Some visitors, after seeing the Bright Angel Point and Cape Royal area, ask what else there is to do. The answer is the rest of the Kaibab Plateau! Lofty viewpoints of the Grand Canyon, hiking trails, and back-road drives can keep you enthralled for days. Most viewpoints and other attractions lie in the Kaibab National Forest. Although nearly all forest roads are unpaved, cautiously driven cars can negotiate many of them in dry weather.
High in the pine forests at an elevation of 7,925 feet, this tiny village offers useful services and a bit of history. The nearby lake, actually just a pond, is named for Mormon missionary and explorer Jacob Hamblin. Jacob Lake Inn, the Kaibab Plateau Visitor Center, and Jacob Lake Campground lie near the AZ 67 turnoff for the Grand Canyon North Rim; see "North of the Park" practicalities above.
The 1910 Jacob Lake Ranger Station, one of the oldest in the Forest Service, overlooks the lake. It's occasionally open, and you can peer into the window at other times to see the no-frills interior of the two-room cabin. From US 89A, head south 0.3 mile on AZ 67, turn right 0.7 mile on Forest Road 461, then turn left 0.2 mile on Forest Road 282
Jacob Lake Lookout offers views of plateaus and mountains in Utah to the north; it's one mile south on AZ 67, between Mileposts 580 and 581, from US 89A. Dry Park Lookout features great views from a 125-foot tower southwest of Jacob Lake. These and other lookouts, all shown on the Kaibab National Forest map, welcome visitors when they're staffed.
Between Jacob Lake and Fredonia, Le Fevre Overlook has a fine panorama of the Grand Staircase to the north; you can see Kanab nestled below the Vermilion Cliffs. The pullout, stone shelter, and restrooms lie on the north side of US 89A between Mileposts 590 and 591.
East Rim Viewpoint
A paved trail leads 300 yards from the parking area to the east edge of the Kaibab Plateau (elev. 8,800 feet), where you can take in expansive vistas across the Marble Canyon area. It's also a great place to enjoy sunrises and sunsets, enhanced by colors reflecting off the distant Vermilion Cliffs and Painted Desert. Camping isn't permitted within one half mile of the viewpoint, but good places for primitive camping lie in the conifer and aspen forests nearby. From AZ 67 in De Motte Park (0.8 mile south of the North Rim Country Store), turn east 4.2 miles on Forest Road 611. Cars and small RVs can easily travel the gravel road in good weather.
Another fine panorama lies farther north at the end of Forest Road 611, 6.9 miles from AZ 67 (keep right at the fork 6.5 miles in; the last 0.4 mile is too rough for cars); walk a few hundred feet beyond road's end for the views. Still farther north, Dog Point also features a fine view; head east 1.3 miles on Forest Road 611 from AZ 67, then turn left (north) 7.2 miles on Forest Road 610 to its end; keep right at the fork 6.4 miles in.
Hikers can follow Arizona Trail #101 along the rim or descend into North Canyon in the Saddle Mountain Wilderness from East Rim Overlook. East Rim Trail #7 descends from a trailhead just north of the overlook, and North Canyon Trail #4 descends from the rim 1.5 miles south. Together, these three trails make a loop of about six miles into the valley below. North Canyon Trail #4 continues down North Canyon to House Rock Valley, a total of seven miles one way.
This overlook, southeast of East Rim Viewpoint, provides another perspective of Saddle Mountain Wilderness, Marble Canyon, Vermilion Cliffs and beyond. From AZ 67 in De Motte Park (0.8 mile south of the North Rim Country Store), turn east 1.3 miles on Forest Road 611, right 6.7 miles on 610, then left 4.6 miles on 219 to its end. No camping is allowed within half a mile of the viewpoint.
Saddle Mountain Trailhead
The drive out Forest Road 610 is worthwhile for the spectacular views of Marble Canyon, Nankoweap, and House Rock Valley areas. From the trailhead (elev. 8,800 feet), Saddle Mountain/Nankoweap Trail #57 drops several hundred feet to some good viewpoints; the trail continues to Saddle Mountain saddle, 2.7 miles one way, a good day-hike destination and the start of the challenging Nankoweap Trail to the Colorado River. From the saddle, Trail #57 continues north three miles down to Road 8910 in House Rock Valley (elev. 6,800 feet).
