Bright Angel Point
North Rim, Grand Canyon, AZ
So you wanna get away…
I have traveled to over half of the national parks in the country and the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park is one of my favorites. It is an oasis in the desert and the pinnacle of this oasis is the view from Bright Angel Point.
The North Rim is NOT your traditional tourist attraction. It has little to no cell service, one restaurant, no grocery store, one gas station, and very little to do. It is 80 miles from the closest town, and 6-8 hours from the nearest major airport. There are two campsites and one lodge (built in the 1920’s, where you actually sleep in cabins). You can forget Starbucks. The only place to get coffee in the morning is the Saloon, where they still pour it from a pot.
The North Rim is the opposite of the South Rim in almost every way. It has MUCH smaller crowds, and it is located in pine tree forest. It is cool in the summer and closed in the winter. It is over a 1,000 ft higher (almost 2,000 at Point Imperial) than the South Rim, and the mood is slow and relaxing.
The National Parks Services describes the North Rim of the Grand Canyon as “A worthwhile trip for those who enjoy the road less traveled. “The North Rim, or "other side," of Grand Canyon, is “visited by only 10% of all Grand Canyon visitors”. Music to my ears…
Trail Difficulty - MODERATE
I would rate the difficulty of this trail as a 2 on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being most difficult). The hike from the North Rim Visitor center / parking area to the end of Bright Angel Point is an easy 1/4 mile on a paved walkway. The hike has some undulations, but for the most part it is a modest hike.
Download KMZ Trail File
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GPS Coordinates & Elevation
8,227 Ft. Elevation
Google Maps Birds-Eye-View
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The nearest community to the North Rim is Jacobs Lake (43 miles) and the nearest towns are Kanab, UT (80 miles) and Page, AZ (125 miles) . Regardless of which way you come - from the west on US 89A or from the east on US 89A you will go through the little community of Jacobs Lake. Jacobs Lake has a gas station and small grocery store. I would strongly suggest you fill up your vehicle there.
From Page, AZ
Travel on US 89 south for 23 miles until you reach the community of Bitter Springs. Take a right and travel on US 89A for 55 miles until you reach the community of Jacobs Lake. Again, I would fill up your vehicle there. From Jacobs Lake, travel on AZ-67S for 43 miles until you reach the The Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim & parking area.
From Kanab, UT
Travel south on US 89A for 7 miles until you pass through the small community of Fredonia, AZ. Continue southeast on US 89A for 37 miles until you reach the community of Jacobs Lake. Again, I would fill up your vehicle there. From Jacobs Lake travel, on AZ-67S for 43 miles until you reach the The Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim & parking area.
Once you reach the North Rim Visitor center / parking area, walk along the east rim of the canyon past the cabins until you see a walkway with a sign pointing toward Bright Angel Point. The above image was taken at the very end of the walkway (Bright Angel Point overlook).
Best Time of Day to Shoot
The viewpoint overlooking the Bright Angel Point is great to photograph at late afternoon, evening, sunset/twilight, sunrise or on a day with dramatic weather. In the summer months, the sun sets to the right and produces long dark shadows toward the end of the day. Sunrise will come from the left and will paint the back (south) walls of the canyon with wonderful magenta and red colors.
For me, I prefer the late afternoon / sunset best. I have shot, and seen other images of the location at sunrise, but enjoyed the shadows, hues and colors at the end of the day best. The images below were from the same spot at both sunset and sunrise.
Best Time of Year to Shoot
Bright Angel Point is great to shoot any time it is open (the North Rim is only open to the public from May 15th to October 31st). This location is great to shoot in any weather condition (sunny, overcast or stormy).
If you want to include dramatic weather, these opportunities are best during the monsoon (mid July to mid Sept) season. Monsoon season can bring violent but brief thunderstorms, which can be great for photography.
What Lens(es) Do You Need
The compositions at and around Bright Angel Point are endless. The obvious shot would be a grand vista using a moderate to wide angle lens (16-35mm). However, I have seen several great shots with a medium to telephoto lens. The image above was made by stitching together 3 shots vertically with a 24mm lens and panoramic tools.
