Last Updated on April 14, 2023
Everyone has heard about the famous Grand Canyon National Park, making it one of the most popular and essential stops on a major Southwest USA road trip. The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is by far the most popular of the two rims to visit, but spending one day at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon can be an even more unforgettable experience. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon has unique viewpoints, far fewer visitors, and some great hiking trails to explore.
This Grand Canyon North Rim itinerary will help you see all of the most epic Grand Canyon North Rim views and make the most of your one day at the Grand Canyon North Rim.
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Is Grand Canyon North Rim Worth It?
Absolutely! We loved the views of the South Rim, but the North Rim is so much more magical with far fewer visitors and possibly even more impressive views. The South Rim receives an impressive 5 million visitors per year, however less than 10% of those visitors make the trip to visit the North Rim.
The North Rim is perfect for anyone wanting to see the Grand Canyon without all of the crowds of the South Rim. It is also the better choice if you’re traveling through southern Utah, as it is more accessible if you are visiting the Grand Canyon from the north.
Is One Day Enough for the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park?
You can absolutely have an amazing time with just one day at the Grand Canyon North Rim. You can visit all of the major viewpoints, as well as go on a few short hikes. One day in the Grand Canyon might not seem like enough, and there are tons of ways to spend even more time there, but you can still see and do quite a bit in one day if you plan ahead and start your day early.
Can You See the Grand Canyon North Rim and South Rim in One Day?
Technically you could, but it is definitely not worth it. While it may only be 21 miles (34 km) across the canyon from the North Rim to the South Rim, it’s a 4.5-hour, 220 mile (354 km) drive from one rim to the other. This would take up too much time during the day to meaningfully see either the South Rim or North Rim, and wouldn’t make the journey worth it.
Grand Canyon North Rim vs. South Rim
If you only have one day available to see the Grand Canyon and need to decide whether the North Rim vs. South Rim is better for your trip, we’ve got everything you need to know to make your decision on where to go!
North Rim is closed in winter – While the South Rim is open year-round, the North Rim is only open from mid-May to mid-October. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is located at a higher elevation and gets more snow. If you are planning a trip during the winter months, the South Rim is the only option.
Highway 67, the only road access to the North Rim Grand Canyon, closes for the winter which will cut off vehicle access to the park. If you plan to visit in the winter, you must do so by hiking the inner canyon trails from the South Rim or snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or hiking the 45 miles (72 km) from Jacob Lake.
South Rim gets a lot more visitors – As you just read above, the South Rim of the Grand Canyon receives millions more visitors every year and if you want to avoid a lot of those, visiting the North Rim will be your best bet. The North Rim gets about 10% of the visitors that the South Rim gets, allowing you better appreciate all that nature has to offer in this stunning area of natural beauty.
North Rim is more remote – The North Rim is more rugged and remote with a lot fewer facilities than the South Rim. Lodging is much more limited, as are tours, dining, and other activities, but there is still great hiking and views to be had.
South Rim has more lodging – Compared to the one hotel inside the park at the North Rim, the South Rim has six. Like the North Rim, though, they all book up way in advance. There are three campgrounds at the South Rim compared to one at the North Rim. Whichever destination you choose, they book well in advance like the hotels. There are more hotel options nearby, just outside of the South Rim, whereas the North Rim does not have hotel options just outside the park.
North Rim has wild bison – There aren’t bison in the park, but on the Kaibab Plateau before the park entrance station, there is a herd of wild bison that you may be able to see! It is not a guarantee that you will see them since they are wild animals, but they do like to hang out near the road. Just remember, they are wild and should not be fed or approached. If you are looking for somewhere else to spot wild bison, look no further than Yellowstone National Park.
South Rim has more tours – If you want to do tours or excursions to learn more about the Grand Canyon, or visit further and deeper into the canyon, the South Rim will be a better choice. The North Rim really only has mule rides available. Helicopter tours, scenic flights, and 4×4 Hummer tours all leave from the South Rim.
North Rim won’t be as hot – The higher elevation that closes the North Rim in the winter, also means that it is cooler in the summer! The cooler temperatures experienced on a Grand Canyon North Rim itinerary can be a great respite from the desert heat in the surrounding areas of the Southwest USA.
