The North Rim is Closed for Winter
Lodging and restaurants are open May 15 through Oct. 15.
A worthwhile trip for those who enjoy the road less traveled, the North Rim, or "other side" of Grand Canyon is visited by only 10% of all Grand Canyon visitors.
The hike across the canyon from South Rim to North Rim is 21 miles (34 km). However, driving from the South Rim to the North Rim by automobile requires a 4.5 hour drive of 220 miles (354 km). Driving directions to the North Rim.
The North Rim Visitor Center, located adjacent to the parking lot for Grand Canyon Lodge and Bright Angel Point, provides park and regional information, maps, brochures, exhibits, and a bookstore.
Bright Angel Point Closed for WinterFor classic North Rim views, start at the Grand Canyon Lodge patio, then walk the paved trail out to Bright Angel Point.
From the main parking area it is a relatively short, easy walk to Lodge itself. The lodge is wheelchair accessible.
From the lodge the paved, 0.5 mile (0.8 km) round-trip trail leads out the spine of the ridge to Bright Angel Point. This trail is steep in places, with drop-offs and stairs, but provides dramatic views into Roaring Springs and Bright Angel Canyons.
North Rim Scenic Drive Closed for Winter
Point Imperial and Cape Royal are reached via a winding scenic drive. The trip to both points, with short walks at each and several stops at pullouts along the way, can easily take half a day.
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. Here the canyon transforms as the narrow walls of Marble Canyon, visible only as a winding gash, open dramatically to become "grand." Layers of red and black Precambrian rocks, not visible at Bright Angel Point, add contrast and color. Part of the viewpoint is accessible.
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.
Winter Camping with a Backcountry PermitNorth Rim roads are closed to vehicles between December 1st and May 15th, and no visitor services are available. During these winter months backpackers, snowshoers, and cross-country skiers are permitted to use the North Rim Campground, provided a backcountry use permit has been obtained in advance. – These permits are available through the South Rim Backcountry Information Center (e-mail us or call 928-638-7875,) and at the Visitor Center at Pipe Spring National Monument located in Fredonia, Arizona.
The closest place to park during this time is Jacob Lake. The hike through the snow from Jacob Lake to the North Rim Campground is around 45 miles. Hikers, snowshoers, and cross-country skiers will need to remain off the closed road (per Superintendent's Compendium re: safety from snowplows) and forge a path through the snow.
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There is something about the North Rim of Grand Canyon that invokes a sense of solitude and serenity. This is a place that invites you to slow down, to ponder, to feel your own innate creativity, and to fall in love with landscape.
An audio described version of this video is available here.
Last updated: December 7, 2018