Bright Angel Point is on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park. As of the writing of the summary (May 2019) the entry fee was $35 per vehicle. Once in the park there are no other permits required.
Direction of the Shot
There are many composition at Bright Angel Point, but most will be shooting south around 180°.
Special Nuances of Shot
The most difficult part about photographing from Bright Angel Point is finding a place to capture the unreal view you are looking at. Like other places in the Grand Canyon, sometimes the grandeur of the canyon can be overwhelming and difficult to find a single location to capture the essence of the location.
I would suggest arriving early and try to visualize the canyon under different light and pick the composition that is right for you.
Special Equipment Needed
Other than a tripod, no special photography equipment is needed unless you plan on taking a panoramic shot. You may consider using a polarizing filter to help reduce the glare and dust that usually hangs over the canyon.
Number of Other Photographers to Expect
As mentioned, the North Rim is fairly remote which limits the crowds compared to the South Rim. However, many of the tourist at the North Rim will walk along the path from the Lodge to Bright Angel Point. The path has many places (rocks, benches and tucked away spots) to sit and watch and photograph the sunset / sunrise.
A large majority of the visitors/tourist are just there to experience the moment. With that being said, the end of the path at Bright Angel Point is small and narrow and only has room for a few tripods. I would suggest walking the 1/4 mile path from the lodge an hour or so before sunset to find you composition.
The North Rim is at 8,000 ft (almost 9.000 ft at Point Imperial) which means the temperatures are much cooler than the surrounding dessert. In the evenings, the temperatures will be mild to cool and the days are usually pleasant.
I have Verizon and the cell service is spotty and weak. Sometimes you can get a signal walking out by Bright Angel Point.
As mentioned, the North Rim is much more remote than the South Rim and is over 40 miles to Jacobs Lake (very small community) and 80 miles to the nearest town (Kanab, UT). With this in mind, the lodging is limited with only 3 hotels in the area.
Regardless of where you stay, you must visit The Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim which includes western and pioneer cabins adjacent to the lodge. This grand old lodge, designed for the national parks service by Gilbert Stanley Underwood, was built in 1928. Make sure you go out on the veranda for sunset and refreshments and enjoy the gathering around the 8 ft fireplace. It is a great place to relax and enjoy the great outdoors.
There are two campsites near the North Rim: 1) North Rim and 2) DeMotte campgrounds. There is third campsite near Jacobs Lake (45 miles north).
The North Rim Campground is only about 1 1/2 miles from the North Rim visitors center and is open from May 15th to October 31st. This nice little campground includes 25 spots, showers and a laundry mat. This campsite is in high demand and is only available with a reservation. You can reserve using this link Recreation.gov - I would strongly suggest reserving 3-6 months in advance.
The DeMotte Campground is located about 18 miles north of the North Rim. This campsite has 38 campsites with tables and cooking grills and can accommodate tents, trailers and small motor homes. However, no utility hookups are available. Half of the sites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, and the other half are available with reservations. You can contact DeMotte Campground through the North Kaibab Ranger District at (928) 643-7395.
Nearby camping and lodging
Camping - click on the campground below for directions
Lodging - click on the lodging below for a TripAdvisor review
Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim
Grand Canyon National Park North Rim, Arizona
There are only a few restaurants near the North Rim: The grand dining room & deli sandwich shop at The Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim, a dining hall at the Kaibab Lodge North Rim and the deli / restaurant at the Jacob Lake Inn.
Main Lodge Dining Room @ The Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim
As far as I know the only laundry mat is at the North Rim Campgrounds.
Other Photography Opportunities Around
One of the downsides to the North Rim is it is hard to get to. The closest major airports to the Grand Canyon are Phoenix Sky Harbor (360 miles) and McCarran airport in Las Vegas (275 miles). Both are major airports and service all of the major airlines. There are regional airports in Flagstaff and Prescott, AZ.
Area Guides and Workshops
The Photographer's Ephemeris is a very valuable tool for landscape photographers to determine the direction of the sunrise/sunset & moonrise/moonset from any place on earth on any day (past and future). Click here to take you to The Photographer's Ephemeris for this location.