North Rim is closer to Utah parks – If you also plan to visit Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park, the North Rim is much closer to those than the South Rim and can easily be visited in one trip. If you’re visiting the area and looking to also visit these parks, we have a Zion 1 Day itinerary and Bryce Canyon 1 Day Itinerary created just for you to make the most of your trip to this beautiful area of the world.
South Rim is better for an Arizona trip – If you’re primarily traveling through Arizona or along Route 66, the Grand Canyon South Rim will be much more convenient to visit. The Grand Canyon South Rim is great to pair with a visit to the bustling nightlife of Las Vegas, or the stunning red rocks of Sedona, Arizona.
South Rim has the train – If you want to ride the historical Grand Canyon Railway, that is only available at the South Rim. You would most likely want to stay in nearby Williams for this activity.
Both have mule rides – If you want to go on a mule ride into the Grand Canyon, but want to avoid the South Rim crowds, you can still do them at the North Rim! You will get to experience the Grand Canyon North Rim views in a new way on a mule ride.
Both are about the same distance from Page – If you are traveling to spend one day in the Grand Canyon from Page, Arizona, both the North rim and South rim are about the same driving time: 2.5 hours. The North Rim looks closer but it’s actually the same distance as it is to the South Rim.
Rafting trips don’t leave from either rim – Visiting the Grand Canyon on a rafting trip is a bucket list item for many people, however these trips actually don’t leave from either rim of the Grand Canyon National Park. Rafting trips begin at Lees Ferry, which is just two hours from the North Rim while it is just over four hours from Grand Canyon Village at the South Rim.
Directions to North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon sprawls 278 river miles (447 km) across the western half of northern Arizona covering 1.2 million acres (nearly 500,000 hectares). To say it’s huge is an understatement. It might take a while to get to the different areas but a visit to the Grand Canyon North Rim is easy enough and well worth any extra planning effort.
Las Vegas to North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park
If you are coming from Las Vegas, it is a 277 mile (445 km) drive from Harry Reid International Airport to the North Rim Visitor Center, which should take about 5 hours. Half of the drive is completed on Interstate 15, and the remaining half on secondary roads with scenic views. There are also Grand Canyon bus tours from Las Vegas.
Page, Arizona to North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park
If you are coming from Page, Arizona, the home of Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend, it is just a 2.5 hour, 125 mile (201 km) drive to the North Rim Visitor Center. It is an easy and very beautiful drive. You will even drive through Marble Canyon where the Grand Canyon officially starts! This drive along Highway 89A is considered one of the most beautiful drives in America.
What to Do at the North Rim of Grand Canyon for One Day: Ultimate Grand Canyon North Rim Itinerary
There are so many great things to add to your Grand Canyon North Rim itinerary to make your visit unforgettable. There are many canyon overlooks and short hikes to stretch your legs and enjoy all of the stunning Grand Canyon north rim views! You will want to get started as early as possible so that you can make the most of this one day Grand Canyon North Rim itinerary and see and do as much as possible.
Visit the Grand Canyon North Rim Visitor Center
The main area at the Grand Canyon North Rim is where you will find the lodge, gift shop, and restaurants. It is like the Grand Canyon Village of the South Rim, just smaller and more accessible. This is a great way to start your Grand Canyon North Rim Itinerary and familiarize yourself with the park and its history.
The development of the North Rim started in 1917, about thirty years after the South Rim. This area has a unique history as Elizabeth Wylie McKee was in charge of the first accommodations at the North Rim, but she was forced out not long after by National Park Service when they gave the Union Pacific Railroad and Utah Parks Company the concessions in the park.
Unlike the South Rim, a railroad was never built to the North Rim, but reaches as close as Cedar City, Utah about 100 miles (160 km) away. From there, motor coach tours were available so that visitors could conveniently visit three national parks in one trip: Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion.
The Grand Canyon Lodge, opened in 1928, was built from limestone and pine wood native to the area, making it look like it rose directly from the canyon cliffs. Previously, traveling here was such an event that guests were greeted with song when they arrived and when they left, and every night staff of the lodge held a talent show followed by a dance.
