June 2019 – Grand Canyon National Park is one of America’s crown jewels, and the magnificent North Rim is, in many ways, the sparkling diamond in the crown.
We’ve been to the North Rim several times, and each time we have been enchanted by the 45 mile long scenic drive that goes from the main highway intersection at Jacob Lake down to the tiny community at the North Rim.
This winding road passes through forests and meadows, and the shifting light on the aspens and ponderosa pine trees is beautiful
There are bison in the park now, and we heard from another camper that a fellow recently encountered 200 of the beasts crossing the highway as he drove to the North Rim!
There is a wonderful little dry camping campground about 7 miles outside of Grand Canyon National Park nestled into the woods in Kaibab National Forest called Demotte Campground. We swung through the campground loop for old time’s sake, fondly remembering tent camping there many moons ago.
Once we got into Grand Canyon National Park and on to the North Rim, we were like kids on Christmas morning. As soon as we got the truck parked in the small parking lot at the Rim, we dashed to the edge of the parking lot to get a glimpse of the Grand Canyon.
It doesn’t matter how many times we see the beautiful shapes and contours of this magical land, it takes our breath away every time.
We hurried past the Grand Canyon Lodge to get a better view. What a majestic place this is!
The more popular and more populated South Rim of the Grand Canyon is relatively dog friendly, allowing pooches on leashes to stroll with their owners on the paved paths along the top of the Grand Canyon. The North Rim, however, is not as dog friendly. Buddy could take a peek at the view from the main yard by the Grand Canyon Lodge, but that was it.
So, it was back to the truck in the parking lot for him for a little while so we could take the half mile walk out to Bright Angel Point.
The parking lot is well shaded by towering ponderosa pine trees, and lots of other pups were waiting patiently for their owners to snap some pics and return to their cars. A cacophany of barks greeted Buddy as he took his place on our truck’s center console where he had a bird’s eye view of everything around him.
This parking lot is not really RV friendly, but a few had wedged themselves in. We noticed one motorhome with a fun message on the back: Living the Dream. Yes indeed!
There is a dry camping campground at the North Rim where very small RVs and tents can perch right on the edge of the canyon, and some sites have extraordinary views. But for those who don’t want to camp, the Grand Canyon Lodge is surrounded by charming stone and log cabins with tiny porches and big log rocking chairs. What a great place to spend a few days!
Out on the paved trail that goes to Bright Angel Point the views got better and better the further out we got.
One of the best things about the North Rim is that it is the only major National Park that isn’t inundated with busloads of tourists. Thankfully, it is such a long drive to get there that most folks visit the much easier to reach South Rim, call it good, and leave it at that.
The visitors to the North Rim are primarily American families who are out on long summer driving vacations, and they are often hitting the fabulous cluster of National Parks in the area — Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.
Hiking, camping and family time together spent discovering America’s most spectacular settings are what it’s all about.
Like all the National Parks, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon can be experienced at a glance if you wish. Simply walk out to Bright Angel Point as we did.
But it can also be savored in depth with a multi-day stay in a cabin or at the campground. This allows time for the long drives that go to the other major overlooks inside the Park along with doing a few of the many hikes along the rim or through the woods or even down into the canyon and across to the South Rim (and back if you’re hardy!).
We weren’t staying at the North Rim for an in depth visit, so we slowly strolled to Bright Angel Point and back, soaking up the view, chatting with other visitors and taking a gazillion pics.
Built in 1928, the Grand Canyon Lodge is one of those gorgeous old stone and log National Park lodges that were built in the early days of the National Park system to give visitors a comfortable place to stay right in the heart of each Park.
In those days, tourists took a train to Cedar City, Utah, and then boarded National Park buses to go to Kanab, Utah, where they spent the night, and then they continued on to the North Rim.
Even though the roads were dirt and the drive was undoubtedly bumpy and dusty, there was an elegance or mystique to travel in those days that can be felt as you walk through this inviting lodge.
The Grand Canyon Lodge is really all there is at the North Rim for tourist services, so they do it all, although on a small scale. There’s a tiny post office for sending out mail, a few spots to get a bite to eat or a drink, and copious places to kick back in an old log chair and sit for a spell.
