Grand Canyon North Rim: Grand Canyon Lodge
The Grand Canyon Lodge is the sole in-park hotel on Grand Canyon National Park’s cooler, quieter and more remote side: the North Rim. Built in 1928 under the auspices of the Union Pacific Railroad, the Grand Canyon Lodge was designed in the popular “Arts and Crafts” style of the day by Gilbert Stanley Underwood, who also designed Yosemite National Park’s Ahwahnee Hotel and the lodges at Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. Sadly, the original lodge burned down in 1932, but was soon rebuilt according to a similar design, harmoniously blending the earthy with the opulent. Though decidedly rustic-looking on the outside, the interior of the lodge’s main building is almost castle-like in appearance, with high ceilings, a dining room reminiscent of a medieval meeting hall, and a crescent-shaped “sun room” with plush lounge chairs, a fireplace and oversized windows which allow guests to enjoy the setting sun in comfort. Those who prefer to experience their Grand Canyon sunset “al fresco” can choose from two flagstone porches with rocking chairs and tables for beverages.
In keeping with the North Rim’s relative isolation and quieter atmosphere, the accommodations at the Grand Canyon Lodge are simple and low-key. The majority of Grand Canyon Lodge guest rooms are cabins, in three classifications: Western cabins, which have two queen beds, a full bath and a front porch; Pioneer Cabins, which are actually two rooms separated by a ¾ bath (shower only), these sleep up to 5 people with three single beds and a double bed and ¾ bath; and Frontier Cabins, which contain one double and one single bed. There are also standard motel rooms with one queen size bed and private bath. All rooms at Grand Canyon lodge have phones, but there are no TV’s in any Grand Canyon Lodge rooms. All accommodations are non-smoking; pets are not permitted.
On-site facilities at the Grand Canyon Lodge are: the Grand Canyon Lodge dining room, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner (reservations not accepted); the Deli in the Pines; the Rough Rider Saloon and Coffee Shop; a convenience store and gift shop. Grand Canyon Mule Rides are available by advance reservation as well as a dinner cookout, featuring live entertainers who have performed in such venues as Nashville and Branson.
The Grand Canyon Lodge at the North Rim is only open from mid-May through mid-October. Its short season, coupled with a relatively small room inventory, means that the Grand Canyon Lodge is typically booked up to a year in advance. For more information and to make reservations at the Grand Canyon Lodge, contact its concessionaire, Forever Living Resorts toll free within the US at 877-386-4383 or 480-337-1320 outside the US. On the web, visit www.grandcanyonlodgenorth.com
Grand Canyon North Rim: Gateway Lodging
If unable to secure reservations at the Grand Canyon Lodge (which is probably going to be the case if you’re booking less than 6 months out), look to the Grand Canyon North Rim gateway communities for your lodging.
Located 5 minutes from the Grand Canyon National Park North Rim entrance sits the Kaibab Lodge. Like the Grand Canyon Lodge, the Kaibab Lodge was built in the late 1920’s, but at that time, it wasn’t a hotel – it was a cattle ranch. Like the Grand Canyon Lodge, accommodations at the Kaibab Lodge are rustic cabin-style rooms. Most rooms have two double beds; some offer varying combinations of doubles, singles and queens. A limited number of smoking and/or pet-friendly rooms are available. There are no TV’s or phones in the rooms themselves, but guests can have access to a payphone and satellite TV in the main lodge.
The on-site dining room is open for breakfast and dinner and serves up hearty Southwestern cuisine, steaks, ribs, seafood, and home-made desserts. There is a gift-shop on-site as well.
The Kaibab Lodge is also open seasonally, from mid-May through mid-October. Reservations at the Kaibab Lodge must be made by phone at 928-638-2389. For more information on the lodge, visit www.kaibablodge.com
Jacob Lake Inn
Also dating back to the 1920’s, the Jacob Lake Inn is located 45 miles North of the Grand Canyon Park entrance. Situated at the junction of Highways 67 and 89, the Jacob Lake Inn is a family-owned facility that is open year-round, offering both cabin and motel-style accommodations nestled in tall, fragrant Ponderosa pines. As for Jacob Lake itself, which was named for LDS leader Jacob Hamblin, it is more of a pond, but it is an easy journey from the lodge for those who wish to see it for themselves. Cabins and motel units at the Jacob Lake Inn vary in size and can sleep anywhere from two to six people. The cabins do not have TV’s, phones or internet service; a limited number of motel units do. A limited number of smoking and/or pet-friendly rooms are also available.
