Visiting the North Rim of the Grand Canyon offers great views and natural beauty without the tourist traffic. Because of its more remote locale, it’s crucial to know before you go. These tips will help you learn where to stay, how to get there and what to do at the North Rim.
Where is the North Rim of the Grand Canyon?
The North Rim of the Grand Canyon, located in north western Arizona, is more remote than the heavily visited South Rim and is only accessible between mid-May and mid-October each year. Although only 10 miles separate the North and South Rim, as the crow flies, by road, the trip is 220 miles (about a 5 hour drive) on remote stretches of road.
From Flagstaff, the journey involves driving nearly as far north as Page, before turning west onto Highway 89A and crossing Marble Canyon at the Navajo Bridge and driving up to Jacob Lake.
How to Reach the North Rim
You can visit the North Rim of the Grand Canyon by driving 30 miles south on Highway 67 from Jacob Lake; Jacob Lake is located on Highway 89A, close to the Utah border.
Jacob Lake is the last place to fill up on gas (and other small conveniences) before entering the North Rim Grand Canyon National Park. Once inside the National Park, there is only one gas station located on the North Rim.
Entrance and Visitors Fees
There is a visitor’s fee to enter the Grand Canyon National Park at the North Rim; currently, these fees are $35 per private vehicle or $20 per person on foot, motorcycle or bicycle.
Once paid, the fee is good for 7 days (for both the Grand Canyon North and South Rim) but there are no refunds for bad weather. There are additional fees for camping.
Lodging on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon
Accommodation options are limited (and booked up well in advance) but if on a budget, the North Rim campground is a great way to see the North Rim; the only other North Rim accommodation option, inside the National Park, is the Grand Canyon Lodge.
There are limited accommodation options outside of the North Rim National Park at Jacob Lake and back country permits are required for camping within the National Park, away from the North Rim Campground.
Visitor Services at the North Rim
Visitor services include the North Rim Visitor Center, North Rim Lodge, bookstore, rest rooms and restaurant facilities, all located next to the parking lot on Bright Angel Peninsula. Additional facilities of a general store, showers and gas station are located near the North Rim campground nearby.
Trails at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon
The North Rim of the Grand Canyon offers many trails for hiking, impressive views and beautiful wilderness. Trails are of varying difficulties and include Bright Angel Trail, Transept Trail, North Kaibab Trail, Uncle Jim Trail, Ken Patrick Trail, Cape Royal Trail, Point Imperial Trail and Roosevelt Point Trail.
Weather and trail conditions should be checked before setting out.
Grand Canyon North Rim Elevations
The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is 1,000 – 1,500 feet higher in elevation than the South Rim and rises to over 8,000 feet in elevation. Bright Angel Point is 8,255 feet in elevation and Point Imperial is 8,803 feet in elevation.
Consequently, it is possible to suffer altitude sickness at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon as altitude sickness can occur at heights over 8,000 feet.
North Rim Versus South Rim
The North Rim of the Grand Canyon offers less tourist traffic, more wilderness and excellent views of the Grand Canyon.
Although the Grand Canyon North Rim is more difficult to reach in distance and longer to reach in time than the South Rim, the drive may well be worth it for those visitors who enjoy solitude with natural beauty.