- Places to Explore
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Sports and the Outdoors
Rainbow Rim Trail. Rangers say the best bet for bikers heading to the North Rim—and only intermediate and experienced ones should attempt it—is the Rainbow Rim Trail, an 18-mile, one-way trail that begins at Parissawampitts Point at the end of Forest Road 214 and ends at Timp Point on Forest Road 271. This premier trail also includes stops at three other fantastic viewpoints—Fence, Locust, and North Timp—and winds through a ponderosa pine forest and up and down through side canyons, aspen groves, and pristine meadows. In the Kaibab National Forest, the trail is open to hikers, bikers, and horseback riders and stays within 200 feet of its 7,550 feet elevation. Grand Canyon National Park, AZ. 928/643–7395. www.fs.usda.gov/kaibab.
Arizona Bike Trail. Pedal the depths of the Kaibab National Forest on the Arizona Bike Trail-Tusayan Bike Trails System. Following linked loop trails at an elevation of 6,750 feet, you can bike as few as 3 miles or as many as 38 miles round-trip along old logging roads (parts of it paved) through ponderosa pine forest. Keep an eye out for elk, mule deer, hawks, eagles, pronghorn antelope, turkeys, coyote, and porcupines. Open for biking year-round (but most feasible March through October), the trail is accessed on the west side of Highway 64, a half mile north of Tusayan. Tusayan Ranger District, Hwy. 64, Box 3088, Tusayan, AZ, 86023. 928/638–2443. www.fs.usda.gov/kaibab.
Historic Route 66 Mountain Bike Tour. Cyclists can enjoy the scenery along abandoned sections of Route 66 on the Historic Route 66 Mountain Bike Tour. Maps of the tour, which include the 6-mile Ash Fork Hill Trail and the 5-mile Devil Dog Trail, are available at the Williams Visitor Center.
The stretch of ice-cold, crystal clear water at Lees Ferry off the North Rim provides arguably the best trout fishing in the Southwest. Many rafters and anglers stay the night in a campground near the river or in nearby Marble Canyon before hitting the river at dawn.
Arizona Game and Fish Department. Fish for trout, crappie, catfish, and smallmouth bass at a number of lakes surrounding Williams. To fish on public land, anglers ages 14 and older are required to obtain a fishing license from the Arizona Game and Fish Department. 928/774–5045. www.azgfd.gov.
Lees Ferry Anglers. There are guides, state fishing licenses, and gear for sale at Lees Ferry Anglers. Milepost 547, N. U.S. 89A, HC 67, Marble Canyon, AZ, 86036. 928/355–2261 or 800/962–9755. www.leesferry.com.
Marble Canyon Outfitters. Marble Canyon Outfitters sells Arizona fishing licenses and offers guided fishing trips. 0.25 mile west of Navajo Bridge on U.S. 89A, Marble Canyon, AZ, 86036. 928/645–2781 or 800/533–7339. www.leesferryflyfishing.com.
Apache Stables. There's nothing like a horseback ride to immerse you in the Western experience. From stables near Tusayan, these folks offer gentle horses and a ride that will meet most budgets. Choose from one- and two-hour trail rides or the popular campfire rides and horse-drawn wagon excursions. Forest Service Rd. 328, 1 mile north of Tusayan, Tusayan, AZ. 928/638–2891. www.apachestables.com. $25.50–$88.50. Mar.–Nov. (weather permitting), daily.
The National Park Service authorizes 16 concessionaires to run rafting trips through the canyon—you can view a full list at the park's website (www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/river-concessioners.htm). You can also experience one-day trips in Grand Canyon West with the Hualapai Tribe or in Page. Here are a few of the best operators for multiday trips:
Arizona Raft Adventures. Arizona Raft Adventures organizes 6- to 16-day paddle and/or motor trips through the upper, lower, or "full" canyon, for all skill levels. Trips, which run $1,985 to $4,040 (all fees and taxes included), depart April through October. 4050 East Huntington Dr., Flagstaff, AZ, 86004. 928/526–8200 or 800/786–7238. www.azraft.com.
Canyoneers. With a reputation for high quality and a roster of 3- to 14-day trips, Canyoneers is popular with those who want to do some hiking as well. The five-day "Best of the Grand" trip includes a hike down to Phantom Ranch. The motorized and oar trips, available April through September, cost between $1,056 and $3,650. Flagstaff, AZ, 86004. 928/526–0924 or 800/525–0924. www.canyoneers.com.
Grand Canyon Expeditions. You can count on Grand Canyon Expeditions to take you down the Colorado River safely and in style: it limits the number of people on each boat to 14, and evening meals might include filet mignon, pork chops, or shrimp. The mid-April through mid-September trips cost $2,650 to $4,199 for 8 to 16 days. 435/644–2691 or 800/544–2691. www.gcex.com.
Wilderness River Adventures. One of the canyon's larger rafting outfitters, Wilderness River Adventures runs a wide variety of trips from 3 to 16 days, oar or motorized, from April to October. Their most popular trip is the seven-day motor trip. Page, AZ, 86040. 928/645–3296 or 800/992–8022. www.riveradventures.com.
Elk Ridge Ski and Outdoor Recreation. Elk Ridge Ski and Outdoor Recreation is usually open from mid-December through much of March, weather permitting. There are four groomed runs (including one for beginners), areas suitable for cross-country skiing, and a hill set aside for tubing. The lodge rents skis, snowboards, and inner tubes. From Williams, take South 4th Street/Perkinsville Road for 2.5 miles, and then turn right at Ski Run Road/Forest Road 106 and go another 1.5 miles. During heavy snows, four-wheel drive or chains may be necessary. 6160 Donald Nelson Ave., Williams, AZ, 89131. 928/814–5038. www.elkridgeski.com.
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