North Rim

Seasons

The North Rim is open from mid-May through mid-October each year. During the late-spring-into-early-fall season, visitors can drive into the Park on highway 67 from Jacob Lake, and find visitor services, lodging, park rangers, and dining. The North Rim offers sparser tourism services than the South Rim, but that is precisely why most visitors choose the North Rim over any other area to visit.

The exact dates on which the North Rim opens and closes each year are subject to change with the weather; snow can make Highway 67 impassable, therefore closing the gates and delaying or ending the open season. In general, though, the National Park Service offers North Rim services on this schedule:

  • October 15 — Visitor lodging and food services close
  • October 16–31 — TransCanyon Shuttle offers a limited rim-to-rim shuttle schedule
  • October 31 — Visitor Center and Bookstore close
  • October 31 — Backcountry Permit office closes
  • November 1–December 1; — Open for day use (no overnight parking) and pay-at-the-pump gas and diesel available. Subject to change if snow makes Highway 67 impassable.

While closed, there is no lodging or services at the North Rim, and visitors are not permitted to drive past the park gates, but winter backpackers hiking rim-to-rim can still access the North Rim via inner-canyon trails from the South Rim.

Hours

May 15–October 15, the North Rim is open daily from 8 am–9 pm; October 16–31, open 9 am–4 pm.

Obviously, there's not much of the Grand Canyon to see in the dark hours, but you don't want to miss the opportunity to stand on Bright Angel Point, looking into the Canyon and watching what the dawn's early light does to the deeply layered and textured chasm walls; it's an hour of unparalleled photography opportunity. Likewise at sunset, head out to Cape Royal for the "magic hour," basking in the orange, pink and purple glow of the setting sun. There are evening park ranger programs and dark-sky star-gazing conditions you're unlikely to experience elsewhere.

During the daylight hours, be sure to take in all the sights, browse the visitor center and bookstore, stroll any of the five Rim trails — Bright Angel Point Trail, Bridle Trail, Transept Trail, Widforss Trail or Arizona Trail — or hike a bit down into the Canyon on the North Kaibab Trail, attend free ranger talks, and grab a bite to eat at the lodge or in one of the three casual food outlets. Although the North Rim offers fewer services than the South Rim, you'll find essential services you might need like an ATM, laundry and showers, food, general store, post office, chapel and National Park departments. The agenda at the North Rim is free of frenzy, so slow down, make time to sit and rock in the deck chairs at the Lodge, breathe in the pine-scented air and indulge in quiet contemplation.

Reservations

As with any National Park reservations, it's wise to book your lodging, camping, dining and tours up to a year in advance. The limited availability of rooms and seasonal dates at the Grand Canyon Lodge and Cabins book up very quickly, and so do the individual tent and RV sites at the North Rim Campground. Below, you'll find resources for making reservations for the most quickly sold-out experiences:

  • Grand Canyon Lodge & Cabins — Forever Resorts www.grandcanyonlodgenorth.com
  • Lodge Dining Room — www.grandcanyonlodgenorth.com or 928-638-2611
  • One-Hour and ½-Day Horseback and Mule Trail Rides — Canyon Trail Rides www.canyonrides.com
  • Self-Guided Backpacking and Overnight at Phantom Ranch (Inner Canyon) — Xanterra South Rim www.grandcanyonlodges.com
  • North Rim Campground tent and RV sites — National Park Service www.recreation.gov

Fees

The North Rim is fairly easy on the pocketbook if you consider driving yourself and then camping, hiking or backpacking. The entrance fee is just $25 per vehicle and campgrounds are decidedly affordable, between $17 and $25 per night. Because the emphasis at the North Rim is on spending time in the great outdoors and communing with nature, as opposed to glitzy attractions and tours, almost any size budget will suffice. However, you'll want to factor in the cost of a rental car and gas, perhaps a hotel outside the Kaibab Plateau for the pre- and post- nights, and a few activities such as horseback riding, meals, etc. Of course, you can swing toward the luxury end of the budget if you book a river rafting or guided backpacking trip, or stay in the Grand Canyon Lodge or at nearby southern Utah resort, but the average Joe will find most activities and expenses are well within reach.

