The quieter side of the Grand Canyon in Northern Arizona is open from May until October and offers hiking, camping, cabins and even mule trips. Get all the views at a higher elevation with cooler temperatures along with a greener side of the canyon. Here are the best things to do at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Grand Canyon At a Glance
|Year Established: 1919|
|Located: Northern Arizona|
|Size: over 1,900 square miles|
|Top Features: Canyon Trails, Historic Lodges and Vista Views from Rims|
Best Things to do at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon
- Stop by the Visitor Center
- Take a Scenic Drive
- Hike along the North Rim
- Earn a Junior Ranger Badge or Attend a Ranger Program
- See the Sunset
- Spot a Bison
- Stay in a Cabin
Visitor Centers at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon
North Rim Visitor Center
Located along the rim and the Grand Canyon Lodge, the North Rim Visitor Center offers maps, brochures, junior ranger booklets. Also find restrooms along with interpretive areas to explore. Learn about seasonal park ranger programming too.
Historic Canyon View Kiosk
Ask questions and get maps from the ranger along the rim in log cabin kiosk.
Roaring Springs Overlook Kiosk
A park ranger is sometimes stationed at an outdoor information desk at this popular area and last stop for day hikers on North Kaibab Trail.
Scenic Drives on the North Rim
The North Rim offers several scenic drives, though vehicles over 30 feet are not allowed.
Point Imperial—Take Arizona Highway 67 to Point Imperial, about 11 miles from the Grand Canyon Lodge. See the Painted Desert and Marble Canyon along with more of the eastern Grand Canyon. This area offers restrooms and is the highest point along the North Rim (8,803 ft.)
Vista Encantada—Farther along Arizona Highway 67, this area offers a picnic area.
Roosevelt Point—On the Walhalla Plateau, Arizona Highway 67 has a turn out for the Roosevelt Point Trail (.2-miles).
Walhalla Overlook—On AZ Highway 67, visit the Walhalla Ruins and the overlook.
Cape Royal—At the terminus of AZ Highway 67, Cape Royal offers a wedding site along with restrooms and picnic tables. The Cape Royal Trail is .8-miles roundtrip for views of the canyon and Angels Window and the Colorado River.
Hiking Trails on the North Rim
Take a hike when visiting the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Bright Angel Point Trail—A.5-mile roundtrip hike on a paved trail to one of the best views along the North Rim.
Bridle Path—A 1.9-mile oneway hiking trail on hard packed path. This trail is open to leashed pets and bikes.
Roosevelt Point Trail—A .2-mile hiking trail to an overlook.
Cliff Springs Trail—A .8-mile hiking trail through a ravine to a spring.
Cape Royal Trail—A .8-mile paved trail to an overlook with canyon views, Angels Window and the Colorado River.
North Kaibab Trail—This trail heads into the canyon and is not a day hike. Overnight camping is required on this hiking trail to the Colorado River.
Biking on the North Rim
Bridle Trail between Grand Canyon Lodge and North Kaibab Trail.
All roads open for vehicular traffic at the North Rim.
Mule Rides at the North Rim
A bucket list item for the adventurous, a Grand Canyon Mule Trip is available on the North Rim. Though unlike the Mule Trips that depart from the South Rim, North Rim rides do NOT go all the way to the Colorado River. As a bonus, riders can reserve their trips with a few days in advance instead of a year (common for the South Rim mule trips).
The stable on the North Rim offers guided mule rides from May 15 until October 15. Canyon Rides offers several different rides with mules that are sure-footed and calm.
Guided 1-hour Rim Ride—This ride is offered four times a day and it’s minimum age requirement is 7-years-old. Maximum weight is 220 pounds and prices start at $50 per person.
Guided 3-hour Rim—Using the Ken Patrick Trail, this ride travels to Uncle Jim’s Point. It is offered two times a day and has 10-year-old age requirement with the same 220-pound weight requirement. Prices start at $100 per person.
Into the Canyon Guided 3-hour Ride—This guided ride heads down 2,300 feet into the canyon on the North Kaibab trail and reaches Supai Tunnel. It is offered two times a day and has 10-year-old age requirement with a 200-pound weight requirement. Prices start at $100 per person.
