On Labor Day we sadly left our campsite in Hurricane, Utah and drove to Jacob Lake, Arizona. Jacob Lake is a tiny unincorporated community named after Mormon explorer Jacob Hamblin. The town is known as the “Gateway to the Grand Canyon” because the town is at the starting point of Route 67, the only paved road leading to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park. Jacob Lake strangely does not have a lake but it does have an inn and a gas station. The closest post office is over 30 miles away. The only campground anywhere near the North Rim with full hookups is in Jacob Lake which is our reason for camping here.
We had planned on dry camping a few days in the North Rim of the Grand Canyon but their campground was full so we decided to stay at Jacob Lake. We were a little nervous about the campground because it had mixed reviews. But no worries as got settled in the midst of tall pine trees in the Kaibab National Forest and were still able to get satellite TV and good Verizon coverage. Best of all, since our elevation here is over 7,000 feet, the temperature was at least ten degrees cooler than Utah. One night it got down to 39 degrees but it warmed up quickly in the morning with the sun.
Our main reason for stopping in this remote area of Arizona was to visit the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We visited the South Rim back in May. The two Rims are very different. The South Rim gets many more tourists and is much more commercialized with lodges and several campgrounds, a large general store, and several restaurants and gift shops. The North Rim gets 15% of the number of tourists as the South Rim. As the crow flies only ten miles separate the two Rims, however the trip by road is over 200 miles. The South Rim is mainly desert while the North Rim is heavily forested with pine, spruce and fir. The North Rim is 1,200 feet higher in elevation and has a longer winter season with an average of twelve feet of snow per year compared with five feet on the South Rim. There is one lodge called the Grand Canyon Lodge, a very small Visitors Center, one gas station and limited food service.
We drove from our campground to the North Rim and immediately upon entering the park we saw a herd of bison.
We drove the scenic road stopping at various viewpoints along the way, including Point Imperial, the highest point in the park at 8,803 feet.
We especially liked Angels Window at Cape Royal where we walked the short trail that took us over the top of Angels Window to a spectacular viewpoint. We were able to see the Colorado River from this viewpoint. There were several really nice short trails that took us to beautiful views of the canyon.
On the drive home we saw so many deer we soon lost count. Sometimes they were standing right on the side of the road, poised as if waiting to jump in front of us. It made for a somewhat nerve wracking trip home.
One day we did some geocaching in the Jacob Lake area. One geocache was really unusual. It was high in a tree with a string hanging down. When you pulled the string a tape measure unrolled with the container holding the log sheet for us to sign. Some people placing geocaches are really creative, making for really fun finds! I told Bill his sunhat hat looked really dorky so he showed me a couple other ways he could wear it. What do you think?
Bill noticed a squirrel with a long white tail running around the campground. We saw another one at the North Rim. This kind of squirrel is only found in this part of Arizona!
We really enjoyed our time in the Jacob Lake and North Rim area. Our last day at Jacob Lake we had a thunderstorm that included enough hail to coat the car and roads like looked more like snow. The temperature dropped over twenty degrees in less than an hour. Regardless, the weather was delightful at Jacob Lake and a big relief after the Utah heat. Unfortunately we are headed back into hot weather since our next location is at a much lower elevation in Arizona.