Avoid This Huge Camping Mistake at The Grand Canyon National Park
The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is famous for its iconic views and expansive visitor center. Unfortunately, the very things that make it great also make it extremely crowded.
If you’re looking for equally gorgeous views of the canyon without all the hustle and bustle, you need to visit the Grand Canyon’s North Rim.
Please don’t make the big mistake of missing out on the best rim of the Grand Canyon – the north rim!
We’ve got all the details to help you plan your epic trip.
Where is the North Rim of the Grand Canyon?
The North Rim is located opposite of the South Rim in Grand Canyon National Park.
Interestingly, if you hiked the Grand Canyon between the North Rim and South Rim, the hike would only be 21 miles. However, if you drive from rim to rim, the trip is about 220 miles!
The North Rim is approximately 207 miles from Flagstaff, Arizona, and the park entrance is 30 miles south of Jacob Lake, Arizona on Highway 67. Once you’ve arrived at the park’s entrance, you will have to drive south an additional 14 miles to reach the actual rim.
About The Grand Canyon North Rim
One of the reasons the views are so spectacular at the North Rim is the elevation. The rim’s elevation is 8,297 feet (2,529 meters). That’s about 1,000 feet higher than the South Rim.
This elevation also makes for a much cooler visit. While temperatures at the South Rim can eclipse 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the North Rim averages mid-70s temperatures throughout the summer months.
The North Rim is also home to unique wildlife not found in other parts of the Grand Canyon, such as the Kaibab Squirrel. Also unlike the South Rim, which primarily has evergreen trees, the North Rim has a variety of trees including maple, birch and oak. This makes it an especially beautiful place to visit in the fall.
How crowded is the North Rim compared to the South Rim? According to the National Park Service, “the North Rim, or ‘other side’ of Grand Canyon is visited by only 10% of all Grand Canyon visitors.” It’s truly an escape from the RV tourist crowds without sacrificing a bit of the beautiful scenery!
Hours of Operation
The Grand Canyon North Rim is closed during winter due to snow. Specific closure dates vary based on weather conditions, so it’s best to check for updates from the National Park Service’s website before planning your visit. Otherwise, visitors can take in all the North Rim has to offer* for the remainder of the year, with special dawn-to-dusk hours in November.
*Due to COVID-19 some of the North Rim’s attractions and activities may be closed or canceled temporarily.
Entry Fees & Passes
If you are entering the North Rim by vehicle, the Grand Canyon National Park Vehicle Permit is $35. If you plan to hike, bike or take a shuttle into the park, the Grand Canyon National Park Individual Permit is $20 per person. Individuals 15 years old and younger can enter for free. You can purchase passes at the park entrance stations* or you can purchase digital passes in advance from Recreation.gov.
*Due to COVID-19, park entrances are not accepting cash. Credit card is the only available payment method until further notice.
There is a Trans Canyon Shuttle that takes visitors between the North and South Rims. However, if you plan to take the shuttle, you’ll need to keep a few things in mind.
First, the shuttle runs once each day in each direction from May 15 to October 15. Meaning, it only runs once from the North Rim and once from the South Rim each day. If you miss the bus, you’re out of luck!
The second important thing to know about the Trans Canyon Shuttle is it is a 4.5 hour drive each way, so plan your trip accordingly. Because of the limited bus schedule, a reservation is required.
Access for Persons with Disabilities
Many of the historic sites at Grand Canyon National Park predate modern-day accessibility standards. However, the North Rim does have ASL interpreters (must schedule in advance), wheelchair accessible scenic views, a ramp at the Visitor Center and a ramp on all shuttles. The North Rim Visitor Center also offers free wheelchair rentals.
Check the Grand Canyon’s Accessibility Guide for more information.
Things to Do at the Grand Canyon’s North Rim
One of the main attractions of the Grand Canyon’s North Rim is its Scenic Drive. Depending on how often you stop at lookout points, this drive can take upwards of half a day. But it’s well worth it! You’ll have the opportunity to see Point Imperial and Cape Royal, and snap some postcard-worthy pictures along the way.
The North Rim Visitor Center is also a popular stop. Here, you’ll be able to gather park maps and information, as well as enjoy the educational exhibits offered by the center. In addition to exhibits, the Visitor Center has a bookstore if you’re looking for a good Grand Canyon read!
Finally, the Bright Angel Point Trail is a must-walk path. This trail is approximately 0.5 miles (0.8 km) long and offers spectacular views of the North Rim’s Roaring Springs and Bright Angel Canyons. While this trail is short and paved, it is steep in certain places. And there are stairs, which might be difficult for some visitors.
RV Camping on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon
You can boondock in the nearby Kaibab National Forest. However, be sure to follow the rules. Pack out what you take in and leave no trace of camping behind.
You must also camp at least a quarter mile (0.4 km) from water sources, so make sure your RVs water supply can cope. For additional information, stop by the Kaibab Plateau Visitor Center in Jacob Lake, Arizona on your way.
National Park Campgrounds
If you’re looking for a place to park your RV and spend the night, the North Rim Campground is your only option inside the park. You will need to make a reservation by calling 877-444-6777 or visiting recreation.gov. Also note the campground does have a dump station and a water refill station, but there are no hookups at the sites. Prices at the North Rim Campground range from $18-25 per site per night.
Your other option is to camp off site at one of the many campgrounds north of the park on Highway 67. DeMotte Campground and Jacob Lake Campground offer both reservation and first-come, first-served sites at $18 per night. You can take your pick, but making a reservation is probably the safer choice. These forest service campgrounds do not have hookups.
Last, but certainly not least, is Kaibab Camper Village. While more expensive at $36 per night, this campground does have hookups and an RV-friendly atmosphere!
Experience Views and Seclusion at the Grand Canyon North Rim
You really don’t have to fight the crowds to have an excellent experience of the Grand Canyon. The North Rim is sure to delight even the most discerning RV tourist. Yes, it’s off the beaten path, but “off the beaten path” is usually where you’ll find the best adventures!
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