A shuttle picks up at the Grand Canyon Lodge for all rides.
Kids at Grand Canyon’s North Rim
The Junior Ranger Program is the go-to program for families to learn more about Grand Canyon National Park. It’s free and takes about two hours to complete. My kids love the badges that the park rangers present them after completing their booklets.
The South Rim and the North Rim have different booklets to complete. Each are available at Visitor Centers and Ranger Stations. The North Rim Grand Canyon Junior Ranger Program requires kids attend a Ranger-led program.
For families headed into the canyon along one of the trails, there’s a special Junior Ranger booklet for your excursion, the Grand Canyon Explorer Junior Ranger. The Night Skies Junior Ranger badge is another badge that is easy to earn while exploring the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Ranger Programs and Special Events
To learn more about the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, attend a Ranger-led program. They are free and usually appeal to all ages, though look out for programming just for kids.
Popular Ranger-led Programs included Canyon View Walk, a guided walk along the rim along with programs dedicated to the night sky.
North Rim Star Party
Held in mid to late June, the North Rim Star Party features telescopes and local astronomy club.
Native American Heritage Days
Held in early August, learn about the cultural contributions from the 11 Native American groups who have lived around the Grand Canyon area.
Where to see the Sunset at the North Rim
Grab a glass of wine at the Roughrider Saloon then find a rocking chair on the back patio of the Grand Canyon Lodge. Best to arrive a bit early, these are the most popular seats on the North Rim.
Bright Angel Point is another popular location to watch the sunset. It’s located near the Grand Canyon Lodge along a well-traveled trail.
Cape Royal Point offers nice views for sunrise and sunset at the end of the scenic Highway 67 in the park.
Find lots of animals within the park though dawn and dusk are the best wildlife viewing times. The Park Rangers can also point out areas that offer the best chance at seeing wildlife. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is home to several species not seen on the South Rim, like Bison and Black Bear.
Both side of the canyon are rich in birds with 450 different species seen within the park. In fact, the Grand Canyon National Park is a globally important bird area.
- Big Horn Sheep
- Mule Deer
- Mountain Lions
- American Black Bear
Be Bear Aware
The National Park Service recommends the following guidelines to reducing encounters.
- Make noise when hiking, kids are good at this.
- Be aware of the possibility of bears at streams.
- Store food when not eating or preparing in the bear-proof storage lockers.
- Keep 100 years between you and bears.
- Put all trash in a bear resistant trash container.
Seasons at the North Rim
The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is wetter than the south and get about 140-inches of snow a year. Road are closed from December 1 until May 15. Temperatures range from lows in teens to highs in the 30s F from December until March.
Spring weather starts to pop in April, though snow is still possible. Temperatures warm to highs in the 50s and 60 with lows in the 30s until early June. Wildflowers start to bloom in spring and continue until Summer.
Summer temperatures remain mild with highs in the 70s and lows in the 40 until mid-September. Though late summer brings monsoon rains to the region.
Fall color starts in mid- September and runs into early October with Quaking Aspen turning a bright yellow. High temperatures are in the 50s and 60s during this time with lows in the 30s.
Where to Eat at the North Rim
Grand Canyon Lodge Dining Room
The hub of activity is centered around the Grand Canyon Lodge. Inside find its dining room, a historic space with exceptional canyon views along with a soaring log ceiling and rustic stone design features.
The dining room serves breakfast, lunch and dinner throughout the day and reservations are required for dinner. The menu focuses on fresh and healthy ingredients with lots of organic options.
Opening at 5:30 a.m. for the early-rising hikers and sunrise watchers, find barista-made coffee along with pastries and breakfast burritos.
Deli in the Pines
Opening later at 10 a.m., find grab-and-go items for hot and cold sandwiches along with salads, pizza and soups. It offers a range of beverages and snacks. All items are served to-go.
Grab a cold one starting at 11 a.m. along with an assortment of snacks. It’s the meeting spot in the evening as guests gather and retell the adventures of the day.
Picnicking at the North Rim
Along the main road a third of the way between the Backcountry Office and the North Rim Visitor Center, find a unnamed picnic area. Find picnic areas at Vista Encantada, Cape Royal parking area and Point Imperial.
