The North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park opens for the 2021 season on Saturday, May 15. Many facilities, services and activities were closed or curtailed last year due to COVID-19 and wildfires, but things will be a little closer to normal this year.

The North Rim is remote and the drive time from Phoenix is a commitment, but don’t let that put you off. It gets far fewer visitors than the South Rim — about a 10th as many — and you’re much more likely to have a little breathing room on the trails and at the overlooks.

Visitors have two lodging options inside the park: tent or RV camping at the North Rim Campground or booking a cabin at the historic Grand Canyon Lodge. Outside the park, travelers can stay at Jacob Lake Inn or Kaibab Lodge. Campers can choose from two campgrounds or opt for free dispersed camping along the many Forest Service roads.

The North Rim’s season is short: Lodging and many services are only available from  May 15 through Oct. 15. Start planning now if you want to visit this summer or fall. Breathtaking views at Point Imperial and Cape Royal plus hikes and scenic drives await.

Use this guide to plan your trip to the Grand Canyon’s North Rim.

The Grand Canyon North Rim Lodge offer unparalleled views of the canyon. (Photo: Arizona Office of Tourism)

North Rim COVID-19 updates for 2021

  • Masks are required indoors, as well as outdoors where distancing cannot be maintained.
  • The hiker shuttle to the North Kaibab trailhead will not be offered.
  • The campground’s showers and laundry will be closed.
  • Mule rides along the rim and into the canyon will resume this year. 
  • The Grand Canyon Conservancy bookstore and gift shop will be open.

How to drive to the North Rim

From central Phoenix, take Interstate 17 north to Flagstaff. Go east on Interstate 40, get off at Country Club Drive (Exit 201) and take U.S. 89 north to Bitter Springs. There, go left on U.S. 89A to Jacob Lake, then follow State Route 67 south to the North Rim. It’s about 350 miles and a seven-hour drive from Phoenix.

Grand Canyon drive time: How long it takes to get there from Phoenix

Grand Canyon Lodge

Grand Canyon Lodge has the only accommodations inside the park.

The property consists of the lodge building — which has a restaurant, gathering rooms and a patio with a great view — plus several room options scattered about. From least to most expensive, choose from Frontier cabins, Pioneer cabins and Western cabins. Some Western cabins have rim views; the rest of the lodgings are set in the pines.

A cabin at Grand Canyon Lodge on the North Rim of Grand Canyon. (Photo: National Park Service)

There also are motel rooms, but those will be unavailable in 2021. They are being used by park employees who can’t live in the staff dormitory because of social-distancing needs.

Details: 877-386-4383, https://www.grandcanyonforever.com.

Get a room: Here’s how to book a cabin at the North Rim Lodge in 2021

North Rim Campground

The Grand Canyon North Rim Campground is open from mid-May to mid-October and is operated by the National Park Service. (Photo: Michael Quinn/NPS)

The North Rim Campground has 90 spaces for tents and RVs set among the pines. It usually fills up each day. Sites can be reserved online at https://www.recreation.gov, by phone at 877-833-6777 or in person at the campground kiosk. Amenities include restrooms, a general store and a dump station but no hookups. The showers and laundry will be closed in 2021.

Camping in Arizona this summer? Reserve your campsite as soon as possible

Kaibab Lodge

This rustic property 5 miles north of the North Rim entrance dates to about 1926. The setting is forest and meadow, and wildlife is abundant. It’s a true getaway — there are no TVs or telephones, and you won’t have cell service or Wi-Fi.

Accommodations consist of cabins in configurations ranging from single to quad to fit groups of varying sizes. The restaurant will have dine-in and takeout options for breakfast and dinner, plus a new salad bar for lunch. The lodge is open mid-May through mid-October.

Details: 928-638-2389, http://kaibablodge.com.

Jacob Lake Inn

This one-stop property sits at the junction of U.S. 89A and State Route 67 about 45 miles north of the park entrance. In addition to motel rooms and cabins, Jacob Lake Inn has a restaurant, bakery (trust us — buy some cookies), small grocery shop and a gift shop with an extensive collection of American Indian art. A gas station is adjacent.

Details: 928-643-7232, https://www.jacoblake.com.

DeMotte Campground

Sitting at the edge of vast meadows, fringed by mixed conifer forest, DeMotte Campground offers 38 single-family sites for tents and RVs near the North Rim of Grand Canyon. (Photo: Roger Naylor/Special for the Republic)

DeMotte Campground is in Kaibab National Forest near Kaibab Lodge. It has 38 sites with picnic tables, grills and drinking water but no hookups. It’s open from mid-May through mid-October. Reservations can be made at https://www.recreation.gov.

Kaibab Camper Village 

This RV park and campground is in the woods near Jacob Lake Inn. It’s open mid-May through mid-October. Kaibab Camper Village has 40 tent spots, 51 RV spots (water, electric and sewer hookups available) and can accommodate RVs larger than 40 feet. There also are three group campsites, coin-operated showers, a laundry and a store. Visitors can charge their generators during the day.

Details: 928-643-7804, https://www.kaibabcampervillage.com.

Lightning arcs into Grand Canyon near Point Sublime on the North Rim. (Photo: Michael Nichols/National Geographic)

Where to eat at the North Rim

The Grand Canyon Lodge dining room will offer breakfast from 6:30 to 10 a.m. Lunch will not be served, but guests can buy food at the adjacent Deli in the Pines and eat in  the dining room. Dinner is by reservation only from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. Preference will be given to guests of the lodge and campground. Takeout will be available.

Grab-and-go food — including breakfast, pizza and sandwiches — is available at the deli and the Rough Rider Saloon. Coffee service will be at the deli this year instead of the saloon. The deli is open 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.; the saloon’s hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The general store sells groceries, but be sure to bring whatever you’ll want to meet your dietary needs and preferences.

There are plenty of places to picnic at the North Rim — sites have tables and some are perched right near the canyon’s edge. Pack a cooler and eat outdoors, or pick up supplies at the general store.

Autoplay

Show Thumbnails

Show Captions

shanti.lerner@gannett.com or you can also follow her on Twitter

Autoplay

Show Thumbnails

Show Captions

Last SlideNext Slide

Support local journalism like this story by subscribing today.