Are you planning to Arizona and can’t decide between Grand Canyon North Rim vs South Rim? You don’t have to worry anymore! You are in the right place! Exploring both Canyons offers many benefits. They include numerous viewpoints, diverse dining options, the best trails, and pleasant weather.
Nonetheless, there are various drawbacks that come with visiting Grand Canyon National Park, such as difficult accessibility, not being recommended for people with respiratory problems, and some parts experiencing high temperatures. Without further ado, let’s delve into the details so you can make an informed choice!
The Grand Canyon presents itself with four distinct destinations: the North Rim, South Rim, East Rim, and Grand Canyon West Rim. In this discussion, we will focus on comparing the Grand Canyon North Rim vs South Rim.
- The North Rim: The North Rim sits at a greater elevation compared to the South Rim. This Rim encounters milder cooler temperatures, and seasonal closures in winter, and it hosts fewer crowds. Nevertheless, it provides very few amenities, restricted lodging, and is not operational throughout the year. Also, this area has a remote destination that can be challenging to reach.
- The South Rim: Conversely, the South Rim boasts a greater array of amenities, countless accommodation options, and proximity to large urban centers, and it is straightforwardly accessible. Nevertheless, this Rim tends to be more crowded compared to the North Rim.
However, there’s plenty more to explore. Keep reading to explore hidden gems, local insights, climate, pros and cons of both rims. Also, discover which one offers the most spectacular view of the Grand Canyon and a detailed breakdown of what sets apart the Grand Canyon’s North Rim from the South Rim exceptional.
Check out the comparison for North and South Rims in the table provided:
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Advantages and Disadvantages of Visiting Grand Canyon North Rim
The North Rim of the Grand Canyon presents both its most favorable and unfavorable sides that affect travelers who visit it. Make sure you go through the following advantages and disadvantages prior to your arrival on the Grand Canyon North Rim:
Pros of Visiting Grand Canyon North Rim
Here are the advantages of exploring the Grand Canyon North Rim:
- Climate: Regarding temperature, the North Rim is situated 1000 feet above the South Rim, resulting in a more tranquil environment, allowing leisurely scenic road drives.
- Abundant vantage point to admire: The North Rim presents numerous remarkable landmarks that give an excellent viewpoint of the area. Some landmarks include Jacob Lake, Kaibib Squirrel, Walhalla Glades, and many others.
- Fewer crowds: The North Rim experiences significantly lower tourist numbers than other parts, allowing individuals to behold the Canyon without the masses.
- Camping overnight: Upon night arrival, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon provides numerous accommodations for camping. Some areas where you can camp include the North Rim Lodge, Jacob Lake Campground, and DeMotte Campground.
Drawbacks of Exploring Grand Canyon North Rim
Discover some of the downsides of embarking on the Grand Canyon North Rim:
- Accessibility: Accessing the North Rim can be challenging due to its remote destination with just a single entry through Route 67 and distant roadways.
- Limited operating season: From mid-October to late May, the North Rim remains closed due to substantial snowfall, thus providing limited opportunities to venture. Also, during this time, the roads remain inaccessible.
- Restricted dining choices: Dining options on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon are relatively scarce. Among the available dining options include the Roughriders Saloon, the Deli in the Pines, and the General Store.
- Not recommended for people with respiratory or heart problems: This park is situated in the remote region of Arizona, featuring the North Rim positioned at an altitude of exceeding 8000 feet (2438 m) above sea level. This altitude is considered to be risky for explorers with respiratory and heart conditions.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Visiting Grand Canyon South Rim
Discover the best and the worst side of exploring the South Rim of the Grand Canyon:
Pros of Touring Grand Canyon South Rim
Let us look at the advantages of touring the South Rim:
- Opening season: The South Rim maintains year-round accessibility, granting you flexibility to schedule your trip any time you want.
- Prime hiking routes: The South Rim offers an abundance of trails, many of which are suitable and beginner-friendly. A selection of notable day hikes on the South Rim include the Rim Trail, River Trail, Plateau Point Trail, and Shoshone Trail.
- Easy to access: The South Rim stands out as the most easily accessible section of the Grand Canyon. Numerous attractions on the South Rim are accessible to all, and there is also an extensive path designed for wheelchair access leading to the Visitor Center.
- Stunning scenic panoramas and photography opportunities: The South Rim is an ideal destination for Grand Canyon photographers and casual enthusiasts. It provides the chance to capture iconic canyon vistas and photographs including the blue-green Colorado River, Kaibab National Forest, and Sunset Crater National Monument.
