There are lots of places around the Grand Canyon and in Northern Arizona in general where visitors may be tempted to drive on unpaved roads. The main roads to the GCNP South Rim and North Rim areas are paved, however some roads in the area of the North Rim are not paved or regularly maintained. In one particular case, outside the park areas, part of the road to the area called "Grand Canyon West" is an unpaved and very rough dirt road which is not regularly maintained. (Grand Canyon West is on the Grand Canyon and is not part of GCNP, but is on the lands of the Hualapai Indian reservation. It is about 180 miles by road from GCNP South Rim, and primarily a tourist destination from Las Vegas. It is at a lower elevation than GCNP South Rim, has few canyon overviews, is generally not as scenic as GCNP South Rim, and is also the location of the often discussed Skywalk operated by the Hualapai Nation on their land.)

A general question for visitors if they are using a rental car is can they drive the rental car on unpaved roads (including SUV's)? In general the answer in the Grand Canyon forums in TA about using a rental car on non-paved roads has been that rental car companies do not permit it, but that is not official information, just what the volunteers answering queries have learned. It is best to ask a rental car company about their policies.

Hertz, for example, does not state anything about unpaved roads in their terms and conditions on their web site. They do state in their terms and conditions on their web site that all of their vehicles, including "Jeeps" and SUVs, can only be used on regularly maintained roads and that any other use is a violation of the contract. Avis and National both specifically state in their terms and conditions on their web sites that use on unpaved roads is prohibited. Other car companies may have such rules of use in the fine print of their rental contracts.

So, one might ask, how would they know? One means would be from damage under the car which the renter did not notice, or damage to tires, wheels or the car itself. And then what happens? What does a "violation of the contract" mean? They could charge the renter more than the contract rate, refuse any free roadside assistance needed, and certainly would hold the renter responsible personally for any damages or repairs required.

The best course of action to avoid problems is to adhere to the rental contract, and find another route or another means to have the adventure, and stay on paved roads with rental cars.