The Grand Canyon National Park is a stunning and majestic place that should be on everyone’s bucket list to visit in their lifetime. Over 5 Million people come from all over the world to see the vast gorge but only 10 percent make it to the North Rim, which is over 8,000 feet in elevation.
I recently visited the Grand Canyon North and South Rim in Arizona this past October. Driving from the South Rim to the North Rim by automobile requires a 4.5-hour drive of 220 miles (354 km). I ended up splitting my trip to the Grand Canyon between two days, and visited the South Rim and then the following day the North Rim. If visitors aren’t sure if the driving is worth it, here’s five reasons to make the trip:
The North Rim has many trails and unlike the paved trails on the South Rim, there are rustic and trails that allow visitors to fully emerge into the natural habitat of the gorge. Skip standing in a line just to see a viewpoint, and opt for a trail run along the ridge, without the crowds. If you travel to the North Rim during the spring or fall (shoulder season) then you’ll be pleasantly pleased to enjoy the exquisite views with solitude.
Going to the Grand Canyon’s North Rim in the shoulder season also makes it easier to book a reservation at Grand Canyon Lodge. With an excellent view of the canyon, overlooking Bright Angel Point, reservations are taken May through Mid-October. The menu includes regional dishes as well as cuisine from the 1930s. There’s also a coffee and snack bar for grabbing food before heading out on a hike. The Deli offers pre-made salads and sandwiches throughout the day and all items are ready to go.
#3 Less Traffic, enjoy winding roads without the wait
With the long trip up to the North Rim, upon your arrival, there’s much less traffic than at the South Rim. You can stop into the visitors center to pick up a map and head out to Point Imperial and Cape Royal, with short walks and places to stop, it will make for an entire day of smooth roads and winding scenic views that will leave you breathless.
#4 Stunning Viewpoints not to be missed
Point Imperial, the highest point on the North Rim at 8,803 feet (2,683 meters), overlooks the Painted Desert and the eastern end of Grand Canyon. Cape Royal provides a panorama up, down, and across the canyon. With seemingly unlimited vistas to the east and west, it is popular for both sunrise and sunset. The sweeping turn of the Colorado River at Unkar Delta is framed through the natural arch of Angels Window. Look for the Desert View Watchtower across the canyon on the South Rim. This popular viewpoint is accessible via a paved, level trail.
Since just driving to the North Rim is a long trip, make sure to get a cabin for the night so you can enjoy the rim in the morning as well! The Lodge at the Grand Canyon North Rim offers guest rooms and cabins that can be booked 13 months in advance to guarantee your accommodations. I will be doing this on my next trip to the canyon because I plan to do a ton of hiking!