Years ago there was a lodge on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon just outside the national park's boundaries. It would operate through the winter as a cross-country ski resort. Sadly, it's no longer in operation, and its snowcat rides to the North Rim are a thing of the past as well. Which means that after Monday, if you want to gaze into the canyon before next spring you'll have to walk or ski there, as road access is closing down.
Park officials say that on Monday, November 30, the highway leading to the North Rim of the park, Arizona State Route 67, will close for the season. Actually, the road could be closed earlier if heavy snows occur in the area prior to the closure date, according to the Arizona Highway Department.
Most facilities at the North Rim closed back on October 15. However, scenic roadways and overlooks, as well as pay-at-the-pump fuel services, camping, backcountry permitting, and gift and book stores have remained open in order to provide basic services until the road closes for the season.
State Route 67 and all services on the North Rim are expected to re-open for the 2010 season on May 15, 2010. Facilities on the South Rim and in the inner canyon remain open year-round.
For the hardy, the North Rim campground will still be available for winter camping, and is accessible via inner canyon trails from the South Rim or by cross-country skiing and snowshoeing – a 45-mile trip from Jacob Lake. To camp at the North Rim during the winter months, visitors will need a backcountry permit, which can be obtained from the Backcountry Information Center located at the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.
Permit requests can be faxed year-round to (928) 638-2125. Backcountry permits for North Rim winter camping are also available at Pipe Spring National Monument in Fredonia, Arizona, or at the Bureau of Land Management District Office in St. George, Utah; however, you must obtain your permit in person and several days in advance at these locations.
For additional information on winter camping on the North Rim, please call the Backcountry Information Center at (928) 638-7875, between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. MST, weekdays, excluding holidays.
For additional information on visiting Grand Canyon National Park, please call (928) 638-7888 or visit the park’s web site at www.nps.gov/grca where a copies of the park’s newspaper (The Guide) and Trip Planner can be downloaded.