The road from Jacob Lake to the North Rim may be open earlier in spring and later in autumn than the Grand Canyon Lodge, restaurants, gas station, and campground. Depending on weather, it closes in October, November, or December. A sign at Jacob Lake near the turnoff for the North Rim lists the services available. If you're looking for a room in summer, be sure to make reservations as far in advance as possible, as every lodge on the Kaibab Plateau will likely be full! Alternatives are to stay to the west in Fredonia or Kanab, or to the east in the lodges along US 89A or in Page, but these are long commutes. In autumn, you have a better chance of getting in on short notice.
Accommodations and Campgrounds
Grand Canyon Lodge, near Bright Angel Point, offers the only accommodations within the park on the North Rim. Lodging, all non-smoking, comes in four types: Western Cabins (duplexes and quads with full bath, 2 queen beds, gas fireplace, and a porch, $182 d, $192 d w/view), two-bedroom Pioneer Cabins (shower, 1 double and 3 single beds, $162 4 persons, $172 4 persons rim side), Frontier Cabins (duplexes with shower, one double and one single bed, $121 d), and motel rooms (shower and one queen bed, $116 d). Four of the Western Cabins feature views of Bright Angel Canyon. The season runs mid-May to mid-Oct.; advance reservations are highly recommended. Contact reservations at 480/337-1320 or 877/386-4383 (advance res.), 928/638-2611 (same-day and restaurant res.). www.grandcanyonlodgenorth.com.
North Rim Campground (1.5 miles north and west of Grand Canyon Lodge, 800/365-2267, http://www.recreation.gov/, mid-May-mid-Oct., $18-25) lies in ponderosa pines and aspen at an elevation of 8,320 feet. There's drinking water and a dump station, but no hookups; after mid-October it stays open without water or fee. Be sure to make reservations, as the campground fills nearly every day; family and group ($50) sites can be reserved one day to three months ahead. Four rim sites have views at a higher cost. Backpackers and bicyclists can camp at a walk-in area for $6 per person. Coin-operated showers, a laundry, store, and ice are available nearby.
You're welcome to camp on much of the North Rim by obtaining a backcountry permit and following the park rules. It's usually easy to obtain a permit, even on the same day, from the North Rim Backcountry Office, see "Information" below. Car camping is allowed at Point Sublime, Fire Point, and Swamp Point. Other areas, for which you must walk at least one-quarter mile in from the road, include Cape Final and other destinations on the Walhalla Plateau, Thompson Canyon/Point Imperial Trail, and Tiyo Point.
Enormous picture windows let in the Canyon views at the Grand Canyon Lodge's rustic dining room (928/638-2611, daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner mid-May to mid-Oct., $13-23). The dinner menu includes steak, prime rib, pork, chicken, trout, salmon, and pasta, along with a wine list. Reservations will be needed for dinner, and can be made up to 60 days in advance. Both breakfast and lunch are first come, first served. Lunches ($7-11) provide lighter fare and buffet options, or you can order a sack lunch with an hour's notice. Breakfasts have ala carte and a buffet. The cafeteria style Deli in the Pines (daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner) at the lodge offers faster service and slightly lower prices but no atmosphere; you may wish to order take-out and picnic outside. The Coffee Saloon in the lodge serves up coffees and pastries early in the morning, then transforms to the Rough Rider Saloon with more potent beverages the rest of the day; exhibits commemorate Teddy Roosevelt. The Grand Canyon Cookout Experience (June 1st - September 30th, $29.95 adults, $11.95 children 6-15) presents an evening "Chuck Wagon" style dinner with a dinner show.
You'll find the post office (8 a.m.-4 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat.) and a gift shop in Grand Canyon Lodge. Turn in toward the campground for the service station, showers, laundry, and the rustic log general store with camping supplies, groceries, and sandwiches. Water is available in season at the North Kaibab Trailhead, campground entrance, and at the lodge's ice machines; off-season, the only place to get water is at the administration center, a quarter mile north of the campground turnoff. Get online with free wi-fi at the store or lodge.
Leashed animals can stretch their legs on the Bridle Trail between the Grand Canyon Lodge and North Kaibab Trailhead and along the Arizona Trail. They're not allowed in the lodge or on other trails, which is a big problem because there's no kennel on the North Rim. Pets may stay in campgrounds and at Jacob Lake Inn.
