Going to the Grand Canyon is easy, you just go there! Of course, there’s a little more to it, but not much more! I overheard a person mention to a friend that they wanted to camp at the Grand Canyon, “…but why is it so confusing?” They had called and spoken to the good folks at the back country office who directed them to a form asking what route they were planning on hiking, the dates of departure, which trails. All good, for someone who wanted to camp IN the Canyon, not AT the Canyon.
That distinction is not easily comprehended for those who have not visited before. Very few people hike down into the canyon (fewer float the river). Most everyone hangs out at the rim. But where at the rim? Often the National Park campgrounds are busy or full. Fortunately, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is an ideal place to go off grid! Lots of choices for those glad to drive some tame gravel roads.
Thing is, there’s a good bit of confusion when one looks online about this stuff. I think part of the gap is because there are three separate types of government land around the Canyon: National Park, National Forest, and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. Of course, there are reservations, but that’s not confusing, that is land of Native Americans! State parks, yes, but mostly, you have:
- Grand Canyon National Park, North Rim – This is where you go to look over the rim at the lodge. The camping is busy and often full. No views from campsites!
- Kaibab National Forest – All National Forest is awesome for off grid camping, but the Kaibab National Forest, North Ranger District is one of my favorites. The gravel roads are well kept and well marked! Anyone can camp almost anywhere in most national forests. There are campgrounds, but they’re often full and somehow folks seem to think their generator is quiet enough to run all night, ugh. Not off grid! You should stop at the Ranger station in Fredonia; I’ve gotten great info (insights!) and met the coolest rangers. If you are first time visitor, they will set you straight on stuff. Main thing: it’s easy, you can drive 20 minutes on gravel and park and camp with a view of the canyon (East Canyon, #611 on the Nat. For. map. There’s a nice latrine half way there.) Lots of choices beyond that!
- BLM land (the Parashant, proper name, Parashant-Grand Canyon Nat. Mon.) – This is BLM land! You can go out on BLM land and shoot your gun and fly experimental airplanes, but you might just stick to camping. I’ll go on about BLM land elsewhere, because, for new visitors the Parashant might be too far afield. A 60 mile drive down a real dirt road and you can peer over a 3000′ drop-off. Probably too far for a non-SUV/pickup. It’s a good time to mention, ALWAYS HAVE A GALLON PER PERSON IN YOUR CAR. I usually have AT LEAST 3 gallons!
So that’s it. You drive to Fredonia from Interstate 15/St. George. Then to Jacob Lake (gas and cookies!), you’re already in the Kaibab National Forest, you’ve already passed places you can camp (good for late arrivals).