As one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon is a majestic sight to behold. The world-famous landmark, which is located in Grand Canyon National Park, is 277 miles long, almost 18 miles wide, and more than a mile deep. The canyon’s stunning natural beauty attracts almost 5 million visitors each year to marvel at its jaw-dropping scenery.
Nearly 90 percent of those who visit the Grand Canyon take in the spectacular views from the park’s free shuttle buses or from their car at overlooks along the South Rim, according to the National Park Service. The South Rim, though, is not the only place to witness the Grand Canyon’s exceptional panoramas. While it’s a bit of a mystery to some, the North Rim is an equally magnificent vantage point to see the amazing steep-sided gorge carved by the Colorado River.
A Walk on the North Side
At 8,000 feet and only 10 miles across, the North Rim sits 1,000 feet higher than the South Rim, which many believe creates a visual advantage that is more expansive. And the secluded wilderness location provides a rugged solitude that is distinct from any other canyon experience.
Despite its unique features, only 10 percent of Grand Canyon visitors travel to the North Rim. A main factor is it has a shorter tourism season due to weather—lodging, food, and visitor services are open from May 15 through Oct. 15 each year.
The North Rim, which forms the edge of the Kaibab Plateau, also draws fewer people because the only way to reach it is by hiking across or driving to the entrance, which is about 30 miles south of Jacob Lake, Arizona, not far from the Utah border on Highway 67. While remote, it’s an accessible and scenic drive through a lush mixed-conifer forest.
Rooms with a View
Once you reach the North Rim, the sole hotel accommodation inside the park is the historical Grand Canyon Lodge. Located at Bright Angel Point, the rustic lodge was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987 and was built with natural stone and timber to reflect the canyon’s natural setting. Pioneer, western, and frontier-style cabins, some which directly overlook the rim, are available, as well as motel rooms.
Dining at the lodge includes The Deli in the Pines and The Grand Canyon North Rim Dining Room, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and is a certified-green restaurant. It features a regional and American-inspired menu including steak, buffalo, elk chili, roasted chicken, trout, crab cakes, prime rib, seasonal produce, and vegetarian options — all with unobstructed views of the canyon.
You also can grab beverages and breakfast items at The Coffee Shop & Roughrider Saloon. A popular pastime at the Grand Canyon Lodge is to sit in the wooden chairs on the wrap-around porch positioned on the rim’s edge and reflect on the serene quietness of this canyon perspective.
The Grand Canyon Lodge books up fast, but if there’s no room at the inn you can set up camp at the North Rim. The NPS North Rim Campground, which has 89 sites, is located by the Grand Canyon North Rim Visitor Center, and is the only camping area for tents and RVs. Restrooms are included, with laundry and shower facilities available for a fee. It’s pet-friendly but animals need to be on leashes and supervised at all times. There are no RV hook-ups, although there is a dump station at the campground.