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Grand Canyon North Rim vs South Rim

The Grand Canyon is one of the world’s most popular and awe-inspiring natural wonders, hosting over a million visitors annually. 

Boasting over a mile (1.6 km) deep gorge, the Grand Canyon was carved out by the Colorado river over millions of years. 

This mighty canyon is divided into two major areas: the North and South Rim. 

South Rim is the more popular and frequently visited side of the canyon, while the North Rim is the quieter and more secluded side. 

Read on to learn more about the two and make the Grand Canyon North Rim vs South Rim choice.

Best Grand Canyon tours and tickets
# Grand Canyon South Rim guided tour
# Grand Canyon South Rim tour with Lunch 
# Grand Canyon Guided Sunset Hummer Tour 
# Grand Canyon helicopter ride and optional Hummer tour

Things to do in Grand Canyon
Get your backpacks ready for
Grand Canyon National Park

North Rim Vs South Rim – Which to visit?

We recommend you visit both Rims if time permits!

You can either drive or hike to North Rim from South Rim.

The drive takes 5 hours, while the hike could take you up to 3 days.

If you are short on time, you can visit both rims within a few hours on a helicopter tour.

If you wish to explore only one rim, here are some criteria to compare and find if the North Rim or South Rim of the Grand Canyon is better to visit.

Things to do at the Rims

Grand Canyon North Rim vs South Rim is a choice you have to make, considering your travel preferences, the things you wish to see, and the activities you wish to do!

The South Rim may be the better option if you’re looking for a more bustling and activity-filled experience. 

If you’re seeking a quieter and more immersive experience in nature, the North Rim may be more your style. 

Regardless of which rim you choose, both sides of the Grand Canyon offer breathtaking views and unforgettable experiences.

Things to do in Grand Canyon North Rim

Though more remote and secluded, the Grand Canyon North Rim offers visitors a wide range of activities!

Here is a list of these you could try during your trip to the North Rim:

Hiking: North Rim houses a few of the best hiking trails, like the North Kaibab Trail, a popular choice, offering stunning views of the canyon and the Colorado River.

Camping: The North Rim has several campgrounds where you can pitch a tent or park an RV. 

The North Rim Campground is the most popular campground, which requires advance reservation!

Photography: The stunning North Rim provides the best frames for photographers worldwide, from sunrise to sunset!

Furthermore, at the North Rim, you can stargaze into the dark skies, go wildlife watching, join ranger-led programs, etc.

Things to do in Grand Canyon South Rim

The Grand Canyon South Rim offers a wide range of activities for visitors to enjoy. 

Here are some of the top things to do:

Hiking: The South Rim has a variety of hiking trails ranging from easy walks to challenging hikes. 

These hiking tours include the Bright Angel Trail, South Kaibab Trail, and Rim Trail.’

Helicopter tours: The South Rim is known for its stunning sunset and sunrise view; you can take a helicopter tour to enjoy the best views!

Take a helicopter tour over the canyon to get a bird’s eye view of the landscape.

River rafting: If you’re looking for a more adventurous activity, consider a river rafting trip on the Colorado River. 

To see the canyon from a different perspective, these rafting tours provide the best experiences. 

River rafting
Image: Oars.com

Camping: Several campgrounds in the park offer a chance to experience the canyon at night and to wake up to a beautiful sunrise.

Ranger-led programs: The National Park Service offers a variety of ranger-led programs, including guided hikes, talks, and walks.

Further, you can visit the Visitor Center and the Yavapai Geology Museum, which displays the park’s natural and cultural history and enjoy dining at one of the numerous spots!

Things to do – North Rim vs South Rim

If you plan a trip to the Grand Canyon, you may be trying to make the North Rim vs South Rim choice. 

The South Rim, the more popular of the two, is dotted with more tourist amenities and thrilling activities. 

Another thing to consider would be that the South Rim is open year-round and has a more consistent weather pattern!

On the other hand, the quieter and more remote North Rim has fewer tourist amenities and activities and offers a more secluded and intimate experience. 

This is the perfect place for someone looking for a calm holiday with great opportunities for wildlife sightings. 

The North Rim is more unpredictable, with most facilities being closed during winter, and is open from mid-May to mid-October.

Choosing either South Rim or North Rim depends on your interests and preferences. 

And in case you cannot choose? Do them both!

Tours 

You can explore the Grand Canyon North Rim and the South Rim on time or choose from various tour options!

You can plan a one-day short trip or enjoy either of the Rims at leisure on a multi-day tour!

Forget all worries about planning a trip; take a guided tour to either rim and enjoy a no-tension experience. 

Or, if you prefer a more intimate experience, go for a private tour! 

