North Rim vs South Rim Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon: South Rim vs. North Rim

Each year, more than 5 million people visit the Grand Canyon which consists of the South Rim and the North Rim. Most people see this majestic wonder from its South Rim.


Although the Rims are separated by about 20 miles, a five-hour road trip or 2-3 day hikes are required to get between the two sides.  The two rims offer visitors completely different atmospheres, elevations, and activities. Below are some differences between the two rims.

South Rim

  • Since the South Rim is more accessible from several large cities, it makes it a perfect day trip.
  • Easily accessible viewpoints make it simple to enjoy the famous Grand Canyon views.
  • The Grand Canyon South Rim is open all year long, so are the food courts and restaurants.
  • The South Rim is at a lower elevation which allows you to get a better view of the walls of the opposite rim.
  • The sheer magnitude of the Grand Canyon is much more visible from the South Rim.
  • The South Rim is more “user friendly” with paved paths along the rim.
  • In the winter, The South Rim is covered in snow. It’s a beautiful sight, but make sure to wear your winter gear.
  • The Grand Canyon South Rim offers restaurants, cafeterias, stores and lodges. It’s great for families with children.
  • The South Rim has more scheduled activities such as mule rides, helicopter rides, and Grand Canyon tours.

North Rim

  • The North Rim stays pleasantly cool, even during the summer. Since it’s covered in trees, the North Rim has a natural shade while the South Rim heats up drastically during the summer months.
  • The atmosphere at the North Rim is much more relaxing because so few people visit. Here the emphasis is on relaxation and getting away from stress, rather than on the Grand Canyon attraction.
  • The North Rim offers different views, but they are still dramatic in a subtle way.
  • There are plenty of hiking opportunities, but to get the most out of the North Rim, you’ll need to hike on lengthier and less accessible trails.
  • People visiting the North Rim don’t specifically go there to check out the Grand Canyon but rather to enjoy the atmosphere of a comfortable summer vacation.  Kids play around the campground while parents socialize at the lodge, and hikers roam through the woods. To them, the Grand Canyon is just an additional benefit to the North Rim.
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