Enter through the park gate near Jacob Lake via Highway 67; you'll need to pay the entrance fee to see the views from the North Rim; you just can't get close enough to the rim to see anything from the road outside the Park. In fact, the Rim is 14 additional miles after you pass through the gate. Once inside, the ranger talks and visitor center are free of charge.

Here's just a sample of estimates, exclusive of taxes, gratuities and fees where applicable:

North Rim Tours & Activities
  • One-hour to ½-day horseback and mule rides — $40–$80 per person
  • National Park Service ranger talks — Free
  • Guided backpacking for 3–7 days — $800–$1500 per person
  • River rafting (motor) rafting 5–9 day Lower Canyon — $1700 per person
  • River rafting (oar) rafting 5–9 day Lower Canyon — $2500 per person
North Rim Lodging Inside the Park (per night, peak season)
  • Lodge — $92–$176
  • Cabins — $125–$166
North Rim Hotels Outside the Park (per night, peak season)
  • Jacob Lake Motel — $90–$140
  • Page/Lake Powell Hotel/Motel — $190–$300
  • Kanab Hotel/Motel — $90–$150
  • St. George Hotel/Motel — $70–$150
  • St. George Resort — $130–$380
  • Southern Utah 5-star resort — $1,500
Campgrounds (per night)
  • North Rim Campground — $18–$25
  • Demotte and Jacob Lake Campground North Rim — $17
  • Indian Garden Campground, Bright Angel Campground, Cottonwood Campground — $10 per permit plus $5 per person per night camped below the Rim, and $5 per group per night camped above the Rim
Shuttles/Transportation
  • Midsize rental car — $350–$450/week
  • Flagstaff to North Rim chartered shuttle — $450 for 3 people, each way
  • Combination of connecting shuttles from Phoenix or Las Vegas to the North Rim — $185 per person, each way
Dining (average meal per person)
  • Grand Canyon National Park casual dining (cafeterias, cafes, deli) — $6–$14

Shuttles to the Park

We always recommend driving yourself to the Grand Canyon, but that rings especially true when you're talking about going to the North Rim. You can certainly take a combination of shuttles to the North Rim, starting from Phoenix, Las Vegas, Sedona or Flagstaff, but understand that you'll need to coordinate several connections via different shuttle companies and starting-ending points, and dedicate a very long day (16 hours or so) to nothing but shuttle travel.

  • Phoenix to Flagstaff shuttle — $38–$42 per person each way
  • Flagstaff to South Rim taxi/shuttle — $42–$58 per person each way
  • Las Vegas to South Rim shuttle — $99 per person each way
  • Charter door-to-door from Sedona, Flagstaff, Williams or South Rim — multiple operators; custom quotes available

Rim-to-Rim

For those visitors interested in hiking rim-to-rim and taking a shuttle back to their original position, or starting a river rafting trip from the Upper Canyon, and getting a shuttle ride back after they've climbed out of the Canyon at the end of the trip, there are TransCanyon Shuttle and TheGrandCanyonShuttle.com. Both companies' shuttles are priced at $85 per person each way, and make 2 stops a day between the South and North Rims, a 4 ½ hour ride. Trans Canyon also runs a twice-daily shuttle from the South Rim to Marble Canyon/Lees Ferry, where most Upper Canyon river rafting trips put in. Reservations for both companies are required.

  • Rim-to-Rim shuttle — $85 per person each way

Inside the Park

Unlike the South Rim, there are no National Park hop-on-hop-off shuttles available at the North Rim. Private vehicles, bicycles and hiking boots are the recommended modes of transportation.

