My Itchy Travel Feet | The Baby Boomer's Guide To Travel

North Rim: The Grand Canyon’s other side

2009/03/12by Donna Hull

Updated 04.01.2013

View from the Grand Canyon's North Rim

The view from the North Rim

For an alternative to the heavily visited South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, consider the 212-mile journey to the Grand Canyon’s other side. The 4-hour-plus drive travels through the Kaibab National Forest, where golden leaves of quaking aspen trees shimmer in the light breeze on a crisp, fall day. And you’re sure to spot wildlife, like turkey and mule deer, playing in the meadows bordered by the ponderosa pine forests that continue to the very edge of the canyon. It’s a national park adventure that you don’t want to miss.

Grand Canyon North Rim Frontier cabin

Rustic lodging in a Frontier cabin

Although only 10% of visitors to the Grand Canyon make it to the North Rim due to its isolated location, park lodging books up quickly, more than a year in advance. Accommodations are basic—log cabins with no telephones, television and very limited cell service. When Alan and I visited we were lucky enough to arrange a last minute booking in one of the Frontier cabins that included one double bed and one single bed with little space left over. Of course if we were campers, we could have stayed in the campground, if a reservation had been available (no hook-ups).

But who cares about luxury lodging with a Grand Canyon view steps from the cabin? We walked the short path to Bright Angel Point to catch the sunrise before chowing down on an asparagus omelet in the dining room of the Grand Canyon Lodge. Designated a National Historic Landmark, the stone and timber building appears to melt into the environment. In the late afternoon, we sat on the lodge’s veranda overlooking the canyon waiting for a sunset show as the wind rustled through the trees to the click, click, click of camera shutters.

Angels Window Grand Canyon North Rim

Angels Window

We enjoyed the 15-mile drive along Cape Royal Rd. that ended at Cape Royal. Numerous stops along the way offered chances to get out of the car and walk to scenic overlooks.

Hiking enthusiasts of all levels have plenty of options for hiking the North Rim, or choose from a variety of mule ride excursions. Die-hard adventurers can hike from rim to rim on multi-day excursions.

The North Rim is open from May to October. Besides the Grand Canyon Lodge, food is also available at Deli in the Pines and Camper Store. Once winter weather settles in, the North Rim is closed although hikers, cross-country skiers and snowshoers with a backcountry permit may use the campsites.

Do you have a favorite trail at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon? Please tell us about your visit to the Grand Canyon’s other side. Alan and I have barely scratched the surface when it comes to visiting the North Rim.


A boomer travel and lifestyle authority who is exploring the world one activity at a time. Besides writing and publishing My Itchy Travel Feet, she also writes about boomer travel for My Well-Being Powered by Humana, Make It Missoula and is the author of New Mexico Backroads Weekend Adventure.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Donna Hull
Twitter:
March 12, 2009 at 8:41 pm

Judith, I bet you went to Toroweap. It’s about a 3-hour drive down a rough dirt road. Alan took a solo trip there last summer. He dry camped in the car so he could be there for a morning photo shoot. The haze was bad so the photos aren’t the best. He loved the isolation and dramatic view. That’s my man. I’ve promised to go but we’ll drive in and out the same day. No dry camping for me. I’m a lux girl.

Reply

judy Stock March 12, 2009 at 8:51 pm

I’m with you Donna, not camping anywhere. Never happening, no matter how beautiful the scenery is. I camp at the Marriott anywhere or the Venetian in Vegas.

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Dominique March 12, 2009 at 9:30 pm

I always like hearing about the road less taken :)

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Judith Stock March 12, 2009 at 8:33 pm

I’ve been to the Grand Canyon but the hard way. We vised the West rim and lived to see another day. Took 3 kids, 1 dog and ourselves down a 120 mile dirt road to get to the rim. We only saw one other car on the road. But the view was certainly grand. No one else there – pretty special. I don’t recommend it. there are no amenities and no place to get gas.

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Melanie March 13, 2009 at 12:18 am

Beautiful. I’d love to go sometime. I went to the Southern Rim one day and the weather was terrible and I could hardly see anything. Obviously, I’ll have to try again.

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Kerry Dexter
Twitter:
March 13, 2009 at 1:12 pm

donna,
a good friend and her husband did this several yearss back and loved the quieter aspect of the canyon. nice to know it’s still a good option.

Reply

pen4hire March 13, 2009 at 8:53 pm

Donna:
I would like to announce that you are the awardee of the Sisterhood Award for women bloggers who have great attitude and gratitude toward others. On my blog today, http://atravelerslibrary.com, readers will see this : I hereby hand the Sisterhood Award off to world traveler Donna L. Hull, whose My Itchy Travel Feet particularly appeals to members of the boomer generation. Don’t miss the gorgeous photos she posts along with her interesting travel stories. She finds bargains for our home town at Tucson on the Cheap as well. Donna has been my blogging mentor and patiently answered endless stupid questions.

Thanks and congratulations,

Vera Marie Badertscher

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Anne Mayhew March 16, 2009 at 12:44 am

Loved the Grand Canyon! My husband and I traveled down it on a raft! A trip to remember!

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travellinda August 29, 2009 at 2:14 pm

My husband and I visited the North Rim in 2004 and LOVED it! We did some hiking, but I didn't go far because I knew the hardest part would be hiking back up when I was already pooped. We stayed in Kanab for 3 days and I would go back in a heartbeat!

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Hugfol August 9, 2010 at 10:24 pm

spent a week on the north rim. camping in almost complete isolation. It was life changing. ain’t gonn tell you where!

Reply

Donna Hull
Twitter:
March 13, 2009 at 1:23 pm

Thankfully, no. But North Rim is higher in elevation so view into canyon is even more dramatic.

Reply

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