The more popular South Rim attracts a large crowd due to its many activities and the amenities it provides!

Here we have curated a few trips for you to enjoy the Sount Rim to its fullest:

Grand Canyon North Rim vs South Rim – which has better features

The North and South Rim are two distinct areas of the Grand Canyon, Arizona.

Both offer stunning views to visitors, but they differ in several ways.

Features of North Rim

The North Rim is approximately 8,000 feet (2,438 meters) above sea level, about 1,000 feet (305 meters) higher than the South Rim.

Here are a few of the distinct features of the north rim:

The scenic beauty of the North Rim offers its visitors dramatic panoramic views of the deep canyons, colorful rock formations, and of the Colorado River 

The North Rim area has diverse wildlife, including deer, elk, bighorn sheep, and coyotes.

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon offers hiking, backpacking, camping, and scenic drives. 

The facilities offered by the North Rim are limited, with only one lodge, one campground and a handful of restaurants and shops.

Features of South Rim

The South Rim has an elevation of approximately 7,000 feet (2,134 meters) above sea level and is one of the most popular destinations at the Grand Canyon. 

Some features of the South Rim include:

The South Rim offers an array of one-day and multi-day hiking trails, ranging from easy to strenuous, which provide breathtaking views of the Grand Canyon.

Some popular trails are the Bright Angel Trail, South Kaibab Trail, and Rim Trail.

Several visitor centers at the South Rim, including the main visitor center at Mather Point, provide information about the park’s history, geology, and wildlife.

Wildlife: The South Rim is home to a variety of wildlife, including elk, mule deer, and California condors.

Further, you can participate in ranger-led educational programs at the South Rim, including guided hikes, talks, and demonstrations.

North Rim vs South Rim- which has the best features?

North Rim vs South Rim- which has the best features
Image: Bjorn alberts / Getty Images Pro (Canva) , Joecho-16 / Getty Images Pro (Canva)

The North Rim and the South Rim offer the best features to each visitor, but they have some differences!

The more popular and accessible South Rim attracts 90% of the total visitors due to its well-developed facilities.

Tourists can take advantage of the guided tours, which provide hassle-free one-day and/or multi-day trips.

For those looking for a peaceful and immersive experience, the North Rim is a great option, being more remote and less crowded. 

Having a higher elevation of the two rims, the North Rim provides respite from the heat during the hot summer. 

The final choice of Grand Canyon North Rim vs South Rim depends on your interests and preferences! 

South Rim vs North Rim – Location

The North Rim is located in a remote area of the Kaibab Plateau, about 30 miles south of the Utah border. 

The South Rim is located near Arizona, on the Coconico Plate, about 80 miles south of the North Rim. 

South Rim is more accessible to people and has more visitor amenities. 

Grand Canyon North Rim to South Rim

The Grand Canyon is a massive natural wonder in Arizona, a popular destination for tourists worldwide. 

If you plan a trip to the Grand Canyon, you might wonder how to get from the North Rim to the South Rim.

The distance between the two rims is about 215 miles, and the journey takes approximately 5-6 hours, depending on the route you take.

Here are some options:

By Car: You can drive from the North Rim to the South Rim if you own a vehicle or a rental car. 

By Car
Image: Nps.gov

Shuttle Service: Another convenient option would be to use the South Rim to North Rim shuttle company that offers transportation between the North and South Rim.

Hiking: If you’re up for a challenge and have some hiking experience, you can do the South Rim to North Rim hike!

The most popular trail is the Bright Angel Trail, which is 19 miles long and takes about 2-3 days to complete.

Guided tours: You can also take a guided tour that includes transportation from the South Rim to North Rim.

Remoteness

The Grand Canyon has two primary rims: the North and the South.

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is considered the more remote and less developed of the two rims. 

Located at a higher elevation than the South Rim, it is less accessible during the winter months when the road leading to it is closed due to heavy snowfall. 

The South Rim is the more popular and developed of the two rims, and it is located at a lower elevation than the North Rim, making it more accessible year-round.

Opening hours – Grand Canyon South Rim vs North Rim

The Grand Canyon South Rim is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, although some facilities may have limited hours during the winter season. 

The entrance gates to the South Rim are open 24 hours a day as well.

However, the park’s Visitor Center and other facilities have varying hours of operation depending on the season.

The North Rim is only open from mid-May to mid-October each year. 

The exact opening and closing dates may vary depending on the weather conditions.

Typically, the North Rim opens around mid-May and closes around mid-October. 

It is recommended to check the official website of the Grand Canyon National Park for the most up-to-date information on opening and closing dates.

