Best Things to Do North Rim Grand Canyon

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon offers a unique experience for visitors separate from the South Rim. Located at an elevation of over 8,000 feet with initial views hidden by the dense forest, visitors reach the North Rim overlook to look out in awe of the Grand Canyon’s magnificence. In this article, we’ll tell you about all the things to do at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, including scenic drives, where to hike, and camp.

Now, let’s plan a memorable road trip to the North Rim!

north-rim-grand-canyon
North Rim overlook

This post may contain affiliate links, which means we’ll receive a commission if you purchase through our links, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure for more information.


What to Do at the North Rim Grand Canyon

Uniquely, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is visited 90% less than the South Rim. The Grand Canyon is so massive that driving from the South Rim to the North Rim takes over four and a half (4.5) hours. The drive from the South Rim to the North Rim is about 220 miles.

If you were to hike from the North Rim to the South Rim, it is a 21-mile trek.

All this to say, that the North Rim is considered a more off-the-beaten-path type of adventure, making it the best type of road trip (in our opinion)!

There are many things to do at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, and it is definitely worth seeing!

Best Grand Canyon North Rim Activities

The main activities to do while visiting the North Rim include:

  • Hiking
  • Camping
  • Going on a mule ride
  • Checking out the Visitor Center
  • Overlooking Bright Angel Point
  • Driving the scenic drive and stopping at all the viewpoints to enjoy and take photos
hiking-north-rim-grand-canyon
Hiking along the North Rim

North Rim Grand Canyon Hiking

There are 13 different day-hiking trails visitors can do from the North Rim.

Below is a quick summary, including the trail name, distance, and time estimated to hike.

Bright Angel Point Trail

  • Distance: 0.5-mile (roundtrip)
  • Time to hike: 30 minutes

Transept Trail

  • Distance: 2-miles (one-way)
  • Time to hike: 1 hour

Bridle Path

  • Distance: 1.9 miles (roundtrip)
  • Time to hike: 1 hour
  • Pets allowed on this path

Widforss Trail

  • Distance: 9.6 miles (roundtrip)
  • Time to hike: ~ 6 hours

Uncle Jim Trail

  • Distance: 4.7 miles (roundtrip)
  • Time to hike: ~ 3 hours
hiking-along-north-rim
Views hiking along the North Rim

Ken Patrick Trail

  • Distance: 9.8 miles (one-way)
  • Time to hike: ~ 6 hours

Arizona Trail

  • Distance: 12.1 miles (one-way)
  • Time to hike: ~ 7 hours
  • Pets allowed
  • Bicycles allowed

North Kaibab Trail

  • Distance: TBD, not recommended to try to hike to the Colorado River and back on the same day
  • Recommend talking to Visitor Center first before hiking for trail status
  • Be sure to plan ahead

Point Imperial Trail

  • Distance: 5.4 miles (roundtrip)
  • Time to hike: ~ 3 hours

Roosevelt Point Trail

  • Distance: 0.2 miles (roundtrip)
  • Time to hike: 30 minutes

Cape Final Trail

  • Distance: 4.2 miles (roundtrip)
  • Time to hike: ~2-3 hours

Cliff Spring Trail

  • Distance: 0.8 mile (roundtrip)
  • Time to hike: ~ 1 hour

Cape Royal Trail

  • Distance: 0.8 mile (roundtrip)
  • Time to hike: ~1 hour
dog-friendly-hikes-grand-canyon
Sunny dog likes the scenic overlooks too

Camping North Rim Grand Canyon

The National Park Service manages only one (1) campground at the North Rim.

Check out recreation.gov to make a reservation ahead of time at the North Rim Campground.

Grand Canyon Mule Ride North Rim

Going on a mule ride through some of the Grand Canyon trails is definitely one way to see the North Rim! Mule rides are surprisingly popular.

You’ll want to research some of the guiding outfits to plan your adventure (we have not done this but it looks crazy fun)!

North Rim Visitor Center

Be sure to stop at the Visitor Center! Grab a trail map, check out the bookstore, browse the exhibits, and be sure to walk to Bright Angel Point!

north-rim-grand-canyon-visitor-center-sign
Sitting in front of the North Rim Visitor Center sign

Bright Angel Point

You simply cannot miss walking the paved 0.5-mile (roundtrip) path to the Bright Angel Point overlook! This location offers one of the more famous vantage points from the North Rim into the Grand Canyon.

North Rim Scenic Drive

If you’re not planning on hiking much, the scenic drive from the Visitor Center to Cape Royal is a great way to visit the North Rim.

Or, if you spend more than one day at the North Rim, hike AND squeeze the scenic drive into your trip!

