K is for Kaibab

Kaibab is a Paiute word meaning “mountains lying down.” The Kaibab-Paiute people are one of ten member tribes of the Southern Paiute Nation. The Kaibab-Paiute Reservation is on the Arizona/Utah border and covers over 120,000 acres of plateau and desert grassland along Kanab Creek in northern Arizona.

According to the Forest Service, there are six National Forests in Arizona. The most northern of these is the Kaibab National Forest.  It is divided into separate regions and varies in terrain from mountain lakes and deep canyons to high plateaus and prairies. 

Deep Canyons


South of Kayenta


Kaibab also refers to the Kaibab Plateau, which is part of the larger Colorado Plateau. The Colorado Plateau  is a unique region of Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico that is geographically uniform and defined by flat-lying sedimentary rocks surrounded by rocks that have been folded and deformed. The Kaibab Plateau is bordered on the south by the Grand Canyon.

The Grand Canyon is separated into North and South Rims by a 277 mile long canyon a mile deep.  You cannot access both parts of the Park from a single entrance.  Most visitors go to the South Rim entrance, which is open all year. There is airport and rail service and is a 90 minute drive from Flagstaff and Williams.  The North Rim is more remote and has a short season from May 15th through October 15.  The North Rim is 30 miles south of Jacob Lake on highway 67,  and the visitor center is an additional 14 miles south of the entrance station.  There is no airport or rail service to the park at the north rim.

Kaibab squirrels are found only on the north rim of the Grand Canyon.  They are one of two Arizona tassel-eared squirrel species.  Kaibab and Abert Squirrels were one species before the Grand Canyon divided their habitat.  Now the Abert Squirrels live on the south side of the Canyon, and the Kaibab Squirrels only on the north. Kaibab squirrels have white tails, black bellies and brown on their heads and backs, as well as the furry tassels on their ears.

Is this a Kaibab Squirrel? It is a real trick to distinguish between them, but no, this is the southern cousin, the Abert Squirrel.  Here is the (link) Kaibab Squirrel.Abert Squirrel

Within the Grand Canyon there are two Kaibab Trails, North and South.  They are part of the Arizona Trail, which traverses the entirety of the state north to south. It is possible to do day hikes partway into the Grand Canyon on these trails, but to stay overnight requires passes from the back country office. Such passes are in high demand, so plan ahead.

The South Kaibab Trail begins on the south rim.  You take a shuttle bus to access the trail and begin hiking south of Yaki Point at elevation 7260 feet.  This trail is also used by the mules with packs and riders. There are wonderful views along this trail and going down seems easy.  Save your energy for the hike back out, and plan on twice the time to climb up. I have hiked this trail with preteen Girl Scouts who were experienced hikers.  As with all Grand Canyon trails, you must carry plenty of water. On the South Kaibab there is little or no shade.  This is not recommended as a day hike all the way to the Colorado River and back.

The North Kaibab Trail begins on the North Rim and is the least used and most difficult of the maintained park trails. The trail head is almost 1000 feet higher than then South Kaibab Trailhead. The trail descends steeply through aspen and evergreen trees and wildflowers.  It passes through tunnels carved through the rock wall of the canyon.  Side trails lead to Roaring Springs and Ribbon Falls.  There is a campground before the trail enters the inner gorge.  This trail passes through temperature extremes, from cool, even icy Rim to dangerously hot inner gorge.

There you have it.  K is for Kaibab.

Kaibab: Mountain Lying DownKaibab mountain lying down






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