There’s something utterly magical about the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and Cape Royal is no exception. Towering views and eye-popping landscapes sprawl out around you. As one of the top attractions at the North Rim, you’ll certainly want to plan some time exploring the Cape Royal Trail, Angel’s Window, and around.
I’m on a mission to explore the lesser-known corners of the Grand Canyon. As such, I’ve been to Cape Royal at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon numerous times. If you’re looking for expert advice about how to visit Cape Royal like a seasoned pro and not a tourist, then you’re in the right place.
About this Guide to Cape Royal in the Grand Canyon
Inside this expert guide to Cape Royal in the Grand Canyon you’ll find:
- Practical info about visiting Cape Royal, including a map of the area
- Hot tips for driving the Cape Royal Road
- What to expect along the Cape Royal Trail
- Where to find the best views of Angel’s Window
- Nearby attractions
Where is Cape Royal?
Cape Royal is a stunning rock formation along the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. You can get there by taking Cape Royal Road south from Highway 67 inside the North Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park.
From the parking area it’s about a 1/2 mile walk to the viewpoint, with plenty of options to peep other amazing views along the way. The trail to the overlook is paved, making it easily accessible, but some (not all – don’t worry) of the best photo opportunities are off of the main paved trail.
Best Time to Visit Cape Royal
The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is open from May 15th (weather dependent) through October 15th. After that, the gate closes for the season as the main road is not maintained over winter.
Late spring through early summer and September or October are the best times to visit. Summers can be brutally hot and more crowded. However, there is some shade along the trail if you do opt for a summer visit.
Personally, I love visiting the North Rim in October. The crowds are long gone and if you’re lucky, you may time it to see the stunning changing colors of the aspens. The weather is generally (mostly) pleasant – although I’ve been here in the snow – but it’s certainly not overly hot.
How to Beat the Crowds at Cape Royal
Crowds is a relative term here – the North Rim of the Grand Canyon sees about 10% of the visitors that the South Rim sees. However, as one of the best views of the Grand Canyon, Cape Royal does see its fair share of tour buses and big crowds.
If you really want to beat the crowds, visit during the week on the shoulder season after sunrise. Sunrises here are quiet, but the photography isn’t quite as nice as in other areas like Bright Angel Point and Point Imperial.
Pro Tip: This is a popular sunset spot, but with good reason! Visiting right after sunrise or in the early morning is an excellent option or right before the golden hour in the evening.
Practical Information for Visiting the North Rim of the Grand Canyon
Before you head to Cape Royal, you’ll want to understand a few things about visiting the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. First, there isn’t much in the way of amenities and services along the North Rim. It’s remote and cell phone service is spotty.
You’ll want to come to Cape Royal with a full tank of gas, lodging already booked, and plenty of food. You can stop at a few outposts, but prices are going to reflect the remote area you’re in.
To get to Cape Royal, you’ll need to pay to get into Grand Canyon National Park. Here are a few juicy details:
Price: $30 per vehicle
Season: Mid-May through Mid-October
Red Tape: This isn’t a dog-friendly area – dogs must remain in parking areas. Also, all backcountry overnights and camping in the park require an advance reservation.
Pro Tip: Planning on visiting more than one national park? You may want to purchase the America the Beautiful Annual Pass and save.
Cape Royal Road Attractions That Can’t Be Missed
When you’re visiting Cape Royal, you’ll certainly want to make some stops along the Cape Royal Road. There are several awesome attractions you won’t want to miss. Here are a few of my must-see spots.
How Long is the Cape Royal Road in the Grand Canyon?
The Cape Royal Road is a 23-mile road that features stunning scenery. You’ll travel through aspen groves and pine forests with occasional glimpses of the canyon. There are plenty of pullouts where you can catch views of the Grand Cayon along Cape Royal Road.
At just over 8,800 feet above sea level, Point Imperial is the tallest point in the Grand Canyon. The views here are amazing. In fact, I would highly recommend this spot for sunrise as it’s one of the most beautiful areas for photography in the park.
There is a rugged, primitive trail nearby that skirts along the side of the canyon, eventually meeting up with the famous Nankoweep Trail. However, the trail is pretty tough to follow and has a lot of fallen trees.
An interesting, small pullout, this tiny enclave is worth a quick stop. Roosevelt Point offers some nice views, but it also has some info on the history of the park.
Cape Final Trail
The Cape Final Trail is probably the most underrated area of the Grand Canyon. It’s rarely got people at it and the views are absolutely awesome. If you want a more organic viewpoint of the Grand Canyon, then this 4-mile round-trip easy hike is worth it.
Pro Tip: If you’re good at planning and you enjoy backpacking you can score an amazing rim-side backcountry campsite and have this spot all to yourself.
Yet another sleeper roadside stop, Walhalla Overlook has a really unique history. From here, you can see old native American ruins near the river bottom (binoculars are needed). You’ll also learn about how these incredible societies used the river and would migrate to the rim every year.
Cape Royal Trail
Alright, now for the good stuff – the Cape Royal Trail! This gem is one of the best North Rim hikes. The Cape Royal hike features an easy walk to viewpoints with guardrails that feature the famous Angel’s Window and the Cape Royal rock formation.
The trail is easy to follow and paved. At the end, you’ll have a grand view of Cape Royal. Along the way, there are places where you can leave the paved path and get a closer view of the landscape.
The trail takes a Y-shape – stopping at the super cool Angel’s Window (an archway that you can walk over to see the edge of the canyon. Then you’ll make your way back to the main trail to Cape Royal.
How Long is the Cape Royal Trail?
At just 1 mile long, this trail is an easy jaunt to stunning views. Here are a few other important things to know about hiking the Cape Royal Trail.
Mileage: 1 mile
Elevation gain: 65 feet
Difficulty: very easy
Estimated Time: 30 minutes if you aren’t stopping, but you’ll likely spend at least an hour here, more if you’re interested in wandering around the rim or finding some hidden nooks with views.
Red Tape: No dogs
Angel’s Window is a unique landscape feature in the Grand Canyon along the Cape Royal trail. Along the main trail, you’ll get amazing views of this unique window in the rock.
Continuing along the paved trail, you’ll reach a signed junction where you can actually walk to the edge of Angel’s Window. Don’t worry if you’re squeamish – there’s a guard rail!
Sunset at Cape Royal
One of the most popular places to watch the sunset at the Grand Canyon is Cape Royal. The low sun in the sky lights up the Cape Royal formation. Photography options here are incredible.
However, I’d personally recommend showing up an hour or so early if you’re visiting Cape Royal for sunset. You’ll get to see this beautiful area during the amazing golden hour and be able to stop at many locations for photographs and to drool over the rim of the canyon in awe!
Pro Tip: If you don’t want to stand with the crowds, go ahead and and see the main viewpoint, then wander off the trail to find your own slice of paradise.
There are tons of things to do in the Grand Canyon, but you won’t want to miss some of the nearby highlights:
- Camp at the Toroweap Overlook (3 hours away)
- Catch a sunrise at Bright Angel Point (45 minutes away)
- Have a picnic at Vista Encantada
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