North Rim: Cape Royal Trail to Cape Royal

Given the quality of the views and ease of access of this trail, it’s surprising it doesn’t see more traffic. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a hidden secret of the Grand Canyon, but it’s enough off the beaten path that it doesn’t attract quite the crowds you’ll find elsewhere — especially the South Rim. The trailhead is so scenic that it’s a popular place for folks to get married (permit required).

Angels Window arch
The viewing platform on top of Angels Window.

A short trail with impressive tower viewing

The Cape Royal Trail is a short, easy hike with amazing views. I’ve even hiked it when there’s a little bit of shade and some breeze. There are interpretive signs along the way. The Cape Royal viewpoint has panoramic views across the canyon. You’ll have views of towers with names like Vishnu Temple or Wotans Throne or the Desert View Watchtoweron the South Rim. An interpretive sign explains which tower is which, but it’s all impressive. Regarding the exposure? Don’t worry — while it’s a big drop down from here, there’s plenty of guard railing to protect little ones.

On the return, take the side trail over Angels Window. You won’t be able to tell from the trail, but the viewing platform is built on top of a Kaibab limestone arch. From the platform, you’ll have the best view of a sweeping turn in the Colorado River called the Unkar Delta. If you’re up for more hiking after this trip, Angels Window is visible from the trailhead parking area.

About the author

Liz Thomas

Liz Thomas

Professional hiker and guidebook author

Liz Thomas is thru-hiker and guidebook author best known for breaking the women’s self-supported record on the Appalachian Trail. She’s the author of the National Outdoor Book Award winning Long Trails: Mastering the Art of the Thru-hike, which won the National Outdoor Book Award in 2017. When she’s not backpacking, Liz is a motivational speaker who has presented on Capitol Hill, corporate retreats, national non-profit donor events, and colleges and universities including Yale and MIT. You can find her at www.eathomas.com or @lizthomashiking and Facebook.

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