Where to Stay on the North Rim
Lodging on the North Rim
The original lodge was designed by Gilbert Stanley Underwood using native materials and built in 1928. Though that structure was lost to a fire and the current Grand Canyon Lodge was built in its place in 1937.
Grand Canyon Lodge
The lodge building features a dining room along with sun room and two terraces overlooking the canyon. Lodging at the North Rim consists of historic freestanding log cabins along with two buildings with motel-type rooms.
Motel Rooms near Bridle Path
Located in two buildings, each room offers one queen bed along with a bathroom with a shower. Each unit features a mini-fridge along with a shower.
Cabins at the North Rim
Enjoy a historic cabin close to the rim (and some offer rim views). Walk to the Grand Canyon Lodge for dinner and watch the sunset.
Featuring two queen-sized bed the Western Cabins offer front porches to enjoy the view. The cabin features a full bathroom with a tub along with a ceiling fan and mini-fridge.
With two bedrooms and bedding for six people, the Pioneer Cabins accommodate six people and include a bathroom with a shower only. Also find a mini-fridge and a ceiling fan in the cabin. Enjoy the rustic charm of a log cabin exterior.
For smaller groups, the Frontier Cabins offer one room with a full-size bed and a twin to accommodate three people. The cabins also feature a bathroom with a shower though no mini-fridge. The cabin features a ceiling fan along with a log exterior.
Lodging opens mid-May on the North Rim and closes for the season in mid-October. As a popular destination, make reservations well in advance.
Note, none of the lodging at the Grand Canyon’s North Rim offers air-conditioning but the room feature telephones with spotty cell phone coverage.
The lodge offers its guests a complimentary shuttle to the Kaibab Trailhead twice a day.
Camping at the North Rim
North Rim Campground
- Seasonal from mid-May to October 31
- Reservations only
- 87 sites, no RVs
- Potable water with flush toilets
- No Showers
- Seasonal Dump Station
Find a general store in the area with self-serve laundry, showers along with picnic and camping supplies. Gas is also for sale in the area.
History of the Grand Canyon
The Colorado River carved out the Grand Canyon that measures 18-miles wide, one-mile deep and 277 river miles long. Human artifacts that date back 12,000 years have been discovered in the Grand Canyon.
In 1919 the Grand Canyon became a national park, though it was protected as a Forest Reserve in 1893. On the North Rim, Gilbert Stanley Underwood designed the Grand Canyon Lodge using local materials. It was completed in 1928 though burned and rebuilt in 1937. He also designed lodges at Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park.
The Civilian Conservation Corps worked in the Grand Canyon during the 1930s. They worked on improving the trail and the trails to the bottom of the canyon.
The People of Grand Canyon
People have lived in and around the Grand Canyon for thousands of years. From pictographs to hunting points, artifacts continue to be discovered.
In more recent times, 11 Native American groups live in the Grand Canyon area. During your visit learn diverse arts and culture as well as hear the first-voice interpretation of the Grand Canyon area at the Desert View Inter-tribal Cultural Heritage Site (under construction during summer 2022).
The Civilian Conservation Corps
A group of young men arrived at the Grand Canyon in 1933. Part of President Roosevelt’s Works Progress Program, the Civilian Conservation Corps worked on conservation projects across the U.S.
During their tenure, the men of the CCC worked on the trails on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. They constructed the Colorado River Trail on the bottom of the canyon. Connecting the North Rim to the South Rim with the Trans-Canyon Telephone Line happened in 1935.
Getting to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon
The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is about 57 miles southeast of Fredonia along Arizona State Highway 67. From December until mid-May, AZ State Highway 67 is closed from Jacob Lake.
Driving from the south rim to the north rim required a 220 mile drive that takes a minimum of four hours.
Grand Canyon is open 365-days a year and 24-hours a day. Admission is $30 per vehicle for a 7-day pass or you can use an America the Beautiful annual pass ($80.)
Anytime you go above 8,000 feet, you can experience Altitude Sickness. Look for the following symptoms. If can effect anyone, regardless of age or health.
- shortness of breath
- loss of appetite
- trouble sleeping
Over-the-counter medications can help and symptoms should improve in 24 or 48 hours. Though if symptoms don’t improve or get worse, consult a medical attention.