The Grand Canyon North Rim is the most secluded area of the Grand Canyon with lots of wildlife and breathtaking natural landscapes surrounded by ponderosa pines. It might be a little out of the way, but if you want to explore less-visited parts of the region, you can’t miss the main attractions at the Grand Canyon North Rim!
Just be aware that the North Rim is not an option if you’re planning to visit the Grand Canyon in winter, since it remains closed during the coolest months when it’s covered in snow. However, you will be able to beat the crowds even if you go during the spring or the fall, the best time to visit the Grand Canyon. That is one of the main differences between the North Rim vs. the South Rim. Both are beautiful, but if you finally end up visiting the North Rim, you will appreciate the solitude that you won’t find at the Southern Rim.
If you want to explore the wildest side of the canyon, in this guide I’ll share all the best things to do at the Grand Canyon North Rim so you can have a journey filled with awe and wonder. Whether you’re an avid adventurer or simply seeking a quiet place to share lovely moments with your family and loved ones, this guide will lead you to the right destination. So, let’s dive in.
1. Take the Grand Canyon North Rim Scenic Drive to Point Imperial and Cape Royal
One of the main attractions of the Grand Canyon North Rim is the Scenic Drive to Point Imperial and Cape Royal. As you traverse these picturesque routes, you’ll encounter some of the most iconic viewpoints in the region.
First up, take the detour from Cape Royal road to visit Point Imperial. This is the North Rim’s highest viewpoint, so it’s a must-visit for panoramic views that stretch as far as the eye can see. Trust me, the views from this vantage point are absolutely breathtaking.
Continue driving the Cape Royal road until the end, where you will find the Cape Royal lookout, which offers a front-row seat to witness the Colorado River meandering all the way through the depths of the canyon. To get to the actual viewpoint, it’s around a 20-minute walk from the parking lot, but it’s completely worth it. You can also visit the Angel’s Window lookout on the way.
As you can see, there are plenty of things to do along the Cape Royal Scenic Drive. Other breathtaking viewpoints along this road include Vista Encantada, Roosevelt Point, and Walhalla Overlook, each offering its own unique perspective of the Grand Canyon North Rim.
2. Hike to Cape Final, one of the best things to do in Grand Canyon North Rim
When you’re looking for the best things to do at the Grand Canyon North Rim, a hike to Cape Final should be right at the top of your list. This 4-mile trail is a less touristy destination, but it includes one of the best views of the Grand Canyon you’ll ever witness.
The Cape Final Trail is known for its moderate difficulty level, meaning that hikers with various levels of experience can enjoy it. As you make your way through the scenic ponderosa pine forest, keep your camera ready, as you’ll catch glimpses of the canyon through the towering trees.
This trail is one of the best Grand Canyon North Rim hikes and something you can do while you drive along the scenic Cape Royal Drive, since the trailhead is right there. The hike takes around 2 to 3 hours round-trip, and what makes it so unique are the stunning views of the North Rim and the Painted Desert. It’s like having your own private lookout point, away from the tourist crowds.
3. North Rim Visitor Center, a popular place to visit at the Grand Canyon North Rim
When it comes to exploring the best places to visit at the Grand Canyon North Rim, you won’t want to miss the North Rim Visitor Center.
Remember that the visitor center is more than just an information hub; it’s a gateway to your Grand Canyon adventure, where you’ll learn a lot about the canyon’s geology, history, and wildlife. Besides, inside the visitor center, there are park rangers who can answer your questions and provide guidance on the best things to do at the Grand Canyon North Rim.
More importantly, don’t forget to swing by the Grand Canyon North Rim gift shop for souvenirs that will remind you of this incredible journey.
As you step outside the visitor center, make sure to enjoy the stunning scenery. The surrounding areas provide a different perspective of the canyon, with lush ponderosa forests and many trails to explore, like the Bright Angel Trail, which I’ll talk about next.
