Toroweap Overlook: Hiking and Camping Guide

by Mar 14, 2020Grand Canyon, Toroweap Overlook

Thinking about visiting, hiking, and camping at the Toroweap Overlook on the north rim of the Grand Canyon?

Are you planning a trip to the Grand Canyon, Kanab, Utah, Page, Arizona? If you are, consider taking a detour and some time to visit, hike, and explore the incredible Toroweap Overlook. This overlook can be found in a remote section of the Grand Canyon near the North Rim. While the approach can be a white-knuckle-ride and will take some time, the views of the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon are well worth the journey.

Here’s a quick hiking and camping guide on what to expect when visiting the Toroweap Overlook on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon:



What you should know about the Toroweap Overlook:

Toroweap-Overlook-Grand-Canyon-Sunset-Golden-Hour

The Toroweap Overlook is the only viewpoint in the Grand Canyon National Park that offers straight-down views of the Colorado River from the Rim- most times, if you want to see the Colorado River, you’ll have to hike deep beneath the Rim.

When you arrive at the Toroweap Overlook, you will be 3,000 feet above the Colorado River looking straight-down. Standing at the edge, as you look downriver of the Colorado River, you’ll be able to see nearly 300 miles of the river, canyon rock layers, and rim outcroppings and cliffs. If you stare down at the Colorado River long enough, you might even be blessed with seeing a commercial river/guiding expedition gliding across the river’s channels.

The Toroweap Overlook is, in my opinion, the most jaw-dropping viewpoint in Grand Canyon National Park.

In regards to camping, there’s only one campground located at the Toroweap Overlook: the Tuweep Campground that requires backpacking permits to camp. More on that later.

Accessing the Toroweap Overlook is a process- the road out is long and rough. During a recent visit, the one-way drive to the Toroweap Overlook took about 4 hours to cover the 75 miles from Kanab, Utah.

The Toroweap Overlook is the most remote point in the Grand Canyon’s Rim by far.




What we love about the Toroweap Overlook:

There is so much to love about the Toroweap Overlook and that is why it should be on everyone’s list of must-do Grand Canyon Microadventures.

Our favorite things about the Toroweap Overlook include:

  • The breathtaking views of the Colorado River
  • The picturesque sunrise views
  • The stunning geologic and volcanic layers and formations of the canyon walls
  • The peace and quiet due to the lack of crowds

What we don’t love about the Toroweap Overlook:

There are a few things that we don’t love about the Toroweap Overlook, but none of them will ever stop us from returning to this incredible location within the Grand Canyon National Park.

Here are some things to consider that might be deal breakers for visiting the Toroweap Overlook:

  • The long approach on a very rough road
  • Very remote- the closest facilities and cell service can be 75 miles away
  • The constant fear of misfortune that would turn an exciting Microadventure into a total nightmare
  • Lack of forest cover and complete exposure to the elements and weather
  • The possibly that the weather can change in an instant and create a scary situation for camping
  • Somewhat limited established hiking trails

Where is the Toroweap Overlook?

Toroweap-Overlook-Grand-Canyon-Hiking

As the crow flies, the Toroweap Overlook can be found approximately 55 miles to the west of North Rim Headquarters and 75 miles from Kanab, Utah. The road that splits off of AZ-389 sits about 15 miles south of Kanab.

As mentioned prior, this road that takes you to the Toroweap Overlook is extremely rough and requires a 4×4 or high-clearance vehicle with climbing tires to navigate the forest service “road.”

While BLM states that there are three routes to the Toroweap Overlook, the most popular (and best road) is to approach the Toroweap Overlook from the north via AZ-389.

Because of the complexity and horrible conditions of the other two approaches, I’m not even going to mention them here as options. If you’re interested in the other two approaches, feel free to dive into GrandCanyon.com directions.



Kanab, Utah to the Toroweap Overlook:

Distance: 75+ miles

Estimated time needed: 3-4 hours

  1. From downtown Kanab, Utah take US-89A south towards Fredonia
  2. In Fredonia, there will be a fork in the road- take AZ-389
  3. In about 15 miles, you’ll see Mt. Trumbull Road and County Highway 115 on the left- take that left
  4. Continue on this road for just over 60 miles until you hit the Grand Canyon’s rim

 

Page, Arizona to the Toroweap Overlook:

Distance: 150 miles

Estimated Time Needed: 4.5-5.5 hours

  1. From Page, Arizona, take US-89 towards Kanab, Utah
  2. Once you reach Kanab, Utah take US-89A south towards Fredonia
  3. In Fredonia, there will be a fork in the road- take AZ-389
  4. In about 15 miles, you’ll see Mt. Trumbull Road and County Highway 115 on the left- take that left
  5. Continue on this road for just over 60 miles until you hit the Toroweap Overlook on the Grand Canyon’s rim

 

St. George, Utah to the Toroweap Overlook:

Distance: 125 miles

Estimated Time Needed: 4-5 hours

  1. From St. George, Utah, From Page, take I-15 north towards Hurricane, Utah
  2. In Hurricane, Utah take Highway 9 towards Kanab, Utah
  3. Once you reach Kanab, Utah take US-89A south towards Fredonia
  4. In Fredonia, there will be a fork in the road- take AZ-389
  5. In about 15 miles, you’ll see Mt. Trumbull Road and County Highway 115 on the left- take that left
  6. Continue on this road for just over 60 miles until you hit the Toroweap Overlook

 

For directions from Las Vegas, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Durango, etc., find your way to Kanab, Utah and then follow the directions above to the Toroweap Overlook.

Can you camp at the Toroweap Overlook?

Yes you can!

