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?

GC3-025

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

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.

The Canyon Circle Road Trip: Part II

Sedona via Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon 


Today was a much shorter drive, though very different from yesterday as we were driving through the snow that had fallen overnight. After a lovely breakfast and snapping a few shots of Steller Jays and Dark Eyed Juncos who were breakfasting outside on monkey nuts  we were on our way to the Grand Canyon. Would it live up to the hype I wondered? Or would the reality fall flat.

(please click on an image to enlarge)

We continued along 89A through Oak Creek Canyon weaving its way up and around the mountains. At the top we pulled into a viewing place to take a few photos of the canyon and the road on which we had just driven. I am so glad that they clear the roads in this part of the world!

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A winding road

By noon we’d arrived at Tusayan the town just before the south entrance to the park and we stopped to visit the IMAX theatre to watch a film about the Canyon which is well worth doing if you haven’t been there before. Though I must be the only person on earth who suffers travel sickness whilst watching these films! I have to close my eyes to stop myself from feeling dizzy.

On the road to the Canyon
On the road to the Canyon, North Rim in the distance

The Grand Canyon fills me with awe. It is beyond comparison – beyond description, absolutely unparalleled throughout the wide world. Let this great wonder of nature remain as it is now. Do nothing to mar its grandeur, sublimity and loveliness. You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is keep it for your children, your children’s’ children and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see. Don’t let them skin this wonderful country – as they will try to do” ~ Theodore Roosevelt, May 6, 1903

Now we were in the park and following the one-way system to our hotel – El Tovar – where we had booked for the night. It is a  National Historic Landmark and is right on the South Rim with views of the canyon from rooms on the northern wing.

The hotel is made from native stone and Oregon pine and the design is based on European hunting lodges and has a world-renowned restaurant along with canyon views.

After settling in to our room, we went to have our first look at the view and then find the shuttle bus which would take us to Hermits Rest which is closed to private vehicles.

El Tovar
El Tovar
Hopi House
Hopi House
Icicles
Icicles

There are no words to describe your first view of the grand Canyon. Photographs do not do it justice, you cannot capture the multiple layers and colours and the sheer scale of the size and form. It overwhelms the senses and all you can do is stand and stare. Take time to pause on the rim and take in Earth’s history.

Hindu Ampitheatre
Hindu Ampitheatre
Hindu Ampitheatre - close-up
View from Hermit’s rest

Don’t rush your visit to the Canyon. I know some people do a half day trip from Las Vegas, but it is worth spending at least one night there. During the afternoon we used the shuttle bus along the 7 miles to Hermits Rest and stopped off at different viewpoints along the way. You can of course walk the trail along the rim, but there are unpaved sections and while we were there it was very icy and snow covered so unless you have adequate walking boots I would advise using the bus.

The Colorado River Runs Through It
The Colorado River Runs Through It

Visit the Kolb Studio, perched on the edge of the rim, the Victorian home of the Kolb Brothers who created a lasting legacy of adventure, exploration, family love, and amazing Grand Canyon photography or hike down Bright Angel Trail, if only to the first tunnel, if you are brave and it is not covered in snow!

The Bright Angel Trail
The Bright Angel Trail
Pinyon Pines cling to the edge
Pinyon Pines cling to the edge

And if time allows the genuine artistry of Native American jewellery deserves a look in the better gift shops at the Hopi House or the Watchtower. Check for a genuine silver hallmark and the quality of stones in the lovely silver and turquoise jewellery. Hopi rugs, pottery and Kachina dolls are also good souvenirs. Finally we returned to the Village just before sunset around 6:30 before heading off into the El Tovar restaurant for a well-deserved steak.

Sunset on the South Rim
Sunset on the South Rim

Nature in Black and White

Cee’s Black & White Challenge: This black and white challenge is topic related and this week the theme is Found in Nature.

One of the most amazing places that I have been to is Yosemite Valley. The incomparable scenery, soaring cliffs, spectacular views and cascading waterfalls moved me so much that I wrote this piece about my feelings.

(click any image to enlarge and see the details)

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Valley View. 

Here are a few photos from that natural wonder. I hope they make as much an impression on you as they did on me.

awiyah-point
awiyah-point
River Merced in the Snow
River Merced in the Snow
Mount Watkins Reflection at Mirror Lake
Mount Watkins Reflection at Mirror Lake
The Swinging Bridge in Snow
The Swinging Bridge in Snow