The Grand Canyon is one of the best places in the world for a nature enthusiast and a hiking lover. However, due to the internet, there has been an overload of information regarding the places to visit and what to do in this place. This leads to prominence being given to specific places and neglect of other equally worthy ones. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is one such place.
Here, we have simplified for you the what and why of North Rim and how it is different from the South so that you can make an informed choice about the area to visit based on facts.
How to visit
The Grand Canyon lies within Arizona and has two prominent rims: north and south. The North Rim is 48.2 km south of Jacob Lake in Arizona. Some driving options that you can take to travel to the rim are:
South Rim to North Rim – 341 km
Every day, a shuttle service runs once from the south to the north rim and takes 4.5–5 hours to reach. This service is quite popular and requires booking.
Flagstaff to North Rim – 333 km
It is a good option for those who have landed at Flagstaff airport and intend on traveling to the canyon.
Phoenix to North Rim – 565 km
There are multiple options on this route depending on your spending capacity. There is a direct flight from Phoenix to Grand Canyon; you can take a flight from Phoenix to Flagstaff and then take a shuttle; you can take a flight to Page and then book a shuttle, or you can cover the entire distance via bus.
Las Vegas to North Rim- 443 km
The best option is to drive or take a direct bus from Las Vegas to the rim. However, one can fly to Flagstaff or Phoenix and then take a shuttle from the airport.
For exact directions and other possible routes, you can check here.
Is the North Rim worth seeing?
A two-word answer to this question: Hell Yeah!
The South Rim is popular amongst tourists because of its easy route and proximity to the bottom of the canyon. Hikers prefer the south rim because the north rim is at a higher elevation, thus increasing the traveling distance to the bottom. However, the north rim offers some of the most spectacular views of the Grand Canyon and should be explored by those having sufficient time.
While the South Rim is a touristy spot where everyone who visits Grand Canyon intends to go, the north rim is for those who are not just for touristy exploration but wish to spend time in nature’s lap with the purest views untainted by human intervention. The north rim is a place for being in solitude and doing some soul searching, uninterrupted by tourists.
Another advantage of the North Rim is the cool temperature, which eases the tiredness during hiking.
Those visiting the place tend to spend at least one night relaxing and enjoying the vibe of the North Rim. It is cheaper than the south due to less tourism. The lodges are few but beautiful in their own ways. It is heavenly for hikers who love adventurous trails, many of which pass through the north rim, as we shall see below.
Things to do in the North Rim
The North Rim houses some of the most beautiful, unexplored, and densely forested areas in the world, offering mesmerizing views that are a treat for the eyes.
Some of the best things to do in Grand Canyon North rim are:
Watch the sunset in Cape Royale
Cape Royal is an almost 1.5km long trail offering some of the most soothing views of the north rim. The drive to cape royale is something you will never forget owing to its beauty. This place offers some of the best spots for photography enthusiasts.
Bright Angel Point Trail
This point is amongst the most famous ones on the north rim for sunrise and sunset. One can chill in the restaurant and be in awe of the beauty surrounding them. This point is most famous owing to its easy accessibility. It is an almost 1-km long trail that is quite steep and ends at one of the best places to watch the sunset, i.e., Angel Point.
This point offers the best sunrise experience in North Rim. If you can sacrifice your sleep for one day and wake up early, you will witness nature’s marvel in the form of a glorious sunrise that will take your breath away. This place also gives a glimpse of the Milky Way, making for a remarkable sight.
North Kaibab trail
This trail is the only option for those wanting to go to the bottom of the Grand Canyon from the north rim. This hike is considered quite tough and is not recommended for completion within a day. You will require an overnight stay for this hike and, therefore, a backcountry permit, which will be issued by NPS and has to be kept with you at all times. Mules can also be used for those who are not that athletic.
Uncle Jim Trail
It is an 8 km round trip offering a beautiful viewpoint overlooking the Canyon.
Ken Patrick trail
It is a 16 km trail offering some of the best scenic beauty snapshots of the canyon.
One of the most popular trails, this is a 15-kilometer adventure for hikers with amazing views of the dense forest.
Roosevelt Point is one of the spots that shouldn’t be missed at any cost if you are visiting the North Rim, especially if you are with a family. It is a short walk with a beautiful setting, serving as the perfect picnic spot with the entire canyon in front of you.
Ticket for entering North Rim
Children under 15 years of age have free entry to the rim. Charges start at $20, depending on whether you are alone, on a shuttle, using a private vehicle, etc. There are also lifetime access passes and digital passes that can be issued. You don’t have to worry if you are not a tech fan. The passes are available at various entrance stations as well, the details of which can be found here.
When is the North Rim open to tourists?
The scintillating beauty of the place comes at a cost. The North Rim is not accessible the entire year and is open only from May to October. The rim is closed to tourists at other times because winter conditions make driving hazardous. From May to October, you have to be careful, especially in July when heavy rains might make the treks risky.
The Grand Canyon in its entirety is a place worth admiring regardless of which rim you are visiting. Although the South Rim has more views to enjoy with multiple hangout places, the North Rim offers a more serene experience of the canyon with some gorgeous locations and resting places. It is up to your wisdom, health conditions, and objective of visiting the canyon that you decide which rim you wish to go around. Both offer an experience worth remembering.