The Kaibab National Forest is comprised of 1.5 million acres. It
is split into two section and is located in northern Arizona. It
borders the north and south rims of the Grand Canyon National
Park. There are nine developed campgrounds of which seven meet
our selection criteria.
As the most northern national forest in Arizona, the Kaibab (Pauite for "mountain laying down") National Forest is located both to north and south of the Grand Canyon National Park (NP). However, the Kaibab National Forest has more to offer than a convenient camping location to the Grand Canyon. The Forest also offers visitors hiking, fishing, and auto tours, along with access to wonders the Grand Canyon (NP).
The Kaibab National Forest reaches from Ponderosa pine covered mountains around Williams, Arizona to the Pinon and Juniper plains of Fredonia, Arizona. Although there are few natural bodies of water, there are several man-made lakes near Williams providing water for recreation, irrigation, and drinking water to the area. The largest of these lakes is Dogtown Lake, named for the Prairie Dog dogtown now submerged below the lake's surface. The smallest, Cataract Lake, offers some of the best waterfowl viewing in the Forest. Canoers will enjoy White Horse Lake. And, only Kaibab Lake has a wheelchair friendly fishing pier. Fishing for Rainbow trout and catfish is permitted in each lake and each has an attractive, rustic campground. Kaibab Lake campground, good for recreational vehicle (RV) and motorhome camping enthusiasts, is just off State Route 64, a major route to the Grand Canyon National Park (south rim). The campground is frequently used by people on route to the Park. This campground is also convenient to the attractions of Williams.
Some regard the Kaibab's campgrounds as simply overflow facilities for the Grand Canyon NP but the campgrounds have a great deal more to offer. Ten-X campground, offering outstanding camp sites for all campers, is located five-miles from the Park's southern entrance, offers spacious sites among Ponderosa pine and gamble oaks. Most sites offer privacy and seclusion and there are some large pull throughs for the biggest rigs. In addition, Ten-X offers interpretive programs, an occasional visit from an elk, frequent glimpses of the Kaibab squirrel, and lots of elbow room.
To reach the northern section of the Kaibab National Forest requires a drive through the Painted Desert and Marble Canyon. For those who think deserts are dry, dull places this drive will be an eye-opening experience. A rainbow of colors can be seen along the route, changing as daylight progresses into night. This route crosses the Colorado River at Lee Ferry, one of only three bridges that span this river. Watch for the "Chinese hat" formations, colorful Vermillion Cliffs, the rock houses of Rock House Valley, and stop at Valley View on State Route 89A for a breathtaking view.
Northern Kaibab National Forest is an island surrounded by lower elevation plains. A thousand foot greater elevation provides the Kaibab with a thick mixed conifer forest dotted with huge alpine meadows. With much fewer visitors exploring this area, wildlife abounds. Here, mule deer, elk, pronghorn antelope and black bear are often seen.
Running down through the Forest are the 44-mile Kaibab Plateau Scenic Drive (State Route 67) and the hiker's dream, Arizona Trail. Stretching the entire length of the Forest, the Arizona Trail crosses the Kaibab Plateau and provides access to amazing views of the Grand Canyon, Marble Canyon, Vermillion Cliffs, Rock House Valley and much more. Dispersed camping is permitted along the Trail but such camping locations are not developed and therefore, aren't included in the campground review. The Kaibab Plateau Scenic Drive, designed for pleasure driving, stretches along the edge of the Forest and its alpine meadows. The lush green, rolling hills of the meadows might make the golfer look for their clubs.
Located at the edge of one rolling green meadows is De Motte Park campground. The campground, nestled back in the woods, is a convenient campsite for those who want to enjoy the many trails that crisscross the Forest and Saddle Wilderness. For visitors who prefer a less strenuous activity, the meadow's edge offers wildlife viewing and birdwatching. This campground, only 5.5 miles from the Grand Canyon National Park North Rim Entrance, does fill-up by evening every day. No reservations are accepted.
For biking and hiking Rainbow Rim Trail, convenient to De Motte Park campground, offers fantastic, though rarely seen, views of the Grand Canyon. This trail was designed to challenge hikers and mountain bikers as it winds its way along the Kaibab's side of the Canyon's north rim through old-growth Ponderosa pines and out to vista points. A total of 18-miles, this trail links five separate "points" of the rim. The Rainbow Rim Trail can also be accessed from the parking lot of these points. Maps and trail conditions are available at the Visitor Center in Jacob Lake. (Note: Remember you are up around the 8500-foot elevation and the days are very warm. Take it slow, bring LOTS of water and enjoy.)
The north Kaibab National Forest is located on top of a limestone formation appropriately named the Kaibab Plateau. Over the course of hundreds and hundreds of years, the Plateau has developed various size depressions. One pond-size depression is Jacob Lake. Across from Jacob Lake is the old Ranger's Station. Built in 1910, this simple structure was the home and headquarters for the area's Forest Ranger. A couple miles north of the Lake is a campground by the same name. Each night, during the summer months, visitors from Jacob Lake campground come to the lake to see deer wander in for a drink and enjoy an bedtime snack of tender grass. Jacob Lake campground, well-suited to RV and motorhome camping, has nice, large sites tucked in among Ponderosa pine, is becoming a popular place from which to visit the Grand Canyon.
Whether visitors come to the Kaibab National Forest for quiet and solitude, the challenge of a trail, to see and admire the robust and diverse wildlife, or visit the Grand Canyon, they find much to enjoy. Come and discover all the Kaibab National Forest can give you.
800 South Sixth St.
Williams, Arizona 86046
RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESSES
430 S. Main St.
Fredonia, Arizona 86022
176 Lincoln Log Loop
PO Box 3088
Grand Canyon, AZ 86023
742 South Clover Rd.
Williams, Arizona 86046