Guide To Visiting Grand Canyon North Rim
Of the nearly 6 million visitors a year that travel to the Grand Canyon, only 10% take the road less traveled to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
What the 8,000 ft elevation North Rim lacks in amenities (it only contains one lodge and one campground), it makes up for in raw natural beauty.
The less populated North, which shuts down in the winter time due to high elevation snow, is much different the South Rim, which is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. At the quiet Grand Canyon North Rim, the cooler, forested lookout points are home to abundant wildlife, including huge heads of mule deer and other game. It also offers some of the best stargazing in the world (it’s an International Dark Sky Park).
Where Is The Grand Canyon North Rim?
The Grand Canyon North Rim is located in the extreme northern part of Arizona, near the border with Utah. The National Park entrance is located 30 miles south of Jacob Lake, AZ on Highway 67. Once you enter the park, it is an additional 15 miles to the rim and lodge.
The entire Grand Canyon National Park is massive –to drive from the South Rim to North Rim it is a 4.5 hour drive of 220 miles! – and a Grand Canyon Rim Comparison can help you decide the best destinations and activities for your next trip.
How Far Is Las Vegas To Grand Canyon North Rim?
How far is Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon? The distance from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon North Rim is 270 miles, or about a 4.5 hour trip.
The trip is packed full of fantastic scenery. You’ll travel through Utah’s red rock country, pass Zion National Park, climb up into the cool Kaibab National Forest, and end up at the most remote and beautiful part of the entire Grand Canyon.
Best Time To Visit Grand Canyon North Rim
In general, the weather is most pleasant between late May to early July and September-October. During this time, you will have comfortable days and cool nights. The weather can be hot in late July and August even at this high of an elevation. The road is often closed between Dec 1 and May 15 as the road to the Grand Canyon North Rim is closed.
Grand Canyon North Rim Weather
You can check out current Grand Canyon North Rim weather here.
How Much Does It Cost To Enter Grand Canyon North Rim?
There are entrance fees at all Grand Canyon National Park points of entry. Private vehicles cost $35 and motorcycles cost $30. If you are entering by foot, bicycle, park shuttle bus, or private rafting trip, the fee is $20.
A full list and explanation of all entrance fees for Grand Canyon National Park is available here.
Grand Canyon North Rim Hours
The park is open 365 days a year, from sunrise to sunset.
Things To Do At Grand Canyon North Rim
Here are the top things to do on your visit to Grand Canyon North Rim:
- Hike Bright Angel Point Trail- the North Rim’s most famous overlook is a short hike that is easily accessible from the Grand Canyon Lodge and Visitor Center Parking Lot. The half mile round trip paved hiking path follows a magnificent ridge with sweeping views of the Grand Canyon.
- Explore Grand Canyon Lodge- this classic mountain lodge, built in 1928, sits right above the Grand Canyon Rim. Chill out in the great room that has panoramic, floor to ceiling windows, dine in the historic Lodge restaurant which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, or attend one of the many North Rim special events that originate at the Lodge.
- Day Hike on the North Kaibab Trail- Beginning 1,000 feet higher than any trails found on the more popular South Rim, hikers on this challenging trail that descends all the way to the Colorado river can glimpse the most rewarding views of the entire canyon complex. the vast expanse of Bright Angel Canyon through fir trees, aspen, ferns and wildflowers. The distance one way is about 13.7 miles, but you can day hike a portion of it and leave the massive 6800 feet descent to the crazy through hikers!
- Take A Helicopter Tour Over Grand Canyon North Rim- The Grand Canyon is its most raw and beautiful up North. Flying over its remote majesty aboard a private Grand Canyon helicopter tour is the most satisfying way to cover lots of ground and capture award winning photos and videos of your trip. We highly recommend the Grand Canyon North Rim Helicopter Tour and the Grand Canyon North Rim Helicopter Tour With Hummer trip!
Grand Canyon North Rim Lodge
Grand Canyon Lodge, the beautiful hotel and lodging complex found right at the rim of the Grand Canyon, is the only lodging inside the National Park on the North Rim.
The lodge is open May 15 through October 15 and features private cabins, both along and near the rim of the Grand Canyon.
Constructed of native Kaibab limestone and timber, guests can book rooms in the main lodge building, in 23 deluxe cabins, or 91 standard cabins. The Lodge is famous for its wide open sun room that has a massive wall of windows overlooking the North Rim.
Camping at Grand Canyon North Rim
The 87 site North Rim Campground is open from May 15, through October 15. The campground shuts down in winter due to its high elevation.
Reservations can be made online. Individual sites cost $18 and group sites (up to 25 people and 3 vehicles) cost $50.
Each campsite is equipped with a picnic table and campfire ring with a cooking grill. Drinking water spigots are located throughout the campground. There is a General Store located near the campground entrance that is open seven days a week and provides coin-operated showers and laundry facilities.
Grand Canyon North Rim Overlooks
The north rim has many famous lookout points that offer sweeping views of the entire Grand Canyon. Since you are at a much higher elevation on the North Rim versus the more popular South Rim, the views are bigger and the skies are clearer.
