Justin and I have made many trips to the Grand Canyon since moving to Arizona, but always to the south rim. The south rim is easily accessible compared to the north rim, and includes the Grand Canyon Village with a slew of lodging and eating options. The south rim is the quintessential tourist destination at the canyon, so for those wanting a more secluded experience that is off the beaten path, then it is worth it to commit to the longer drive north.
From Phoenix, the north rim is about 6 1/2 hours driving, and less for Flagstaff residents. After passing by Jacob Lake, you head south on highway 67 and then reach the north rim wilderness area via forest roads. There is a campground at the north rim at the end of highway 67, but if you like being at one with mother nature, I recommend going to one of the 6 main viewpoints. Once turning on to forest road 22 from highway 67, there will be signs at every junction leading you to your chosen viewpoint. In my opinion, all viewpoints are stunning, with the exception of Parrissawampits Point (yes, that's the real name), which essentially has no view. We camped at Timpf point and pulled off once we saw the rim and settled in for an early summer weekend of biking and sun-setting in the company of good friends.
Our primary motivation for going to the north rim was mountain biking the Rainbow Rim Trail. Mountain biking is not allowed in national parks, but this trail offers a unique perspective because it is just outside the park in a wilderness area. The trail is 18 miles round-trip with mild elevation gain and few passersby. Justin and I agreed this was our favorite trail we have traversed on our mountain bikes since moving to Arizona. You can see below that the trail is smooth, which is rare for Arizona riding. Most trails are riddled with cactus and shale rock along the edge that will ruin you if you fall. The Rainbow Rim Trail is hard to beat, with stretches of dense pine that pops out on the edge of the canyon with jaw-dropping views.
After a good huff on the trail, we spent each evening strolling the edge of the rim and taking in the sunset.
I am an outdoor and travel junkie who is currently completing my doctorate in occupational therapy overseas in rural Fiji. On Sweet World Travels you will find stories of my life with my husband, the communities we serve, and the many adventures we take.