North Kaibab National Forest
The Kaibab National Forest Offers Plenty of Fun
By Patrick Lair
The Kaibab Plateau can be seen looming on the southern horizon from many vantage points in Kane County. Kaibab is a Paiute word that means “mountain lying down,” but the plateau offers visitors many reasons to get up and go. The North Kaibab Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest administers roughly 640,000 acres of forest that extends from the lower elevation lands of the Arizona Strip to the majestic ponderosa pine forests atop the plateau that reach elevations close to 9,000 feet. From the sweeping vistas of Houserock Valley on its eastern flank to the unique, wind-carved formations of Kanab Creek Wilderness on its western side to its shared border with the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, the plateau offers a wide variety of sightseeing and recreation opportunities. The forest has nearly 1,200 miles of maintained and non-maintained trails, including sections of the Great Western and Arizona Trails. Each year, thousands of visitors come from around the world to hike and ride mountain bikes, horses and recreational vehicles across the Kaibab landscape. The Rainbow Rim Trail offers 18 miles of stunning Grand Canyon scenery, and the East Rim Overlook and Jump Up Point are popular viewpoints as well. Visitors can also enjoy spotting unique wildlife species, such as the Kaibab squirrel, California condor, Northern goshawk, bison from the Houserock Valley herd and others. In the fall, the forest fills up with hunters who come for a renowned Kaibab mule deer population and to try a shot at the buffalo. The arrival of fall colors among abundant stands of aspen throughout the large meadows along Highway 67, from Jacob Lake to the North Rim, also brings many sightseers out for leisurely afternoon drives. Additionally, there are several historic cabins located across the plateau, including the Jacob Lake Ranger Station and the recently renovated Jump Up Cabin, and three fire lookout towers, at which visitors are always welcome. There are two established campgrounds on the forest, although camping is allowed in most places for free throughout the forest. Some popular spots include Mile and a Half Lake and Three Lakes, located among the old-growth ponderosa atop the plateau. In winter, there is also a snowmobile route from Jacob Lake to North Timp Point, as well as multiple cross-country skiing opportunities. Visitors can obtain tourism information about the forest from the Kaibab Plateau Visitors Center at Jacob Lake, which is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day from May 15 to October 31, or by calling (928) 643-7298. The North Kaibab Ranger District office in Fredonia is also open year-round. The office is located at 430 S. Main Street, or call (928) 643-7395. For additional tourism information, visit the Kaibab National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/kaibab. For more information, please contact Public Affairs Specialist Patrick Lair at (928) 643-8172.