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The BEST Overlooks – Grand Canyon North Rim

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Any trip to Grand Canyon National Park is bound to be a good one. Unless of course you get locked out after just a couple of days. That’s exactly what happened to us back in 2013 when we were visiting the south rim and the government shut down. All National Parks were closed for about two weeks. Our first couple of days were great though!

Although not entirely without drama, we finally made our way back more than a few years later. Viewing Grand Canyon from the South Rim is almost an immersive experience. You can’t see the river, but that mind blowing expanse sure makes you feel small! The North Rim is a full thousand feet higher than the South Rim. It really gives a different perspective:

The Best Overlooks

The Grand Canyon is so large it’s difficult to wrap your mind around it. However, the top down views you get from the North Rim nicely round out the experience. All of the overlooks from this side provide amazing views all the way across and down into the canyon.

Bright Angel Point

Bright Angel Point can be reached by an easy half mile walk down a paved path. From here you can see all the way across to Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim. The trail starts right by both the Visitor Center and Lodge. Because of this, it’s probably the most popular overlook on the North Rim. Although, if this your only stop, you are missing out!

Bright Angel Point

Angels Window and Cape Royal

At the far eastern edge of the park lies Cape Royal. It’s 23 miles down a winding road from the Visitor Center with a number of other great overlooks along the way. However, this overlook gives you two great views in the same place! It is another easy, paved trail that is only 0.8 miles round trip.

Angel's Window

Angel’s Window is a massive, natural arch that you can view the Colorado River through like a picture frame. As a bonus, you can walk right out on top of it for a truly spectacular view! Come a little later in the afternoon to see the shadow that the formation casts into the canyon below. It should be mentioned that the park service recommends that those who have an issue with heights may not want to walk out onto arch.

Cape Royal

Continuing down the trail leads you to Cape Royal. Considered to be the most panoramic view in the park, Cape Royal provides a stunning 270 degree view of Grand Canyon.

Point Imperial

It’s really hard to pick a favorite overlook. Because there really aren’t any bad ones! Although if we had to pick one, we would say Point Imperial is the best overlook. Almost exactly half way between the Visitor Center and Cape Royal, Point Imperial is the highest overlook in the park at 8803 feet. It’s the perfect place to catch the sunset on your way back from Cape Royal.

Mt Hayden from Point Imperial

From here you can see all the way to Vermillion Cliffs National Monument. Next, the Colorado River winds it’s way through Marble Canyon and you can see right where it breaks out into Grand Canyon itself.

The Best Overlooks: Honorable Mention

A list of the best overlooks along the North Rim would not be complete without mentioning Point Sublime. We didn’t actually visit it, but for good reason. We’ve heard the view from here is amazing, but it is very difficult to get to. It sounds like some sort of off-road vehicle is the best way to get there. It’s about 18 miles down a dirt road from the Visitor Center. The park map says “Four-wheel drive, tow strap, and saw recommended.”

Where to Stay

Within the park itself is a beautiful Lodge and a Campground. Both of these options are in high demand and will require making reservations very far in advance. Camping anywhere else inside of the National Park requires a backcountry permit.

Kaibab National Forest Campgrounds

Only 5.5 miles north of the entrance station is DeMotte Campground. Some of the sites are reservable, but many of them are on a first come first served basis. The other National Forest Campground is Jacob Lake Campground, 26 miles north.

Jacob Lake Campground

Jacob Lake, AZ

Besides the National Forest Campground, there is also a private RV park called Kaibab Camper Village. It’s probably the only full-hookup campground in the entire area. However, the Jacob Lake Inn is another good option. Even if you have an RV with you, their parking lot is huge. We saw several RVs there that we assumed were staying in the Inn. This is a solid hour from the North Rim. However, there isn’t a whole lot else out here.

Jacob Lake Inn

Boondocking

Our favorite option! The North Rim of The Grand Canyon is pretty remote and there are not a ton of lodging options. Make sure you bring plenty of water with you! We had to drive all the way to Fredonia to dump and fill.

Forest Road 248 Campsite

We stayed about 2 miles down Forest Road 248, near Jacob Lake. It was big rig friendly and we were close to the only T-Mobile cell tower in the whole area. Honestly, there are lots and lots of boondocking options all over this area. As always, we find campendium.com to be a great resource.


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Pinnable image of 4 Overlooks at Grand Canyon North Rim
Pinnable image of 4 views at Grand Canyon North Rim
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