north rim

Tuckup Trail

This long and meandering trail starts as an old jeep road from the Toroweap access road north of the campground and follows the Esplanade east many miles to Tuckup Canyon. Much of this old trail is faint and difficult to follow, and water sources are unreliable. The first section, starting north of the campground, is distinct and makes a good day hike.

Lava Falls Trail

Lava Falls Rapid, at the foot of the Lava Falls Trail

Lava Falls Rapid, at the foot of the Lava Falls Trail

This difficult and poorly marked trail starts near the west base of Vulcans Throne and drops 2,500 feet in 1.5 miles to the Colorado River. There are a few places where you'll have to scramble down short rock faces. Once at the river, you can hike cross-country along the river bank to Lava Falls Rapid. The south-facing slope is extremely hot in summer. Plan your hike for early morning and carry plenty of water.

Kaibab National Forest- North Rim

The North Kaibab Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest encompasses all of the lofty Kaibab Plateau north of the national park boundary, as well as portions of major tributary canyons of the Grand Canyon, including Kanab Creek. The national forest is managed for multiple-use and recreation coexists side-by-side with economic activities such as ranching and logging. Camping, hiking, and mountain biking are popular on the national forest.

Camping

Dispersed camping is allowed throughout the forest except where posted otherwise. There are two developed campgrounds on the North Kaibab, DeMotte Park and Jacob Lake. See Camping for more information.

View Points

There are several scenic view points along the east rim of the Kaibab Plateau and overlooking the Grand Canyon that are accessible via dirt forest roads. These include East Rim and Marble Canyon views, and Fire Point. You'll need a high clearance vehicle to reach these viewpoints, and to explore the many other dirt forest roads. A mountain bike is another great way to explore the forest- but be sure to bring plenty of water.

Hiking

Hikers can choose from a number of trails on the North Kaibab, including a major section of the 800-mile Arizona Trail, which crosses the Kaibab Plateau from the Utah border south to the national park boundary. Most of the Arizona Trail on the Kaibab Plateau is also open to mountain biking and equestrians. See the Hiking page for more information.

Wilderness

Two wilderness areas are located on the Kaibab Ranger District-Saddle Mountain and Kanab Creek wildernesses. Saddle Mountain Wilderness is on the east side of the Kaibab Plateau, just north of Boundary Ridge and Grand Canyon National Park. Kanab Creek Wilderness includes a large portion of Kanab Canyon north of the national park, and west of the Kaibab Plateau. These remote areas provide opportunities for longer hikes and backpack trips.

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When to Visit the North Rim

North Rim Village Map

The North Rim is open from mid-May through mid-October. Though the North Rim's facilities close after mid-October, there may be limited access to the North Rim viewpoints until mid-November, depending on snowfall.

High elevation creates an alpine climate on the North Rim. Summer features cool days and chilly nights- a welcome respite from the scorching deserts below. Late summer brings almost daily afternoon thunderstorms, which create dramatic skies and spectacular sunsets. Fall weather is stable with nights below freezing and mild days, and splashes of fall color as the quaking aspen change to brilliant yellow, orange, and red. Heavy snow usually falls by November and lingers until May or June.

All of the amenities on the North Rim are located in the North Rim Village area, except for those outside the park.

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North Rim

Vista Encantada

Vista Encantada

The North Rim and Arizona 67 south of Jacob Lake are closed mid-October to mid-May. For current information, check the following web pages:

Grand Canyon National Park North Rim web page

Arizona Department of Transportation Road Conditions

Park Newspapers and Maps

The Rim Less Visited

Because the North Rim is harder to reach than the south rim, it gets only 10% of the park's visitors. Although it's a 21-mile hike from the south rim to the North Rim on the Kaibab Trail, it's a five-hour, 220-mile drive on Arizona 64, US 89, US 89A, and Arizona 67. It's certainly worth the extra effort, however, because the views from the North Rim are quite different.