In 1932, a fire destroyed the lodge, but spared the surrounding cabins that visitors can still stay in today. The new lodge that stands today was finished in 1937, more resistant to fire this time, and it has changed very little since then.
Ranger programs are also available here to learn more about the Grand Canyon North Rim during your visit.
Location on Google Maps: North Rim Visitor Center
Facilities: Visitor Center, restrooms, Grand Canyon Lodge, gift shops, restaurant, mail service.
What to Bring: Wallet for souvenirs and snacks.
Helpful Tips: This is only open in the summer and cannot be accessed in winter or the off seasons. In season, the visitor center is open from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
Walk To Bright Angel Point
Bright Angel Point is the most famous Grand Canyon North Rim View. It is a great short hike along a paved pathway to one of the best and most popular views in the park. It is a little steep in places, but any effort will be worth the reward. Bright Angel Point is a must-see with one day in the Grand Canyon North Rim.
Location on Google Maps: Bright Angel Point
Facilities: Bright Angel Point has no facilities, but is within easy walking distance of the Grand Canyon North Rim Visitor Center.
What to Bring: Water, sunglasses, camera.
Helpful Tips: The walk is 0.5 miles (0.8 km) and is paved. There are numerous opportunities to step off of the main pathway for some even more impressive views, but be extremely careful as there are steep drop-offs here and it can get very windy.
Optional: Hike to the Coconino Overlook and North Kaibab Trail
It’s not possible to hike the entire North Kaibab Trail, the only maintained trail into the canyon from the North Rim, in one day. However, you can hike the 1.5 miles (2.4 km) round-trip to the Coconino Overlook. If you are an avid and prepared hiker, you can always hike further on the trail. This is a great optional hike if you want something a little longer or to go below the rim.
Location on Google Maps: Coconino Overlook on the North Kaibab Trail
Facilities: Drinking water and bathrooms are available at the trailhead.
What to Bring: Lots of water, protection from the heat and sun (extra if you plan on hiking past the overlook).
Helpful Tips: It is not recommended at all to hike to the river and back in one day, especially for casual visitors. Always remember, the hike into the canyon is easy but you still have to hike all the way back up and out.
Drive the Cape Royal Road: The Best Grand Canyon North Rim Views
Cape Royal Road is a narrow, 20 mile (32 km) out and back road with some of the best scenery at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. There is a short side road to Point Imperial, several hiking trails and overlooks, and even the Walhalla Glade Pueblo along the road before the twisting and turning road ends at Cape Royal. Driving Cape Royal Road is a must-have on your one day Grand Canyon North Rim Itinerary.
Visit Point Imperial
Before heading out to Cape Royal for sunset, make sure that you take the detour to Point Imperial, the highest and northernmost overlook on the North Rim. Point Imperial stands 8,803 feet (2,683 m) above sea level, and it is not uncommon to feel a little light-headed when reaching this are of the park. This is a stunning viewpoint where you can see the Painted Desert and Vermillion Cliffs in the distance, a different view than Roosevelt Point and Cape Royal further along the road.
Location on Google Maps: Point Imperial
Facilities: Large parking lot, picnic area, bathrooms.
What to Bring: Picnic supplies, as it is a great place for lunch. Lots of water and snacks to combat the potential for altitude sickness.
Helpful Tips: The winding side road that takes you to Point Imperial from the road to Cape Royal is just 2.4 miles (4.1 km).
Roosevelt Point Lookout
The Roosevelt Point lookout got its name from Theodore Roosevelt’s efforts to protect and preserve the beauty of the Grand Canyon. The lookout is an easy 0.2 miles (0.3 km) round-trip loop through a quiet woodland area with some of the best Grand Canyon North Rim Views. Parking is limited here and there are no facilities, but it offers a unique perspective looking into the Grand Canyon from the North Rim.
