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Why You Should Visit the Grand Canyon North Rim

Do you dream of visiting the Grand Canyon? Well, you absolutely should! The striated sandstone walls rising above the Colorado River completely live up to the hype and are incredibly breathtaking in person.

When most people think of the Grand Canyon, they think of the iconic views from the South Rim. And don’t get me wrong, the South Rim is amazing! But the Grand Canyon North Rim is worth visiting for a different perspective on this spectacular canyon and you can't beat the convenience when visiting southern Utah.

Reasons to Check Out the Grand Canyon North Rim

The Grand Canyon North Rim is a special place that I really love! While most visitors to the Grand Canyon congregate on the South Rim, the North Rim is far less crowded but still offers so much stunning scenery to explore. I try to make a quick trip to the North Rim at least once a summer.

Here are just a few of my favorite reasons to visit the Grand Canyon North Rim:

  • If you’re staying near Zion in southern Utah, the North Rim is a significantly shorter drive than the South Rim. Plus, it is at higher altitude, so it’s a great escape when you’re in search of some cooler temps.

  • On the way to the North Rim, you’ll pass Jacob Lake Inn, which is a MUST stop for the world’s best cookies…seriously!

  • If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of wild bison in the big meadow just outside the North Rim park entrance.

  • It’s totally worth it to wake up early and hike to Bright Angel Point for a truly spectacular sunrise. For an equally awesome sunset, take a drive down Cape Royal Road.

  • Walking into the Grand Canyon Lodge at the North Rim will take your breath away when you see the incredible views out the huge windows. And you can’t take a trip to the North Rim without sitting on the patio next to the lodge and watching the sunset over the canyon…ideally while sipping a margarita from the Rough Rider Saloon.


Grand Canyon North Rim Season

Be aware that the Grand Canyon North Rim is not open year-round. Because it sits at higher elevation (around 8,000 feet), winter hits the North Rim hard, and it is only open from May 15th to November 30th.

The campground and lodge are closed in November, and the North Rim is only open for day use, so the best time to visit the Grand Canyon North Rim is from mid-May through October.

One-Day Grand Canyon North Rim Itinerary

I’ve been to the North Rim several times and always love going back for a quick visit. This one-day itinerary hits all the must-dos at the North Rim and is great for anyone, including the kiddos.

Drive to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon from Southern Utah

When you’re exploring southern Utah, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is most easily accessed from the east side of Zion. It’s just over a 2-hour drive from East Zion Resort or just under 2 hours from Kanab. If you’re coming from the west side of Zion, the North Rim is approximately 2.5 hours from Hurricane.

Pit Stop: Breakfast at Jacob Lake Inn

On your way to the North Rim, you’ll pass Jacob Lake Inn in the middle of nowhere about an hour outside the park. It’s the perfect place to stop for a hearty diner-style  breakfast to fuel up for a day of exploring. And don’t forget to grab some cookies to take with you for snacks later – trust me, these cookies are SO good, you might have to stop for more on your way home.

Morning: Cape Royal

Of course, you have to start your day at the Grand Canyon North Rim with a spectacular view, and you can find it at Cape Royal. From the parking lot, a short paved trail leads to some of the best viewpoints on the North Rim. Be sure to walk around to check out the different outlooks, including Angel’s Window, where you can see all the way down to the Colorado River.

I recommend packing a picnic lunch to have at Cape Royal, so you can spend extra time here. There is a perfect little picnic area right near the parking lot.

Afternoon: Grand Canyon Lodge

Spend the afternoon at the Grand Canyon Lodge, where you can stay inside and take in the impressive views through the giant windows or head out to the patio for even more incredible vistas. The saloon serves coffee if you need a little caffeine pick me up

Evening: Sunset at Bright Angel Point

While you can watch sunset from the lodge, I highly recommend taking a short hike from the lodge out to Bright Angel Point for a view that will really take your breath away. The paved trail to Bright Angel Point starts from the lodge, and it’s only about a ¼ mile walk to the viewpoint.

