Entertainment and Events
Generally speaking, North Rim night owls are the feathered kind. After a day of hiking and touring in the great outdoors, most people are happy to hit the sack early and rest up for another full day of adventure. But if you’re searching for something to do past dark, you’ll have a handful of options.
Free ranger programs are scheduled throughout the day and evening at various locations, including the terrace and auditorium of Grand Canyon Lodge, the North Rim Campground amphitheater, and Walhalla Overlook. Topics include geology, natural history, and archaeology.
Ranger talks are entertaining and educational, and they provide a great opportunity to ask questions. Most are family-friendly too—during the condor talk, kids hold out measuring tape and don a condor costume to show off the bird’s size.
For more information, see The Guide or check the schedules posted in the North Rim Visitors Center, lodge, and campground.
Forever Resorts, the concessionaire operating Grand Canyon Lodge, has brought a taste of Western tradition to the North Rim with their nightly Grand Canyon Cookout Experience. Guests are shuttled by tram to an outdoor location for a chuckwagon-style meal, followed by a live music and stage show. Reservations are recommended.
Coffee shop by day and lounge by night, the Roughrider Saloon (11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. daily) occasionally hosts live acoustic music in the evenings. Located next to the lodge, the saloon is a relaxed spot to unwind over a hot coffee drink or a beer.
In addition to regular evening ranger programs held at the campground and auditorium, in late June the North Rim hosts a weeklong Star Party (the celestial kind, not the Hollywood variety). Miles and miles from city lights, the skies here are velvety black, and the stars are breathtaking.
During the annual star party, a nightly slide show takes center stage at the Grand Canyon Lodge auditorium. Amateur astronomers volunteer their expertise and set up their telescopes outdoors on the lodge’s terrace, where park visitors can view planets, constellations, nebulae, and galaxies. The festivities spill beyond park boundaries to Kaibab Lodge, a few miles north of the park entrance, where guests can eye the starry skies from telescopes provided by astronomers.
In August, the North Rim celebrates Heritage Days. For many years this event focused on the Kaibab Paiute tribe, but it has been expanded to include other regional Native American cultures. Past events have featured cedar flute music and traditional dances. For more information, contact the North Rim Visitors Center (928/638-2481).
Also in August, the annual Symphony of the Canyon brings together musicians from southern Utah and northern Arizona. The symphony performs a sunset concert on the lodge’s terrace, usually for a standing room-only audience. Contact Grand Canyon Lodge (888/386-4383) for information.
Each month during the summer season, artists visit the North Rim as part of the park’s artist-in-residence program. In exchange for their time at the canyon, artists present their work to the public through informal discussions and demonstrations, classes, lectures, or performances. Programs vary from month to month; for information about events taking place during your stay, check at the North Rim Visitors Center.
Shopping choices are limited on the North Rim, but if you run out of toothpaste or want to pick up a few souvenirs to take home, you’ll find what you need. The Grand Canyon Association operates a small but superb bookstore at the North Rim Visitors Center, stocking nature guides, posters, videos, and coffee-table books as well as learning-themed items for kids of all ages.
Forget to bring a hat or sunscreen? The gift shop (8 a.m.-9 p.m. daily) in the lodge complex has a wide selection of items, including hiking hats, T-shirts, jewelry, native art, books, and plenty of souvenirs for the kiddies. Additional camping gear can be found at the campground’s General Store (928/638-2611, ext. 270, 7 a.m.-8 p.m. daily) along with sundries, snacks, and picnic supplies.
Outside the park, Kaibab Lodge (Hwy. 67, 5 miles north of the park entrance, 928/638-2389) has a selection of gifts and souvenirs, from cutesy country-themed items to flint knives and arrowheads knapped by a local artisan.
If you’re interested in Native American art, be sure to stop at the Jacob Lake Inn (928/643-7232), 45 miles north of the rim, near the junction of Highways 67 and 89A. The Navajo rugs decorating the walls of the dining room are for sale, as are silver and turquoise jewelry, sand paintings, pottery, kachinas, baskets, and other traditional crafts made by Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, and Paiute Indians. The inn also has a wide selection of books, maps, and gifts.
© Kathleen Bryant from Moon Grand Canyon, 5th Edition