- Diverse dining options and lodging selections: The South Rim of the Grand Canyon provides a diverse range of hotels, restaurants, and lounges with accommodations to meet the needs of tourists. Among the dining options and accommodations on the South Rim are Grand Canyon Village Market & Deli, Bright Angel Lodge, and El Tovar Hotel.
- The Grand Canyon Skyway: While traveling along the North and South Rims, you will encounter the Grand Canyon West Rim, famous for the Grand Canyon Skywalk. This observation platform provides a breathtaking perspective of the Grand Canyon.
Cons of Visiting South Rim
Let us dive into the drawbacks of exploring the Grand Canyon South rim:
- High temperatures: The south edge of the Grand Canyon encounters sweltering temperatures, occasionally 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This intense heat can become a hazard if your plans include descending below the Rim into the Canyon.
- Always crowded: The South Rim is the favored choice for the majority of visitors, with about 5 million visitors gravitating there every year. Be ready to arrive early to secure a parking space and steer clear of road congestion.
- Not suitable for people with respiratory and heart disease: The southern edge of the Grand Canyon is situated at an elevation of 7000 feet/2134 m above sea level, which can be challenging for individuals dealing with heart and breathing concerns.
Geographical Location of the North and South Rims of the Grand Canyon
The North and South Rims are situated within the boundaries of Grand Canyon National Park, which sits along the Colorado River in the Northwest region of Arizona. The South Rim is roughly 7 miles away from Tusayan, while its sister Rim is located 30 miles to the south of Jacob Lake.
In terms of comparing rim-rim routes, the trek from the south to the North Rim spans 21 miles, following the South Kaibab to North Kaibab Rim Trail. Conversely, the journey from the northern to the South Rim encompasses 24 miles via North Kaibab to Bright Angel Trails.
How to Get to the South Rim vs North Rim?
The southern rim of the Grand Canyon is reachable by automobile, aircraft, and locomotive. Should you find yourself in Las Vegas, the most convenient air travel choice is Las Vegas McCarran International Airport.
Other feasible flight alternatives encompass Phoenix Sky Harbor and Flagstaff Pulliam. The primary gateway to the southern rim can be accessed via:
- The South Entrance is accessed from the Southern direction on AZ-64: This entrance is easily accessible from the East and West via I-40. It is mainly used in Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Sedona.
- East Entrance, situated to the East of Grand Canyon Village along Desert View Drive: This is the finest getaway for an onward journey to Monument Valley, the Utah parks, and exploring the North Rim.
On the other hand, since there are no airports around the North Rim, you can only get to this rim by car or motorcoach. This can be achieved by taking Highway 67 through Jacob Lake. Other roads that led to the North Rim include:
- Cape Royal Road;
- Point Sublime Road;
- Kaibab National Forest Roads.
Which Rim is the Best View of the Grand Canyon?
The South Rim is the perfect option for tourists in search of the quintessential Grand Canyon encounter. Inside the confines of the Grand Canyon National Park in the South Rim, you will experience the sweeping and expansive panoramas of the Grand Canyon. For those accessing from Las Vegas, Grand Canyon West offers you the best view.
North Rim of the Grand Canyon: Best Views, Top Hikes, Activities
The North Rim offers vibrant attraction sites, top hiking from one place to another, and a breathtaking view of the Canyon. Let us have a look at the top hikes, attraction sites, and best views:
Here are several prime viewpoints of the Grand Canyon:
- Cape Royal: Cape Royal sits at an altitude of 8,000 feet and represents the most southerly viewpoint on the North Rim. It gives a breathtaking vista and the closest approximation to an all-encompassing view of the Grand Canyon.
- Point Imperial: It is the Park’s most elevated rim viewing area, situated at 8,803 feet. From this spot, the canyon panorama includes Mt. Hayden, Vermilion Cliffs, and Marble Canyon.
Let us explore some of the top hikes in the North Rim:
- Transept Trail: This 1.5-mile (one-way) route winds through the forest along the edge of Transept Canyon. The pathway connects Grand Canyon Lodge to North Rim Campground.
- Widforce Trails: This 5-mile route traces the entirety of the Kaibab Plateau’s summit, resulting in an elevation change of fewer than 500 feet along the journey.
Some of the attractions near or within the North Rim are:
- Antelope Canyon: If you are a photographer planning to visit the North Rim, include the Antelope Canyon on your bucket list. This slot gives an excellent perspective of the Canyon.
- Town of Jacob’s Lake: Jacob’s Lake sits within the boundaries of Kaibab National Forest, providing an expansive area for fishing, hiking, and camping.
- Cape Royal Road: Cape Royal Road links with Point Imperial Road and the other four thoroughfares, giving excellent vantage points for observing the Canyon.