Here are the more scenic overlooks worth exploring on your visit the the Grand Canyon North Rim:
Point Imperial Grand Canyon
This scenic vista is the highest rim overlook in all of the Grand Canyon.
At 8,803 feet, Point Imperial rewards visitors with huge views of the entire Grand Canyon complex and the Vermilion Cliffs. You can drive right up to this location. An 11-mile road from the Grand Canyon North Rim visitor center leads to Point Imperial’s parking area and, once there, a very short trail takes visitors to a wide, flat overlook.
Cape Royal Grand Canyon
Cape Royal is another high elevation (7,865 feet) vista on the North Rim. It offers visitors a 270° panorama of the entire Grand Canyon complex. This popular viewpoint is accessible via a short paved, level trail. It is also one of the only spots with views of the Colorado River from the North Rim.
The 23-mile-drive from Grand Canyon Lodge to Cape Royal along Cape Royal Road offers additional stopping off points, such as Vista Encantada and Walhalla Glades Pueblo. The points and others present different vantage points and angles of the Grand Canyon.
Once you are at Cape Royal, the entire canyon opens up to the east and west. This is one of the most magnificent spots in the entire United States for both sunrise and sunset.
Point Sublime Grand Canyon
The extra effort required to get to this memorable vista is certainly worth it! The steep, rocky, rough, and narrow 17 mile, one way road it takes to get to Point Sublime makes the journey part of the experience.
You’ll need a high clearance vehicle or mountain bike to make it out to this truly sublime setting.
After traveling down the bumpy dirt road you’ll be rewarded with an unbelievable vantage point – a neary 360° view of the entire Grand Canyon (save the narrow mesa top you drive out on to access the Point Sublime rim).
Check in first with the North Rim Backcountry Information Center before you make the journey to check on road conditions. At times, treefall and mud can block road access. You can also obtain a backcountry camping permit ($15) from this office if you choose to spend the night at Point Sublime.
Grand Canyon North Rim Hikes
From the Grand Canyon North Rim, hikers have access to more than 40 published trails.
We’ve already mentioned quick and easy walks – such as the popular and can’t miss Bright Angel Point Trail – but if you’re feeling adventurous, there’s nothing more memorable than a day hike through the rugged scenery of the North Rim. Expect to see a ton of wildlife if you can start your hike early in the morning, stunning wildflower displays, and some of the clearest skies in all of America.
Here are five highly recommended day hikes from Grand Canyon North Rim:
North Kaibab Trail
The North Kaibab Trail is the least visited but most difficult of the three maintained trails at Grand Canyon National Park. Hikers on the North Kaibab Trail pass through every ecosystem to be found between Canada and Mexico.
The trail descends through the Redwall Limestone and further down the ecology progresses so that hikers look up at the surrounding canyon walls through a blend of riparian and desert vegetation. Along the way, Roaring Springs and Ribbon Falls both offer rewarding side trips that are wonderfully juxtaposed to the often hot conditions of the main trail.
If you do want to hike to the river, Grand Canyon backpackers can spend the night at the Phantom Ranch or at campsites near the river with an approved backcountry permit. Backcountry permits are required for overnight hikes in Grand Canyon National Park.
Equal parts dense forest and open canyon scenery, the Widforss Trail combines all the best elements of the North Rim into a 10 mile round trip adventure. Self-guiding trail brochure available at trailhead for this 6-hour hike.
Cliff Springs Trail
A very short but very rewarding hike takes you down a forested ravine to a cliff side spring tucked away behind a colorful bolder field. This one mile round Cliff Springs Trail hike takes approximately an hour to complete.
Ken Patrick Trail
This long rim hike is full of beautiful and big views as you walk through forest all the way from Point Imperial to the North Kaibab Trail parking area. Allow about 6 hours to hike the 9.8 mile Ken Patrick Trail round trip.
Uncle Jim Trail
Forested viewpoints are aplenty on this 5 mile round-trip trail that takes approximately 3 hours to hike round-trip. You’ll wind through Kaibab forest to a beautiful point overlooking the canyon. The Uncle Jim Trail is also frequently used by mules.
Tips for Visiting Grand Canyon North Rim
Here are a few tips and things to remember for your trip to the Grand Canyon North Rim:
- Be Altitude Aware The altitude averages around 8,000. Visitors can have minor altitude effects such as headaches and loss of appetite. Stay hydrated with plenty of water before and during your visit.
- Bring Cold and Warm Clothing: The temperatures fluctuate greatly at the North Rim. Afternoons can reach up to 90° and it can be freezing at night. Be prepared for this wide range in temperatures.
- Give Yourself Extra Time: Roads in the Grand Canyon North rim are remote, windy and it isn’t uncommon to see huge herds of mule deer leisurely grazing. Give yourself extra time to see all the sights on your travel agenda.
- Plan Ahead: This is a remote region with very limited services. Gas and provision up at Jacob Lake, 45-miles up State Route 67 before it dead-ends at Grand Canyon North Rim.