The Scenic Drive is 23 miles to the Cape Royal lookout point from the Visitor Center. It takes roughly an hour each way.

Be sure to stop at the other main lookout points, including Point Imperial, Vista Encantada, Roosevelt Point, Walhalla Overlook, and Angels Window, to enjoy the views and take photos.

point-imperial-grand-canyon-scenic-drive
Point Imperial lookout sign

Distances from Other Nearby National Parks

When we visited the first time, we actually paired it with a trip to Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park.

Below are the distances and times to get to the North Rim from other nearby National Parks:

  • Zion National Park to North Rim Grand Canyon Visitor Center – 122 miles
  • Bryce Canyon to Grand Canyon North Rim Visitor Center – 158 miles

How to Get to the North Rim Grand Canyon

The first time we visited the North Rim, we thought we would drive through the North Rim Entrance Station to be greeted instantly with insanely beautiful views of the Grand Canyon. This was not the case! Haha!

From Jacob Lake, in Northern Arizona, on Highway 67, head south 30 miles. You eventually meet the North Rim Entrance Fee Station.

From the North Rim Entrance Fee Station, you are still 14 miles from the actual rim! Continue driving the winding road through the Kaibab National Forest towards the Visitor Center area.

Below are the distances from other popular road trip destinations to help you plan your trip:

  • North Rim Grand Canyon to or from Las Vegas, Nevada – 266 miles
  • Kanab, Utah, to North Rim Grand Canyon – 80 miles
  • Salt Lake City, Utah, to Grand Canyon North Rim – 392 miles
  • Phoenix, Arizona, to the Grand Canyon North Rim – 351 miles

Be sure to double-check with Google or your map navigation system to get times and approximate distances to plan your road trip to the North Rim!

north-rim-through-the-trees
Grand Canyon hidden by trees

Closest Airport to North Rim Grand Canyon

The closest airport to the North Rim is located in Kanab, Utah, 80 miles or two (2) hours away.

The closest major airports are in Las Vegas or Phoenix. Flagstaff is also an option.

Where to Stay in the North Rim Grand Canyon

There is one (1) lodge to stay at – the Grand Canyon Lodge besides camping.

If you’re interested in staying here, we definitely recommend making reservations way in advance.

Campgrounds Near the North Rim

As we were saying earlier, there is only one (1) campground at the North Rim managed by the National Park Service, the North Rim Campground.

There are a few other options outside of the Park to camp at and include:

  • Jacob Lake Campground – U.S. Forest Service
  • DeMotte Campground – U.S. Forest Service
  • Dispersed Camping in the Kaibab National Forest – U.S. Forest Service (our personal favorite!)

If you’re new to dispersed camping, you might enjoy our article on primitive (dispersed) camping.

North Rim Grand Canyon Maps for Hiking and Camping

To plan hiking in the Grand Canyon and dispersed camping in the Kaibab National Forest, we recommend having the National Geographic maps below:

North vs. South Rim Grand Canyon

When planning a trip to the Grand Canyon, you might wonder which part of the Grand Canyon is better to visit.

Both the North Rim and South Rim offer epic views of the Grand Canyon!

The North Rim and the South Rim are different!

While planning your trip, consider the proximity and distances you are willing to drive, the time of year you would like to visit, as well as activities you’d like to do.

We personally love visiting the North Rim because it has fewer crowds, cooler temperatures, and more options nearby for dispersed camping. We also like all of the options for shorter day hikes! Plus, we can take our dog on two (2) of the trails at the North Rim while road tripping, and we typically have the dog!

north-rim-scenic-drive-overlook
View of the Grand Canyon

When Does the North Rim of the Grand Canyon Open?

Did you know the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is closed during the winter?

The North Rim is only open seasonally from May 15 through October 15.

This part of the Park closes because of the snowpack since it is located at an elevation of over 8,000 feet.

North Rim Grand Canyon Weather

The Grand Canyon North Rim’s weather is typically cooler than the South Rim because it is located at a higher elevation. When planning your trip to the North Rim, plan like you’re going on a trip to the mountains! The Weather at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon will be cooler in the mornings; temperatures will warm up as the day goes on, then cool off again in the evenings. There might be an afternoon rain shower or even a snowstorm depending on if you are visiting in May or October!

We visited at the beginning of June one year, and it was cold accompanied by an evening thunderstorm!

Before you go, check out the Grand Canyon National Park Service weather and road conditions.

What to Pack

Plan to pack for all temperatures and bring lots of layers to accommodate the weather and your comfort.