South Rim of the Grand Canyon: Best Views, Top Hikes, Activities
The South Rim viewpoints are widely dispersed. The journey from Hermit’s Rest to Desert View covers 32 miles and takes approximately an hour to the Park.
Check the South Rim’s best views, top hikes, and attractions.
Some of the best views include;
- Mather Point: This represents the most famous observation spot along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Positioned just a brief walk from the Visitor Center, it attracts numerous tourists seeking a glimpse of the Grand Canyon.
- Bright Angel Viewpoint: The Bright Angel Viewpoint is located adjacent to the starting point of the Bright Angel Trail. At this spot, you can peer down at the Bright Angel Trail as it meanders through the Canyon on its journey toward the Colorado River.
- Yaki Point: For a nice view of the Canyon, you can cast your eyes downward at the South Kaibab Trail as it winds its path to the Colorado River. Furthermore, you can also have magnificent views when looking east.
Discover some of the top hikes in South Rim:
- Bright Angel Trail: This trail begins to the west of Grand Canyon Village, in proximity to Bright Angel Lodge. This 9.8-mile (one-way) path descends a total of 4,340 feet from the Rim down to Phantom Ranch.
- North Kaibab To South Kaibab: This represents the genuine ‘Rim to Rim Grand Canyon trek. Alternatively, it can be approached in the opposite direction, commencing from South Kaibab to North Kaibab or utilizing the Bright Angel Trail in lieu of the South Kaibab.
Let us explore some of the attractions near the South Rim:
- South Rim Visitor Center: Once you land at the Grand Canyon, make a point to stop at the visitor center to interact with rangers, acquaint yourself with the Park, and peruse the exhibits.
- Raptor Ranch: This ranch provides family outings and will engage even the most discerning kids.
- Yavapai Geology Museum: It is an essential museum featuring a stunning three-dimensional depiction of the Canyon, vast panoramic views, and displays elucidating the canyon formation process.
Opening Times and Weather of the South Rim vs North Rim
For a trouble-free visit to the South Rim or North Rim, it’s important to know their availability times and weather conditions. Let’s break down the details:
- Accessibility: The South Rim maintains year-round accessibility, although certain eateries and roadways may shutter during the quieter seasons. Conversely, The North Rim is exclusively operational in the summer, with a winter closure from mid-October to late May due to substantial snowfall.
- Weather: The North Rim encounters cooler temperatures compared to the South Rim. Its average summer and winter temperatures hover at approximately 70F and 50-60F, respectively. In contrast, the South Rim experiences temperatures in the summer, spring, and fall months of around 70-80F and 50-70F. Also, during winter, the average temperature is around 40-50F.
Number of Visitors to the South Rim vs North Rim
The South Rim draws a larger volume of visitors compared to the North Rim. Approximately 5 million tourists gather at the Grand Canyon South Rim each year to behold the stunning marvels of this natural spectacle.
For comparison, the North Rim welcomes approximately 1 million visitors annually. It maintains a serene ambiance, even in the midst of the summer.
Grand Canyon Lodge: South Rim vs North Rim
Upon arrival on either the South or North Rim, your decision regarding whether to stay within or outside the Park depends on your personal preferences.
- The Northern Rim provides a limited selection of accommodations within the Park.
- On the contrary, most visitors prefer staying within the South Rim since it offers vibrant lodging and accommodation choices.
Check out the list of best lodging hotels and campgrounds in the South and North Rims!
Best Hotels and Campgrounds in the South Rim
Check out the list of the best hotels and campgrounds to stay at upon arriving at the South Rim:
Here are a few lodging hotel options in the South Rim:
- El Tovar Hotel: This iconic hotel is situated directly along the edge of the Grand Canyon. It features a fine restaurant, lounge, souvenir store, and newsstand.
- Thunderbird Lodge: Thunderbird Lodge is located along the Rim Trail in the Historic District of the National Landmark. Combining contemporary design and natural touches, Rennders Thunderbird Lodge is an ideal accommodation choice at the South Rim of the Canyon
- Bright Angel Lodge: This accommodation facility is located within the Park, 3.5 kilometers from the Grand Canyon Visitor Center and 8.9 kilometers from the park. It comprises 90 lodging units, spanning from quaint historic units with communal bathrooms to standard lodge rooms and historic cabins.
Discover some of the areas to camp in the South Rim:
- Mather Campground: Mather Campground is situated within Grand Canyon Village on the Southern Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. It offers 327 sites, each equipped with a campfire ring and cooking grate, picnic table, parking space, accommodation for six people, three tents, and access to complimentary shuttle bus system.
- Desert View Campground: Desert View Campground comprises 50 individual camping sites and is positioned on the South Rim, approximately 25 miles to the east of Grand Canyon Village.