The Jacob Lake Inn has several conveniences on-site, such as a small general store, gas station and curio shop. Perhaps its biggest drawing card though is its world-famous diner and bakery. Serving up home-made, stick-to-your-ribs, good old-fashioned American food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the Jacob Lake Diner is something of a local institution. But even if you’ve already eaten somewhere else, you can still save room for dessert at the Jacob Lake Inn’s bakery and ice cream fountain. Milkshakes made with real ice cream and made-from-scratch confections with names like “cookie in a cloud” make for a well-deserved treat after an exhilarating day of hiking, sightseeing or hunting (yes, you can hunt in this area, but only outside the National Park with proper licensing).
The Jacob Lake Inn is open year-round. Due to the fact that, like the North Rim Lodge, it is fairly small, it is wise to book well in advance. Reservations can be made on-line or by phone at www.jacoblake.com or (928) 643-7232 or (928) 643-7898.
If you can’t find lodging near the North Rim, and were planning on visiting Zion and/or Bryce Canyon anyway, consider staying at a place that’s right smack-dab in the middle of all that and more: Kanab, Utah.
Taking its name from a variation on a Paiute Indian word, “kanaw,” meaning “place of the willows,” Kanab’s Anglo-American history is ostensibly linked to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. In the mid-1800’s, Jacob Hamblin made several expeditions to the area to meet with leaders of the indigenous tribes in an effort to establish terms of sharing the land. These efforts did not succeed, but LDS church leaders remained steadfast in their commitment to colonize this part of Southern Utah. In 1870, several Mormon families were dispatched to the area to help establish a town; this time it “took.” Brigham Young himself was said to have drawn up Kanab’s original townsite.
A few years later, Kanab’s scenic beauty, marked by rugged sandstone escarpments and intimate canyons, began attracting people from a totally different walk of life: show biz people. In 1912, author Zane Grey had chosen Kanab as a place in which to “hole up” and write his Western classic, “Riders of the Purple Sage.” In the 1920’s, “Deadwood Coach,” starring cowboy legend Tom Mix, was filmed in Kanab. Many productions would follow in the decades that ensued, with stars like John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Dean Martin, Anne Bancroft, and Maureen O’Hara spending a few nights – and a few dollars – at local establishments. This exciting time in Kanab’s history is featured prominently in one of the town’s early hotels, the Parry Lodge, which dates back to 1931.
Kanab’s heyday as a movie-making mecca drew to a close in the 1970’s. But its pioneer history and old West heritage remain an integral part of its identity, and are celebrated every summer with the “Western Legends Round-Up” the last week in August. Today, its central location among a cluster of scenic attractions known as “The Grand Circle” make it a popular “base camp” for travelers visiting the parks and monuments of Southern Arizona and Southern Utah. Within two hours’ drive of Kanab are Zion National Park, the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park, the Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument, Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and Pipe Springs National Monument – and that’s just to name a few!
There are approximately one dozen hotels and motels in the Kanab area, most of which are reasonably priced, with a few mid-range to upscale properties thrown in. For availability and pricing of hotels in Kanab, Utah - CLICK HERE or call 1-800-916-8530.
St. George, Utah
Another gateway community that provides an excellent choice for your Grand Canyon lodging is St. George, Utah. With a population of approximately 70,000 people, St. George offers everything you would expect to find in a mid-sized city, and a whole lot more!
Nicknamed “Utah’s Dixie” for its relatively mild climate and early attempts at cotton cultivation, St. George was the winter home of Brigham Young and other leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the mid-1800’s. The center of the town, expectedly, is the striking Mormon Temple dating back to 1877. Today, it is readily recognized as the business and cultural center of Southwestern Utah. It has eleven golf courses; many historic sites including Brigham Young and Jacob Hamblin’s original homes, and picturesque Ancestor Square, which has been converted into an innovative retail complex; state parks and archaeological sites; you can even see Broadway-quality productions at the beautiful Tuacahn Amphitheatre.
Like Kanab, St. George is also well-situated as a “base camp” for visiting many of Northern Arizona and Southern Utah’s scenic treasures. Zion National Park and Cedar Breaks National Monument are less than one hour away; within 3 hours’ drive are the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Glen Canyon Lake Powell National Recreation Area, and Bryce Canyon National Park. Mesquite and Las Vegas, Nevada are an easy 1 and 2 hour drive respectively from St. George as well.
