North Kaibab National Forest
Visit and Hike the North Kaibab Ranger District
By David Hercher
The North Kaibab Ranger District is a 655,000-acre sanctuary for all to cherish. Looking south from most vantage points in Kane County, it sits quietly on the horizon.
It is one of the three ranger districts that make up the 1.6-million acre Kaibab National Forest, which is bisected by the wonderment that is the Grand Canyon.
The word “Kaibab” is a Paiute word that means “mountain lying down,” but this plateau offers visitors many reasons to get up and go!
With sweeping panoramas as far as the eye can see, the North Kaibab is an island of forested lands surrounded by the sage, grasslands, and canyons of lower elevations. And what it offers are countless layers of recreational and sightseeing opportunities, which are a must-see, “bucket list” experience for anyone visiting the area.
Before embarking on a personal exploration of the district, guests are encouraged to visit the North Kaibab Ranger District Office in Fredonia, located just a seven-mile drive from Kanab. The office is open year-round Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and it is an ideal place to absorb knowledge of the area.
The North Kaibab has a unique “niche” of bountiful sanctuaries, isolated vistas, nature-inspired solitude and quality habitat necessary for wildlife observation, hunting, hiking and other dispersed recreational activities.
The district has nearly 1,200 miles of maintained and non-maintained trails, including sections of the Arizona National Scenic Trail, Great Western Trail, and the Rainbow Rim.
Each year, recreationists visit to run, hike, pedal, camp and ride horseback across the Kaibab’s aesthetic appeal.
There are two established campgrounds on the forest. Jacob Lake Campground sits at an elevation of 7,925 feet and DeMotte Campground at roughly 8,700 feet. Reservations for both are available through www.recreation.gov
For those seeking a more primitive experience, dispersed camping is also available throughout the district.
If you are looking for a more rustic weekend getaway, the district also has six cabins available to rent at Big Springs and one at Jumpup Canyon as part of the Kaibab National Forest’s cabin rental offerings, which are available as part of the Arizona Cabin Rental “Rooms with a View” program. More information on cabin rentals is available at www.fs.usda.gov/kaibab. Reservations are available through www.recreation.gov
Visitors can also enjoy communing with the wildlife residents, such as the plateau’s Kaibab squirrel, California condor, Northern Goshawk and bison. The arrival of autumn brings with it an abundance of fall color murals, colors that can be seen from nearly any leisurely drive throughout the district. In winter, there is a snowmobile route from Jacob Lake to North Timp Point, as well as multiple cross-country skiing opportunities.
For the recreational vehicle enthusiast, there are also 1,476 miles of roads available to explore. Remember, nature rules! It is the operator’s responsibility to drive only on designated routes outlined in the district’s Motor Vehicle Use Map. This map is available at the North Kaibab Ranger District office or online at tinyurl.com/KaibabTMR. As a reminder, Arizona state law applies to all maintained roads on the forest. For information, visit www.azgfd.com/ohv
Visitors are encouraged to pause and think about safety – there can be many unforeseen challenges that can impact a visit. “Know Before You Go” can help you get the most out of your outdoor experience, visit www.fs.fed.us/visit/know-before-you-go
For guests planning to visit the North Rim, please note: the Arizona Department of Transportation closes Highway 67 at Jacob Lake, usually from Thanksgiving through May 15, due to the likelihood of hazardous snow accumulations.
Visitors can obtain tourism information about the forest from the Kaibab Plateau Visitor Center at Jacob Lake, open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day usually from May 15 to October 31, or by calling (928) 643-7298.
For additional tourism info, visit the Kaibab National Forest at: www.fs.usda.gov/kaibab