Grand Canyon North Rim Day Trip

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The Grand Canyon is the second most visited national park in the United States. Of course, it gets crowded, but the good news is you can visit the Grand Canyon North Rim which is way less crowded than the South Rim. Take a day trip to the North Rim of the of Grand Canyon to enjoy one of the most amazing places in the world.

UPDATE: Grand Canyon National Park North Rim will open for 2020 season on June 5 for day use.


Why You Should Visit Grand Canyon North Rim


Where is the Grand Canyon?

The Grand Canyon is in northern Arizona. Some people think the Grand Canyon is in Utah – while there are five national parks in Utah, the Grand Canyon is not one of them.

But it’s an easy drive from Utah to the Grand Canyon.

Some of the confusion about which state the Grand Canyon is in could be because there are two separate sections to the Grand Canyon.

The North Rim and the South Rim are basically two separate parks (entrance fee is valid for both) separated by over 200 miles – if you are driving.

Hiking the canyon from South Rim to North Rim is 21 miles (34 km).

But driving from the South Rim to the North Rim takes 3.5 to 4 hours to make the 210 mile (338 km) trip – from South Rim Visitor Center to the North Rim Lodge parking lot.

While the national park is in Arizona, if you are staying in southwestern Utah it’s an easy drive to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.


Grand Canyon South to North Rim Drive

Map of driving route from South Rim to North Rim of Grand Canyon


How big is the Grand Canyon?

Bigger than the state of Rhode Island!

Elevation at Grand Canyon North Rim is over 8,000 ft (2,438 m)
The entire Grand Canyon covers an area of over 1,900 square miles (4,921 sq km)
Length of Grand Canyon is 277 miles (446 km)
Width of Grand Canyon 18 miles (29 km)
Most narrow point of the Grand Canyon is 4 miles (6.4 km)


Grand Canyon North Rim Colorado River view

Below the beautiful layers of sedimentary rock you can see the Colorado River


Why Should You Visit the North Rim?

  • Easy hikes with Grand Canyon views
  • Scenic drives with pullouts at panoramic viewing spots
  • Less crowded than South Rim
  • Wildlife sightings
  • Camping or lodge accommodation for overnight stays

I stayed near Cedar City Utah and although I later stayed in Flagstaff Arizona, it’s a closer drive from Cedar City UT to the North Rim (but there are lots of amazing day trips from Flagstaff – including the South Rim of the Grand Canyon).

So, I decided to take a day trip from Cedar City to the North Rim.

When I visited in mid-October the fall colors were still on display. Driving along highway 67 I saw many glorious golden aspen trees with leaves dancing against clear blue skies.

October can be one of the best month to visit the Grand Canyon. Kids are back in school so fewer families are taking vacation time and the weather gets colder at night so fewer people are taking camping trips.

But be aware, the weather at the Grand Canyon North Rim in October is unpredictable, it varies from warm and sunny to frigid and snowing.

Always check the weather before you plan your Grand Canyon day trip.

North Rim Campground will be on a first-come, first-served basis from May 15 until August 31, 2020 due to a waterline project. Normal reservations resume September 1, 2020 through remainder of 2020 season.


North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona with fall colors

October is one of the best times to visit the Grand Canyon for fall foliage


Easy Hikes with Grand Canyon Views

Check out these hikes at the North Rim Grand Canyon and enjoy the spectacular views of the rock formations and the Colorado River.


Bright Angel Pt trailhead North Rim

Bright Angel Point trailhead is close to the lodge and parking lot at North Rim


Bright Angel Point

.5 mile (.8km) round trip

This paved trail begins at the back of the lodge and offers wonderful views of the Grand Canyon. Park in the main visitor center parking lot.


Bright Angel Pt view Grand Canyon

The view of the Grand Canyon from Bright Angel Pt is amazing


Cape Royal Trail

.6 mile (1 km) round trip

A paved trail with views of Angel’s Window and the Colorado River and the canyon. The trailhead is at the large parking lot at the end of Cape Royal scenic drive.

It takes about 45 minutes to drive from the visitor center to the trailhead. Allow about 2 hours (round trip) for the drive and hike.


