Visiting the Grand Canyon North Rim has been on my bucket list for a while, so it was an easy must-see destination during our American Southwest Road Trip Vacation. We were lucky enough to book a cabin for a night (best decision ever!) and we were able to experience the sunset over the beautiful North Rim views.
We started our Southwest Vacation by flying into Las Vegas and staying the night in the city. The following morning we completed the 5(ish) hour drive to the Grand Canyon North Rim. The drive was pretty long but worth it to experience such an amazing place.
The Ultimate Guide To Exploring The Grand Canyon North Rim
The Grand Canyon North Rim was as wonderful as I expected. The Visitor Center and Grand Canyon Lodge are two places you should definitely check out while you are here. I picked up a pack of beautifully designed National Parks postcards in the Visitor Center and the Lodge itself is beautiful and has a really awesome view of the Grand Canyon. The National Park workers are also super friendly and can help you plan your visit.
The Grand Canyon Lodge
Staying at the North Rim
I highly recommend booking a cabin for a night at the North Rim. It was SO nice to relax and watch the sunset over Grand Canyon, without having to worry about driving back to stay at a hotel. (There are not a lot of options out here for hotels, either.) There are quite a few cabins but they book up quickly, so it’s best to make your reservations ASAP. We got lucky and ended up finding one of the last cabins available for the date we were planning to visit. So, if they are already booked up, you can check back periodically to see if anyone has cancelled their reservation. The cost was about $150 for a small, two bed cabin. There are also camping sites available here, which would be a fun place to camp if you are into that.
Our cabin for the night- so cute!
Interior shot of our cabin.
Food at the North Rim
There are three different options for food at the North Rim: The Grand Canyon Lodge Dining Room, Deli In The Pines, and Roughrider Saloon. We opted out of eating at the Lodge Dining Room because it was the most expensive options and reservations are required. Deli In The Pines and Roughrider Saloon had similar options- the Deli had more food options and the Saloon had more drink options. I had a Prickly Pear Margarita and it. was. amazing.
For breakfast the following morning we picked up a couple of breakfast burritos and coffee at the Saloon. The Lodge has indoor and outdoor seating options that offer amazing views of the Grand Canyon.
Hiking At The North Rim
The best part of visiting the North Rim is hiking and taking photos, of course! My favorite hike was the Bright Angel Point Trail, which is an easy, short, paved trail right behind the Lodge. The trail offered the best views and is where I took the majority of my photos. Since we were lucky enough to rent a cabin for the night, we hiked out on the trail right before sunset and enjoyed the views. It was a really lovely and one of my favorite moments of our vacation.
Unfortunately, the weather was a little crazy due to monsoon season, so we didn’t hike as much as I intended to. There are plenty of awesome day hikes that would be fun to check out if you have good weather and some free time. (You can check out the list of day hikes here.) Also, the Rim-to-Rim hike is now on my bucket list.
Grand Canyon Lodge View from the Bright Angel Point Trail
The following morning, on our way out of the park, we stopped by the Point Imperial Overlook, the highest North Rim Overlook. It was so foggy that we couldn’t see what I imagine would be an amazing view. It’s a short detour and one that I would suggest checking out on a nice, clear day!
The Bright Angel Point Trail is a must hike trail if you are at the North Rim. It’s short enough if you are only making a day trip and easy enough for the entire family.
Tips For Photographing The North Rim
If you know anything about photography, then you know lighting is the most important part to create a great photograph. This is especially true for landscape photographs. Right around sunrise and sunset are the perfect times for capturing the beautiful features of the Grand Canyon. I found a good spot on the Bright Angel Point Trail and hung out there for a while until the light was just right.
The one thing I really wish I had was a polarizing filter. It can be difficult to get all of the colors, tones, and details of the Grand Canyon by shooting with your normal camera setup. A Polarizing filter can help emphasize all of those amazing aspects.
I don’t personally travel with my tripod, but a tripod would definitely be helpful if your shooting style is to capture as much detail as possible or if you like to shoot HDR.
Remember to take pictures of yourself/your family, too! Most people are happy to take a picture for you.
Other Things To Consider When Visiting The North Rim
Weather can be unpredictable and change rapidly. It’s best to be prepared with rain jackets in monsoon season. There were times when it be sunny and beautiful, pour rain for 10 minutes, and then be beautiful again. It was pretty chilly at night but warm during the day, so packing layers is always a good idea.
The North Rim is only open May-October, so plan your visit accordingly.
Cell service is limited (at least that was the case for us) and there is no WiFi, so plan accordingly. We use Google Maps for our travels and downloaded the offline version of the map ahead of time. I also had a few movies downloaded on my iPad for entertainment after the sun went down.
The food resources at the North Rim are only open certain hours and have limited selection. It’s always a good idea to bring water and snacks with you, especially if you have any dietary needs.
Remember to put your camera away and take in all of the amazing views.
Is It Worth It?
Absolutely, 100%, yes it is worth it! You need to add the North Rim to your travel bucket list!
What did I love about it? I loved the views (of course), that it is less crowded than the South Rim, and relaxing in rocking chairs at the Lodge while drinking a margarita. I would go back to the North Rim, but only if I were completing the Rim-to-Rim hike.
There’s a reason why the Grand Canyon is popular travel destination. It’s one of those places that you really need to see and experience in person to take in how incredible it is. I already visited the South Rim (a really long time ago on a family vacation) but haven’t visited the West Rim/Skywalk yet. That would be a great day trip if you are in Las Vegas!