Grand Canyon: North vs South Rim
Replies: 8 - Last Post: Jan 23, 2013 12:35 PM Last Post By: FlagStuff
Jan 13, 2013 12:48 PM
Grand Canyon: North vs South RimHi all!
We are planning a road trip to the Western coast in August 2013. By now I have some kind of itinerary - but of course it might change. I would like to get some tips, ideas and advice about Grand Canyon.
According to my current itinerary it´s planned to visit the Nprth Rim since we will be coming from Monument Valley / Page / Antelope Canyon. However, as all ou rplans are still open, I´d appreciate any advice and shared experience about North vs South Rim.
I know August is tough in GC, but we still consider doing some hiking. Generally, we´d like to enjoy the views, take photos, do some hiking, stay overnight etc. About 2 days for GC will be enough? Also, the less crowded the better I guess:)
Thanks, will appreciate your opinion.
Jan 13, 2013 1:07 PM
1The north rim is less crowded. The south rim is more developed.
Otherwise you can't go wrong with either.
Jan 13, 2013 1:55 PM
2The North Rim is less crowded because there are fewer accomodations. What is there will be booked up in August. Make reservations NOW!
The North Rim is higher and wetter than the South Rim. The North Rim is more forested than the South Rim. The South Rim is miles closer to the inner gorge of the Grand Canyon. There is more to do at the South Rim. The majority of Grand Canyon photographs that you have seen are taken from the South Rim. I really don't have a preference between the two. I would suggest that you try to see both of the rims.
If all you plan to do is look over the edge of the Grand Canyon, two days are enough.
Jan 13, 2013 2:26 PM
3I have been to both places - and the South Rim certainly has the most iconic views and lots and lots to do. However based on your situation and what I take is a very laid back trip, I would vote going to the North Rim, since you are already in Page you can continue on 89A which crosses some very scenic areas around Navaho Bridge and the Vermillion Cliffs - a beautiful route. Several years back when we did our trip to the North Rim, we stayed in Jacob Lake for one night on route (at Jacob Lake Inn - which at that time was one of the few lodging choices other than camping). It was very nice. Then we continued onto the North Rim and stayed two days at Grand Canyon Lodge at the North Rim in one of the litte cabins there. We did some hiking around the rim, saw Cape Royal, and went partway down on the Kaibab Trail down to the tunnel and back - be aware that the mule trips also use on that particular trail. August will be perfect time to be there, but be aware lodging is very minimal on that side of the Canyon and you would need to get your reservations soon! We called several months in advance for lodging in both Jacob Lake and the Grand Canyon Lodge. The North Rim opens in May and I think closes sometime in October whereas the South Rim is open year around. Though I loved both sides of the Canyon, I would go back again to the North Rim if I were ever in the area again. Have a great trip!
Jan 13, 2013 8:15 PM
4In addition to the above comments, I'd add:
North Rim has more rim-top trails that head through the forest to secluded viewpoints, while the south rim has a greater variety of trails that descend into the canyon itself.
North Rim is more convenient to other points of interest such as Zion and Bryce National Parks. South rim has more accommodations, tourist services, and a greater variety of park attractions such as museums, ranger-led tours, bike rentals, visitor centers, etc. The accommodation issue may be of some importance to you.
The south rim has more of the classic views you see on post cards and calendars, while the North Rim has more variety in the character of the views - that is, there are some of the classic wide-sweeping vistas, and some closer-in, more intimate settings that are not really found on the south side.
Two days is enough to tour the viewpoints and museums, take a short hike or two (or a single longer hike), and enjoy a sunset/sunrise. Although there's always more to do, I think two days is reasonable amount of time.
Jan 14, 2013 4:17 PM
5Excellent advice above. A few more tidbits.
With two days, I assume you aren't planning to hike very far into the Canyon (like all the way to the River). If you are thinking of doing a half-day hike down one of the trails to get a feel for the magnitude of the Canyon, the North Rim may be the best place for it. Hiking down the North Kaibab Trail to Redwall Bridge (or maybe slightly beyond) gets you past the section of trail used by mules (not possible on the "beginner-class" trails down from South Rim) (North Rim mule parties turn around at Supai Tunnel, about 1.5 km up the trail from Redwall Bridge). Redwall Bridge is a quite reasonable half-day hike for anyone in good condition. With an early start, you typically enjoy some pleasant cool-air flow down from the rim for the first 2-3 hours after sunrise.
The North Rim, being about 500m higher in elevation than South Rim (and much more forested, with even higher elevations "behind" it), is noticeably cooler in August. North Rim at midday will likely be around 26C, South Rim around 30C.
Jan 14, 2013 8:06 PM
Jan 23, 2013 9:01 AM
7Thanks for all the great advice. Currently my draft itinerary is to go to the North Rim, stay overnight, do some hinking both on the rim and down to the canyon.
However, it seems that maybe I should try both if possible. We actually start our trip in LA, doing "route 66", then up to Monument Valley, Zion etc and proceed to Vegas and further.
So maybe I should do something like driving to South Rim off "route 66" around Williams, staying there, then return to Flagstaff and continue with the initial plan including North Rim.
Google maps saiy it´s around 1,5-2 hours from Williams to the South Rim.
Jan 23, 2013 12:35 PM
8We actually start our trip in LA, doing "route 66"
Rt. 66 gets a lot of negative notices here on TT, at least some of it deserved, but following the remaining sections across California and Arizona is one of the more interesting ways to get across the Mojave (and there are not many particularly interesting alternatives). Don't miss the sections east of Oatman, and between Kingman and Seligman.
It's actually only an hour from Williams to the South Rim (a little over 60 miles). Don't drive back down to Flagstaff, exit the Park via the east entrance and proceed directly from there to Cameron and Tuba City towards Monument Valley. By going this way, a stop at the South Rim is hardly a detour at all. Be sure to stop at the Little Colorado overlook, just east of the park, and have a Navajo Taco at the trading post in Cameron.
On your current itinerary, you backtrack from Monument Valley to Page before heading to the North Rim. An alternative itinerary would be to continue north from Monument Valley, over the Mokee Dugway to Hanksville and the west across Highway 12 to Bryce National Park. This route replaces Page and North Rim with the utterly spectacular and undeniably classic drive across southern Utah on Highway 12. Under this plan, it would make more sense to make Grand Canyon a South Rim visit, rather than a two-rim visit. I think it is probably worth it. Anyway, for you to consider.
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