You used to be able to camp anywhere near the overlook, but now, camping is restricted to the Tuweep Campground just north of the overlook and canyon’s rim.

There are nine campsites available and each one has space for as many as six people. There is also one larger campsite and that one can fit up to eleven people. There is a seven-night limit at the Tuweep Campground, so plan your trip accordingly.

 As mentioned before, the Tuweep Campground is the only campground at the Toroweap Overlook.

How do you get camping permits to camp at the Tuweep Campground?

Everyone must obtain a backpacking permit in advance when they plan to camp at the Tuweep Campground. The application can be found online and the use area will need to be labeled as TCG.

Once you have completed the form, it must be mailed or faxed to the address or phone number at the top- not emailed. It is important to obtain your permit well in advance, because no permits are issued at the Tuweep Campground or the Toroweap Overlook- considering there are no established facilities.

The cost for the permit is $10 plus a fee of $8 per group, per night.

 

Things to see and do at the Toroweap Overlook

#1 Take pictures of the Colorado River

You will never see the Colorado River like you do from the Toroweap Overlook, so make sure you get lots of photos when you are there. The rapids are to the west, while the views are the best to the east.

The best time for pictures of the Colorado River from Toroweap Overlook is sunrise and golden hour.

#2 Hike along two different trails

You will have the chance to hike along two different trails when you are at the Toroweap Overlook. The first is the Tuckup Trail and you can hike along it for three miles before you reach Cove Canyon.

The second trail is the Saddle Horse Loop Trail and this trail goes in a loop. You can hike this trail in 45 minutes or less, but it may take you longer if you stop to see the river from different angles.

#3 See Lava Falls from the Toroweap Overlook’s rim

Lava Falls is at the end of the Lava Falls Trail. These falls are more like rapids and they will be the most unique rapids you will ever see.

#4 See the Adams Leaning Wheel Grader

We might be in the 21st century, but you can go back in time when you are at the Toroweap Overlook. Not too far from the overlook is a 1921 Adams Leaning Wheel Grader, which is an antique pull grader. It’s a really interesting relic that seems almost out-of-place against the backdrop of the Grand Canyon and the canyon’s rim.




Things to consider with the Toroweap Overlook:

#1 The Toroweap Overlook is extremely remote

Due to the remoteness of the Toroweap Overlook, you must be completely prepared for anything that comes up during your ride out there and time spent hiking and camping. Again, the Toroweap Overlook is the most remote place on the Rim and if you do have an issue, you’ll have to walk six miles to reach the closest ranger station.

 

#2 There’s only one campground for camping: the Tuweep Campground

The Tuweep Campground is the only campground located at the North Rim’s most remote viewpoint: Toroweap Overlook.

The campground has ten campsites: Nine family campsites that each accommodate two vehicles and six people, and One large group campsite that accommodates four vehicles and eleven people.

The Backcountry Permit requirement applies to all ten campsites and ensures that campers know ahead of time that they have a place to stay or if they need to make alternative arrangements.

 

#3 Day trips to the Toroweap Overlook are really not an option

Because of the drive-time it takes to get to the Toroweap Overlook, camping is a necessity. Planning a round-trip visit in a single day is true madness. A round-trip approach will suck up 8-10 hours of driving plus your time hiking and milling-about at the rim. By taking a day trip, you’re rolling the dice considering any car trouble or medical emergency will result in dealing with the situation at night with reduced visibility.

On a more fluffy note, you’ll also mess the best time to be at the Toroweap Overlook: sunrise and golden hour.




#4 The Toroweap Overlook is (in our opinion) the most beautiful viewpoint of the Grand Canyon

Toroweap-Overlook-Sunrise-Grand-Canyon

Unlike the other corridor trails at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and the North Rim’s overlook and main trails, the Toroweap Overlook offers unrestricted views of the Colorado River. Standing at the edge of the canyon’s rim and looking straight-down 3,000 feet to the canyon floor, it’s really an incredible experience.

 In addition, the photography opportunities at the Toroweap Overlook are the best in the entire Grand Canyon National Park (in our opinion).

How much are camping permits for the Toroweap Overlook?

As of right now when this post was written, camping/backpacking permits to camp at the Tuweep Campground just north of the Toroweap Overlook are $10, plus a fee of $8 per group, per night.

When to visit, hike, and camp at the Toroweap Overlook

Because the approach to the Toroweap Overlook is completely impassable during the winter and early-spring (snow), the best time to visit and camp at the Toroweap Overlook is during the summer and early fall.

Tips to getting permits for the Toroweap Overlook

Like obtaining any coveted permits like “The Wave” or the Subway at Zion National Park, apply for permits early. Don’t think that by applying for permits on Monday you’ll get permits for Saturday and Sunday- it doesn’t work like that.

In addition, make sure you have all of your billing and contact information ready to go in case there’s a surge of people applying for permits the same time you are.



Conclusion

The Toroweap Overlook on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is an incredible experience and viewpoint that overlooks the Colorado River from a 3,000+ cliff on the rim’s edge. The Toroweap Overlook offers the best views of the Grand Canyon without the crowds.

Camping at the nearby Tuweep Campground is a humbling experience considering you’ll be walking distance from the rim itself.

Visiting, camping, and hiking around the Toroweap Overlook is really the best place to fully experience the majesty of the Grand Canyon and is well worth the long and rough journey to it.

Resources for the Toroweap Overlook

Nick The Rambling Man

Nick The Rambling Man

Nick is the owner and regular content writer for Southwest Microadventures. When he's not writing, you can find him rock climbing, peak bagging, mountain biking, backpacking, or drinking strong coffee.

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