4. See the sunset from Bright Angel Point, the best attraction in Grand Canyon North Rim
One of the trails departing from the visitor center is the one that gets you to Bright Angel Point. If you’re looking for an exciting thing to do in the Grand Canyon North Rim, catching a sunset from this overlook is an absolute must. This iconic spot is one of my favorite places in the North Rim. As the sun begins its descent, the canyon transforms into a breathtaking canvas of colors and shadows.
The Bright Angel Point Trail is easily accessible to all hikers and offers a short walk with big rewards. The 1-mile trail passes through a forest of fir and spruce trees, and when you reach the lookout point, you’ll face a spectacular view.
The trail is quite well-maintained and offers a relatively easy hike with only a slight elevation gain. Typically, it takes around 30 minutes to complete, and it offers a perfect spot to enjoy the spectacular vistas of the Grand Canyon. Overall, Bright Angel Point is the perfect destination, especially for photographers and nature enthusiasts.
5. Hike the North Kaibab Trail and see the Colorado River from the North Rim
If you’re up for a challenge and are considering exploring the Grand Canyon from rim to rim, then the North Kaibab Trail is an excellent starting point. This trail is considered one of the best hikes in the Grand Canyon, offering astonishing views of the Colorado River, but it’s also one of the most difficult routes.
Just getting to the Colorado River will take you around 6 hours, since this is a 16-mile hike with an elevation change of around 6,600 ft. After camping at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, you can continue with the ascent to the South Rim, either via the South Kaibab Trail or the Bright Angel Trail.
As I said, this is only for experienced hikers in excellent physical shape! So, if you’re seeking a shorter hike with equally breathtaking views, consider hiking only a section of the North Kaibab Trail. For instance, you can descend to Roaring Springs, which is a great way to enjoy the beauty of the Grand Canyon without committing to the full rim-to-rim journey. And don’t forget to make a stop at the Coconino Overlook. It’s absolutely stunning!
6. Hike the Transept Trail, one of the easier things to do at Grand Canyon North Rim
If you’re looking for a relatively easy adventure at the Grand Canyon North Rim, I recommend the Transept Trail. This out-and-back 4-mile trail offers a more leisurely experience and it’s certainly among the best things to do at the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.
The Transept Trail is perfect for those seeking a relaxed hiking experience while still immersing themselves in the beauty of the canyon. This picturesque route continues along the rim, providing you with captivating vistas of the canyon and the stunning Transept Canyon.
As you hike, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to appreciate the tranquility of the north side of the Grand Canyon. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just looking for a lovely outdoor experience with your family and friends, the Transept Trail is a delightful addition to your list of things to do at the Grand Canyon North Rim. It won’t take you more than 2 hours!
7. Uncle Jim Trail Overlook, one of the best views from the Grand Canyon North Rim
There are tons of thrilling activities at the Grand Canyon North Rim, but the Uncle Jim Trail Overlook is the one item that should definitely be on your list. When we visited this place, we were absolutely astonished by the experience, and considered it to be one of the best views from the Grand Canyon North Rim.
The trail to Uncle Jim Trail Overlook is a relatively short hike (a little less than 5 miles), but it has a lot to offer in terms of scenery. It can take you 1.5 hours to reach the overlook, but once you do so, you’ll be rewarded with an unobstructed vista that showcases the Grand Canyon in all its glory. It’s one of those moments that you will remember for the rest of your life.
Experiencing the Uncle Jim Trail Overlook is a delightful reminder of the magnificent wonders located within the Grand Canyon North Rim. It’s also an adventure that offers you an opportunity to reconnect with the beauty of nature, so I highly recommend it.
8. Bike the Bridle Trail, the only multi-use trail in the Grand Canyon North Rim
When exploring things to do at the Grand Canyon North Rim, you should definitely consider taking an exciting bike ride on the Bridle Trail, the only multi-use trail in this part of the park. This trail not only offers a different perspective of the Grand Canyon, but also adds tons of fun to your visit.
