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North Rim or South Rim?

Los Angeles...
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North Rim or South Rim?

I am looking at going to the Grand Canyon in mid-August (yes, I know it's hot and crowded, but it's the only time that I can go), but I am not sure whether to go to the South Rim or North Rim. Can anybody give me some tips as to what are the benefits of each? I somewhat know that the North Rim is more secluded (but not to what degree), and easier to get mule rides, etc. Let me know if you have any advice. Thanks!

South Jersey, USA
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1. Re: North Rim or South Rim?

If this is your first visit to Grand Canyon National Park then I would suggest the South Rim!!

There are more accommodations there and you will need to get on those ASAP!! Call them direct to see if anything is available for your dates: 888-297-2757!

While both rims are beautiful the South view points are all right there!

Read the "top questions" on the right hand side of this page to help you plan your trip!!

SJG

Los Angeles...
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2. Re: North Rim or South Rim?

Thank you for the help! I also forgot to mention that we specifically want to mule ride, and those are far cheaper on the North Rim than the South Rim. Also, we would prefer to also stop by Zion, which is closer to North Rim as well. I understand that the South Rim is likely a bit nicer for me as I've never beenm but would it be worth it? Also, how are hikes (not easy ones but not extremely strenuous ones) on North Rim compared with the South Rim?

South Jersey, USA
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3. Re: North Rim or South Rim?

At this late date you may have better luck with the mule rides on the North Rim, BUT accommodations would be the kicker! Only one lodge there and it fills extremely fast!

You can call them direct also to see if anything is open for your dates 877-386-4383

Hiking is wonderful IMO on the North Rim, I prefer the NR! The North Kaibab Trail goes below the rim and is beautiful and steep!! You also have Uncle Jim's Trail (stays above the rim) which is a great hike!

Plenty of opportunities available at both locations!

SJG

tucson az
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4. Re: North Rim or South Rim?

There are only 2 mule rides on which you really see the canyon, the overnight ride to Phantom Ranch at South Rim (highly unlikley you would choose or be able to reserve that one), and the Supai Tunnel ride at the North Rim. I wouldn't make the mule ride the key to choosing where to go.

The North Rim area has far fewer amenities and overlooks, and requires more time driving to overlooks. Because the "user space" is smaller, it can also feel crowded. As noted, lodging is not very available. Even lodging outside the park is not very available, and 20-50 miles from the park; there are only 2 lodges outside the park.

Yes, it's less distance to Zion from the North Rim. On the other hand, the South Rim has a lot more amenities, overlooks and things to do. Easy to moderate to extreme hiking are available at both. Crowds at the South Rim can be avoided by going to areas where they are not. For example, the west area to Hermits Rest is least crowded in the morning up to around 10-11 AM. The east rim area is relatively uncrowded most of the day.

No matter which you choose, lodging is a priority and may make the decision for you.

Edited: 12 July 2012, 00:05
Sedona, AZ
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5. Re: North Rim or South Rim?

Agreeing that riding a mule should not be the key factor in where to go. Riding a mule into the canyon, below the rim, is limited to just 10 riders per day for the two day, overnight trip at the South Rim. It typically books up a full year in advance. The half day ride to Supai Tunnel and back at the north rim is the only other option below the rim. Both rims offer 3-4 hour rides through the forest with a few glimpses and 1-2 good views of the canyon from the rim. The mule companies themselves say that these rides are designed to let you go home and say that you rode a mule at the Grand Canyon, but that's about it. Nothing really grand about those rides.

There's way more to see and do at the Grand Canyon. The south rim has way more facilities and view points. IMO this is the best place for a first time visitor.

Columbia, Maryland
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6. Re: North Rim or South Rim?

THe first time we went to the GRand Canyon, it was at the north rim, first week of June 2010. Our first view of the canyon was at Imperial Point - no one else was there, just us and the canyon. Priceless! Barely any other people at any of the other viewpoints. The only place where we encountered even a small group of people was at Bright Angel Point near the lodge. Even then for a time we had it to ourselves.

