Point Imperial is a popular photo spot at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and is both an overlook and a trail. The Point Imperial Overlook is an 11-mile drive from the visitor center at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon that will take you 20 t o25 minutes to drive to. The road is paved but narrow and curvy in spots. As you head out from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon visitor center toward Highway 67 you’ll take a right to stay on the road in the park and then take the first left at the only fork in the road you will come to.
When you get to Point Imperial you’ll find a parking area and a short walkway that goes to a point overlooking the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. There is a metal fence at the overlook that enables you to walk right up to the edge of the overlook for awesome views of the Grand Canyon below you. From the Point Imperial overlook you’ll take in some of he best views anywhere at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon as well as some of the most unobstructed views (without trees in the way).
You’ll see a rainbow of colored rocks close up and off in the distance. The rock formations on which the overlook is built are an off-white color. The closest large rock formation you’ll se off in the distance is a red island of sorts with an off-white chunk of rock on top of it. If you’re up for a little (or a relatively long) hike after you’ve taken in the views from the Point Imperial Overlook you can keep your car parked in the same parking lot and go hike the Point Imperial Trail.
The Point Imperial Trail goes through some wooded areas, many of which were heavily burned by the 200 Outlet Fire and still show signs of heavy forest fire damage. For much to the hike the only trees you will see represent new growth from the last 10-12 years so most trees are not more than 15 feet tall though it is clear that the forest is growing back with a vengeance in spots. Other areas ravaged by fire are limited to small growth and grasses. Lots of burned and dead trees still dot the landscape and many lay on the ground.
As you walk along the trail it offers some nice views of the Grand Canyon to your left at times and recedes back into the burnt forest for long stretches of the hike. When the trail does offer up views down into the Grand Canyon the colors are brilliant. The most dominant color of the rock formations seen along the Point Imperial Trail is red but you will see orange, white, pink, and lots of green due to the sparse plant growth down in the canyon.
While the rock formations in the Grand Canyon are certainly not of a badlands consistency there are some rock formations that look somewhat like hoodoos. Rather than the hoodoos you think of when you think of Bryce Canyon National Park they look more like the rock spires you might see a Chiricahua National Monument in southern Arizona. The rock spires you would see in Chiricahua are more impressive than those you see in this section of the Grand Canyon but they are somewhat similar.
Depending on the time of year you may see some wildflowers in bloom along the point Imperial Trail. There generally aren’t any huge clusters of wildflowers but on occasion you will find a few different colors that may all be captured in one photo. On occasion you’ll see some faces in the trees if you keep your eyes and mind open. The occasional butterfly may also be seen fluttering around in the flowers or resting in the grass or a on a log.
Where the trail ends you can connect to the Nankoweap Trail or the U.S. Forest Serve roads and continue hiking if you like. If the 2-mile hike back out you already have ahead of you when you reach this point is enough then you’ll simply turn around and follow the same path back out. While in this area of the park you can head back to the main road trough the park and take a right to go see more overlooks including Vista Encantada, Roosevelt Point, Cape Final and Cape Royal. Cape Final and Cape Royal also offer more scenic but relatively easy hiking trails.