Visiting the Grand Canyon North Rim is a wonderful experience for the whole family.
Grand Canyon National Park has two developed areas for visitors, separated by the Grand Canyon itself.
While most visitors go to the South Rim, I highly recommend a trip to the north side of the canyon!
Grand Canyon National Park is the second-most visited US National Park, with about 5 million visitors per year. That's a lot of people!
If you don't enjoy huge crowds, there is good news: the vast majority of those visitors go to the South Rim.
The Grand Canyon North Rim is much less crowded. Although it's only about 10 miles as the crow flies from the South Rim, it feels like a different world.
There is no air or rail service to the area, and getting there requires some effort - so it will always be an oasis for those of us who like our vacations to be relatively quiet and solitary.
Since the North Rim is 1000 ft higher than the South Rim, its summer temperature is cooler.
Summer highs are usually in the pleasant 70s. Over at the South Rim, temperatures will be in the sweltering 80s.
North Rim services are open only from mid-May until mid-October.
Exact dates vary from year to year, based on the weather. (When the snow closes the highway, that's it!)
If you are based at the South Rim, you could take a side trip to the North Rim.
You could drive your own vehicle the 215 miles (one way) - or you could take a shuttle. Either of those options takes about 5 hours each way.
Of course, you could always hike from the South Rim to the North Rim. That will take at least 3 days of strenuous hiking, though - and then you'll have to hike back!
Why not plan your trip so that you drive through Utah to the Grand Canyon North Rim? The North Rim is 392 miles from Salt Lake City. The closest city to the North Rim is Kanab, Utah.
There's a lovely National Park Service campground located right inside the Park, with easy access to all park services.
There is a lot to do! Your only difficulty will be fitting it all in. (Be sure to save lots of time for just gazing in wonder at the view!)
The Lodge has a dining room, coffee shop, snack bar, saloon, gift shop and post office.
Right next door is the North Rim Visitor Center where you'll find interpretive displays, lots of helpful information about the area, and a bookstore. This is a good place to get oriented to the area and to plan your stay.
Interpretive programs are held daily on a variety of topics. We attended an interesting afternoon session about the geology of the park.
In the evening we learned about the history of rafting on the Colorado River.
There are no bike rentals, but if you bring your own bikes, you can enjoy several lovely and scenic - and flat - bike trails. (I like flat bike trails!)
We biked through the forest from the campground to the Lodge.
This is really why you are here, after all - and there are lots of great scenic viewpoints at the North Rim.
This lookout is just a short stroll from the Grand Canyon Lodge.
On a clear day, you can look across the Canyon and see the South Rim Village.
No matter your level of fitness and experience, there's a trail for you at the Grand Canyon North Rim.
The short Bright Angel Point Trail begins at the Lodge and visits several stunning viewpoints. See those three people on the right? That's us!
If you want a strenuous workout, you can hike down into the Canyon on the North Kaibab Trail. You won't find crowds here: I was surprised to learn that fewer than 10 per cent of Grand Canyon visitors venture below the rim at all. Only 1 per cent go all the way to the bottom!
choose to go below the rim, even for a short distance, please plan ahead
and be prepared. Read and obey the posted safety warnings. Every year,
too many unprepared hikers have to be rescued from the Canyon because
they have succumbed to heat stroke. You can learn more about heat exhaustion and heat stroke here.
We took a short hike below the rim. Unlike the hiking we are used to, the first part is the downhill (and easy) part. Getting back to the trailhead is the hard part! It was a hot day, and we were glad that we were carrying sufficient water.
We saw the mules in their corral, but didn't ride them. If you decide to do this, be aware that there are age and weight restrictions. You'll want to make plans and reservations in advance.
This evening event happens in a large tent near the campground. It includes an all-you-can-eat buffet and live country and western entertainment.
If you are staying at the Lodge, you'll take a train-type shuttle (included in the price of the evening).
We were camping, so we just walked over from our site.
The food was good and plentiful and the husband-and-wife singing duo were talented and entertaining. We had a great time!
As you can see, we were the first ones there! We had hot food and front row seats!
You must buy tickets in advance for this event.