The Canyon Circle Road Trip: Part III

Grand Canyon to Page

After breakfast on Saturday we checked out of the hotel and set off eastwards along the East Rim. It was a dry day, but extremely windy, which made standing out on the exposed viewpoints and keeping a camera steady, quite challenging.

(click on an image to enlarge and see the detail)

Can you see the river?

I was amazed and rather concerned at the number of people who venture out onto the overhanging rocks to get a photograph, especially when said rocks are covered in snow and it is difficult to see where the end is! I wonder how many tourists lose their lives in this way?


The best views of the canyon on the East Rim are from Grandview, Artists Point and Lipan Point. The whole drive takes about an hour but stopping to look from the various pull-ins will add on at least another hour.  Possibly more! From this side you can catch glimpses of the River Colorado and the rafts making their way down the rapids.

Pinyon Pine
Pinyon Pine hanging on for dear life
Hance Rapids
Hance Rapids – click to enlarge and see the rafts bottom right – yes it really is that deep!

And if, like us, you are leaving via the east gate then make your last stop at Desert View where you can see and hear the river below. Climb up the Watchtower for even more spectacular vistas, framed by the windows they look like paintings. Admire the wall murals inside and maybe buy yourself a souvenir from the region.

View from the Watchtower
View from the Watchtower – Colorado on the right, Little Colorado centre
View from the Watchtower towards the Painted Desert
View from the Watchtower towards the Painted Desert

Hard though it was to pull ourselves away from the Canyon we had to get to Page for the night which meant driving eastwards through the Painted Desert to join the 89 route again.

Murals – the large circular painting tells the legend of the Snake people

The drive from the Grand Canyon Village to Page will take about three hours without stops, so make sure you don’t dally along the rim for too long!  After exiting the east gate at Desert View the next logical stop is at the historic Cameron Trading Post where you can buy artefacts or a Navajo frybread taco if you are feeling hungry!

The next two hours  is on the Painted Desert scenic highway. The road was pretty empty of traffic in March and the views of the layers of coloured rock meant that it was never boring.

marble Canyon

At Bitter Springs where the 89 winds up into the mountains we pulled into a viewpoint where you have views back towards the Grand Canyon and  also to Marble Canyon [1].

Bitter Springs
Above Bitter Springs towards the snowy North Rim
Vermilion Cliffs
Vermilion Cliffs east of the Colorado River – can you see where the river runs?

Further on is the turn-off to Horseshoe Bend Overlook on the Colorado River, where you need to park up and hike for an hour to view the river from a spectacular high viewpoint. Although I would have liked to see this, we didn’t have the time or the energy for an hours hike (each way).

Lake Powell in the distance
Lake Powell in the distance
Driving into Page
Driving into Page

We stayed at the Courtyard Page at Lake Powell, which is not the most convenient location as it is right on the edge of the town so not easily walkable to the shops and restaurants. But it is quite close to the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area from where you get good views of the dam and where you can take river trips down the Colorado.

Glen Canyon Dam
Glen Canyon Dam – it really is very high
Catching a Raft down the Colorado
Catching a Raft down the Colorado

We popped out later for a burger at the Dam Bar and Grille, a steak house in town, hoping that the snow which was forecast overnight wouldn’t lead to the cancellation of our photo trip to the Upper Antelope Canyon on the following day.

[1] The US 89 to Page closed after a landslip in February 2013 and you have to take the newly paved 89T or use the route via Tuba City.

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I have lived in the UK for most of my life, but when young I definitely had wanderlust and even ended up living in South Africa for several years which was a wonderful experience. I now look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

44 thoughts on “The Canyon Circle Road Trip: Part III”

  1. This series continues to amaze me, with the huge vistas, and impossible heights. It is such a wonderful place, it must rank with the best you have ever seen, I would suspect.
    One day perhaps…
    Regards as always, Pete. x

    1. To be honest Pete I could have stopped at Sedona and been very happy with the scenery there. Each day just got better, I couldn’t believe it and truthfully the best has yet to come…

  2. Wonderful photos. I’d like to go back and just look around at my own pace. I’ve only been there once, and that was on one of those guided tours. Nice, but rushed.

    1. Yes, being able to stop where we liked and for as long as we liked was a huge bonus. Sometimes though when time is short an organised tour is better than nothing.

      1. Totally agree, sometimes a drive through places previously unknown to one can be fantastic…if empty roads and huge vistas. We had that in trips to Romania, trips on back roads in the Pyrenees, Cuba… I hope for more in future!!

        1. I’ve never driven in Europe, for some reason (probably language) the thought makes me a little nervous, but I’d love to drive through France and Spain. I have no issues with driving on the right in Canada or the USA. And Australia can be pretty amazing too…(bonus there is they drive on the left and speak English) 😉

        2. Shame you haven’t driven in Europe,, as it’s so close! I started driving in France soon after I passed my test, and am very glad I did….

        3. I know, it’s pretty shocking, but I didn’t pass my test until I was 40 and then I didn’t have any money to travel!

    1. Thanks Aletta. My photos don’t do justice to the landscape – it really is so much better when you can visualise the dramatic scale of these places!

    1. Sure was a lot of research into this! I wanted to see as much as possible without feeling too rushed, and I think it worked out quite well. Most of the driving after Day 1 was quite reasonable and the scenery always very interesting so the journey was very much part of the trip.

    1. it is definitely one part of the world where you feel insignificant. Another place is in the Outback in Oz, or the Namib Desert.

  3. I remember in Solitaire a group of ground squirrels were all vying for the shadow cast by the town’s (sic) one and only stop sign. And that was at about 9am. That’s insane stuff 🙂

  4. Gorgeous photos Jude, you captured the vista beautifully and I also love how you captured the open road. Brings back many good memories for me as you know!
    I too was shocked at how close to the edge some people got for photo opportunities. When we went my eldest son was about 12 and I was cross with him when he kept wanting to get ever closer to the edge and getting quite upset about it, especially when their father didn’t seem to understand my fear. But that’s another story…
    I seem to remember spending the entire time pointing out the numerous signs showing how many people had lost their lives by being careless. Even now the thought of it makes me shudder.

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