As we were saying, plan for all four (4) seasons when you visit the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Here is a checklist of what we pack in our road trip waterproof duffle bags along with the brands we love:

  • Rain and windproof jacket
  • Light down jacket
  • Synthetic long sleeve sun shirt or base layer
  • Long pants for cooler nights
  • Short sleeve shirt
  • Long thin pants for hiking in the sun (you want sun protection, especially at high elevation)
  • Shorts
  • Wool socks
  • Hiking shoes – women’s Oboz brand (I love) and Pablo likes his Merrell’s
  • Brimmed hat
  • Sunscreen and SPF chapstick (Yikes, don’t forget either at 8,000 feet!)
  • Water bottles – at least one gallon per person per day in the desert
  • Day hiking bag
  • Food
  • Camera
  • Personal Toilet Tries
  • Undergarments

If you are planing on camping and are curious about what to pack, check out our other post on what to bring for tent camping.

Things to Do North Rim Grand Canyon Summary

In case you decided to skip through, below is a summary of the main things to do at the North Rim:

  • Hiking
  • Camping
  • Going on a mule ride
  • Checking out the Visitor Center
  • Overlooking Bright Angel Point
  • Driving the scenic drive and stopping at all the viewpoints to enjoy and take photos

We hope you have a memorable road trip to the North Rim.

Thanks for reading.

Ashlee & Pablo


You might also enjoy…

Are you road-tripping through the Southwest?

You might also like our other articles on Southwest National Parks and camping:

Save this article on Pinterest for later!

We would love to hear from you!

When are you planning on visiting the Grand Canyon?

If you have been, what were your favorite things to do at the North Rim?

Did you know the Grand Canyon is a recognized World Heritage Site?

About The Author

Ashlee Fechino

I’m a travel and outdoor recreation writer with dreams to inspire happiness through an outdoorsy lifestyle. I want to help people live their best life by sharing free adventure guides. The USA has been my backyard most of my life, and it’s the place where you’ll find most of our escapades! I’m married to an expat Argentine, chihuahua Mom, and am passionate about the environment. I hold a BS degree in Biology and MS in Environmental Policy & Sustainability. We camp in our Aliner often, love road trips, hiking, and SUP’ing!

16 COMMENTS

  1. Cristina Sala | 6th Apr 21

    que maravilla la vista de EL GRAN CAÑON, emociona
    Una aventura indudablemente inolvidable.
    Me encanta que Sunny tambien comparta esta vista panoramica
    Que interesaante el paseo en mula.
    Cuantos miradores
    Como me gustaria visitar el Gran Cañon No sabia que era patrimonio de la Humanidad

    • Ashlee Fechino | 7th Apr 21

      ¡Hola mamá! Gracias por leer y comentar. Quizás podamos llevarte allí algún día.

  2. Megan | 7th Apr 21

    I love how you broke down all those trails into distance and time. That is so helpful! And going on a mule ride sound like such a fun and unique experience!

    • Ashlee Fechino | 7th Apr 21

      Hi Megan – thanks for reading and commenting. So glad you enjoyed the format. We try to make our articles easy to browse.

  3. Morgana Fry | 7th Apr 21

    I love pairing Bryce and Zion with the Grand Canyon as it makes for such a memorable trip!! I had no idea the North Rim was so much less visited! Will definitely be remembering this next time I’m out there!

    • Ashlee Fechino | 7th Apr 21

      Hi Morgana – thanks for stopping by! Yes, doing a Southwest road trip and checking out Zion, Bryce, and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is a perfect adventure.

  4. Brittany | 7th Apr 21

    This is perfect – we have been planning an AZ/UT camping trip for summer. Definitely saving all these awesome hikes and campsites!

  5. Denise | 8th Apr 21

    Very helpful in deciding which area to visit and where to hike!

    • Ashlee Fechino | 11th Apr 21

      Hi Denise! Thank you for reading. Hope you have a nice visit to the North Rim.

  6. Jen Nilsson | 8th Apr 21

    I did S. Kaibab (but not all the way to the river) when I went. Now I really want to go Rim to Rim! Great post. So informative. Thank you!

    • Ashlee Fechino | 11th Apr 21

      Hi Jen! Cool share. Rim to rim is on our bucket list too someday!

  7. cass | 9th Apr 21

    Sounds like there are many amazing hikes here, though it may be hard to choose which one to do! The views look incredible

    • Ashlee Fechino | 11th Apr 21

      Hi Cass! The North Rim is amazing. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  8. Burt Randall | 11th Apr 21

    We used to go when I was a child to the South Rim !! I would love to go to the North too.

    • Ashlee Fechino | 12th Apr 21

      Hi Uncle Burt – that is so cool. Thanks for sharing!

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *