Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the United States. While the South Rim is the far more popular area to visit, we are here to hype up the North Rim for a few reasons. The North Rim is much less crowded, has cooler temperatures, and still offers mind-blowing views. There are many things to consider when deciding which area of the Grand Canyon to visit, but if you choose to head north, here are the North Rim viewpoints you don’t want to miss!
There are many great hikes in the park that offer stunning views, but in this post, we’ll mostly focus on the roadside viewpoints with shorter walks. We visited all of the following park viewpoints in a day. The bonus spots outside the park that we mention at the bottom of the post were visited the day before.
We left our campsite in the national forest near Jacob Lake before sunrise. Matt’s sister, Rachel, was working at the Jacob Lake Inn for the summer, so we stopped there to pick her up before heading into the park. Point Imperial was our first stop.
We made it down Point Imperial Road to the viewpoint for sunrise. It was really hazy from the fires that summer, but wow, was it still beautiful! There is a nice viewpoint just a short ways down from the parking lot. We didn’t stay too long because we had a hike planned next.
From Point Imperial, we drove down Cape Royal Road to the Cape Final trailhead. We stopped here first because we wanted to hike before it got too hot and before we went to meet up with Matt’s grandpa. This hike is 4.2 miles total of fairly easy hiking.
The trail first winds through the woods before skirting the rim. When we made it to Cape Final, we had the entire viewpoint to ourselves. It was so stunning and turned out to be one of our favorite moments of the day.
We pulled into the Cape Royal parking area looking for Matt’s grandpa among the many cars that were already there. We were surprised that it was that pretty busy after having Cape Final to ourselves. This is an amazing but popular place to watch sunset, so get there a little early if you want to watch sunset at the point! There are restrooms and picnic areas around the lot.
Before or after you hike the trail, check out the incredible view from the west side of the parking area. Cape Royal Trail is just under a mile (round trip) and is paved with informational signs along the way. There is some shade too, which we were pretty thankful for on a hot August morning. Before reaching Cape Royal, you’ll have beautiful views of Angel’s window and have the opportunity to walk out over it.
Walhalla Overlook, Roosevelt Point, and Vista Encantada
Roosevelt Point and Vista Encantada are each small pull-offs with direct viewpoint access. In other words, no hiking is required. Walhalla has a very short trail from the parking area. At Walhalla, there are some old ruins across the street and some informational signs about prehistoric life in the area to go with some stunning views over the canyon.
We stopped shortly at each viewpoint on Cape Royal Road on our way back towards AZ-67, which is the main road through the park. There are some picnic spots at these viewpoints, which make for a great option if you pack your lunch and want to stay a little longer.
Coconino Overlook is on the North Kaibab Trail. While the Kaibab Trail is very long, Coconino Overlook only lies just over half a mile down the canyon. However, when we arrived at the parking area, there were no parking spots and quite a few large groups of mules and people, so sadly, we skipped this activity.
If some of the incredible sights along the Kaibab Trail are high on your list, we recommend beginning your hike early in the morning. We were told that the hike back up is steep and the trail is sandy with frequent piles of mule poop, so bring plenty of water, wear sturdy shoes, and watch your step!
Bright Angel Point
Bright Angel Point is perhaps the most popular of the North Rim viewpoints. It is accessible from the Grand Canyon Lodge and North Rim Visitor’s Center. Before exploring the area, we grabbed some lunch at one of the small shops at the lodge.
The trail to bright Angel Point has some steep and narrow sections, so Matt’s grandpa decided to stay behind. The panoramic views were absolutely stunning, even with the haze. There were quite a few people along the trail, but it was still enjoyable. Some of the trail has fencing and railings, but there are also sections with steep drops and nothing to separate you from the edge of the cliff.
Bonus North Rim Viewpoints Outside the Park
Grand Canyon National Park is obviously incredibly beautiful, but the amazing views aren’t only contained within the park boundaries. There are also some stunning spots to explore and camp at on the surrounding Kaibab Plateau. We ventured down some of the backroads and camped in the national forest. Here are two of the spots we enjoyed the evening at before our day hitting the North Rim viewpoints in the park.
There are many remote roads that run through Kaibab National Forest and mobile service/data can be scarce, so bookmark your destinations and plan your route beforehand. The roads are dirt and can be a little rough in spots, so check with the Forest Service in Jacob Lake if you have any questions or concerns or want to pick up some maps.
Crazy Jug Point: Crazy Jug Point lies deep in the National Forest, but the views and complete solitude were worth the drive out there. A short trail leads down from the parking area to some rocky outcroppings over the canyon. Other than the many birds, we had the spot completely to ourselves.
Bill Hall Trail: Just down the way is the Bill Hall trailhead. The Bill Hall Trail is another tough path that goes down into the canyon, but there is a nice viewing area at Monument Point less than half a mile in before the path steeply descends. This area is dedicated to a North Rim Park Ranger who lost his life many years ago.
For more logistical information on visiting the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, check out our other post!