Stop at the Walhalla Overlook
Walhalla Overlook is another incredible view from the Grand Canyon North Rim where you can see Echo Cliffs and the Painted Desert in the distance. Below, the Colorado River and Unkar Delta can be seen down in the canyon. Both are home to multiple archaeological sites with a rich history. Across the road from the overlook is a short trail to the Walhalla Glades Pueblo, a ruin that is astonishingly about 1,000 years old. There are very steep drop-offs here, which can make for some incredibly dramatic photo opportunities, but of course be extremely cautious when approaching the cliff edge.
Grand Canyon North Rim Sunset at Cape Royal
The hike to Cape Royal is more of a walk than a hike on a paved path with some of the best Grand Canyon North Rim views ahead. Definitely stop to see Angel’s Window on the trail out to Cape Royal. You’ll know Angel’s Window when you see it as it is a small window created in the towering rocks above the canyon. You can enjoy a view of the river from here, too.
Location on Google Maps: Cape Royal picnic area
Facilities: Picnic area and bathrooms.
What to Bring: If you are visiting in the summer, this is a great spot for an evening picnic while you enjoy the sunset.
Helpful Tips: Be sure to do the 0.8-mile (1.2 km) hike from the picnic area out to the Cape Royal Overlook. In addition, if you walk in the opposite direction of the main hiking trail from the parking lot, there is a small trail that leads out to another alternative Grand Canyon North Rim viewpoint. Here is where the National Park Service also has a small area set up for weddings as well.
After watching the sunset over the Grand Canyon from Cape Royal, carefully make the drive all the way back to the North Rim Visitor Center and lodge if you are staying there, or head out of the park back to the nearby towns of Kanab or Page.
Best Time to Visit the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park
If you just have one day in the Grand Canyon, late summer and fall will be the best time to visit for the best combination of reasonable temperatures and fewer crowds. The only time it is really difficult to make a trip work without hiking in from the South Rim or Jacob Lake is December 1 to May 15. One thing to keep in mind is that it is always cooler on the rim than below the rim and at river level.
Winter in North Rim Grand Canyon National Park
There is almost no winter access to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon unless you are hiking over from the South Rim or trekking the 45 miles (72 km) from Jacob Lake, which very few people do each year. The official date that Highway 67 closes varies based on weather in the area but happened on December 1st in 2021. Temperatures at the Grand Canyon North Rim in winter can be in the 40s °F (4-9 °C) during the day, with nightly lows plunging to below freezing. The Grand Canyon North Rim can see anywhere from 50 to 100 inches (130 to 250 cm) of snow per year.
Spring in North Rim Grand Canyon National Park
Access is still very limited in the spring as the park generally fully re-opens in mid-May (May 15 is the expected date, but the date is subject to change due to weather). If you are planning to visit in Spring, check the Highway 67 road closures before going. The South Rim might be a better bet during this time of year as it is always accessible. Temperatures are pleasant in April, and steadily increase through to June.
Summer in North Rim Grand Canyon National Park
Summer is the most popular time at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and all services are up and running. Even though it’s usually cooler at the North Rim than the South Rim, it can still get very hot, so be prepared for the intense heat of the desert. Monsoon season is July, August, and early September, which brings the possibility of thunderstorms.
Temperatures at the North Rim in summer are pleasant, however it can get quite hot. Crowds are also the busiest, however the North Rim of the Grand Canyon does receive so many fewer visitors than the South Rim, that summer is still a reasonable time to visit this area as crowding is manageable.
Fall in North Rim Grand Canyon National Park
Sudden changes in weather can occur in the fall at the North Rim during this transition season, but it’s also the best time to visit. Temperatures are cooler and more pleasant than the heat of the summer, it is a little less busy, and you can enjoy the colors of the leaves changing. Services close on October 15, so it best to visit at least a few weeks earlier to have the full Grand Canyon North Rim experience. In September, temperatures are usually in the 60s °F (16-21°C) and drop to the 50s °F (10-15°C) and lower by November.
Best Place to Stay Near the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park
There are a few places to choose from when you are looking for hotels near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, however there is only one location inside the park and just a few towns to choose from nearby.
Hotels at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon Lodge is the only hotel at the North Rim and it is only open from about May 15th to October 15th each year. It is extremely popular and fills up fast so you will need to book well in advance. And by well in advance, we mean nearly a year in advance if you want to stay here! If you do not get a reservation, you can always call and check for last-minute cancellations.
