Helen asks…

camping on south rim or north rim of Grand Canyon?

Which is better? Does it matter? Thanks.

Martin answers:

I assume you are talking about car camping rather than backpacking? There is a big difference between the North and South Rim and which is better somewhat determines on when you are planning on going.

The South Rim is the more developed and easily reached rim where all the big lodges are and many shops and cafes. The South Rim also has more overlooks that you can drive to, more short hikes, and more attractions (displays, the train, etc). However, because it is a major vacation destination, the South Rim can also be a crowded zoo from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

On the other hand, the North Rim is far from any significant town and has only one lodge, which means it is much less crowded and more peaceful. In addition, the North Rim is at a 1000 feet higher elevation (8000 feet vs 7000 feet) which means it is cooler and has more pine trees and grassy meadows. Note however that the North Rim facilities (including the campground) are closed from mid-October to mid-May.

At both rims of the National Park you will find a drive-up campground with nice designated spots and a central bathroom facility. Both campgrounds are also a ways back from the rim. Both will also be very popular in summer, so making reservations well in advance is highly recommended (see links below).

In addition to the two developed campgrounds mentioned above, beyond the bounds of the National Park on both rims there is National Forest where you are allowed to go down the dirt forest roads and camp at large where ever you want (except during periods of extreme fire danger).

As far as the campgrounds themselves, they are about the same. As far as which rim is better… While both are worth visiting, during summer I personally prefer the cool and quiet of the North Rim.

Michael asks…

What’s best: the north rim or the south rim of the Grand Canyon?

I will be driving to the Grand Canyon from Denver, Colorado during the week of May 29-June 6th.
I will be camping so lodging is not a necessity, and I would like to hike.
I’ve heard that the North Rim is less crowded, which appeals to me, but I’ve also heard that the South Rim has a far better view. Any suggestions?

Martin answers:

I’ve been to both rims and find the north rim much more enjoyable. The canyon views are just as spectacular just not as many of them. The lower visitation and friendlier people are other pluses. The elevation is 1000 feet higher so the climate will be cooler and the vegetation different. The north rim may not be open for the season when you want to go making all this a mute point. Check out www.nps.gov and look under Arizona to find the Grand Canyon. This site will give you all the info as to services and seasons. Whatever you do take at least a 30 minute hike below the rim; it will give you a great idea of the vastness of the canyon

Betty asks…

Camp grounds near the North rim of the Grand Canyon.?

pretty much sums it up… my roommates and I want to plan a weekend trip to the grand canyon. What are some good campgrounds near the north rim?

Martin answers:

Here you go: http://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/cg-nr.htm Please note that the north rim doesn’t open until mid-May.

William asks…

Grand Canyon: would North Rim or South rim have better hiking opportunities for person with limited mobility?

My friend has prosthetic leg. He can walk about 1 mile on level terrain. It doesn’t have to be paved but nothing too steep or rocky. Recommendations on specific camp grounds or hiking trails would be appreciated.

Martin answers:

In addition to doing the S.Rim’s Rim Trail from The Visitors Center at Mather Point out to Hermits Rest >Use the W.Rim Shuttle to hike segments of it and then to ride to other segments of it that you wish to hike.>
There is also the walk along the Rim from Mather Point to Yaki Point/S.KaibabTrailhead
and then there is this little gem of a hike:
Drive out on E.Rim Drive to Moran Point


Find the New Hance Trailhead and hike until it starts getting serious about heading downhill
If you listen really carefully you can hear the (still)awesome power of Hance Rapids

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