Day 3: Grand Canyon to the Utah border

To tell you about Day 3 requires more than one post – after editing, I have 537 photos in the day’s file. So I’m cutting this one off at the Utah border, which I reached just after 3:00 pm.

This was the planned route – seems simple and short enough for an easy day. Having 2 Bucket List destinations and many other sights of interest made it much longer, and a very odd GPS routing even more so. If you click on the map below a new window opens with an interactive map of the route.

Route from Grand Canyon to Bryce Canyon
Before I left the Grand Canyon Camper Village I did some poking around, and found this 3d map with some great information for my route out, on Hwy 64 (Desert View Drive) along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. In the background you can see the camp site and motorcoach of the French students I mentioned yesterday.
Grand Canyon Camper Village, Arizona
I pulled away from the RV park right at 07:00, and 20 minutes later my touring day got off to a spectacular start with this view from the side of the road between Mather Point and Yaki Point (see map).
Grand Canyon, Arizona
My first-ever cougar crossing sign! (a.k.a. puma or mountain lion) No cougars, though 🙁
Cougar crossing sign at Grand Canyon, Arizona
I hadn’t expected the road to be so incredible, and made a lot of stops.
Grand Canyon, Arizona
Many of the views are available without any walking – this was the view out the side window of the motorhome.
Grand Canyon, Arizona
The same view as above, from ground level.
Grand Canyon, Arizona
A few minutes after 08:00, there were still very few people around. Much better than yesterday afternoon at Mather Point.
Grand Canyon, Arizona
This view reinforced my feeling that a person could spend their entire life studying and exploring the Grand Canyon. At left center is Horseshoe Mesa, and the mostly-cleared oval at the bottom right is the site of the Last Chance Mine, where copper was mined starting in 1890. This view is from Grandview Point, from where a “steep and rugged” trail takes hikers 3 miles (4.8 km) to the mesa 2,500 feet below.
Horseshoe Mesa and Last Chance Mine at Grand Canyon, Arizona
Life at the Last Chance Mine was hard for both men and animals, but the mine operated until 1907 when copper prices crashed.
Last Chance Mine at Grand Canyon, Arizona
The patterns and colours change constantly – fascinating and captivating, and I soon resigned myself to this being a very long day 🙂
Grand Canyon, Arizona
I reached the Tusayan Museum and Ruin at 08:45, a few minutes before it opened, and had the large site pretty much to myself. Tusayan was a thriving Pueblo Indian community some 800 years ago, as illustrated by its pottery, arrowheads and other household artifacts.
Tusayan Museum and Ruin, Grand Canyon, Arizona
This is the foundation of the kiva, Tusayan’s ceremonial and spiritual center.
Tusayan Museum and Ruin, Grand Canyon, Arizona
This struck me as funny – the type of vegetation would tend to discourage the barefootin’ the sign warns against 🙂
Tusayan Museum and Ruin, Grand Canyon, Arizona
Between 2,000 and 4,000 years ago, people made these animal figures from split twigs of willow, cottonwood and rushes. They’ve all been found in remote, hard-to-access caves with no sign that they had been lived in, so they have a special meaning, though exactly what can only be guessed at.
Tusayan Museum and Ruin, Grand Canyon, Arizona
The view from Lipan Point.
Lipan Point, Grand Canyon, Arizona
In the 1960s, archaeologists discovered that the Unkar Delta, seen in this photo, was the site of a thriving agricultural village 1,000 years ago. One of many such villages along the canyon’s bottom, the people here grew corn, beans, squash and cotton on terraced fields.
Unkar Delta, Grand Canyon, Arizona
The Desert View Watchtower, 70 feet high and built in 1932, was designed by architect Mary Colter.
Desert View Watchtower, Grand Canyon, Arizona
The gift shop in the Watchtower must surely have the most incredible view of any gift shop in the world. No, that’s not a mural, that’s looking out the window!
Desert View Watchtower, Grand Canyon, Arizona
The interior walls of the Watchtower are covered in designs from the culture of the ancestral Puebloan people.
Desert View Watchtower, Grand Canyon, Arizona
A long-abandoned trail along the canyon rim took me to this view of the tower. I had to keep reminding myself of the elevation of the South Rim – at Desert View, it’s 2,267 meters (7,438 feet).
Desert View Watchtower, Grand Canyon, Arizona
Dropping down to the desert along the Little Colorado River, at 10:50. I was starting to feel like breakfast might be in order, but there seemed to be few options!
Desert along the Little Colorado River, Arizona
A sign pointing to a Scenic View, obviously of the dramatic canyon of the Little Colorado River, prompted a turn off the highway. As well as the trail to the viewpoint, there was a very large booth selling Navajo jewellery, the first of many along the highway. I was very surprised at how low the prices were (such as necklaces for $12.00).
Canyon of the Little Colorado River, Arizona
The trail and view of the gorge were definitely worth the stop, though the access road was very rough.
Canyon of the Little Colorado River, Arizona
As noon approached, food became the prime focus, and just in time, the large Cameron Trading Post appeared right after I turned north on Hwy 89. The restaurant is beautiful.
Cameron Trading Post, Arizona
And the Navajo taco was amazing – worth waiting for 🙂
Navajo taco at Cameron Trading Post, Arizona
The Cameron Suspension Bridge crosses the Little Colorado River beside the Trading Post. Built in 1911, its main span of 200 meters (660 feet) was the longest suspension span west of the Mississippi River when it was built.
Cameron Suspension Bridge, Arizona
One of the things I noticed early in the trip was the virtual absence of rest areas or even pulloffs, but every now and then I took advantage of a wide shoulder to get photos, in this case of a bridge from the old highway, and the colourful bluffs beyond.
Arizona desert
A detour to avoid construction took me onto Indian Route 20, now signed as 89T (Temporary), at 1:10 pm.
Indian Route 20 (Hwy 89T), Arizona
The Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River at Page prompted a couple of long stops and walks.
Glen Canyon Dam, Arizona
Lake Powell, formed by the Glen Canyon Dam, must be incredible to explore by boat. There seems to be almost no road access to it. A very large marina can be seen in the distance in this photo shot from the dam.
Lake Powell, Arizona
At 3:10 pm, I crossed into Utah on Hwy 89, my first time in the state. I’ll tell you about the rest of the day, getting to and exploring Bryce Canyon, tomorrow…
Grand Canyon, Arizona


Day 3: Grand Canyon to the Utah border — 2 Comments

  1. Spectacular. I am, however, going to have to recommend a late fall or early spring trip when the air is much cleaner, the light less harsh and the tourists much diminished. One of the great things is that the desert and high desert will continue to amaze you – each valley that you travel through will bring new looks, new fauna, new flora… Sorry to say I ‘discovered’ this about the desert areas only after moving from the west years ago.

  2. Yes, I’ve told Cathy that when we go down together, it will most definitely not be in the summer – a Fall trip with the great colours would be awesome.