Grand Canyon (North Rim)

Last Updated 4/30/24

The Grand Canyon is probably the most iconic and well-known U.S. national park, but on a website that helps people drive EVs out to the parks, I have to split the park into two pages, and (you can find the page for the South Rim here) Plus, there is going to be a third page for Grand Canyon West, another part of the canyon that’s a tribal park!

Why split it up 2 or 3 ways? Well, the North and South Rims are only about 10 miles apart as the crow flies, but if you’re taking an EV from one rim to the other, it’s a drive of over 200 miles. Because there’s no road or bridge that crosses the canyon, the EV charging and range situation on each side of the canyon is wildly different.

The North Rim is definitely the harder side to reach in an EV, and even harder if you’re towing a camper. But, if you go through the effort, you get rewarded with not only the kind of beautiful views you get on the South Rim, but a much better summer climate that’s generally even comfortable during the hottest weeks of the year. But, the tradeoff is that the North Rim is only open in the summer, usually from May 15 to October 15, as the road to it gets too much snow to keep open.

The North Rim gets snowed in every winter. Photo by T. Hopp, National Park Service (Public Domain).

Away from the main parts of the North Rim, there are several paved side routes to more scenic vistas, as well as numerous dirt routes to amazing views, some of which require four wheel drive and high clearance. The North Rim is also closer to other national parks and monuments in northern Arizona and Utah, making it a good stop along the way on a parks getaway.

The big room at the North Rim Lodge showing canyon views out the three huge windows. Everyone should watch a sunset from this room at least once. Photo by Michael Quinn, NPS (Public Domain).

While there are way too many cool things to do to describe here, I’ll say that the most amazing experience on the North Rim is probably sitting in the big room of the North Rim Lodge and watching the sunset through the three big windows that overlook the canyon. But, if you’re the kind that gets emotional at beautiful sights, put some Kleenex in your pocket!

Perhaps most importantly, the difficulty in getting there (even in an ICE vehicle) means almost no crowds. It’s a much more pleasant place to visit!

Looking at a charging map like Plugshare, especially if you are only looking for fast chargers, can make it look impossible, but with some patience and planning many EV drivers have made their way up to the North Rim without getting stranded.

Getting There In An EV

Quick Facts and Tips:

  • Software trip planning is essential for this trip. You absolutely cannot wing it or rely on the range estimate (aka “guess-o-meter”) your car gives in the dash! Without planning, you’ll likely end up running out of juice in an area with little to no cellular coverage and cold nights.
  • Coming from the north/west:
    • The nearest DC fast charging station to the North Rim is in Kanab, Utah, just over the state line. It’s about 75 miles from the North Rim Lodge and campgrounds, but up some really steep energy-sapping climbs onto the Kaibab Plateau. For example, my Bolt EUV can make it to the North Rim with only 36% of the battery remaining, leaving not enough energy to get back to Kanab.
    • Kanab is a good place to start your trek onto the backroads if you’re coming from the west coast, Nevada, or through Utah. But, if you’re coming from New Mexico, Texas, or the South, you’re adding an extra day or so to your trip to go around to Kanab via Vegas or I-70/I-15.
  • Coming from the south/east:
    • If you need to approach from the South and come in through Flagstaff, it makes sense to start with a full charge there.
    • If you have a non-Tesla vehicle, you’ll need to stop in Moenkopi and/or the Cliff Dwellers Lodge either for a meal or for an overnight stay depending on your range and whether you’re towing.
    • If you’re driving a Tesla, there’s a V2 Supercharger (not NACS-compatible for non-Tesla EVs) that might make it a lot faster to either get to Jacob’s Lake or go through Kanab.
  • Once your EV is on the Kaibab Plateau, there are two good places to make your basecamp for North Rim travels.
    • Jacob Lake has an RV park with one cabin available for rent that allows EV charging if you bring your own charge cord with a NEMA 14-50 plug. Rules can change, so definitely call ahead to verify this before you go! Also, be considerate and don’t pull more than 30-40 amps and risk damaging their equipment, as all it takes is one incident for the park to close its doors to EVs!
    • The Kaibab Lodge (half way down to the North Rim from Jacob Lake) has one J-1772 EV charging station. Cost for its use is expensive at $15/hour, but the price may be cheaper or free for guests, so call ahead to check on this and to verify charger availability before going.
  • There is no charging at the North Rim lodge or campgrounds, and no hookups for RV park guests. There is also no charging along any other roads, such as the one to Cape Royal. Cellular service isn’t available for most of the area. So, be sure to come with enough charge to get back to the Kaibab Lodge or Jacob Lake!

Again, the most important thing you can do is use trip planning software to plan this trip and your side journeys. Because this is a zone of only slow charging, it’s probably a good idea to stay for several days and charge while you sleep, starting with a full battery every morning to do more exploring and a full battery to leave the area on.

Links For Further Park and Nearby Information

Here’s a decent video about the North Rim:

Featured Photo by Michael Quinn, NPS (Public Domain).