Just to give you an idea of the crowd -The lodge was completely booked and the campground looked full. Jacob Lake Inn, where we stayed, was completely booked and the campground was well occupied. I would guess Kaibab Lodge was the same. So in essance, all the lodging within reasonable distance was booked.

Lodging at this late date may be a problem. You will most likely have to call to see if there are cancellations. Call every day. There is the one lodge in the park, Kaibab Lodge about 15 miles outside the park, and Jacob Lake Inn about 45 miles from the canyon. After that you have to go to Fredonia or Kanab, UT for lodging, about 40 miles from Jacob Lake.

An added bonus in August - the elevation is between 7600 and 8800 feet and is cooler than the south rim with quite a bit of vegetation.

Here's a map of the north rim:

nps.gov/grca/…North-Rim-Map.pdf

The road in from Jacob Lake is scenic but you do not want to drive out after dark. Cattelo (cross between buffalo and cattle) roam along the road and mule deer can pop out of the woods anywhere.

The road to the viewpoints is a scenic winding 25 mph road through the forest. It takes about an hour to drive from the lodge to Cape Royal. THere is a handicapped accessable path at Cape Royal out to where you can view Angels Window and see the Colorado River at the bottom of the canyon.

Don't be discouraged from going to the north rim. We found it fantastic.

South Jersey, USA
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7. Re: North Rim or South Rim?

....."Cattelo (cross between buffalo and cattle)".....

LOL....Dave we had them explained to us as "beef-a-lo" Same difference I guess! Anyway you look at it....they are big and I would not want to encounter one on a dark road!!

SJG

Evanston, Wyoming
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for Page, Grand Canyon National Park
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8. Re: North Rim or South Rim?

Agreeing that the availability and price of Grand Canyon mule rides should not be the primary influencer when deciding whether to go to the North Rim or South Rim. Offerings are very different on both sides, as are the views of the canyon, and number and quality of visitor services.

Now I actually called Canyon Rides, the concessionaire that operates the mule rides out of the North Rim, and they confirmed my assertion that they do not book up as fast as the South Rim mule rides. In fact, they do have openings for mid-August - hooray! They do advise advance booking, but it's not like the South Rim where you have to grab a crystal ball and make reservations 1 year out. In fact, the Supai Tunnel ride does have space available. That's the one you should try to take if at all possible. It is the only North Rim mule ride that actually goes down into the Grand Canyon (4 miles round-trip), which is the main appeal of taking a Grand Canyon mule ride. Even though 2 miles down the trail doesn't sound like much, you really only need go a short distance down the trail to get a feel for how different a world the inner canyon is. Visit canyonrides.com/grand_canyon_rides.html for more information

The thing you're going to have a tough time with at this point is lodging. Grand Canyon North Rim hotels are fewer in number and smaller in scale than those at the South Rim. They typically DO get booked up 1 year in advance, especially the Grand Canyon Lodge (the lodge in the park) and the Kaibab Lodge and Jacob Lake Inn (5 and 50 miles from the park gates respectively). Other North Rim lodging alternatives are the Marble Canyon Lodge, Lees Ferry Lodge and Jacob Lake Inn, which are ~ 90 minutes away. There's also Kanab UT (~ 90 minutes away) and Page AZ (~ 2.5 hours away). Kanab and Page are actual "towns," though small (populations 4,000-6,000) they have over a dozen hotels to work with. Here's a video re: North Rim lodging and alternatives ->: http://youtu.be/5YnRWyFad2g

Hope that helps.

Seattle
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9. Re: North Rim or South Rim?

I also prefer the North Rim, especially for an August visit. It is higher, cooler, and less crowded. And it combines better with Zion. The trick is getting lodging, as there is only one lodge inside the park at the North Rim. You might try calling to see if there are rooms available and that will decide it for you. There is also a lodge outside but near the park gate ( Kaibab Lodge).

St. George, Utah
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10. Re: North Rim or South Rim?

I just booked a Western Cabin at the North Rim for next week. Just keep checking every day. There are lots of cancellations.

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