- Ten-X Campground: Ten-X Campground can be found 2 miles south of Tusayan, Arizona, and 47 miles north of Williams on the U.S. It comprises 70 single-unit campsites organized in a large loop layout, each spot accommodating a maximum of eight people.
North Rim Campgrounds and Hotels
Discover some of the best North Rim campgrounds and hotels:
Some of the Hotels in North Rim include:
- Grand Canyon Lodge: Grand Canyon Lodge is the sole accommodation facility situated within the National Park on the North Rim. Overnight lodging options are accessible from July 23 through October 15.
- Red Feather Lodge: Red Feather Lodge is an attractive hotel in Grand Canyon, Arizona, which is a 5-minute from National Park. It offers budget-friendly and contemporary lodging and courteous hospitality close to the park.
- Maswik Lodge: This lodge is among the most spacious hotels at the Grand Canyon, with affordable rooms and cabins near the South Rim of the park. It offers 250 lodging options with coffee/tea makers, bathrooms with shower/tub combinations, and hair dryers.
Here are some of the campgrounds in the North Rim:
- North Rim Campground: The North Rim Campground is a highly gratifying spot featuring amenities like mule excursions, upscale dining, a tavern and café, and a souvenir boutique. Adjacent to the campground, you’ll find a petite shop, laundry, and bathing facilities.
- DeMotte Campground: The DeMotte Campground is located inside the North Kaibab Ranger District, roughly seven miles to the north entrance of the National Park. It serves as an excellent starting point for furry companions and people looking for a campsite near Grand Canyon National Park.
Culinary Choices at the Grand Canyon North Rim vs South Rim
Whether you land on the Grand Canyon West, South, or North rim, the Grand Canyon National Park offers diverse dining options for everyone. Let us explore some dining options in the North and the South rim.
Culinary Options at the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park
The South Rim of the Grand Canyon offers various dining options, from fancy sit-down dinners to simple cafeteria-style meals and markets for grocery shopping.
Discover some of the restaurants that offer dining options in the South Rim:
- Yavapai Lodge Restaurant: This restaurant operates during particular periods. Thanks to its strategic position in the Market Plaza and extensive hearty menu selections for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it attracts families and park visitors.
- JJK’s Restaurant: JJK’s restaurant serves American Southwestern-inspired dishes crafted from locally sourced and fresh ingredients. It also provides a range of international culinary options.
- Bright Angel Restaurant: This classic eatery offers affordability and a relaxed ambiance that fits the Grand Canyon perfectly.
Culinary choices in North Rim
Explore some of the best dining establishments on the North Rim:
- Grand Canyon North Rim Dining Room: A small menu featuring all the categories: salad, soup, appetizers, entrees, and dessert. The entree included brisket, pork chops, salmon and steak
- Grand Canyon Village Market and Deli: This dining establishment within the Grand Canyon Park provides economical items encompassing food and keepsakes.
Which Rim of the Grand Canyon is the Best?
Selecting the ideal Grand Canyon Rim is contingent on your individual inclinations:
- The North Rim: Choose North Rim if you prefer a little crowded vacation, are a camping enthusiast, and want to admire sights like Jacob Lake and the Valhalla Glades. Also, when planning your trip, it’s important to remember that it’s only open during the warm season from late May through mid-October.
- The South Rim: If you seek striking cliffs, plenty of amenities, and entertainment, but don’t mind the crowds of tourists, then South Rim is sure to please. One of its main advantages is that it is open all year round.
Is it better to visit the North or South Rim of the Grand Canyon?
Both rims North and South Rim of the Grand Canyon deserve to be visited for the ultimate experience. However, if you must choose one of them, opt for South Rim to discover the Grand Canyon in all its splendor.
Is it worth going to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon?
Yes, visiting the North Rim is worthwhile because it is less congested, allowing you to explore the Park in complete solitude.
Why is the South Rim more popular than the North Rim?
The South Rim enjoys greater popularity than the North Rim due to its convenient accessibility from large cities, it gives a nice view of the Canyon, remains open throughout the year, and has numerous restaurants with family-oriented amenities.
What is the prettiest part of the Grand Canyon?
The South Rim is the prettiest part of the Grand Canyon. This rim provides exceptional vistas and presents the most impressive hikes. It’s safe to assert that the South Rim is the premier choice for those seeking to hike at the Grand Canyon.
Your decision regarding Grand Canyon North Rim vs South Rim will hinge on the type of traveler you are. To truly capture this natural wonder, exploring both rims is ideal.
If you prefer solitude away from the masses and an opportunity to savor the paramonic vistas of the Canyon, choose the North Rim. If you are after hiking, the South Rim should be your priority, with numerous restaurants with family-oriented activities and breathtaking views.
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