Cape Royal Scenic Drive

The Cape Royal Road is the North Rim's only paved access to rim viewpoints, but it is spectacular. It is a 23-mile one-way drive from Grand Canyon Lodge, and the suggested side trip to Point Imperial adds another 6.0 miles, for a total of 29 miles. The road passes through a beautiful mixed forest of Douglas and white firs, quaking aspen, and ponderosa pine. During the fall, the aspen lights up the forest in vibrant shades of yellow, orange, and red. The following mileage log starts from the North Rim Village parking lot at Grand Canyon Lodge and assumes you will take the side road to Point Imperial. Read more about Cape Royal Scenic Drive

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0.0 Grand Canyon Lodge

Grand Canyon Lodge

Grand Canyon Lodge

From the parking lot, drive north on the North Rim Road, passing North Rim Village with its campground, gas station, and general store on the left. Read more about 0.0 Grand Canyon Lodge

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2.1 North Kaibab Trailhead

The only maintained trail across the Grand Canyon starts from this trailhead on the right. The North Kaibab Trail descends into Roaring Spring Canyon, and then follows Bright Angel Creek to the Colorado River, passing two backcountry campgrounds on the way. Phantom Ranch is located near the river, where hikers and mule riders can buy lunch and snacks, as well as spend the night. Read more about 2.1 North Kaibab Trailhead

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3.0 Cape Royal Road

Turn right onto the Cape Royal Road (go straight ahead to exit the park.) Read more about 3.0 Cape Royal Road

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8.4 Point Imperial Road on the left

Point Imperial is a 3.0-mile side trip from the Cape Royal Road, which will add 6.0 miles to your drive. The mileages assume that you make this side trip, which is highly recommended. Read more about 8.4 Point Imperial Road on the left

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11.4 Point Imperial

Point Imperial

Point Imperial

Point Imperial is the highest point on the North Rim at 8,800 feet. Here, on this lofty perch, you have a close view of Mount Hayden and a panoramic view of the complex of canyons formed by Nankoweap Creek. Nankoweap Creek has five major arms and a permanent stream in the main canyon. Hidden at the head of one of the arms is Goldwater Natural Bridge, which was discovered, lost, and then discovered again from the air by Senator Barry Goldwater. In the distance to the east and southeast, you are looking at the East Rim, which is about 3,000 feet lower than Point Imperial. The rimrock is the same on both rims- the Kaibab limestone. The reason for the difference in elevation is the East Kaibab Monocline. A monocline is a bend in the layers of rocks formed by uplift. In this case, the Kaibab Plateau, where you are standing, was uplifted 3,000 feet higher than the plateau to the east. Sometimes the rocks break along vertical fault lines, but in this case the rocks were deeply buried. Under high heat and pressure, the rocks were soft enough to bend instead of breaking. The East Kaibab Monocline is the longest exposed monocline in the world Read more about 11.4 Point Imperial

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14.4 Return to Cape Royal Road

Turn left to continue the scenic drive along the Cape Royal Road. Read more about 14.4 Return to Cape Royal Road

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19.0 Vista Encantada

Vista Encantada

Vista Encantada

Vista Encantada (Spanish for Enchanted View) is a small pullout on the left with picnic tables. Fir trees frame a gorgeous view of Brady Butte above the headwaters of Nankoweap Creek. It's a quiet place to have a picnic lunch and enjoy the Canyon and the rim forest. Looking to the northeast, you can see the tilted rock layers exposed on the south side of Saddle Mountain and Boundary Ridge, which form the north end of the Grand Canyon. The tilted rock layers are the result of folding along the East Kaibab Monocline. Read more about 19.0 Vista Encantada

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20.6 Roosevelt Point

Roosevelt Point

Roosevelt Point

Roosevelt Point, a small, quiet pullout on the left, offers a view into the south arm of Nankoweap Creek as well as views across the East Rim and the Navajo Indian Reservation in the distance. Picnic tables near the parking area are a good place to take a break. An easy 0.1 mile one-way trail offers a nice, cool stroll through the North Rim forest. Read more about 20.6 Roosevelt Point

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26.2 Cape Final Trail

A signed trailhead marks the start of the Cape Final Trail, which leads 2.0 miles one-way to Cape Final, an east-facing promontory towering high above the headwaters of Unkar Creek. Cape Final also offers close-up views of Jupiter and Juno temples, many other Grand Canyon summits, and part of the Painted Desert and Navajo Indian Reservations in the distance to the southeast. Read more about 26.2 Cape Final Trail

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27.2 Walhalla Ruin

Walhalla Ruin

Walhalla Overlook is on the left at a large parking lot. Across the road from the viewpoint, an interpretive trail loops around a small Indian ruin. The viewpoint overlooks Unkar Creek and Unkar Delta, where the creek meets the Colorado River. An extensive pre-Columbian ruin covers the delta. Archaeological evidence shows that the inhabitants of the Unkar Delta village and the Wahalla ruin routinely traveled back and forth from rim to river, hunting in the rim forest and farming the delta with water from the Colorado River. At least one modern tribe, the Havasupai, continue this practice today, farming at Supai Village in Havasu Canyon, and raising cattle instead of hunting on the south rim. When the first European explorers reached the Grand Canyon, the Havasupai were also farming small plots at Indian Garden on the present Bright Angel Trail. Read more about 27.2 Walhalla Ruin

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28.1 Cliff Springs Trail

The Cliff Springs Trail starts from a small pullout on the right. It is a 0.5-mile one way trail to a rare North Rim spring. Do not drink the water without purifying it. The reason that springs and surface water are so rare on the Kaibab Plateau despite the heavy winter snowfall is the layer of porous Kaibab limestone that forms the surface of the plateau. Meltwater and rainwater promptly soaks into the ground, so that there are only a few springs and shallow lakes and no permanent streams. Additional porous layers below the Kaibab limestone let groundwater continue deep into the earth, until it encounters a layer of shale below the Redwall limestone that slows the downward percolation. The Redwall limestone is riddled with caverns dissolved out of the rock by the underground water, and some of this water finds outlets to the surface deep within the Grand Canyon. The resulting springs and permanent streams are a delight in the desert environment of the canyon. Read more about 28.1 Cliff Springs Trail

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28.7 Cape Royal

Cape Royal

The road ends in the Cape Royal parking lot. From here it is an easy, level 0.25-mile walk to Cape Royal. This viewpoint is located at the southern tip of the Walhalla Plateau and has a 270-degree view of the eastern Grand Canyon. It is arguably the best Grand Canyon viewpoint that is accessible by paved road. Wotans Throne and Vishnu Temple, two of the most impressive of the canyon's many buttes and temples, dominate the foreground. A side trail leads out to the Angels Window overlook, which offers a view to the east at the verge of a 1,000-foot drop. Angels Window itself is a natural arch in the fin under the viewpoint.

Summits in the Grand Canyon are mountains in their own right. If Vishnu Temple was sliced off at its base and placed on the plateau, it would rise 5,000 feet above its base. Because most Grand Canyon summits are difficult to reach, requiring hours or days of strenuous cross-country hiking, the last summits weren't climbed until the 1980's. Few rockclimbers are willing to carry heavy loads of climbing and camping gear over such rough terrain to reach climbs that are on soft, dangerous rock. Even Vishnu Temple, which was first climbed in 1933 by Merrel Clubb, had only 14 ascents by 1985. Although not difficult by rockclimbing standards, climbing Vishnu Temple from the North Rim is a difficult two-day hike and scramble and the ascent of the peak requires great care. Read more about 28.7 Cape Royal

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