Best Tours

  • Air tours — $300 per person
    • Pros: The fastest way to get to the North Rim from Las Vegas or Phoenix/Scottsdale, and it's transportation and a tour in one
    • Cons: Pricey, does not land at the North Rim of the National Park. It lands at the privately owned Bar 10 Ranch, 9 miles from the rim on the decidedly remote Arizona Strip, 80 miles by dirt road from St. George, UT.
  • Guided overnight hiking & backpacking — about $200 per day per person, multiple days
    • Pros: Arguably the best way to intimately experience the Grand Canyon, with all the safety, equipment and trip planning you mightn't accomplish on your own
    • Cons: Must be in sufficient physical condition
  • River rafting (motor) 4 day Upper Canyon — $1100 per person
  • River rafting (oar) 4 day Upper Canyon &mdash $1750 per person
    • Pros: These are the kind of bucket list experiences you can brag about forever. Heavy on the adrenaline!
    • Cons: Not for young children, requires far advance planning and a hefty budget

Sunrise/Sunset

Mother nature presents two daily displays perhaps more spectacular than anything mankind could create. Each day at daybreak and "the magic hour," crowds gather at the North Rim's six main viewpoint areas to watch the sun appear and disappear over the Canyon rim, casting dramatic shadows and highlighting rugged textures. While it's true that there's not just one "best" place to view the sunrise and sunset, there are good and better places. These prime viewpoints obtrude southward into the canyon, with views to the east and west, and are well-suited for sunrise or sunset. More importantly, they give the viewer the chance to look into the canyon to see the effect of the changing light and shadows on the chasm walls rather than the sun itself. It's important to note that timing is more important than location; the resulting "magic show" happens for 60-90 minutes before and after precise dawn or dusk.

  • Bright Angel Point
  • Cape Royal/Angel's Window

Please remember to use caution and dress appropriately when walking along trails to the overlooks; in the pre-dawn hours, you'll want a flashlight and plenty of warm layers to stave off the chill, even in the peak summer months.

Attractions

Inside the National Park, there is a visitor center, gift shop and bookstore to visit. In the Kaibab National Forest, just outside the park gates, there is an additional visitor center.

Further beyond the Kaibab Plateau, there are a multitude of natural, historical, cultural and commercial attractions within approximately 400 miles. Most notably, the North Rim is part of the Grand Circle, a vast region of northern Arizona and southern Utah that includes seven national parks and recreation areas. It is a cache of treasures that will enrich your Grand Canyon trip.

  • Within 150 miles
    • Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park — Kayenta
    • Glen Canyon National Recreation Area — Page
    • Lake Powell National Recreation Area — Page
    • Vermillion Cliffs National Monument — Page
    • Antelope Canyon Navajo Tribal Park — Page
    • Horseshoe Bend (point of interest) — Page
    • Rainbow Bridge National Monument — Page (accessible by boat or hike only)
    • Lees Ferry/Marble Canyon/Navajo Bridge — Lees Ferry
    • Zion National Park — Springdale, UT
    • Bryce Canyon National Park — Bryce, UT
    • Kolob Canyons (Zion Nat'l Park) — Cedar City, UT
    • Cedar Breaks National Monument — Cedar City, UT
  • Within 200 miles
    • Wupatki National Monument — Cameron
    • Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument — Escalante, UT
  • Within 300 miles
    • Lowell Observatory — Flagstaff
    • The Arboretum at Flagstaff — Flagstaff
    • Pioneer Museum — Flagstaff
    • Museum of Northern Arizona — Flagstaff
    • Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument — Flagstaff
    • Arizona Snowbowl Ski and Snowboard Park — Flagstaff
    • Flagstaff Nordic Center — Flagstaff
    • Wing Mountain Snow Play Area — Flagstaff
  • Within 400 miles
    • Petrified Forest National Park — Holbrook
    • Arches National Park — Moab, UT
    • Canyonlands National Park — Moab, UT
    • Capitol Reef National Park — Richfield, UT
    • Natural Bridges National Monument — Blanding, UT

It's Remote. Really Remote.

The Grand Canyon's North Rim is known for being remote with few developed comforts in the area, but the North Rim does feature one in-park hotel, the Grand Canyon Lodge and Cabins, plus several beautiful campgrounds and a few hotels and motels outside the park boundary in nearby small towns. Many North Rim visitors enjoy rim-to-rim hikes, but make sure to check conditions and don't forget your Backcountry Permit!