At the Roughrider Saloon, the gal pouring Mark’s beer and my latte told me this was her fourth summer working at the North Rim. Her winters are free, so she likes to travel then. What a great gig!
The Grand Canyon Lodge has huge comfy sofas in a room lined with enormous plate glass windows looking out at the Grand Canyon. Some of the sofas face the view. What a place to relax for a while.
But the spot that always captures my imagination is the outdoor stone patio deck. A long row of log chairs is lined up along a short stone wall on this deck, all facing the exquisite view. People come and go from these chairs all day long, bringing a drink or a book or a friend to chat with.
To me, this is the spirit of the old National Park system where visitors can relax at leisure and enjoy the incomparable beauty of the place, unhurried and at peace.
We had the amazingly great fortune on this trip to bump into a woman who was a 6th generation resident of nearby Fredonia, Arizona, and she told us that her grandfather had been born in a cabin at Demotte Park (where Demotte Campground now stands) and that he had designed this fabulous stone patio at the Grand Canyon Lodge.
How incredibly cool is that?!
The dining room at Grand Canyon Lodge is both intimate and awe inspiring. When we poked our heads in, the staff was eating at a back table right before opening for lunch. But this fantastic dining room would soon be full, and lots of happy visitors would be gazing out the enormous windows overlooking the Grand Canyon over lunch!
If you are traveling between Page, Arizona, and Kanab, Utah, a quickie 100 mile detour down to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is a really worthwhile trip. It isn’t big rig friendly or dog friendly, but the ambiance and views are out of this world.
If you have an important birthday or anniversary coming up can, leave the big rig and dog at home, and get a cabin with a porch overlooking the Grand Canyon view for a few nights. What a way to celebrate (it’s on our bucket list!!).
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More info about Grand Canyon National Park’s North Rim:
- Grand Canyon National Park Official Website (both North and South Rims)
- Grand Canyon North Rim Official Info
- Grand Canyon National Park Map for the North Rim
- North Rim Area Campground Options
- North Rim Cabin Rentals and Reservations
- Location of Grand Canyon National Park’s North Rim in Arizona
Other blog posts from our travels to the Grand Canyon:
- Navajo Bridge, Arizona — A Scenic Roadside Attraction in Red Rock Country 06/03/22
- Williams, Arizona – Home of the Grand Canyon Railway! 10/25/19
- Stunning Grand Canyon with a Private View at Timp Point 07/19/19
- Point Sublime – A Wild Ride to a Stunning Overlook in Grand Canyon! 07/12/19
- Saddle Mountain Overlook – A Different View of the Grand Canyon! 06/28/19
- Grand Canyon – A Winter Wonderland with Snow! 01/18/19
- Grand Canyon’s North Rim – Magnificent & Intimate by Day or Night! 12/06/16
- Grand Canyon’s North Rim – Its Better Half! 07/31/08
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What a truly wonderful place. You’ve captured some of the beauty two dimensionally. One must see the awe inspiring views for oneself. I need to see it again too! 🙂
The Grand Canyon is waiting for you! We keep coming back and back and back again, and we’ll continue to as long as we’re able. There are epic hikes and extraordinary raft trips that can make the Grand Canyon an outdoor lover’s playground, but simply standing at an overlook or kicking back on one of those lovely log chairs at the North Rim enriches the soul immeasurably.
My wife and I made a trip up there 28 years ago. Camped at Demotte after a first night in a thunderstorm at what we were told was the east rim area. Loved it and would like to go back, but there are so many places we haven’t go to see yet. thanks for the memories.
You’re welcome! You are so right that there are wonderful treasures to be seen all over the country, and that’s why we keep doing what we’re doing. We have the “should we go back to living in a house?” conversation from time to time, but there are so many places still to explore and we love returning to old favorites too. So the house would stand empty most of the time. Happy travels to you!
Another wonderful place to add to our list of “must sees.” I believe we will need at least 5 lifetimes to see all the areas you and Mark chronicle. 😉
So true, Bob. We need those 5 lifetimes too!!!
