Flanking two sides of Grand Canyon National Park is Kaibab National Forest. Despite being located next to one of our most visited national parks, Kaibab is grossly undervalued (like all our national forest lands).
It offers the best of Northern Arizona – spectacular sightseeing in all four seasons, free camping, historic sites, ample hiking and mountain biking trails, as well as fishing and boating opportunities.
The forest is split up into three ranger districts: North Kaibab District (north of the Grand Canyon’s North Rim), Tusayan District and Williams District (both south of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, surrounding the town of Tusayan and city of Williams, respectively).
Located in the North Kaibab District, the Kaibab Plateau, with elevations up to 9,000 feet, is described as “an island of forested lands surrounded by the sage, grasslands and canyons of lower elevations.”
The forest has a variety of trees – among them pinyon-juniper, ponderosa pine, fir, spruce and aspen. In winter, the dirt roads that cut through them are great for cross-country skiing.
To get from the North Kaibab to the South Kaibab districts of Tusayan and Williams, visitors can take the scenic drive along U.S. 89. The forest reaches far – from one end to the other taking 4-5 hours via car (about 250 miles or so). As the crow flies – or as the hiker treks – it’s more like 150 miles. Of course, that requires a tortuous Rim-to-Rim hike through the Grand Canyon.
The diversity of Northern Arizona and the Kaibab National Forest cannot be understated. Elevations range from about 3,000 feet all the way to 10,418 feet atop Kendrick Peak, located in the Kendrick Mountain Wilderness, only 25 miles from Flagstaff.
More information about the forest is available at fs.usda.gov/kaibab.