Grand Canyon North Rim – Complete Trip Planning, Guided Tours and Information

GETTING TO THE NORTH RIM:

While it is portrayed as a vastly isolated region- and in some aspects it is- the North Rim is a mere 10-18 miles (16- 29 km) from its boisterous brother. Getting there is a matter of choice- either drive the 216 miles (348 km) around it, or hike 21-23 miles (34 to 37 km) across the canyon from the South Rim. You can also approach the North Rim from the North, details below.

Hiking

If you’re hiking to the North Rim from the South Rim, the South Kaibab and Bright Angel Trails are good options.

South Kaibab Route

A rim-to-rim journey from the South Kaibab trailhead to the North Kaibab trailhead is 20.9 miles or 33.6 km and will take you 10-12 hours depending on your level of fitness. Remember that hikers are advised to complete rim-to-rim hikes in two days.

Bright Angel Route

The rim-to-rim route from the Bright Angel trailhead to the North Kaibab trailhead is 23 miles (37 km) and should also be completed in a couple of days.

Driving

If you’re driving, the entrance to the North Rim is located 30 miles (48 km) from Jacob Lake or 80 miles (129 km) from the state line at Kanab, Utah along Highway 67. Keep in mind that the distance from Jacob Lake to the actual rim is 45 miles (72 km).

From Grand Canyon South Rim

1. Take Highway 65 east bound toward Cameron, AZ.

2. Take Highway 89 north bound toward Bitter Springs, AZ.

3. Take Highway 89Alt west bound toward Jacob Lake, AZ.

4. Take Highway 67 south bound toward the North Rim’s main entrance.

Time: Approximately 4.5 hours.

From Phoenix

1. Take I-17 North to Flagstaff and once there, US-89 North.

2. Continue along US-89 North toward Bitter Springs.

3. At Bitter Springs, take US-89A North.

4. Take the left onto AZ-67 South toward the entrance to the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.

Time: Approximately 6 hours.

From Las Vegas

1. Take I-15 north bound toward St. George.

2. Take Highway 9 toward Hurricane.

3. Merge onto Highway 9, between East and State Street.

4. Turn onto Main Street and take UT-59 South/ US-100 South.

5. Take UT-59 south bound into Arizona.

6. Take AZ-389 until AZ-89A- turn south here.

7. Take AZ-67 southbound into the entrance to the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.

Time: Approximately 4.5 hours.

From Salt Lake City

1. Take I-15 south bound.

2. Take US-89 south bound until you reach Kanab and Page.

3. Take US-64 West/US-180 West

4. Drive directly into Tusayan toward the entrance into the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.

Time: Approximately 6.5 hours.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

While the South Rim remains open year round, with a couple of “prime” visiting seasons, the North Rim is usually closed from late October to mid-May due to winter weather which can be quite dangerous- even fatal- for hikers.

Late spring and early autumn are the best hiking seasons, usually from May to September when the temperatures remain in the sixties (16 C). For some beautifully scenic moments, visiting during the rainstorm season is an interesting experience, usually in August.

GUIDED TOURS OF THE NORTH RIM

The North Rim is coveted mostly for its isolation, making its uncrowded hiking trails the number one attraction. However, various different activities are available for those seeking out amazing adventures. For exciting tour experiences, check out the Great West Tours website and All Grand Canyon Tours.

HOTELS AND LODGING

The North Rim has only one hotel within park boundaries, the famous Grand Canyon Lodge. Located right on the canyon’s rim, the rustic lodge is in high demand and almost impossible to reserve on short notice.

Another lodging option is the North Rim Campground, which features 90 campsites, cooking grills, pay phones, drinking water, and a laundromat (within walking distance). Located at an elevation of 8200 ft (2499 m), the campsite offers amazing views, but the weather can be unpredictable.

NORTH RIM HIKING TRAILS 

South Canyon Trail

Located on Marble Canyon, this trail is for experienced hikers as the path is a little ambiguous and very strenuous. Don’t underestimate the trail because of the distance, a 13-mile (21km) round-trip, this trail should not be completed in one day.

Nankoweap Trail

Considered one of the most difficult routes in the entire park, this trail will take you from the rim to the river. Do not attempt to complete rim-to-river journeys in one day, as even the most experienced hikers find the journey extremely rigorous.

Ken Patrick Trail

Located on the Kaibab Plateau, this is one of the easier routes to hike on the North Rim. As opposed to others on the North Rim, this trail can be treated as a day hike and is considered an easy hike.

Cape Final Trail

Another easy option for North Rim hiking, this trail is barely 5 miles (8 km) out and back along a maintained trail.

Cliff Springs Trail

While this trail is unmaintained, it is only two miles (3.2 km) out and back and can be completed within half an hour. While brief, the route is a scenic one, located below Walhalla Plateau.

Widforss Trail

Moderately difficult, this trail is the perfect length for a day hike. At barely 10 miles (16 km) out and back, it’s a legitimate hiking trail and its plateau-top location provides exquisite views.

Uncle Jim Trail

An unmaintained trail, this route is rougher than other North Rim trails, but it is considered moderately easy and will take about three hours to complete the round trip. Named after “uncle Jim” (James T. Owen), this trail is full of historical significance.

North Kaibab Trail

Perhaps the most famous North Rim trail, this route is often used as half of a rim-to-river journey and stretches 14 miles (23 km) from the rim to the river. In itself, the trail is 28 miles (46 km) and should be completed in various days as it is not only lengthy, but extremely challenging.

North Bass Trail

Another rim-to-river trail, this route is unmaintained and physically taxing. At a distance of 27 miles (43 km) this hike should only be undertaken by experienced hikers who are familiar with the Grand Canyon’s infamous terrain.

Powell Plateau Trail

An easy trek to a plateau outlook, this trail can be completed within an hour. Short, but scenic, this is one of the easier options available for North Rim hiking.

Thunder River and Tapeats Creek Trail

One of the shorter of the North Rim’s rim-to-river routes, this hike is recommended for experienced hikers only as it is considered extremely strenuous. At 25 miles (40 km) out and back, the journey can take a couple of days. The phenomenal scenery makes up for the rigorous terrain.

Deer Creek Trail

The shortest rim-to-river trail on the North Rim, this steep and very challenging route will take you to the river within 22 miles (35 km). Again, take your time and plan to camp below the rim as this route is unmaintained and physically strenuous.