Essential Grand Canyon North Rim Guide (Things to Do, Tips & Advice)

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If you’re here because you find yourself contemplating a visit to the Grand Canyon North Rim, then you’ve come to the right place. We’re here to make your trip planning a breeze with this one-stop guide.

Travelers fly from around the world to the United States just to visit the Grand Canyon. Images of this stunning desert landscape with a massive fissure in the earth have captivated the minds of tourists for generations.

Throughout Grand Canyon National Park, there are dozens of overlooks, miles of trails, and countless adventurers on offer. With the Colorado River flowing swiftly at the bottom of the ravine, the jaw-dropping contrast of water and desert will leave you breathless.

As you probably already know, the Grand Canyon is massive. As a result, the national park is split into different sections, namely north and south.

While the south unit is the most visited, due to its ease of access, the north unit holds just as many wonders and sees far less people.

If you find yourself traveling the southern route from Denver to Las Vegas, heading west from Page, Arizona towards St George, Utah, then we highly recommend you plan a stop in Kanab, Utah so you’re able to take a side trip visit the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

We hope you have your cameras ready; your adventure to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon starts here!

Don’t leave home without your own: Lonely Planet USA’s National Parks (Travel Guide)


How to Plan your Trip to Grand Canyon’s North Rim


LIna Stock of Divergent Travelers Adventure Travel Blog sitting at one of the best lookout spots on the Grand Canyon's North Rim - Bright Angel Point

Before you strap on your hiking boots and head out on the trail, there are several things you need to consider before exploring the Grand Canyon.

For starters, should I visit the North or South Rim of the Grand Canyon? How do I get to the North Rim? When should I travel to the Grand Canyon? All these questions will be answered to ensure you have the trip of your dreams!

We loved our Grand Canyon, North and South Rims Illustrated Map that showed us all of the hidden spots along the North Rim.

North Rim vs. South Rim

The view from the Cape Royal lookout on the Grand Canyon North Rim.

Whether you decide to visit the Grand Canyon’s North or South Rim, you’re sure to be blown away by the views. One thing to remember before you decide on a location is that most of the iconic views you see on postcards are taken at the South Rim.

Being the more famous of the two, the South Rim can also be unbearably commercial. With souvenir shops and hordes of tour groups along every trail, you may find it difficult to avoid the crowds.

The North Rim, on the other hand, is a bit more off the beaten path. You’ll still be dazzled with the same jaw-dropping views, but with a fraction of the tourists. Not to mention, the highest point along the Grand Canyon is found on the North Rim, meaning you’ll be standing on the roof of the world.

It is worth noting that the reason the North Rim sees far fewer people is due to logistics and routes. You cannot simply drive from the South Rim to the North Rim, this route will take you at least 5 hours, not including any stops.

The South rim is accessible from Las Vegas and Flagstaff, while the North Rim is located along Highway 89 that follows the Utah-Arizona border for people road tripping from Las Vegas to Page, Arizona.

Grand Canyon National Park Entrance Fee

Views of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon along the Cape Royal hiking trail.

Regardless of if you choose to travel to the South or North Rim of the Grand Canyon, you’ll still have to pay an entrance fee. If you’re visiting by car, the fee will be $35 USD. If you find yourself arriving on foot, by shuttle, or by trail, the individual fee for visitors is $20 USD.

If you are planning a wider road trip to multiple US National Parks, we recommend you purchase a America the Beautiful Park Pass either online prior to your trip or at your first park. This pass costs $80 USD and permits entrance into any National Park in the USA for one year.

How to get to the North Rim

North Rim scenic drive in Fall.

There are several ways to reach the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The entrance to the North Rim is just 30 miles away from Jacob Lake, Arizona, and 275 miles from the nearest airport in Las Vegas. 

Most people choose to visit the Grand Canyon North Rim while visiting Kanab, Utah or while enroute to/from Page, Arizona.

If you’re already in the park, you can easily get a shuttle from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to the North. The service only runs once per day and requires a reservation. The travel time from the south to the North is 5 hours. 

If you utilize this option, be sure to make camping or lodge reservations far in advance to ensure you have a place to stay overnight because you won’t be able to take the 5 hour shuttle there and the 5 hour shuttle back in the same day.

When to Visit the North Rim

Lina Stock of Divergent Travelers Adventure Travel Blog visiting the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Before you pack your bags and head out to the Grand Canyon, you’ll want to make sure you know when to visit the North Rim. Although in the desert, the North Rim of the park actually has a short season, running from May 15th to October 15th.

During the off-season, you can still visit the park, but expect many of the ranger services not to be available and facilities to be closed. With unpredictable weather and heavy snowfall, the winter can be a beautiful yet difficult time to visit the North Rim.


9. Best Things to do at Grand Canyon North Rim


1. Visit the North Rim Visitor Center

North Rim Visitor Center Sing

When starting your adventure in the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, make sure you head over to the North Rim Visitor Center. This is where travelers can get the most up to date information on trails and closures in the park.

Besides giving out valuable information, the visitor center is home to several exhibits that provide extra insight into the Grand Canyon. There is even a gift shop where you can pick up some souvenirs before heading out on the trails.

2. North Rim Scenic Drive

Lina Stock of Divergent Travelers Adventure Travel Blog sitting at one of the best lookouts along the North Rim Scenic Drive.

The North Rim Scenic Drive will hit all the best spots in this part of the park in a short stretch of road. The entire scenic drive is 23 miles long and takes 45 minutes to complete with no stops. But with scenery like this, prepare to spend most of the day exploring the park.

Along the scenic drive, you’ll find some of the best sights in the park. With overlooks such as Cape Imperial and Cape Royal, you can easily spend most of your day taking pictures and hiking down the trails.

