North Rim vs South Rim Grand Canyon – Which is Better?

North Rim VS South Rim Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon North Rim vs South Rim – which is better? The main difference between two rims is the number of attractive viewpoints. South Rim has much more to observe. This does not mean that you should avoid visiting North Rim. This article will explain why and give some useful information on both of them.

South Rim Of The Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon South Rim View

The South Rim receives most of the visitors to Grand Canyon National Park. The South Rim is open everyday of the year, even on holidays. If you plan on camping or staying at a South Rim hotel, you will have to make your reservations early. The busiest times are during the summer months and you can expect crowds, problems finding parking, and hot weather.

South Rim on the map and its reviews:

The least crowded times are during the winter months, but at 7,000 feet in elevation, winter weather conditions can be difficult. Spring and autumn are great times to visit the South Rim. The weather is usually nice and crowds aren’t usually a concern. Be sure to check the Grand Canyon weather forecast.

Information Plaza is the main Grand Canyon National Park visitor facility. Here you will find the visitor center (Canyon View Center), a large bookstore, restrooms, all within a short walk of Mather Campground. There are many scenic overlooks that are accessible by car that provide spectacular views of the Grand Canyon.

Desert View Drive

Desert View Drive (Highway 64) follows the canyon rim for 26 miles east of Grand Canyon Village to Desert View, which is the east entrance to the park. Desert View Drive is open to private vehicles throughout the year. Hermit Road follows the rim for 7 miles west from Grand Canyon Village to Hermits Rest. Hermit Road is closed to private vehicles from March through November. The park runs a free shuttle bus to provide transportation to many of the canyon overlooks.

Yavapai Point

Yavapai Observation Station at Yavapai Point offers panoramic views of the canyon, including the Colorado River and Phantom Ranch. To see the view form Yayapai Point take a look at the Grand Canyon webcam.

For viewing and photographing the Grand Canyon, the best light is early or late in the day. Mid-day sun tends to flatten the view and soften the colors. Remember that days are short in the winter and long in the summer. If you plan to see the Grand Canyon at sunrise or sunset, it is recommended that you be on the rim at least an hour before.

Colorado River

The Colorado River flows along the bottom of the canyon, 5000 feet below the rim. Because of the depth of the Grand Canyon, the river is visible only from certain viewpoints. It is a two-day hike to the river and back from the South Rim. It’s a longer trip from the North Rim. It is possible to drive to the Colorado River at Lees Ferry (near Marble Canyon, Arizona), a 2.5 hour drive (one way) from the South Rim. Lees Ferry marks the official beginning of Grand Canyon.


An easy hiking trail, known as the Rim Trail, follows the rim from Pipe Creek Vista to Hermits Rest. The section of the Rim Trail between Pipe Creek Vista and Maricopa Point is paved, and mostly wheelchair accessible. Unpaved portions of the trail, between Maricopa Point and Hermits Rest, are narrow and close to the edge. Bicycles are not permitted on the Rim Trail.

Useful info about winter hiking in the North and South Rims

The North Rim Of The Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon North Rim View

Plan on visiting the North Rim of the Grand Canyon if you want to avoid the summer heat and summer crowds. The North Rim offers spectacular views and plenty of day hikes that allow you to explore a different part of the Grand Canyon. The North Rim is over 8,000 feet above sea level which makes for much different weather and hiking conditions than are found at the South Rim.

North Rim on the map and its reviews:

A popular North Rim destination is the historic Grand Canyon Lodge. The lodge is built right on the edge of the canyon and provides for a relaxed atmosphere and spectacular views of the Grand Canyon right from the patio.

Viewpoints of the North Rim

There are three developed viewpoints on the North Rim that provide you with expansive views of the canyon. It is rare for you to be able to actually view the bottom of the Canyon and the Colorado River from the North Rim viewpoints.

1. Point Imperial and Cape Royal are accessible by the scenic and winding Cape Royal Road. Traveling to both locations and stopping for short walks will take up most of your day. The highest point on the North Rim is Point Imperial at 8,803 feet.

From Point Imperial, you can see the Painted Desert and the eastern portion of the Grand Canyon. From here, the canyon transforms from the narrow walls of Marble Canyon, only visible as a winding slice, into the Grand Canyon.

At the end of the road, Cape Royal provides you with a panoramic view of the canyon. With unlimited views to the east and the west, this location is popular to watch both the sunrise and sunset. You can actually see Unkar Delta along the Colorado River, which is framed by Angels Window. On clear days, you can see the Desert View Watchtower across the canyon on the South Rim. This great viewpoint is accessible by a level, paved trail.

2. Point Sublime is remote and can be difficult to reach because you will probably need a four-wheel drive vehicle. The rough road will take you two hours drive, but the view is definitely worth your effort.

3. Bright Angel Point is a short easy walk and is located near Grand Canyon Lodge. This viewpoint provides great views into Roaring Springs and Bright Angel Canyon.

Even though you can see across the Grand Canyon to the South Rim, it is a long drive around the canyon to the South Rim.

What about you? Have you been to both of those? Share your experience, pictures and stories in comments. Thank you. 

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