Grand Canyon North Rim view on a cloudy day

Grand Canyon North Rim view on a cloudy day

7 Must-Visit Stops From Flagstaff to Grand Canyon North Rim


Flagstaff, Arizona is the perfect base camp for a visit to the Grand Canyon's North Rim. Almost six million people visit the Grand Canyon each year. However, only half that number will visit both the South Rim and the North Rim. We at Shaka Guide strongly suggest you visit the North Rim. You might want to fly into Flagstaff, Arizona's Flagstaff-Pulliam Airport, and then head north on Highway 89.

How far is Flagstaff from Grand Canyon North Rim?

The 207-mile drive from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon North Rim will take you at least 3.5 hours to complete. Key stops include monuments, ruins, and many more! You'll drive through some breathtaking Arizona landscape. Below are eight great stops that you can take on the way!

Where to stop between Flagstaff and Grand Canyon North Rim?

1. Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

6082 Forest Service Rd 545, Flagstaff, AZ 86004

sunset crater volcano signPhoto by Shaka Guide tour writer Jess Conaway

In 1085, a volcano erupted in Flagstaff, Arizona. Yep, you read that right! A volcano! If it surprised you, imagine how the Ancient Puebloan tribes must have felt when lava shot into the air and spread for miles.

Today, the semi-vegetated crater of ash left behind by that volcano has become the Sunset Crater National Monument. You can spend an hour or two here. You'll be able to hike maintained trails through the crater and gaze at the beautiful views.

2. Wukoki Pueblo Ruins

Wukoki Pueblo Rd, Flagstaff, AZ 86004

stone ruinsPhoto by Shaka Guide tour writer Jess Conaway

There is a 34-mile scenic drive that goes past the Sunset Crater National Monument. It also winds through the Wupatki National Monument before looping back to Highway 89. The Wukoki Pueblo Ruins are along this route. You’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t stop and explore a bit.

Follow a short, paved trail to an over 900-year-old ancestral Puebloan home with a three-story tower and rooms you can actually enter! Plus, this site is less-visited than some of the bigger attractions in the area. So, there’s a possibility that you’ll have the place all to yourself!

RELATED: Grand Canyon North Rim Itinerary

3. Wupatki National Monument

25137 N. Sunset Crater-Wupatki Loop Rd. Flagstaff, AZ 86004

stone ruinsPhoto by Shaka Guide tour writer Jess Conaway

This is another fascinating ancient Puebloan site, but it’s much bigger than the Wukoki Pueblo Ruins. This preserved historical site is complete with over:

  • 100 rooms
  • a ceremonial kiva (arena)
  • ball court
  • scenic views of the Painted Desert

Stroll through the ruins while listening to a ranger-led talk. You can also visit the interactive exhibits at the gift shop, and enjoy being literally surrounded by history!

download shaka guide

4. Little Colorado River Gorge Overlooks

 Sunset Drive, Cameron, AZ between mileposts 285 and 286 

The Little Colorado River Gorge Overlooks are hidden gems among the Grand Canyon's larger, more popular, and more crowded views. It is located in the part of the Little Colorado River that meets Colorado. This pair of overlooks gives you a rare, up-close-and-personal look at the Canyon walls.

It’s a great place to reflect on the amazing feat of nature which is the Grand Canyon. And, these overlooks are managed by the Navajo Nation Department of Parks and Recreation. You’ll be able to find stalls of handmade Navajo crafts, art, and food, too!

RELATED: Know Before You Go: Grand Canyon North Rim

5. Desert View Watchtower

Desert View Drive, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023

stone towerPhoto by Shaka Guide tour writer Jess Conaway

Famed architect Mary Colter designed the Desert View Watchtower in the early days of Grand Canyon National Park. Today, it stands as a testament to her creativity and ingenuity. The Watchtower itself is one of the highest points at the Grand Canyon and offers sweeping views of almost the entire South Rim.

You can also find a gift shop, grocery store, coffee bar, and ice cream parlor here, too! The Desert View Watchtower complex is within the borders of the Grand Canyon South Rim. So if you’re stopping here on your way to the North Rim, you’ll pay your park fee here instead of at the North Rim’s gate. 

RELATED: The Ultimate Grand Canyon South Rim Travel Guide

6. Navajo Bridge Interpretive Center

US Hwy 89A, Marble Canyon, AZ 86036

riverPhoto by Shaka Guide tour writer Jess Conaway

Constructed in 1927, the Navajo Bridge provided easier travel and trade access from Utah to Arizona across the Colorado River. These days it's a historic landmark that you can walk across and marvel at the river below. This is an excellent place to see rafters floating down the river, and it’s a great bird-watching spot!

Keep your eyes peeled for the elusive California Condors that occasionally take a rest underneath the bridge’s trusses. There’s also a small gift shop here. So be sure to check out some souvenirs and handmade trinkets from local artisans!

RELATED: The Hoax of 1909: Egyptian Artifacts in the Grand Canyon

7. Cliff Dweller’s Stone House

Highway 89-A, Marble Canyon, AZ 86036

stone housePhoto courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

In 1927, Broadway dancer Betsy Russell and her husband Bill were taking a road trip through the Vermillion Cliffs. They hoped to get some good, ole’ desert air and a glimpse of the Grand Canyon. Everything was great until their car broke down on the side of Highway 89-A. In those days, AAA didn’t exist, and no other cars passed by for days.

The Russells built themselves a makeshift shelter under a strangely balanced boulder. Turns out, Betsy and Bill loved living here. What was supposed to be temporary became a permanent home for the Russells, and today, it’s a popular tourist spot. Come spend a half hour or so exploring the original shelter, the inn, and the restaurant that it has become today.

The road from Flagstaff to Grand Canyon’s North Rim is chock-full of unusual geography, unique attractions, and historical hot spots. Be sure to enjoy your time and explore all it has to offer! Oh, and please; let Shaka Guide come along for the ride!

download shaka guide

Like this article? Share it on Pinterest
flagg staff tp gran canyon pin

Visiting the Grand Canyon's North Rim? Check out Shaka Guide’s Grand Canyon North Rim Tour! Or, if you have plans to visit both the South and North Rim download our Grand Canyon Bundle!


Zion to Grand Canyon North Rim - What You Need To Know

Las Vegas to Grand Canyon: The Must-Stop Gems Along the Way

North vs South Rim: Everything You Need to Know

shaka guide app qr code

Download The Shaka Guide App

Get The
Shaka Guide App