|36.21028°N / 112.06056°W
|Spring, Summer, Fall
|8300 ft / 2530 m
Note: Grand Canyon National Park is split into two and is divided by a really big canyon. While the South Rim is the more popular, if you want “get away from it all” the North Rim is the place to go. Since there are no towns nearby, your N. Rim sleeping options are staying at the lodge, heading for the backcountry or camping at the North Rim Campground. The North Rim Campground fulfills the conflicting goals of saving money in a rustic environment while still having access to flush toliets like a civilized person. Enjoy your stay!
Grand Canyon National Park is iconic for a reason…it is breathtakingly stunning. As a result it draws more people every year than the New York Yankees. Of these visitors 90% end up on the South Rim and 10% go to the North Rim. Both sides are breathtaking but the North Rim is quiet even during the high summer season.
The tourist tour of North Rim of the Grand Canyon takes most of a day; to see it in detail can take multiple days or even weeks. With that in mind, the North Rim Camping area provides a great option for a multiple-day stay. The campground is located in forested area within a 100 steps of the canyon rim.
Campsites at North Rim can be reserved well in advance which is essential to making base camp arrangements. Plan on calling six months out. For reference, I made my August weekend reservations for a tent only site in April and had to adjust my plans to site availability
The road into the North Rim Closes every year for snow and the area is only open for vehicle traffic late spring through first snows (Closed 15 Oct – 15 May). The NPS still lets you camp if you are able to reach the North Rim without a vehicle (e.g. Skiing the 40 miles from the Hwy 89/67 junction or hiking across from the South Rim). All water and electricity are turned off in winter.
There are 89 total camping sites at North Rim which includes, 74 Standard sites, 12 tent “walk in”, and 3 group sites. Fees are $18-$25 per site per night
Hiking on the North Rim ranges from pull-your-car-over-and-say-wow to epic 50-mile rim to rim to rim adventures. My personal favorite was the 4.5 round-trip hike to Cape Final. Most of the hikes, other than Kaibab Trail which goes to the South Rim, skirt on the rim and end in a nice view point. The NPS map gives you a good idea of what’s available. No matter which hikes you choose, they are all pretty.
The North Rim has a small convenience store for immediate resupplies stocked with essentials such as beer, Poptarts and fire wood. The closest town with any stores is Jacob Lake, 41 miles away.
The park also has a gas station, restaurant and deli on the North Rim.
The NPS sometimes restricts fires during the dry season
Dogs---Keep your pets on a short leash. There are extremely limited areas of the park where you can walk your dog (exactly one…Bridle Trail). For dog safety, don’t lock them in your car as they will die from heat exposure. The Park will also eject you if your dog is barking and/or annoying other campers.
The North Rim is at 8,300 feet and therefore colder than the surrounding area (e.g. August temp 81 on the North Rim while 102 at Phantom Ranch). Cool is usually is a good thing in the summer, but keep the extra cold in mind if you are going in the late spring or fall. Weather wise, there are frequent thunderstorms in the area, it gets hot sometimes, and yes, you can get caught in the occasional flash flood.
Take all the usual precautions; dress in layers, bring water and listen to weather reports.
The other serious hazard is plunging to your death from ultra high precipices. Every year you read about some idjit walking off a cliff while filming. Granted the veiws are pretty darn distracting, but do try to avoid being a funny "Darwin" article in your local newspaper.
Most of the trails in the area are well used and marked….it’s kind of hard to get lost. That being said, Smart phones don’t work at the campground (I didn’t get reception anywhere in the park) and there isn’t any Wi-Fi. Cell phones go into “emergency call only” mode in most of the park areas so don’t count on them for quick rescue. Cell phone mapping applications sort of work in the park but tend cut out and add in random info. I didn’t get accurate elevation readings from my Cell phone GPS.
There are medical emergency services located near the Campground.