The North Rim Visitor Center (928/638-7864, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. daily) near the lodge has an information desk, book sales, and a few exhibits. See your copy of The Guide for times of nature walks, talks, and children's programs. Kids 4-14 can take part in Junior Ranger activities. You can use the park's automated switchboard (928/638-7888) for recorded weather forecasts and visitor information, as well as to reach any office. Online, visit www.nps.gov/grca.
Obtain overnight camping permits and trail information from the Backcountry Information Center (Box 129, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023) on the South Rim or at the North Rim Backcountry Office (8 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m. daily May 15-Oct. 31, weather permitting) in the administrative area a quarter mile north of the campground turnoff.
A Hiker Shuttle goes to the North Kaibab trailhead early in the morning from Grand Canyon Lodge; make advance reservations at the lodge's front desk. Trans-Canyon Shuttle (928/638-2820, mid-May-mid-Oct., $65 one way, $110 roundtrip) offers daily roundtrip van service between the North and South Rims; it departs from Grand Canyon Lodge at 7 a.m. and arrives at Bright Angel Lodge on the South Rim by noon; the return trips leaves the South Rim at 1:30 p.m. and arrives at the North Rim by 6:30 p.m.
Accommodations, Campgrounds, and Services
Kaibab Lodge (928/638-2389, www.kaibablodge.com, mid-May-mid-Oct., $95-150 d) offers a variety of rustic and modern cabins beside a large meadow at an elevation of 8,770 feet. It lies just west of AZ 67, 18.5 miles north of Bright Angel Point and 26 miles south of Jacob Lake. The restaurant serves breakfast and dinner ($6-19) daily and can fix a sack lunch. Be sure to make room reservations, though none are needed for dining. Across the highway, North Rim Country Store sells groceries, bottled water, camping and auto supplies, and gas and diesel from about May 15 to late October. Water is in short supply on most of the Kaibab Plateau! You can fill up your water jugs for free at Jacob Lake Campground or in the park, but nowhere in between.
De Motte Park Campground (just south of Kaibab Lodge, mid-May-mid-Oct., $17) has a beautiful setting in an aspen and mixed conifer forest at an elevation of 8,760 feet; it provides drinking water and interpretive programs but no showers or hookups. Try to arrive before noon for the best chance of getting a space—no reservations are taken.
Jacob Lake Inn (45 miles north of the North Rim at the junction of AZ 67 and US 89A, 928/643-7232, www.jacoblake.com) stays open all year with basic motel rooms ($91 d-$106 four persons), cabins ($72 d-$119 six persons), restaurant (American food daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, $13-17), grocery store (pricey), Native American crafts shop, and a service station. Navajo rugs and paintings decorate the dining area
Jacob Lake Campground (928/643-7770, mid-May-mid-Nov., $17) has sites in the ponderosa pines at an elevation of 7,920 feet with drinking water but no hookups or showers; there's usually room. Sites may be available later in the year, no water or fee. Campers enjoy summer interpretive programs and nearby hiking trails. You can picnic here 10 a.m.-4 p.m. for $3. Head west 0.1 mile on US 89A from AZ 67, then turn right at the sign. Only groups can reserve sites with Recreation Resource Management (928/204-1698, www.camprrm.com).
In the ponderosa pines overlooking tiny Jacob Lake, Kaibab Camper Village (928/643-7804 or 800/525-0924 reservations, May 15-Oct. 15) provides tent spaces and dry RV sites for $12, sites with hookups for $22, and a bunkhouse at $65 d, $75 3 people, $85 4 people. Tent sites are usually available, though RVers should make reservations or arrive by noon. The campground has coin showers (also available to the public) and sells ice, firewood, and a bit of groceries. Head 0.3 mile south on AZ 67 from US 89A, then turn west 0.7 mile.
Allen's Outfitters (435/644-8150 or 435/691-3680) offers trail rides of one and two hours in the forest, half- and full-day trips to overlooks, and pack trips from about mid-May to early September at their stables 0.3 mile south on AZ 67 from US 89A and year-round in Kanab.
Staff at the Forest Service's Kaibab Plateau Visitor Center (Jacob Lake, 928/643-7298, www.fs.fed.us/r3/kai) provide information on the many viewpoints, trails, campgrounds, and historic sites in the Kaibab National Forest along the North Rim. Exhibits include a 3-D model of the Grand Canyon and wildlife displays. You can purchase books and maps. Hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily from about May 15-Oct. 31
Back to the North Rim's Bright Angel Point and Vicinity
On to the Kaibab Plateau and Vicinity