3. Bright Angel Point

Bright Angel Point with a visitor on the rocks looking out.

Just as you head out from the visitor center, one of the best overlooks in the entire park will be waiting for you. Bright Angel Point offers some of the most stunning views of the entire North Rim. Putting you high above the canyon, this spot is a favorite with photographers.

Getting to Bright Angel Point is quite easy. From the visitor center, travelers will just need to walk down a short 0.5-mile paved path before reaching the overlook.

4. Point Imperial

The view of Point Imperial along the North Rim Scenic Drive - Cape Royal lookout.

Located right along the Grand Canyon North Rim Scenic Drive, Point Imperial is a favorite with visitors in the park. Putting you 8803 feet above sea level, these are the kind of views you simply can’t find elsewhere in the park.

As you’re driving down the North Rim Scenic Drive and Cape Royal Road, you’ll find the turn off for Point Imperial on the right. With its jaw-dropping scenery and fantastic views of the canyon, you’re sure to get some incredible photos.

5. Cape Royal

Angel’s Windows view from Cape Royal lookout.

Perched upon a natural arch, Cape Royal is one of the best overlooks in the entire Grand Canyon National Park. From the top of Cape Royal, visitors will be left breathless by the panoramic views of the canyon below. 

Starting from the parking lot off Cape Royal Drive, you can easily reach the overlook by hiking down a one-mile trail. Along the Cape Royal Trail, you’ll also find Angel’s Windows, another popular viewpoint to see the canyon from.

6. Stay at the Grand Canyon Lodge

The view from Grand Canyon Lodge located right on the North Rim Grand Canyon.

Even if you’re not planning on staying at the North Rim Grand Canyon Lodge, the experience of visiting the hotel is still enough to blow your socks off!

This historic lodge was built back in 1923. Although the hotel has undergone renovations over the years, the decor stays true to its original design.

After a day of hiking the trails, you can enjoy some fantastic views of the canyon from the Grand Canyon Lodge’s lounge.

With an on-site restaurant, perfect for grabbing a meal after you’ve worked up an appetite, you’ll want to stop by the lodge at least once while exploring the Grand Canyon.

The Grand Canyon Lodge books out a year in advance, you may be lucky and score an off day here and there but if you want a view like what’s in the photo above, you should book your stay well in advance at the Grand Canyon Lodge.

7. Hike to Cape Final

The view from Cape Final lookout over the Grand Canyon North Rim.

Located not too far from Cape Royal, Cape Final is another viewpoint you won’t want to miss while exploring the Grand Canyon’s North Rim. With panoramic views of the canyon and surrounding desert, you’ll be gasping in awe over the sheer beauty of the park.

Compared to some of the other trails, the hike to Cape Final is a little bit longer but also immerses backpackers more in the nature of the North Rim. The trail stretches a total of four-miles one way and takes about two hours to complete.

8. Take on the North Kaibab Trail

Lina Stock of Divergent Travelers Adventure Travel Blog hiking the North Kaibab Trail

Are all these simple hikes in the North Rim not enough for you adventurous backpackers? One of the best ways to truly lose yourself in nature is by venturing down the North Kaibab Trail.

The North Kaibab Trail leads from the canyon’s rim to the banks of the Colorado River – you can’t get more extreme than that.

The entire North Kaibab Trail stretches 14 miles in one direction, meaning you’ll have to hike a total of 28 miles to the river and back. You can also take shorter hikes along the North Kaibab Trail to Coconino Overlook and Supai Tunnel.

This hike is considered strenuous and should not be attempted as a day hike. The park service offers good maps and advice for day hike turnarounds if you only have time for part of the trail. For those that will hike the whole trail, you’ll need camping gear, provisions and a backcountry permit.

We strongly recommend if you are taking on any of the amazing hikes in the North Rim that you have the right hiking gear. We have put together 40 Hiking Essentials that we always use while hiking.

9. Hike to Roaring Springs

Roaring Springs along the North Kailbab Trail

The awe-inspiring Roaring Springs is another sight along the North Kaibab Trail that is perfect for travelers looking for a day-long hiking trip. The Roaring Springs provides the entire area with drinking water and is a sight to behold.

This waterfall is located ten-miles down the North Kaibab Trail. The hike is considered challenging and should only be attempted by travelers with some backpacking experience. It will take your average hiker anywhere from seven to eight hours to complete the trail.

If hiking is your thing, you should check out 20 of the Best Hikes in the World to Put on Your Bucket List.

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Essential Grand Canyon North Rim Guide (Things to Do, Tips & Advice)



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About Lina Stock

Lina is an award-winning photographer and writer that has been exploring the world since 2001. She has traveled to 100 countries on all 7 continents. Member: SATW, NATJA, ATTA, ITWA



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2 thoughts on “Essential Grand Canyon North Rim Guide (Things to Do, Tips & Advice)”

  1. we are planning our one and only grand canyon trip to see both N and S rim. Our travel will begin or end in either St George or Flagstaff. Which direction do you recommend…North rim to South or visa versa? Im trying to navigate the best driving route and saw that hiway 64 is closed. Will it be open in September 2021?
    thanks JAN

    Reply
    • Hi Janet, That sounds like an awesome trip you have coming up! Personally, I’d recommend starting in St George to visit the North Rim first before heading to the South Rim. Mainly because the North Rim is more off the beaten path and less commercial. Don’t skimp on it though, give yourself 2 days to see the best of North Rim, it’s spectacular and so quiet. As for being able to use HWY 64 to cut across, I would recommend that you keep an eye on local announcements for when it will open. If it does, great, you can use it. If not, have a plan B for accessing the South Rim from the north. Enjoy!

      Reply

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