North Rim of the Grand Canyon
2 Day Tour Itinerary
The following is a suggested itinerary, further customizable based on guests’ priorities:
Grand Canyon Tour Intro
When I was young, I was one of the last to see the movie Titanic. It literally broke the record for the highest grossing movie ever, and months later, I finally went to see it expecting something close to lifechanging. 11-year-old me left the theater thinking: “Ok, it was a good movie, but was that really what everyone had been talking up?”. It was the first time in my life that an actual experience couldn’t live up to the hype.
The Grand Canyon was actually the first National Park I visited as an adult. We’d all seen it in movies, textbooks, and every other sort of media, and as I drove the final miles of my approach, I remember thinking “Is this going to be another one of those things that doesn’t live up to the hype?” I am really excited to tell you that the answer is “Absolutely not.” The Grand Canyon tour not only lives up to the hype, it surpasses it as there really isn’t an adequate way to describe it without actually being there.
Day 1 – Grand Canyon
The North Rim does a tremendous job of keeping the canyon hidden until you’re THERE. We’ll leave on the Grand Canyon tour early enough to arrive at the North Rim Visitor Center for sunrise and really take in the canyon. From there, we’ll take a short drive to the North Kaibab Trailhead and actually hike down into the canyon. Remember: down is optional, up is mandatory. After a morning of hiking, we’ll enjoy a lunch at the North Rim Lodge overlooking the canyon.
The afternoon of our Grand Canyon tour will keep us busy as we drive the loop along Roosevelt Point, Cape Royal, and Point Imperial, stopping and hiking as we see fit through sunset. The group will drive less than an hour north and dispersed camp in the Kaibab National Forest, providing opportunities for astrophotography under the right conditions.
It should be noted that if we have a particularly motivated group, the Grand Canyon tour can absolutely a hike ACROSS the canyon known as a Rim 2 Rim is an option. I have completed a Rim 2 Rim hike (approximately 22 miles and 3000 feet down/up) in one go, and I’ll admit it was not pleasant. While hiking to the bottom of the canyon and seeing the Colorado River is absolutely worth the experience, I would suggest that it is done over the course of, at a minimum, two days. It’s amazing what happens when you leave something alone for a couple millennia.
Marble Canyon and Spencer Trail
The Grand Canyon tour of the North Rim isn’t JUST about the Grand Canyon, as there’s so much in that area. Day two will start with a short drive, and numerous options around the Page area. The first option, for the adventurous, is the Spencer Trail. Starting along the bottom of the Colorado River and involving 2000+ ft of elevation gain over the coming miles, involves mild exposure and some scrambling. The payoff of a stunning view of Marble Canyon is well worth it.
Instead of climbing up, our other option is going down on a tour of the Antelope Slot Canyons. Located on Navajo Nation, this involves an additional parking and per person tour charge. As people who tend to move quickly and solo, let us reassure you that this is a really tremendous tour and worth the cost and time.
After working up an appetite with either option, we will have a lunch in Page and head to our final stop: Horseshoe Bend. This iconic option of the Colorado River has carved a canyon in the share of a… well, horseshoe. You’ve seen it in pictures, but nothing compares to real life. And while the bend itself is desert, it takes no more than a .25 mi hike to get to the overlook.
Once the group is ready to wrap up our Grand Canyon tour, we will take the “long way” back to Las Vegas, stopping at Toadstool Hoodoos and working to time the sunset with an east to west drive across Zion.
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