Angel's Window Cape Royal North Rim

Angel’s Window at Cape Royal is a an easy hike you must do at the North Rim


Cape Royal Pt trailhead North Rim

Cape Royal Point is an easy trail with rewarding views at the end


Cape Final Trail

4 miles (6.4 km) round trip

Hike this dirt trail to views of the Grand Canyon. Bring water and snacks and allow about 2 hours for this hike. The trailhead is located along Cape Royal Road – a beautiful scenic drive.


Grand Canyon Cape Royal Point North Rim

After the drive along scenic Cape Royal Point enjoy great views of the Grand Canyon


Wildlife Sightings

California Condors attract birders to the Grand Canyon each year.

Bring a pair of binoculars so you can do some birding and get a better look. When I visited the North Rim, I saw one condor, soaring high in the sky, but I didn’t have binoculars :/

Watch for the herd of bison while driving highway 67 to the park.

On my way back from the North Rim I stopped to watch the bison herd grazing near the highway.

The Grand Canyon is home to over 250 species of birds, 70 species of mammals, a couple dozen types of reptiles including rattlesnakes, and 5 species of amphibians.


Bison herd Hwy 67 Arizona

I enjoyed bright golden fall colors and a bison herd on my Grand Canyon day trip


How Busy is the North Rim?

Only 10% of visitors to the Grand Canyon visit the North Rim.

This is great news for anyone that enjoys getting away from crowded tourist sites. The views of Grand Canyon are spectacular at the North Rim.

It is still advisable to get a reservation for lodging or camping at the North Rim.

With over 6 million visitors to the Grand Canyon in 2018 that means about 600,000 visited the North Rim.


Is Grand Canyon North Rim Open?

UPDATE: Dec 1, 2019 The North Rim roads closed for the winter season. Hikers and cross country skiers with back country permits can still use the park in winter.

The Grand Canyon National Park North Rim is open on a seasonal basis. The park closes when there is too much snow to allow access, usually by the beginning of December, and does not reopen until mid-May.

In November 2019 the park remained open for day use only.

From the National Park Service website “The North Rim is open for dawn-to-dusk day use during the month of November 2019. Plan to be self-sufficient. Bring enough food and water for the day, as services will not be available.”

The hotel, campground, restaurants, and visitor center are open from May 15 to October 15.


Fall foliage Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim

Beautiful fall foliage at the Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim


Cost to Visit Grand Canyon North Rim

$35 per vehicle – valid for one week. If you already paid the entrance fee at the South Rim within 7 days, it’s also valid for North Rim entrance.

$30 per motorcycle

$20 per individual – on bicycle, foot, rafting trip, Grand Canyon railway (age 15 and younger FREE admittance)

More info on fees, buying a park pass, and free park entrance days at the NPS website.

In Summary

You should visit the Grand Canyon North Rim for these five reasons:

1. Fewer visitors at the North Rim
2. Wildlife: California condors, bighorn, deer, bison, and more
3. Easy hikes for all ages and skill levels
4. Amazing views of the Grand Canyon
5. Scenic drives and pull outs so you can enjoy the view

I hope you have a wonderful time visiting the Grand Canyon North Rim – one of nature’s wonders.

Get more info for your Arizona travels with these posts

17 Best Day Trips from Flagstaff Arizona

Fun Things to Do on a Day Trip to Winslow Arizona

Little Horse Trail Best of the Red Rocks in Sedona Arizona

Navajo Bridge Arizona (Coolest) Bridge Over the Colorado River

What You Need to Know Before Visiting Horseshoe Bend in Page Arizona

Things to do in Tucson Arizona (2019) Best Tourist Attractions

Hiking in Tucson Arizona Best Hiking Trails for Solo Travelers

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About the Author

Susan Moore spent 7 months traveling solo around Southeast Asia back in the 90's. Returning to Canada she found a job working on rotation in Siberia Russia. She later moved to Austin Texas where she started a bookkeeping business, allowing her to work remotely. Currently Susan is in year 5 of a solo road trip around the USA and Canada, living a nomadic life, and writing about her experiences with a focus on hiking and cultural encounters. Read all about Susan » You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook or Twitter or Instagram

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