Climate – North Rim vs South Rim Grand Canyon

Climate – North Rim vs South Rim
Image: Tripadvisor.co.uk , Photo by Devon Beard on Unsplash

The Grand Canyon is a massive geological feature located in the southwestern part of the United States. 

Due to the difference in their elevations, the North Rim and the South Rim slightly differ in their climates.

Visitors should always check the weather forecast and be prepared for changing conditions.

The South Rim, classified under a semi-arid climate, exhibits hot summers and cold winters.

In the summer, from June to August, temperatures of 75°F to 85°F (24°C to 29°C) can be seen during the day, and it gets cooler during the night. 

During the winter, from December to February, temperatures can range from 20°F to 45°F (-6°C to 7°C) during the day, with colder temperatures at night.

The South Rim receives most of its precipitation through the snow during the winter months.

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon has a cooler and wetter climate than the South Rim due to its higher elevation. 

The summer (June-August) temperatures can range from 60°F to 80°F (16°C to 27°C) during the day, with cooler temperatures at night.

During the winter months (December-February), temperatures can range from 20°F to 40°F (-7°C to 4°C) during the day, with colder temperatures at night.

The North Rim receives most of its precipitation through the rain during the summer months.

Expected crowd

The expected crowd at the North Rim versus the South Rim of the Grand Canyon can vary significantly, with the South Rim being more crowded.

The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is the more popular destination, attracting over 5 million visitors annually. 

As a result, the South Rim can be quite crowded, especially during peak seasons (summer and holidays).

On the other hand, the North Rim is more remote and less accessible, as it is only open from mid-May to mid-October due to snow and road closures during the winter months. 

Because of its location, the North Rim attracts fewer visitors, with around 700,000 people visiting each year. 

However, the North Rim is also gaining popularity as visitors seek quieter and more secluded experiences.

How to choose between Grand Canyon North Rim and South Rim

Choosing Grand Canyon North Rim vs South Rim depends on your preferences, schedule, and travel plans. 

But here are a few general factors to consider:

Accessibility: The South Rim is more accessible than the North Rim, with a larger airport nearby and more transportation options. 

The North Rim is more remote and only accessible during the summer months.

Crowds: The South Rim is more popular and crowded, especially during peak season.

The North Rim sees fewer visitors and offers a more tranquil experience.

Activities: The North Rim has fewer trails and is more strenuous, whereas the South Rim has more trails, including some that are wheelchair accessible.

Lodging and amenities: The South Rim has more lodging options and amenities, including restaurants, shops, and visitor centers, whereas the North Rim has fewer options and is more rustic in nature.

Either can be a great fit, depending on the type of experience you are looking for.

FAQs

1. Is it better to visit the North or South Rim of the Grand Canyon?

North Rim vs South Rim of the Grand Canyon offers stunning views and unique experiences, so the choice depends on your preferences and priorities.

The South Rim is more popular and more easily accessible, with a wider range of amenities and activities available.

The North Rim, on the other hand, is quieter and more remote, with fewer crowds and a more rugged, backcountry feel.

Ultimately, both rims offer incredible views and unique experiences, so it’s worth considering what kind of atmosphere and activities you’re looking for when deciding.

2. How far is North Rim from South Rim Grand Canyon?

The driving distance between the North and South Rim of the Grand Canyon is approximately 220 miles (354 kilometers).

However, due to the rugged terrain and the Grand Canyon being a National Park, no direct roads exist between the North and South Rims. 

The shortest driving route takes approximately 4.5 hours from South Rim to North Rim.

3. Which side of the Grand Canyon is best?

Both sides of the Grand Canyon offer spectacular views, so there isn’t necessarily a “best” side.

The South Rim is more popular and open year-round, offering various viewpoints, including the famous Mather Point, Yavapai Point, and Desert View. 

The North Rim, on the other hand, is more remote and only open from mid-May to mid-October. 

It has fewer viewpoints, but they tend to be less crowded and offer a more intimate view of the canyon. 

4. What is the difference between the North and South Rim of the Grand Canyon?

The North Rim and the South Rim are located on opposite sides of the Grand Canyon at different elevations, so there are a lot of differences. 

The North Rim is higher, making it cold and inaccessible during winter. 

The South Rim is open all year round and is much more popular and developed than the North Rim.

5. Is it worth going to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon?

Yes, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is definitely worth visiting. 

While the South Rim is more popular and heavily visited, and the North Rim offers a quieter and more serene respite with stunning canyon views.

6. Is the North Rim of the Grand Canyon crowded?

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon isn’t as crowded as the South Rim. 

Considering its remoteness and higher elevation, it experiences less footfall, making it a more quiet and calm side of the Grand Canyon.

Featured Image: Andreaizzotti / AZ-BLT

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