Guide To Visiting The North Rim of the Grand Canyon

north-rim-grand-canyon

This article discusses things to do at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, including scenic drives, hikes, and viewpoints. We also share how to get there, where to stay, and other information to help you plan your trip.

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon offers a unique experience separate from the South Rim and West Rim.

Located at an elevation of over 8,000 feet with initial views hidden by the pine forest, visitors reach the North Rim overlook to peer out in awe of the Grand Canyon’s magnificence.

What To Do While Visiting

Hiking along the North Rim
Views hiking along the North Rim.

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

  • Checking out the Visitor Center
  • Overlooking Bright Angel Point
  • Hiking the day hike trails
  • Going on a mule ride
  • Driving the scenic

Did you know that 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 hours and covers about 220 miles.

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

Explore the Visitor Center

North Rim Grand Canyon Visitor Center sign
Me at the North Rim Visitor Center.

You should stop at the Visitor Center here. Sometimes, we skip the Visitor Centers, but you can walk to Bright Angel Point from this one.

Grab a trail map, check out the bookstore, and browse the exhibits.

See Bright Angel Point

Grand Canyon North Rim
My first time visiting the North Rim.

One of the highlights of visiting the North Rim is walking the 0.5-mile (roundtrip) paved path to the Bright Angel Point overlook. This location offers one of the famous vantage points. It really is spectacular.

Hike at the North Rim

Hiking the North Rim of the Gand Canyon
Hiking along the North Rim.

There are many day-trip trails to check out while visiting. Below is a quick summary, including the trail name, distance, and estimated time it takes to hike.

I like that so many of these are short and easy to do on a day trip. There are also trails you can take your dog and even bike.

Bright Angel Point:

  • 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 are 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

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. It is not recommended to try to hike to the Colorado River and back on the same day
  • Recommend talking to the 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 miles (roundtrip)
  • Time to hike: ~1 hour

Go on a Mule Ride

Dog friendly hikes Grand Canyon
Sunny, my dog, likes the scenic overlooks, too.

We haven’t done this, but mule rides are surprisingly popular.

You’ll want to research some of the guiding outfits to plan your adventure.

Cruise the North Rim Scenic Drive

Point Imperial Grand Canyon Scenic Drive
Point Imperial lookout sign.

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

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

You can also 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.

How To Get to the North Rim

North Rim through the trees
Grand Canyon is hidden by trees.

The first time we visited, we thought we would drive through the North Rim Entrance Station and be greeted instantly with beautiful views of the canyon. This was not the case. Pablo and I were both like, Where is it?!

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.

Closest Airports

The closest airport is located in Kanab, Utah, 80 miles or two hours away.

Major airports are in Las Vegas or Phoenix. Flagstaff is also an option.

Where To Stay

The Lodge

There is one lodge to stay at—the Grand Canyon Lodge—in addition to camping.

We recommend making reservations well in advance if you’re interested in staying here.

Campgrounds Near the North Rim

The National Park Service manages only one campground at the North Rim, the North Rim Campground. You can make reservations on recreation.gov (link to book).

There are a few other options outside of the park to camp at, including:

If you’re new to dispersed camping, you might enjoy learning more with our article about (dispersed) camping.

Maps for Hiking and Camping

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

Which is Better: The North, South, or West Rim?

North Rim Scenic Drive Overlook
View of the North Rim.

All of the rims offer epic views, but they are each different. None is better than the other. The North Rim is more green, has a pine forest, and is at a higher elevation. The South Rim and West Rim are more desolate.

The National Park Service manages the South and North Rims. The West Rim is part of the Hualapai Reservation and is managed by the Tribe.

The West Rim offers fun excursions like whitewater rafting, a Skywalk, and helicopter rides. I had the chance to visit the West Rim for a 2-day rafting trip, and it was awesome.

Why we love the North Rim: We love visiting 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 of the trails.

The North Rim Is Not Open Year Round

It is only open seasonally from May 15 through October 15.

This part of the park closes because of the snowpack.

What To Know about the Weather

Because it is located at a higher elevation, the weather is typically cooler than the South Rim and West Rim. When planning your trip, prepare like you’re going to the mountains.

The weather at the North Rim is cooler in the mornings. Temperatures warm up as the day goes on and cool off again in the evenings. For example, whether you are visiting in May or October, there might be an afternoon rain shower or even a snowstorm.

We visited at the beginning of June one year, and it was cold, with an evening thunderstorm.

Before you go, check out the weather and road conditions.

Have fun out there.

Ashlee & Pablo

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More Southwest Travel Guides

Are you planning a road trip to the North Rim? You might also enjoy visiting Bryce Canyon or Zion National Park nearby:

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    Ashlee Fechino

    Ashlee Fechino is an outdoor recreation and travel writer sharing the best-kept secrets that aren’t in your typical guidebook. Her goal is to inspire people to travel with a sense of adventure by sharing hidden gems across the U.S. and beyond. She is married to an expat Argentine, Pablo. They camp in their Aliner often and love wandering the world. Follow their latest adventures on Instagram @thehappinessfxn.

    16 Comments

    1. Burt Randall on April 11, 2021 at 1:58 pm

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



      • Ashlee Fechino on April 12, 2021 at 9:35 am

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



    2. cass on April 9, 2021 at 3:52 pm

      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 on April 11, 2021 at 9:38 am

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



    3. Jen Nilsson on April 8, 2021 at 11:54 am

      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 on April 11, 2021 at 9:38 am

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



    4. Denise on April 8, 2021 at 10:20 am

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



      • Ashlee Fechino on April 11, 2021 at 9:39 am

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



    5. Brittany on April 7, 2021 at 2:38 pm

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



      • Ashlee Fechino on April 7, 2021 at 3:21 pm

        Hi Brittany! Awesome, have a great trip!



    6. Morgana Fry on April 7, 2021 at 1:58 pm

      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 on April 7, 2021 at 3:20 pm

        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.



    7. Megan on April 7, 2021 at 1:32 pm

      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 on April 7, 2021 at 3:19 pm

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



    8. Cristina Sala on April 6, 2021 at 9:34 am

      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 on April 7, 2021 at 3:19 pm

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