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.