The North Rim: Best Hikes on the Grand Canyon’s Other Side

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is more remote than the South Rim, but it grants better scenery and a greater variety of trails for those who reach it.

Hiking Easy, Moderate

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View from Cape Royal at sunrise
View from Cape Royal at sunrise Photo: Michael Quinn, NPS

Description

The North Rim is the Grand Canyon’s “other” side. As opposed to the South Rim, which is relatively easy to reach and consequently clogged with visitors, the North Rim is uncrowded and slower-paced. It’s no less scenic, though. In fact, some find the vistas from the North Rim to be unrivaled by any others in the canyon. The North Rim sits at a higher elevation than the South and therefore grants an even more expansive view. From limestone outcrops among conifer and aspen forest on the North Rim, you’ll gaze across the canyon’s vast and intricate maze of cliffs and buttes, across to the opposite rim, and beyond to mountains rising above an expanse of desert.

Needless to say, the views are not what makes the North Rim less popular than the South. It’s the difficulty of access and the limited season in which it is open. Located many hours’ drive from the nearest interstate highway, and at over 8,000 feet elevation, the North Rim feels isolated and wild. This part of the national park shuts down from mid-October to mid-May, and snow piles up. When it thaws and the roads reopen, however, the montane forest bursts to life in verdant foliage and vivid wildflowers.

A distinct advantage of the North Rim over the South is the number of trails that travel along the rim, rather than descending steeply into the canyon. The North Rim has more easy and moderate hikes to choose from, but difficult hikes below the rim can, of course, be found as well. Explore this list of the North Rim’s best trails to find the level of challenge that’s right for you, then challenge yourself to reach the Grand Canyon’s remote other side.

Routes included

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