POINT IMPERIAL

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Point Imperial, formerly known as Skidoo Point, is one of the most visited spots on the North Rim, accessible by an eleven mile scenic drive northeast of the main settlement at Bright Angel Point. At just over 8,800 feet in elevation, Point Imperial is the highest point on either rim. It provides the northernmost view of the Grand Canyon from within the park.

Visitors to Point Imperial are able to look eastward toward the junction of the Colorado River and Little Colorado River and, beyond that, to the Painted Desert on the Navajo Reservation. Near this point, the narrow, winding walls of Marble Canyon open dramatically, transforming the Canyon into the gaping chasm with which most people are familiar. Mount Hayden, a sharp pinnacle that rises from the Canyon’s floor named for Arizona’s former U.S. Senator Carl Hayden, is also visible from this point. Visitors can see layers of red and black Precambrian rocks not visible at other North Rim viewpoints.

Point Imperial was a popular spot for early visitors to the North Rim, with several tour guides leading wagon trips and trail rides there. In 1927, the NPS began constructing a new approach road to the rim, which included a 2.9 mile spur off the Cape Royal Road to Point Imperial that followed wagon tracks worn down by earlier visitors to the scenic overlook.

Highslide JS
Point Imperial, the highest spot on either rim, gives visitors a broad vista toward the eastern edge of the park that encompasses Marble Canyon and the Painted Desert.

Credit: NAU Cline Library, Josef Muench Collection, NAU.PH.2003.11.4.2.L269

The road was reconstructed from 1959-1963, but built on top of the original road to avoid further environmental damage. Crews also made improvements to the pullout at the point so that more visitors could park there to admire the view.

A four mile round-trip trail leads hikers from the point through areas burned by the 2000 Outlet Fire and ends at the park’s northern boundary, where it connects with the Nankoweap Trail and U.S. Forest Service roads.


written by Sarah Bohl Gerke


Suggested Reading:

  • Anderson, Michael. Polishing the Jewel: An Administrative History of Grand Canyon National Park. Grand Canyon Association, 2000.

  • Krutch, Joseph Wood. Grand Canyon: Today and All Its Yesterdays. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1989.