One of the most frequently asked questions here at Jacob Lake Inn is, “Where is the lake?” Many people who visit this area from wetter climates may not consider our lake to be a lake, but this small accumulation of water, supplied by rain and snow melt, is one of the only permanent water sources on top of the Kaibab Plateau. Known as the “waterless mountain”, meaning there are no streams or running water, the Kaibab Plateau contains several small lakes comparable to Jacob Lake. Many of these lakes are formed in the beds of sink holes, plugged up by organic material, and filled with rain and melted snow.
Jacob Lake’s History
These lakes, and in particular, Jacob Lake, as small as it may be, were often the difference between life and death for Native, immigrant and traveler. The Piute Indians who inhabited the Kaibab Plateau told Jacob Hamblin, Mormon pioneer and explorer, about this little-known water supply, and he in turn told other pioneers traveling through the area. The Honeymoon Trail, a route traveled by settlers and couples from settlements in southern Arizona on their way to the Mormon temple in St. George, snaked around the base of the plateau. The new route over the plateau, with the stop at Jacob Lake, cut off a significant portion of their journey, thus establishing the trail and Jacob Lake as a valuable resource.
Jacob Lake’s Size
The size of Jacob Lake has changed over the years. In the past, especially in a wet year it could nearly reach the fence that surrounds it, but due to recent droughts and mild winters the lake has decreased in size. Jacob Lake stands as an example of the value placed on water in this dry region and though this water source no longer supplies water to thirsty travelers; it does provide wildlife with a dependable water supply throughout the year.