With the arrival of October, visitors to Grand Canyon National Park’s North Rim will find fall colors now at their peak. This time of year also serves as a reminder that the North Rim season is winding down with closure expected in the coming weeks.
Autumn colors on the Grand Canyon’s North Rim are at their peak. (Photo courtesy of NPS Museum Collection)
North Rim staff has begun preparations to shut down services and facilities, though the park will remain open to visitors on a day-use basis until snowfall closes Highway 67 leading into the park.
The National Park Service’s North Rim Visitor Center will close at 6 p.m. Sunday. Ranger programs will be given this coming Monday and Tuesday as indicated in the park’s publication, "The Guide."
The NPS Backcountry Office will remain open until 5 p.m. on Oct. 31. Until closure that day, the Backcountry Office hours for information and permits will be daily from 8 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m.
Advanced campground reservations for the North Rim Campground will end this coming Tuesday, however, a limited number of campsites with limited services, (portable toilets), will be available on a first-come, first-served basis until snow closes Highway 67.
Hikers and cross-country skiers will be permitted to use the park’s group campsites throughout the winter months if they have obtained a permit through the park’s South Rim Backcountry Office, or by going to the Visitor Center desk at Pipe Springs National Monument.
The South Rim Backcountry Office, open year-round, can be reached by calling 638-7875, weekdays from 1-5 p.m. Permit requests can be faxed year-round to 638-2125. Permits are not considered earlier than the first of the month, four months prior to the proposed start date.
Overnight accommodations through the concessioner, the service station and related visitor services will close before noon on Monday. The last meal served at the rim’s Grand Lodge will be breakfast. The final day for mule rides on the North Rim will be Sunday. The Kaibab Lodge, four miles from the park boundary, will be closed after breakfast on Tuesday and the Country Store, located outside of the park boundary, will remain open until mid-November, and then will be closed until May 15.
The NPS reports that Arizona Department of Transportation officials assured park staff that Highway 67 into the North Rim will remain open to public travel through Nov. 15, but cautioned that after that date, the highway could be closed for the season on short notice due to major storms and heavy snowfall.
After Nov. 15, visitors are encouraged to call in advance of their trip to check on the status of Highway 67.
During daytime visitation, from Oct. 14 until final closure of Highway 67, only emergency services will be provided by the NPS, and visitors are reminded to pay special attention to their gas gauge, since gas will no longer be available in the park. Gas and diesel fuel will be available at the Country Store through mid-November.
Jacob Lake Inn, restaurant and gas station, 44 miles from the park, remains open year-round.
The South Rim and inner-Canyon facilities remain open year-round. For additional trip planning information, write: Trip Planner (or) Backcountry Trip Planner, Grand Canyon National Park, P.O. Box 129, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023, or call the park at 638-7888.