From the AZ 67 turnoff in De Motte Park, 0.8 mile south of the North Rim Country Store, head east 1.3 miles on 611, then turn right 12 miles on 610 to the trailhead. Cautiously driven cars should be able to do this in dry weather. Point Imperial Trail begins on the right 0.2 mile before Saddle Mountain Trailhead; it follows a former fire road two miles one way through the forest to Point Imperial. The national park border is just south of 611, so do not camp here without a backcountry permit. The Kaibab National Forest has many spots suitable for dispersed camping.
Although not shown on the Kaibab National Forest map, the road continues 1.4 miles past Saddle Mountain Trailhead to another great viewpoint of Marble Canyon, House Rock Valley, and far beyond. Use a high-clearance vehicle or hike in.
Saddle Mountain Wilderness
This 40,610-acre wilderness includes part of the densely forested Kaibab Plateau, along with sheer cliffs and narrow canyons that drop to House Rock Valley. Mountain lions and mule deer roam the area. North Canyon Wash is noted for its pure strain of native Apache trout. Saddle Mountain (elev. 8,424 feet), visible from Point Imperial, stands at the south end of the wilderness. Saddle Mountain/Nankoweap and North Canyon Trails cross the wilderness from the Kaibab Plateau to House Rock Valley.
Despite its name, this land of gently rolling hills of grasslands and pinyon-juniper woodlands is actually a plateau. It lies below cliffs of the Kaibab Plateau to the west and extends to the brink of Marble Canyon on the east. The well-named Vermilion Cliffs form the north boundary. About 100 buffalo roam freely across the 67,000 acres of House Rock Valley and up onto the Kaibab Plateau; you're most likely to see them in summer, least likely during hunting season in autumn. Viewpoints provide intimate views of Marble Canyon.
Adventurous hikers can follow trails from House Rock Valley down to the Colorado River via South Canyon and the Saddle Mountain/Nankoweap Trails. North Canyon Trail #4 connects House Rock Valley with the East Rim Viewpoint area atop the Kaibab Plateau in seven miles one way.
The turnoff for House Rock Valley Road 8910 is between Mileposts 559 and 560 on AZ 89A, 20 miles east of Jacob Lake and 21.5 miles west of Marble Canyon Lodge. Cars can usually travel unpaved Road 8910 in dry weather, but side roads may require a high-clearance vehicle.
Kaibab Plateau-House Rock Valley Scenic Drive
This adventure on Forest Roads 213 and 220 connects the Kaibab Plateau with House Rock Valley. You'll need a high-clearance 4WD vehicle for the steep and winding sections. Turnoff from AZ 67 is just north of Milepost 602, about three miles north of the North Rim Country Store. Forest Road 213 crosses Arizona Trail #101 2.6 miles in. Seven miles in from AZ 67, Forest Road 213 begins the descent on short switchbacks. It skirts the north edge of Saddle Mountain Wilderness before ending after 8.6 miles at the East Side Game Road (Forest Road 220). Turn right 8.5 miles to continue down to House Rock Valley, following Tater Canyon part of the way to a T-junction with Road 8910, 17 miles south of US 89A. Turn left here for US 89A or turn right for Marble Canyon overlooks and Saddle Mountain Trailhead.
Buck Farm Overlook
You can drive right to the edge of Marble Canyon at this overlook (elev. 5,500 feet). Follow Road 8910 south 23.5 miles from US 89A to where it begins a loop; take the left fork east two miles, then turn left three miles on bumpy Forest Road 445H to its end. Buck Farm Canyon and Royal Arches can be seen below to the right. Tatahatso Point lies directly across the river.
Triple Alcoves Overlook
This viewpoint provides a very different panorama. Continue 2.5 miles south on Road 8910 from the 445H junction to the signed trailhead on the left, then hike east a half mile across Saddle Mountain Wilderness to the overlook.
Saddle Mountain Trailhead
At the south end of the Road 8910 loop, three miles past the Triple Alcoves trailhead, Saddle Mountain/Nankoweap Trail #57 climbs three miles to Saddle Mountain saddle, a fine day-hike destination. Here you can turn down the difficult Nankoweap Trail to the Colorado River or continue up Trail #57 another 2.7 miles to the Kaibab Plateau. In winter, when AZ 67 is closed, Road 8910 and this trail offer an alternative way to reach the North Rim.
On to the Western Kaibab Plateau