The Mountain Lying Down

You'll cross the nearly 10,000-foot Kaibab Plateau on the way to the North Rim. "Kaibab" is a Paiute Indian word for "mountain-lying-down". Between the gorgeous mixed coniferous forest, the alpine meadows, and the chill mountain air, you could be Canada. In fact, you are- climate-wise. With elevations over 9,000 feet, the climate is comparable to that of southern British Columbia.

Getting Around the North Rim

When to Visit the North Rim

North Rim Visitor Center

The North Rim Visitor Center is next to the main parking lot at Grand Canyon Lodge. Exhibits provide information on the park and the region, and there is also a bookstore.

Ranger Programs

Interpretive programs are offered during the season. Ask at the visitor center, or check the Park Newspapers and Maps page.

North Rim Views

Cape Royal Scenic Drive

Kaibab National Forest- North Rim

From the southernmost point of this table-land the view of the canyon left the beholder solemn with the sense of awe. At high noon, under the unveiled sun, every tremendous detail leaped in glory to the sight; yet in hue and shape the change was unceasing from moment to moment. When clouds swept the heavens, vast shadows were cast; but so vast was the canyon that these shadows seemed but patches of gray and purple and umber. The dawn and the evening twilight were brooding mysteries over the dusk of the abyss; night shrouded its immensity, but did not hide it; and to none of the sons of men is it given to tell of the wonder and splendor of sunrise and sunset in the Grand Canyon of the Colorado. -Theodore Roosevelt

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Thunder River

 

By far the most popular of the North Rim's non-maintained trails, the Thunder River Trail takes you into an area with interesting geology, the world's shortest river, and aptly-named Thunder Spring, which roars out of a cave in the Redwall Limestone. You can do this as an overnight hike, but most backpackers like to take longer because of the long drive to the trailhead. There are plenty of side hikes that you can do from the Thunder River area.

Nankoweap Trail

 
This long, rough trail is a challenge to most hikers, but it leads into the beautiful Nankoweap Creek area with its permanent stream and easy access to the river. There are two trailheads for the Nankoweap Trail; most hikers use the Saddle Mountain Trailhead. To reach this trailhead, turn south on Buffalo Ranch Road about a mile east of the point where US 89A climbs onto the Kaibab Plateau. This graded road is passable to most vehicles, except after a major storm. It's 27.4 miles south to the signed trailhead for the Saddle Mountain and Nankoweap trails.
 

North Kaibab Trail

While a lot of backpackers focus on using the trans-canyon Kaibab Trail to hike rim-to-rim, there's a lot to do along the North Kaibab Trail itself. Using the two campgrounds, Cottonwood Camp and Bright Angel Campground, as bases, you can explore such enticing places as upper Bright Angel Canyon (the route of the original North Kaibab Trail), The Transept, Ribbon Falls, Phantom Canyon, and the Clear Creek Trail. A nice overnight hike from the North Kaibab Trailhead is to Cottonwood Camp and back, but you could easily spend a week in the area.

Arizona Trail- North Canyon Loop

 
This strenuous 3.7-mile loop hike uses sections of both the North Canyon and Arizona trails to loop down into the head of North Canyon, past a spring, and then back along the rim of North Canyon. To reach the trailhead, start from Jacob Lake at the junction of US 89A and Arizona 67, and drive 26 miles south on Arizona 67 to DeMotte Park. Turn left on Forest Road 611 and follow the signs four miles to East Rim View.
 

North Kaibab Trail

The park's trans-canyon trail, the North Kaibab Trail starts from the North Kaibab Trailhead just north of the village, descends into Roaring Springs Canyon, and then follows Bright Angel Creek to Phantom Ranch and the Colorado River, a distance of 14 miles one-way and a descent of 5,950 feet. Do not attempt to hike to the river and back in one day! A day hike to Supai Tunnel and back is a good short day hike. This hike is 2.0 miles each way and a descent of 1,400 feet.

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