The booking schedule of when reservations open up for specific dates can be found on the lodge website. They also have cabins for rent. If you are lucky enough to get a reservation, you will be able to enjoy Grand Canyon North Rim views right from the comfort of your bedroom or outdoor deck. We found that cabins 305 and 309 are the best as they have the most direct views of the Grand Canyon.
Hotels Nearby the North Rim of the Grand Canyon
The closest towns to the Grand Canyon North Rim with hotels options are Kanab, UT and Page, AZ. In Kanab, there are not many super budget-friendly options, due to Kanab’s proximity to Zion National Park, but Red Canyon Cabins is a good one with strong ratings. The Canyons Boutique Hotel is a great choice for something a little nicer.
In Page, the Rodeway Inn is not fancy at all but it’s about as budget-friendly as it gets. For something a little nicer, the Wingate Lake Powell is great and has nice views.
Jacob Lake Inn, Lees Ferry Lodge, Cliff Dwellers Lodge, and Marble Canyon Lodge are three great choices close to the North Rim that are not in towns. If you want something more remote and scenic between destinations, these are great options.
Grand Canyon North Rim Camping
There is one campground at the North Rim with 87 sites available by reservation only. Like the lodge, it is only open from May 15th to October 15th each year. There are no showers or RV hookups available here. Winter camping is available with a backcountry permit from December 1st to May 15th if you are hiking from the South Rim or coming in cross-country from Jacob Lake.
The Next Trip Top 5 Tips for a One Day Grand Canyon North Rim Itinerary
There are tons of pieces of advice when it comes to planning one day in the Grand Canyon, but we think these five are some of the most important things to know before you go to make your trip the best possible for your Grand Canyon North Rim 1 day itinerary.
Research the Weather
Be sure to check the weather before your trip and plan for that to change. The Grand Canyon North Rim is a lot cooler than the South Rim due to the higher elevation, but the further you hike into the canyon, the hotter it gets. If you are planning a below-the-rim hike, it is best to dress in layers as temperatures frequently change.
Generally, temperatures increase 5.5°F with every 1,000 feet in elevation loss. This equates to about a 3°C increase per every 300 m in elevation loss. The North Rim is the wettest area of the park averaging 25.8 inches (65.5 cm) of precipitation per year, compared to Lee’s Ferry, the driest, averaging 6.1 inches (15.5 cm) per year.
Plan to Be Offline
Cell phone service in the park is very limited so plan to be offline during most of your visit. Any Wi-Fi in the park is also slow and not very reliable. Your best bet is to use any service you need before getting to the park and then embrace being offline for the day.
Pack Everything You Need for the Day
This is especially important during off-season months where you can still drive in the park, but there are no services available at all. You need to bring all food, water, and anything else you need. Gas is available as long as Highway 67 is open (it is closed December 1st to May 15th every year).
Even for a visit in the summer, it is best to bring what you need so you do not have to drive all over the park to look for food and water for lunch when you could be out enjoying the Grand Canyon North Rim views and trails.
Check Your Fuel Before You Go
You will want to fill up on gas before getting to the park if you can. The only available fuel in the park is near the campground and you don’t want to get stuck without gas with just one day in the Grand Canyon. If you are low on gas when you get there, top off before hitting the trails. Gas will most likely be more expensive in the park as well. There is a gas station available at the turnoff from US Highway 89A onto the Grand Canyon Highway 67 at Jacob Lake.
Plan to Stay for Sunset
Plan to finish off your Grand Canyon North Rim itinerary at Cape Royal for sunset. Seeing the sun set over the Grand Canyon is one of those magical experiences you do not want to miss out on and Cape Royal is the perfect spot to enjoy it along with a picnic dinner.
Hopefully now you have got the best one day Grand Canyon North Rim itinerary to look forward to so you can hike and enjoy the best Grand Canyon North Rim views that the park has to offer.
Have you been to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon? Did we miss your favorite spot? Let us know in the comments! If you haven’t been yet, be sure to pin this post to your Southwest United States Pinterest board so that you have the ultimate one day Grand Canyon North Rim itinerary ready to go!