My wife and I have made 5 trips to the NR, 2 with some of our grandkids and you’re right; it truly is amazing! We tent camped in the NF at 9000′ on the suggestion of one of the park rangers on our first trip. At night we could see the lights in several far off cities and in the morning look down 3000′ to the rim of the canyon! Again, awe inspiring. We now have a 5th wheel and haven’t made it there with it. Where do you stay when you visit the NR? We’ve camped in tents and a 20′ pull behind, but now have a 38′ Montana so I’m not sure where to take this beast. We too are from Phoenix and this is our first month full timing. So, we expect many trips in the future and the NR is always high on our list. Thanks for all your posts. We’ve learned many things from your experiences and are still eager to learn more. Best of luck and God bless all 3 of you.
Lucky you to have visited the North Rim so many times, Richard. There are several camping options about 45 miles from the North Rim in Jacob Lake for a big rig like yours or ours. If you want to get closer than that, scout in your truck first. Demotte Campground has a few bigger sites but the North Rim campground is for smaller rigs. The Jacob Lake campground has very nice dry camping with a few sites where you would fit and Camper Village has some pull-throughs with hookups and a few places on the outer loops for dry camping that are nice and quiet too. As I mentioned in this post, the North Rim is not big rig friendly, but if you don’t mind a long drive you can still enjoy it for a daytrip as we did. Have fun in your full-time travels and thank you for reading our blog!
“Hiking, camping and family time together spent discovering America’s most spectacular settings are what it’s all about.” You hit our family’s nail on the head, Emily! We camped in the North Rim Campground back in 2010 when our kids were 11 and 16. Transept Canyon was a stone’s throw from our site – it was an amazing experience to wake up at the literal edge of the Grand Canyon. Our current travel trailer may no longer fit in there, and I like the looks of the Demotte Campground, so thanks for that tip!
Alan and I have been to both the North and South Rims and we much prefer the North Rim. We love the more forested areas up there and appreciate the fact that most of the visitors hang out at the South Rim, leaving the North Rim (in my opinion) better for actual solitude and the appreciation of one of Mother Nature’s greatest works of art.
Awesome photos, as usual! Thanks for bringing back some great family memories!
You are so welcome, Mary. Like you, I believe everyone who visits the North Rim comes away with cherished memories, and I’m so glad our pics and story revived yours. But now you’re making me want to get a tent and go camp at the North Rim campground!
When we were in our workaday-tenting-on-weekends lifestyle, we stayed at Demotte, which is lovely, but it is “just” a forest campground. Someday — with a tent or maybe a truck camper — we have to do as you did and wake up with the Grand Canyon stretched out in front of us at the North Rim campground!
Both Demotte and North Rim take reservations now, however, so when you take your travel trailer, if you know the dates ahead of time, consider getting a reservation.
Happy travels and have fun at the Grand Canyon when you return!
We love the North Rim having visited several times staying at the Kaibab Camper Village. Next time we will stay either at Demotte or boondock near there. A beautiful, peaceful place. I expected you to post a picture of Brighty, the bronze statue of the donkey, whose nose has been well rubbed and shiny as a result. As an artist, this place calls me. I remember when we visited there I was just getting back into painting and I found the perfect book in the gift shop there. It was a pictorial from an artist’s view of the North Rim.
How wonderful to find a book that inspired you in such an inspiring place, Renee. The North Rim would be a fantastic place to do some plein air painting. We didn’t see Brighty but will look for him and rub his nose next time!
National treasure…..”my country, ’tis of thee I sing”. And love of the Grand Canyon is in your heritage – your great uncle, Sidney Riesenberg, rode down Bright Angel Trail…on a donkey !!!!!!
If only I could have heard him tell the tales. They still take visitors down the Bright Angel Trail on mules from the South Rim, and a lot of folks who do the long hike down to the bottom of the canyon put their camping gear on a mule’s back rather than carry it themselves. Very fun!
We just got back from the GC two weeks ago. Spent 4 nights on the NR, 2 nights on the SR. My daughter and I hiked Rim2Rim in one day while my wife and son drove to meet us on the other side. GC is so inspiring. Looking forward to full timing one day so we can do more adventures such as this.
How awesome that you did the Rim2Rim hike. That’s on my bucket list! Mark hiked down to Phantom Ranch when his daughter was 18 months old. He was a quite a runner in those days, and when they came back up the trail he had her on his shoulders the whole way and passed up the mules on the trail! I’m sure you’ll have many more wonderful adventures when you start full-timing!