Skiing the Grand Canyon's North Rim

Week of December 19-25, 1996
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Skiing the Grand Canyon's North Rim
Skiing the Grand Canyon's North Rim
Question: I want to take up cross-country skiing and am thinking about going to the Kaibab Lodge just outside the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Do you know anything about this location?

Ardner Cheshire
Tucson, AZ
dches@azstarnet.com

In winter the rugged North Rim is an
ideal setting for cross-country skiing


Adventure Adviser: At 9,000 feet above sea level and about a mile above the Colorado River, the North Rim is definitely the area's primo spot for cross-country skiing--thanks largely to an average winter snowpack of about 100 inches. Considering that the only way in to the lodge in winter is via a 15-passenger van on tracks steered by skis (all roads are closed), it's no big mystery why the North Rim--compared to the tourist-infested South Rim--is pretty much deserted. The Kaibab Lodge maxes out in winter at a manageable 42 guests; spread those 42 out over 46 miles of groomed trails and 10 miles of backcountry and you'll feel like you have the place to yourself--and that's not even counting the surrounding 1.6 million-acre Kaibab National Forest.

Sign up for the lodge's renowned nordic instructionals--included with room rate, equipment, guided ski tours, three meals daily, and ground transportation--or skip the formalities and hit the benign North De Motte Park Loop, which circles through flat meadows. Once you've mastered that, upgrade to the slightly more challenging Dog Canyon Trail, a four-mile trek through aspens and pines and up a short climb to the East Rim Viewpoint.

Accommodations at the lodge range from 24 double rooms to eight-person, bunk-equipped yurts. For all the Kaibab's remoteness, the food isn't your run-of-the-mill backwoods fare; expect heaping portions of fresh seafood, steaks, salads, and luscious deserts. Three-day packages start at $350 per person; call 602-526-0924 for reservations and more details. Jacob Lake is at the junction of US 89A and Arizona 67. Vans depart for the 26-mile, hour-and-a-half trip into the Nordic Center at 7:30 a.m. from the Jacob Lake Lodge.

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