There are more than 60 hotels and motels in St. George, ranging from discount chains to upscale spa resorts. For availability and pricing of St. George area hotels - CLICK HERE or call 1-800-916-8530.
Page – Lake Powell
Page-Lake Powell is uniquely situated in that it is virtually equidistant from both the North and South Rims - how great is that? And if your kids want to play in the water, there’s plenty of it, not to mention plenty of fun things to do, and plenty of affordable lodging for your Grand Canyon vacation in the nearby community of Page.
In 1957, erstwhile President Dwight D. Eisenhower pressed a button that set off a dynamite blast, signaling a new era in the development of the American West. Designed and financed by the Bureau of Reclamation, the Glen Canyon Dam would impound the waters of the Colorado River behind it, forming a massive lake that promised to transform barren deserts into fertile farmland, and never-ending sand into bustling cities. Upon completion, the mighty coffer would stand a mere six feet shorter than the Hoover Dam, which required the sweat and strength of thousands of workers. The workers lived on a mesa-top near the construction site, in a hastily assembled “camp” comprised of mostly temporary structures such as trailers, Butler buildings and Quonset huts. The ragtag settlement was named “Camp Page,” in honor of a former commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation.
Fast forward to late 1960’s: the Glen Canyon Dam was finished, and the lake – called Lake Powell – was rapidly rising, and earning a reputation as one of the most scenic man-made waterways in the world. The “camp” on the mesa was no longer a camp. It was now a full-fledged town, and an international tourist destination. Though the young city now had a new identity, it still kept a part of its old name, and was now known as “Page, Arizona.”
One of Page’s early “cottage industries” made use of Army surplus pontoon rafts left over from a government expedition through the Grand Canyon. These would become the mode of transport for thousands of families to enjoy the 15-mile stretch of the Colorado extending from the base of the Glen Canyon Dam to Lees Ferry in what is now one of Arizona’s most popular tours: the Colorado River Float Trip. With no rapids but lots of incredible scenery, this trip makes the Colorado River accessible to almost anyone who wants to experience it.
Another of Page’s “natural assets” are geological oddities known as slot canyons. Resembling a cave without a roof, these narrow, vertical canyons number in the dozens throughout Northern Arizona and Southern Utah. Three of the world’s most famous slot canyons are located within a short drive of Page: Antelope Canyon, Waterholes Canyon and Canyon X. Formed over millions of years by flash floods, winds and blowing sand, these swirling, convoluted formations have an ethereal look and feel which is augmented at mid-day when sunbeams penetrate the ceiling and shine down onto the canyon’s floor. This is seen most dramatically at Upper Antelope Canyon, which can be explored easily on a 4-wheel drive tour offered by four different outfitters in the Page area.
Boat tours on Lake Powell present yet another avenue for exploring the myriad rock formations and canyons present in the area. Perhaps the most famous of Lake Powell’s attributes is best seen in this manner: Rainbow Bridge. First seen by Anglo-Americans in the early 1900’s, Rainbow Bridge is the largest known free-standing stone arch in the entire world, soaring to a height of nearly 300 feet above the ground. In the old days, the journey to the bridge was a “toilsome” trip that took days, sometimes weeks, on foot or horseback. In the 1950’s, jetboat technology reduced the trip to a more manageable three days. Today, the presence of Lake Powell makes it possible to visit Rainbow Bridge on a spectacular boat tour in less than one day. Other boat tours include shorter trips to Navajo Canyon, Antelope Canyon, and the popular Canyon Princess Dinner Cruise.
Perhaps the most effective way to fully grasp the magnitude and complexity of the landscape of Lake Powell and the surrounding area is to fly over it. Scenic air tours are offered from the local Page Municipal Airport varying in length from 30 minutes for a flight over Lake Powell and Rainbow Bridge, to half-day air and ground combination tours to Monument Valley on the Navajo Indian Reservation.
Page/Lake Powell, located 150 miles from the Grand Canyon’s North and South Rims, has since become an integral part of many peoples’ Grand Canyon vacations by virtue of its location in the Hub of the Grand Circle, and abundance of lodging and activities. Page has close to two dozen hotels, most of which are part of major lodging chains, centrally located and affordably priced for most families. For availability and pricing of Page/Lake Powell area hotels - CLICK HERE or call 1-800-916-8530.