What makes the Bridle Trail so unique is that it’s the only trail where bicycles and leashed pets are permitted. This gives you a chance to explore the area on two wheels and enjoy more remote sections of the park. The Bridle Trail is approximately 2 miles long, so it may take about 1 to 1.5 hours round-trip, including some stops for enjoying the surroundings.
The trail’s mostly level terrain makes it suitable for riders with varying skill levels. So, if you’re traveling with children, this can be one of the best things to do near the Grand Canyon’s north entrance. While biking the Bridle Trail, be prepared for exciting wildlife encounters along the way. I assure you it will be an active and enjoyable addition to your North Rim experience.
9. Visit the North Rim Lookout Tower, a curious place to visit in the Grand Canyon North Rim
If you’re looking for an epic activity at the Grand Canyon North Rim, I recommend visiting the North Rim Lookout Tower. This unique structure, which was originally constructed in the 1930s, is a testament to the interesting history of the region.
As you climb up the tower’s narrow staircase, you’re not just heading for a higher viewpoint but also stepping back in time. The tower’s architecture also showcases a rustic charm which is truly fascinating.
To get here, you can hike along the North Rim Fire Watchtower Trail. This 2.8-mile out-and-back trail is pretty easy and takes around 1 hour to complete. It offers a peaceful and solitary hiking experience, making it an ideal choice for those seeking a tranquil environment. However, keep in mind that dogs are not allowed on this trail.
And remember that the Watchtower isn’t far from the Kaibab Plateau, where you can find the most impressive animals in the Grand Canyon, including a large bison herd.
10. Toroweap Overlook, a popular place to visit near Grand Canyon North Rim
Toroweap Overlook is one of the best places to visit at the Grand Canyon North Rim which offers an unobstructed view of the Colorado River from 3,000 feet up. Toroweap is located in a remote and rugged part of the Grand Canyon, so it’s not as frequently visited as other viewpoints, which makes it perfect for those who are looking for solitude and a truly immersive natural experience.
To reach Toroweap, you’ll need to navigate a challenging and unpaved road, only suitable for high clearance 4wd, but I can assure you that you’ll be rewarded with a heavenly view by the end. If possible, time your visit to get here during sunrise or sunset so you can fully appreciate the Grand Canyon’s beauty and untamed wilderness.
Toroweap Overlook is the North Rim’s most remote viewpoint, so it can take you 3-4 hours to get here. But the good news is that you can spend the night at Tuweep Campground, located just 1.5 miles from the overlook. The campground doesn’t have modern amenities, so make sure to bring food and water. And remember that you need a permit for both day use and overnight.
Where to stay at Grand Canyon North Rim
Choosing where to stay in the Grand Canyon can be quite tricky because there are lots of good choices to consider. But if you’re planning to visit the North Rim, let me offer a couple of appealing options.
If you’re looking for maximum comfort in the middle of the natural environment, then you should consider Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim. It’s not only one of the most prestigious lodging choices but also considered one of the best luxury hotels in the Grand Canyon.
The Grand Canyon Lodge offers a variety of accommodations, from cabins to motel rooms, ensuring a comfortable stay with warm hospitality and delicious homemade food.
For those who prefer a more adventurous experience or want to visit the Grand Canyon by RV, the North Rim Campground is an excellent choice. This campground offers a chance to immerse yourself in the wilderness and enjoy the beauty of camping at the Grand Canyon North Rim.
The North Rim Campground offers excellent amenities, including a dump station, a general store, trash/recycling collection, and even an amphitheater. Plus, the campground is close to some of the best things to do at the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, so you’re never far from adventure.
Map of things to do at Grand Canyon North Rim
To help you plan your visit to the Grand Canyon North Rim, here’s a map with all the places I mentioned in this guide. You can also check out our Grand Canyon North Rim map for more information.
I hope this guide helps you plan your adventure in this beautiful region. If you have any questions or would like to share your favorite thing to do at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, feel free to leave a comment below. I’d be happy to hear from you!
Enjoy exploring the Grand Canyon North Rim!