North Rim Hotels, Lodges, and Camping
Summer is the North Rim’s busiest season, and although there are fewer visitors to this side of the canyon, lodging availability is limited. Plan early and make reservations, or you may find yourself anxiously awaiting cancellations or commuting from far outside the park.
Be sure you understand cancellation policies; many lodges on this side of the canyon require advance notice of cancellations to avoid forfeiting a deposit.
The nearest lodgings outside the park are Kaibab Lodge, 18 miles from the rim, and the Jacob Lake Inn, 45 miles away. Both these lodges fill up quickly, although cancellations are possible. If you hope to visit in early October, when aspens turn gold, make your reservations several month sin advance. Campgrounds fill up quickly all season long.
Grand Canyon Lodge
Grand Canyon Lodge (888/386-4383, www.foreverlodging.com) has more than 200 guest rooms, but they fill up quickly, so make reservations well in advance, up to 13 months ahead of your arrival. Last-minute rooms due to cancellations are possible—check at the lobby desk.
Rooms range from historic cabins to motel-style accommodations. All have private baths, and all are nonsmoking. A few of the cabins meet ADA-accessibility standards. No pets are allowed in the lodge buildings, including the guest cabins. Rates listed below do not include tax. Rollaway cots can be delivered to some guest rooms for an additional charge.
The nicest lodging option on the North Rim is definitely the stone-and-wood Western cabins ($172, $182 with rim view) east of the lodge, boasting shady porches complete with rocking chairs. The craftsman-inspired cabins have two queen beds and a full bath. Note that the rim-view cabins, overlooking Bright Angel Canyon, book up to two years in advance.
On the west side of the lodge, some of the Frontier and Pioneer cabins overlook Transept Canyon. Ask when you check in and you might be able to get a view cabin. Frontier cabins ($118), with a double and single bed and a shower, can accommodate up to three people. The larger Pioneer cabins ($152, $162 with rim view) can accommodate up to six and have two rooms, one with a queen bed, mini fridge, and coffeepot, the other with a single bed and a full-size futon along with a shared shower.
Motel-style guest rooms ($113) may lack the atmosphere of the cabins, but they have all the basics, including a queen bed and a shower.
Grand Canyon Campgrounds
Because North Rim elevations range 6,300-8,000 feet, campers should be prepared for cool evenings, even in the summer. Inside the park, camping is permitted only in designated campsites, and violators may be cited and fined.
If you plan on spending the night in the backcountry (including Point Sublime or Cape Final), fax or mail a completed permit application to the Backcountry Information Center (P.O. Box 129, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023, fax 928/635-2125). Permit applications are available on the park’s website (www.nps.gov/grca). Outside the park, dispersed no-fee camping is allowed in neighboring Kaibab National Forest, which also offers reasonably priced developed campgrounds.
North Rim Campground (928/638-7814, May 15-Oct. 15, $18) has 83 campsites. A maximum of two vehicles, three tents, and six people are allowed per site, with trailers, pop-ups, and campers counting as a second vehicle. Some sites accommodate RVs. There are no hookups, but there is a dump station. Sites with a view along the rim of Transept Canyon are $25. Senior and Access pass holders qualify for a 50 percent discount.
Reservations can be made in advance through the National Recreation Service (877/444-6777, www.recreation.gov). The campground fills up quickly, and it’s best to make reservations as far ahead as possible—up to six months in advance, or a year for group campsites. However, if you can’t resist gambling, especially against long odds, you can add your name to a waiting list after 8 a.m., then return at 3 p.m. to see if you landed a spot.
The campground is shaded by ponderosa pines, and the General Store, laundry, and showers are a short walk away. Both the Transept Trail and the Bridle Path connect the campground to the lodge, about a mile away. Pets are allowed in the campground but must be leashed and cannot be left unattended. Charcoal or wood fires are permitted in campsite grills. Wood-gathering is not permitted; wood can be purchased at the General Store.
After the park officially closes in mid-October, a few sites and limited services may be available on a first-come, first-served basis until snow closes Highway 67. Group campsites are available throughout the winter to hikers, snowshoers, and skiers with a backcountry permit. A permit is also needed to reserve the North Rim yurt, available after Thanksgiving through April 15.
Toroweap Campground (free) is also operated by the National Park Service, but it is 150 miles and a world away from Bright Angel Point. Ten primitive sites are situated around a stone amphitheater less than two miles from the rim overlook. There are fire grates, picnic tables, and composting toilets but no water, and you’ll need to pack out your trash. The single group site can be reserved (928/638-7870), but others are first-come, first-served. Arrive by mid-afternoon, as the campground may fill up during the spring, especially on weekends. If the campground is full, stop at the Tuweep Ranger Station, about six miles from the rim, for information about camping on nearby Bureau of Land Management land. Because of the lower elevation (4,500 feet) and little shade, expect warmer temperatures in the summer. In winter, roads may be impassable due to mud or snow.
© Kathleen Bryant from Moon Grand Canyon, 5th Edition