The Grand Canyon North Rim

Only 10 percent of visitors stop on the Grand Canyon North Rim. Rising 8,000 feet (2,400 m) above sea level, the North Rim stands 1,000 feet higher than its South Rim counterpart. The difference is dramatic; this rim is greener, cooler and host to an abundance of forest and wildlife. Even the views are different; expect to take in the expanse of the canyon rather than focus on its depths.

Grand Canyon North Rim hotels, lodging and lodges

If you’re looking to escape the busy South Rim, head to the Grand Canyon’s ‘other side;’ attracting only 10 percent of all canyon visitors, the North Rim is rustic, uninhibited and open for exploration. If you’re looking for North Rim hotels, you don’t have to look far; your choice of North Rim lodges and lodging is limited to the historic 1930s Grand Canyon Lodge. As the only formal accommodation on the North Rim, the Lodge is open from mid May to mid October.

Driving Directions

To reach the Grand Canyon North Rim by car, take Highway 89A to Highway 67 and you’ll arrive at the Grand Canyon Lodge. Accessibility to the North Rim depends on the weather; snowfall can close down the roads and visitor facilities from mid October to mid May.

Visitor’s facilities

The Grand Canyon Lodge houses the North Rim’s visitor’s facilities with a National Park information centre located nearby. The Lodge also provides a campground, restaurant, general store and gas station.

Scenic North Rim

There are three maintained viewpoints along the North Rim. Views of the Colorado River are rare because the water is twice as far from the North Rim as it is from the South Rim.

The highest point on the Grand Canyon North Rim is Point Imperial (8,803 feet). From here you can see the Painted Desert and Marble Canyon as well as the far eastern edge of the abyss. Point Imperial can only be reached by driving up and then walking. Don’t worry, you can still take photographs on the drive; there are a number of places to pull over and get out.

Panoramic Cape Royal is perfect for viewing at sunrise and sunset. From here you are afforded an unusual view of the river; observe it framed through ‘Angels Window,’ a natural rock arch in the canyon. To reach Cape Royal simply follow the paved trail.

The farthest most westward viewpoint is Point Sublime, which can only be reached by sturdy four wheel drive. This remote viewing spot is a two hour drive away; pick up directions and check road conditions at the Lodge.

On foot

A number of trails are available for those interested in hiking along the rim, though only one (the North Kaibab Trail) allows you to descend into the canyon. Pick up maps and directions at the park information centre.

Bright Angel Point Trail is one of the easiest trails to follow; simply begin near the Lodge and wind your way one half mile to the rim.

If you prefer to travel in forest, the moderate Uncle Jim Trail winds through the pine trees to culminate in outstanding views of the canyon. Begin in the North Kaibab Trail parking lot to embark on this five mile roundtrip.

Visitors to Cape Royal viewpoint can easily pick up Widforss Trail, which begins one quarter mile south of Cape Royal Road. This strenuous ten mile roundtrip hike takes you through forest and canyon.

The famous North Kaibab Trail is the only ‘maintained’ trail that descends into the canyon from the North Rim. This ‘very strenuous’ trail leads from the North Kaibab Trail parking lot to Roaring Springs, which lie 3,014 feet below the canyon rim. Expect the 9.4 mile hike to take between six and eight hours. Park officials do not recommend trying to hike beyond Roaring Springs and back in one day.