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Camping at Grand Canyon

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Camping at Grand Canyon

Old 03-06-09, 09:36 PM
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Megamax
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Camping at Grand Canyon

Hello All,

I'm planning a tour around the Grand Canyon in September, and hearing how the campgrounds fill up I was considering reserving early. My question is, do any of the following campgrounds have hiker biker sites, do they guarantee space, or should I just book a site in advance.

Mt Zion
Jacobs Lake
North Rim
South Rim

I realize September is a bit off season but unless I'm guaranteed a site, I like to book ahead of time. I know many folks like to roll the dice, but I usually reserve when I can.

Thanks in advance.

Mark
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Old 03-07-09, 01:26 AM
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Mt Zion
Jacobs Lake
North Rim
South Rim

No. No. Did not feel like riding in then and back out. No. (Feel the love)


Sept 14 Milford to Zion NP. I was overloaded into a group site that night then placed into a single slot the next.

The "No bike" tunnel exiting Zion is another big bummer.

If you are traveling North to South beware the Monsoon winds of Aug and September. I got mauled. These winds could seriously muck with any reservation schedule.

Check out kitchy Kanab and stay at http://www.hitchnpostrvpark.com/with all the grapes you can eat.
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Old 03-07-09, 07:54 AM
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I have cycled southern Utah and the Grand Canyon a half dozen times.
I never had reservations and never had problems except for Zion NP. (Mt Zion???)

I'm not sure from your rather limited post what you mean exactly.
It's like 200 miles between the North Rim and the South Rim on the highway.
You can hike across the canyon and ship your bike on the shuttle service.
(I've done that four times)
However, you will need to get a bunkhouse bed at Phantom Ranch -
Or a backcountry campsite at Bright Angel Creek.
These are EXTREMELY hard to come by.
Both the North Rim and South Rim have hiker/biker campsites.
The North Rim hiker/biker site is one of the nicest anywhere.

If you a biking from North Rim to South Rim it will take 3 days.
It's 80-plus downhill miles to Marble Canyon - lodge/RV Park.
Another 80 miles to Cameron - historic trading post/RV Park.
Then a big uphill to the South Rim.
US 89 between Marble Canyon and Cameron has lots of traffic -
Plus the shoulder disappears whenever they make a passing lane.
(Which sucks since cars are going even faster to pass)

Zion NP bites.
Not only do they NOT have hiker/biker camping,
But you also have to beg a ride through the tunnel.
(Do bikes make it unsafe for 50 foot RVs or vice versa?)
I have written Zion many times.
They have an $80 zillion natural gas bus system -
But it would be a lot cheaper to get people on bicycles.

Then there's the trek between Zion and the North Rim.
Kanab makes a good first stop.
The campground is funky and loud - there's also a nice hostel.

I have always biked it from Utah to Arizona BUT !!!
There is usually a moderate to strong SSW wind.
From Fredonia to Jacobs Lake and from Marble to Cameron -
Can be brutal - also tough from Jacobs Lake into North Rim.

If you are doing this between St. George and Flagstaff -
You might want to consider the opposite direction.
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Old 03-07-09, 10:18 AM
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We cycled around that area in September and October and never had any trouble finding campsites. We arrived at the Grand Canyon at the end of October and the campground was empty - maybe 20 or 30 campers in a campsite for 800.

Although we did spend a night in the official campsite of the Grand Canyon, we enjoyed our nights in the national forest there even more. As you are riding along the rim, all the land south of the canyon is national forest land and you can camp free. We found a road heading back into the forest and went back in a km or two and then set up camp. EVen though we were the only ones camping there at the time, there were lots of places where people had camped a lot - established campfires and such. It was very peaceful and lovely - and a stone's throw away from the canyon!
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Old 03-07-09, 01:56 PM
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Agreed Zion Bites for bikes. After the bliss of riding the Pacific Coast and feeling the love at the various sites it was such a downer.

The Kanab Hostel is closed :-(.

More Road Opinions:

The decent from Jacobs to Marble Canyon is beautiful though the first 10 miles can be a bit sketchy. RV traffic on a twisty decent) I ate the middle of the road much of the time.

Marble Canyon to Cameron sucks. When three UPS doubles passed me it created the most amazing pull against the brutal headwind.

Cameron to the Desert View. Big Climb with some nice view overlooking the Little Colorado.

Oh and watch out for German Motercycle gangs. Last Summer the Euro was at crazy levels vs the USD and for some reason Germans like wearing leather and rampaging around the SW in noisy two wheelers :-).
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Old 03-07-09, 07:02 PM
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All,

Thanks for the responses. To clarify my route, I was planning on starting in St. George, and going as follows:

Zion
Jacob Lake
North Rim (2 Days)
Marble Canyon lodge
Cameron Trading Post
South Rim
Williams
Prescott

Taking a shuttle from Prescott to Phoenix and flying out from there. I don't care which direction I go so it sounds like I would be better off starting in Prescott and heading North.

Any opinions on just skipping Zion? Is it worth the trouble?

Thanks for the help. I'm hoping the roads are a little quieter in the September, but I could definitely do without the winds.

Mark
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Old 03-07-09, 07:15 PM
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have you considered putting your bike on a transcanyon shuttle and hiking the canyon? seeing the grand canyon from crowded rim vistas is awesome, but walking down to the river and up the other side is a different flavor of awesome. and tourist density drops precipitously as soon as you get away from the trailhead parking lot. just putting another option out there. i think the shuttle was like $50 in 2006.

i don't quite understand what "skipping zion" means. i think the main highway is a really nice ride, even if it has a lot of traffic. the tunnels are a bit of a drag, but the ranger will help you find a ride through. i didn't wait more than a couple minutes in either direction before someone with a pickup and space agreed to take me, and i'm not exactly mr. clean-and-fresh-smelling. if skipping zion means not doing stuff like hiking to angel's landing or the narrows or whatever else, i skipped it too. a shame. next time...

Originally Posted by Megamax View Post
All,

Thanks for the responses. To clarify my route, I was planning on starting in St. George, and going as follows:

Zion
Jacob Lake
North Rim (2 Days)
Marble Canyon lodge
Cameron Trading Post
South Rim
Williams
Prescott

Taking a shuttle from Prescott to Phoenix and flying out from there. I don't care which direction I go so it sounds like I would be better off starting in Prescott and heading North.

Any opinions on just skipping Zion? Is it worth the trouble?

Thanks for the help. I'm hoping the roads are a little quieter in the September, but I could definitely do without the winds.

Mark
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Old 03-07-09, 07:55 PM
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Zion is lovely.
It's just not very bike friendly for touring bikes.
Their idea of bicycling is to put one on the back of the RV.

Since Zion is much lower (and warmer) than Bryce or Grand Canyon, it is more popular during the shoulder seasons. In fact, it can be pretty darn hot in July and August. You mentioned getting reservations - the only one I would do is Zion. Get in early. If you don't spend a day off hiking in the Virgin River Canyon, at least plan to enjoy the subtle light of late afternoon and early morning at Zion.
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