Watching the sky catch fire and change color over the incredible landscape of the Grand Canyon is definitely a bucket list experience. (Be sure to bring your camera to capture it as best you can!)

Dinner: Roughrider Saloon

As the last rays of sun dip behind the canyon walls, head back to the lodge for dinner at the Roughrider Saloon. Even when it’s too dark to see the canyon, you can enjoy your meal (and a margarita!) next to the cozy fireplace on the veranda.

One-Night North Rim Camping Itinerary

If you’re looking to spend the night at the North Rim, I highly recommend sleeping under the stars at the North Rim campground. I’ve stayed there a few times, and it’s a lovely spot.

At the entrance to the campground, the North Rim General Store is filled with souvenirs, coffee, and great snacks…my kids and I really love it. The campground area is also a fun place to ride around on e-bikes and scooters, but you need to bring your own, since they don’t rent them there.

Camping at the Grand Canyon North Rim Details

The North Rim campground is open from May 15 - Oct 15, and you must reserve your site through All sites are reservation-only, so you can’t walk up and get a site. Reservations open 6 months in advance (so for example, on January 20, 2024 at 8:00am MT, availability will be released through July 20, 2024.)

The fee for tent sites or non-electric RV sites  is $18/night. Check in is at 12:00pm MT and check out is at 11:00am MT. You can stay up to 7 consecutive nights at the campground.

If you just want a quick trip to hit all the North Rim highlights, here is my recommended itinerary for spending one night camping at the North Rim..

Early Afternoon: Take Transept Trail to the Lodge

After checking in and setting up your tents, stretch your legs with a hike on Transept Trail which connects the campground to the lodge. When I stayed a night at the North Rim campground with my family this past summer, we hiked the Transept Trail, and I loved it…while my kiddos complained the whole way, haha!

Transept Trail Details

Distance: 2 miles one way

Elevation Gain: ~340 feet

The trail goes along the rim of a side canyon called the Transept through a beautiful forested area with a few nice views out into the Grand Canyon. It’s mostly an easy hike, but there are some steep and rocky sections. The trail is the perfect way to explore this part of the North Rim while also making your way to the Grand Canyon Lodge.

Late Afternoon: Hike Bright Angel Point Trail

Make sure to spend some time at the lodge enjoying the views out the huge windows or from the patio, and grab a snack or lunch at the Roughrider Saloon. Then take a hike to Bright Angel Point to see some of the very best views from the North Rim.

If you want to have dinner back at camp, give yourself enough time to hike the Transept Trail back to the campground well before sunset, because you definitely don’t want to miss that!

Evening: Drive to Cape Royal for Sunset

After an early dinner back at camp, drive down Cape Royal road to the viewpoint to catch what is sure to be one of the most incredible sunsets you’ve ever seen! The wide open vista of the Grand Canyon lit with the red and gold of the fading sunlight is truly something special.

Morning: Hike Cape Final Trail

Enjoy a leisurely morning at camp (unless you want to get up early and head to one of the viewpoints for sunrise), then break down and pack up your tents to check out before 11am. But don’t pack your hiking shoes, since there’s one more trail to check out before you leave the North Rim.

Cape Final Trail Details

Distance: 4 miles round trip

Elevation Gain: ~495 feet

The Cape Final Trail is located along Cape Royal Road, and the parking area is a couple miles north of the Cape Royal parking lot. This is an easy hike, so it’s great for families. From the trailhead, you’ll hike through a forest for a while, until it eventually opens up. At the end of the Cape Final Trail, you’ll be rewarded with some seriously stunning views to cap off your visit to the North Rim.

I hope this inspires you to add a trip to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to your itinerary during your next visit to southern Utah! And be sure to check out my post on more awesome day trips from Zion here!

Happy Adventuring,



1 comentário

Maxwell Jeremy
Maxwell Jeremy
4 days ago

I greatly appreciate the valuable insights you provide. I hope you will continue to provide as many excellent postings as you can for everyone in the future. baldi's basics


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