Arizona: Exploring Grand Canyon’s North Rim Print

There’s a lesser-known Grand Canyon, 200 miles away from the crowds of tourists that gather at the popular South Rim. Part of the Grand Canyon National Park, the North Rim offers a much more relaxed atmosphere. It may be worth the time to make the long drive from the South Rim for a visit.

Your editor made my first trip to the North Rim in the 1950s. Then it was truly isolated and visited mostly by hunters and campers. I've returned several times to this isolated area of unspoiled natural beauty. In season, the Grand Canyon Shuttle operates twice-daily, round-trip service between the two rim areas for about $200. Although the South Rim is open year-round, North Rim lodging and food services are only available from May 15 through October 15.

The sole North Rim onsite lodging is the Grand Canyon Lodge. A national historic monument, it offers cabins and motel rooms, many with close-up views of the Canyon. Often, because it’s the only one there, the North Rim Lodge is booked solid a year or more in advance. Rates are from about $125 to $200 per night.

There are extensive hiking trails, from basic to challenging. The North Rim Grand Canyon hike, an all-day journey goes almost 10 miles down the North Kaibab Trail to Roaring Springs at the Canyon bottom, and return.

Schedule a mule ride down the Canyon, a great experience that has been attracting visitors for almost 100 years. Half-day trips, led by expert guides, are about $100 per person, and available through the Grand Canyon Lodge.