommodations at the North Rim include the Grand Canyon Lodge and the North Rim campground. There is also the North Rim Visitor’s Center, where you can plan your visit, learn about the history of the Grand Canyon, and ask any questions to park rangers. Note that the Visitors Center, like the rest of the North Rim, is open for visitation seasonally and is closed during the winter. 

sightseers at the Grand Canyon North Rim

What is the North Rim Lookout Tower?

The North Rim Lookout Tower is one of four lookout towers scattered across the Grand Canyon National Park. Built in the late 19th and 20th centuries, these towers were fundamental for park rangers to monitor and control wildfires across the Grand Canyon. The North Rim Lookout Tower was originally built in 1928. You can reach this historic construction on the North Rim Fire Watchtower hike, but remember to plan your visit accordingly. The North Rim is open during spring, summer, and fall, and is closed to the public in winter due to snowy conditions. 

Popular Grand Canyon and North Rim Hikes

Hiking at the North Rim offers a truly immersive experience into the Grand Canyon’s unique nature. Because the majority of Grand Canyon visitors choose the South Rim or West Rim, the North Rim really allows hikers to have the trails to themselves.  

The North Rim Fire Watchtower hike is a 2.8 mile, out-and-back trail that reaches the North Rim Lookout Tower and provides some unique scenery along the way. To reach the lookout tower, you can park at the entrance station and walk past the park residences. The trail follows an old access road through a previous burn area where foliage is now beginning to regrow. Upon reaching the lookout tower, you’ll find stunning sights of the Grand Canyon and the sea of the Kaibab Forest. Bear in mind that this tower is not designed for public access, and the tower at the top is locked. New to hiking? You’re always welcome to ask a park ranger at the visitor's center for guidance and directions to this trail. 

The North Rim Fire Watchtower trail is just one of many sightseeing hikes that you can enjoy at the Grand Canyon North Rim. There’s also:  

  • North Rim Lookout and Back 
  • North Kaibab Trail to Bright Angel Trails 
  • Bright Angel Point Trail 
  • North Kaibab Trail to Supai Tunnel
  • Transept Trail 

This variety of hiking opportunities range in length and difficulty. Research your planned hike in advance before embarking on your adventure or consult with a park ranger at the North Rim Visitor’s Center. It is also important to note that dogs are not permitted on these trails. Additionally, you must pay the entrance fee into the Grand Canyon National Park to access the trails.

What if you’re not a hiker? Can you still experience the Grand Canyon North Rim? You absolutely can – on a sightseeing air tour from the Grand Canyon South Rim!

Grand Canyon helicopter tour over the North Rim

See the North Rim on a Helicopter Tour with Papillon!

Papillon’s North Canyon Helicopter Tour departs from the South Rim near the Grand Canyon National Park Airport. We’ll transport you in style aboard a helicopter designed for sightseeing over the widest and deepest sections of the canyon, as well as over the green expanse of the Kaibab Forest, and of course over the majesty of the North Rim. You’ll find aerial sights of the Colorado River and some of the most unique rock formations throughout the national park on a truly once-in-a-lifetime Grand Canyon helicopter tour.

Locally Owned & Operated

Papillon has been bringing passengers over the Grand Canyon since 1965. We’ve been family owned and operated since our inception with our own operations terminal right at the Grand Canyon South Rim.

600,000 Happy Customers Every Year

We fly approximately 600,000 passengers to the Grand Canyon and beyond every year for the past 60 years. We offer helicopter tours, airplane tours, Hummer excursions, and rafting adventures – there’s no limit to what you can experience with Papillon at the Grand Canyon. We also offer tours at the Grand Canyon West, Las Vegas, Antelope Canyon, and more.