Grand Canyon - The North Rim
Those visiting the remote Grand Canyon North Rim (a 5-hour drive from South Rim) will be rewarded with a chance to see the canyon without the crowds.
The services and roads of the Grand Canyon’s North Rim are closed in winter. Full services are available at the North Rim between May 15 and October 15. While the roads to the North Rim are closed from December 1 – May 14, hikers and snowshoers can access the North Rim in the winter season but need a backcountry permit.
Offering fantastic views with less congestion, the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park offers those willing to drive five hours and 212 miles from the South Rim a chance to see the canyon without the crowds.
There are places like Point Imperial where you can watch the distant rising sun gradually spread a blanket of warm red and gold light across the giant walls of rock and the singular spire of Mount Hayden. You might even hear the evocative song of a canyon wren rising and falling in crescendo, just eight or 10 clear notes. It is, perhaps, the most memorable bird song of the West.
The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is an experience wholly separate from the South Rim. A more remote, rugged and individual opportunity to see what John Wesley Powelldescribed as, “ledges and cliffs where the soaring eagle is lost to view before it reaches a summit.”
Of the 5 million people who arrive annually to view the 1.8 billion years of geology the Grand Canyon represents, only about 12% ever make a trip to the North Rim. From most points on the South Rim, unlike the North Rim, you can’t see all the way down the mile-long slit in the earth to where the Colorado River runs. At a 1,000 foot greater elevation, the North Rim offers what are considered the best three comprehensive views of the Canyon; Toroweap, Point Sublime, and Cape Royal. Conversations/Things we learned:
For most visitors to the Grand Canyon, the south rim is the main attraction. Some data indicates 97% of the visitors to the Grand Canyon head to the south rim while a very few travel to the north rim and even fewer travel to the bottom to visit the Colorado River and Phantom Ranch. In either case, we recommend first-time visitors spend an entire day at the South Rim and if able, hike down both South Kaibab and Bright Angel Trails to the first stopping point. Both short hikes are about 1.5 miles one-way but the views are breathtaking. It is also highly recommended you watch the sunset at Hopi Point where the view of the Colorado River is extraordinary.
The South Rim also offers incredible paved and graveled walking trails which lead to many hotels, lodges, visitor centers, and restaurants. The National Parks Service also provides buses free of charge which carries visitors along the South Rim and the different viewing points and trailheads all day and throughout the evening.
For additional trips and if you are able, consider obtaining a permit to spend the night at a campground or at the Phantom Ranch, both of which are at the bottom of the canyon. We do not recommend attempting to hike to the bottom and back in one day and nor does the National Parks Service.
PO Box 129 Grand Canyon , Arizona 86023
Phone: (928) 638-7888
The Road to the North Rim
Gallery of photos of North Rim
Visitor Center and Lodge
North Kaibab Trailhead