The Grand Canyon's North Rim is the outdoor enthusiast's paradise. Known for its undisturbed beauty, the North Rim offers challenging hiking trails, intimate viewpoints and opportunities to explore the Grand Canyon on Nature’s terms. The North Rim is one among several national parks in the area. This is the part of the Grand Canyon you can most easily explore Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Glen Canyon, Lake Powell and more.

North Rim Hotels, Lodging & Camping

Because of its far-flung location, lodging options are limited and fill up quickly. Grand Canyon insiders recommend booking a night at the the Grand Canyon North Rim about a year in advance. Some of the favorite Grand Canyon North Rim lodging options are staying at the North Rim RV camp sites and campground or taking advantage of the opportunity to enjoy the historic Grand Canyon Lodge & Cabins. Other North Rim accommodations include staying in the small towns within about 150 miles of the Kaibab Plateau like Jacob Lake; Page; Kanab, Utah; and St. George, Utah.

If you are planning to camp outside the one developed North Rim Campground (which is known as Dispersed Camping) or below the Rim, don't forget to get a Backcountry Permit up to 4 months before your arrival, and to check conditions just prior to your stay at the Canyon.

Weather

Weather is one of the number one things visitors search about the Grand Canyon (case in point: you're reading this.) Folks want to know what to expect of the temperature swings; sun, rain and snowfall; road conditions; what to pack and what to wear. We've covered these topics in depth here, but to satisfy your curiosity right here and now, hover over this interactive chart to see the average monthly temperatures at the North Rim:

Currently being updated.

Hiking Safety

Grand Canyon offers some of the most challenging hiking and backpacking found anywhere in North America. Steep trails, intense heat, fast changing weather, and elusive water and shade combine to make for harsh conditions — even on a good day. Over 250 visitors are evacuated from the Canyon for medical emergencies by the park service Search and Rescue team each year. Proper planning and training is imperative.

The reward for those willing to make the effort, a mere fraction of the visiting public, is a chance to marvel at the unfolding beauty of the Inner Canyon. For those that are capable it is truly an experience not to be missed.

Day hikers are not required to obtain a permit from the park service. They should choose their route carefully, and let someone know where they are going and when they plan on returning. Each year several day hikers become lost or disoriented in the Canyon, and several perish as a result. Don't become a statistic. Do your homework, don't take any undue risks, and stay well within your known limits in terms of physical exertion.

Plan for twice as much time and effort to go up than it takes to go down. As with all day hikes, get a reliable weather forecast and dress accordingly, wear sturdy shoes and a brimmed hat, and take a gallon of water per person, plus salty snacks for each person in your party.

The best day hike for newcomers to the Grand Canyon is a descent of the Bright Angel Trail. This historic trail begins in Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim and tumbles seven miles to the Colorado River below. However, going to the river and back in a single day is strongly discouraged for any hiker on any day. The good news is that there are obvious places to change course and head back uphill, including rest houses (with treated drinking water during the hot summer months) which are found at 1.5 mile increments between the top and Indian Garden Campground, located halfway to the bottom.

Cell Service

Cell phone service is intermittent at times, both on the Rim and certainly down in the Inner Canyon. Not all wireless providers offer coverage in the Grand Canyon, especially at the North Rim. Be careful not to rely on your cell or smartphone for all your directions, reservations, up-to-the-minute weather and emergency safety needs while at the Grand Canyon.

 

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GRAND CANYON'S NEAREST AIRPORTS

Most visitors fly into Phoenix or Las Vegas and drive to the Grand Canyon. Learn how: See All Nearby Grand Canyon Airports »

PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES

Drive yourself or take a shuttle? Learn the transportation options for each Grand Canyon rim. See All Grand Canyon Transportation »

GRAND CANYON HOTELS & LODGING

Book your hotel or lodging at the Grand Canyon, or nearby in Williams, Flagstaff or Sedona. See All Grand Canyon Hotels & Lodging »

WEATHER AND AVERAGE TEMPERATURES

Wondering what to expect of the weather during your trip? See Grand Canyon Weather & Average Temperatures »

A Day At The Canyon from John Burcham Photography. John Burcham is a commercial, editorial photographer based out of Flagstaff, AZ. You can see more of his work at www.johnburcham.com