Dead Horse Point and Canyonlands

Sunday 2nd. Storms and Sunsets.

Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point are both within easy reach of Moab. We head for Dead Horse Point first to enjoy a viewpoint over a bend in the Green River where a famous fictional pair took a leap off the edge in their car at the end of ‘ Thelma and Louise’. We can see the setting almost a mile below our viewing spot and notice the tiny dots that are cars parked below on the edge of the cliff.

looking down on Thelma and Louise set and Green River

In the distance a thunderstorm is brewing which adds drama to the moment and the already awe inspiring view of the aptly named Green River sweeping in a loop and carving a huge canyon below.

We walk the rim for a short while as the storm steadily approaches. All warnings are to keep away from the rims of Canyons and to find shelter in these situations. While I am pretty sure the storm cloud will skirt around us we decide to make it back to the car just in time as the fringes of the storm hit and the heavens open.


We are high up here at over nine thousand feet and the advice is to drink up to nine litres of water a day in the heat of the day. The fact it is now pouring does not change this advice because in minutes a bright sun is out again in a crisp fresh and thin atmosphere that literally sucks you dry.

It is said that if you feel thirsty it is already too late and you are probably dehydrated which will lead to headaches, and a feeling of disorientation. We are advised to eat salty nibbles to maintain levels. Marilyn has really taken this to heart and I am force fed water and snacks at every turn and so we avoid the symptoms that can be so debilitating.

So we gurgle along into Canyonlands. Established in 1964 it is a relatively recent National Park of over five hundred square miles. We are warned as we enter the park that there is ‘ no gas, food, water or lodgings in Park’ and to be prepared

It is very rugged with only a few miles of paved road and is best seen in an off road vehicle but we are able to enjoy two lovely moments.

The first is at Mesa Arch. The view is stunning but the behaviour of a few ( sadly American) males its not so impressive. Despite requests to keep off the arch a young guy decides he wants to take a. Photo opportunity and starts to walk over it. He is met by yells of indignation and disapproval from several onlookers and one calls him a ‘dumb ass’. This insult is met by more fury than the original act and soon two grown men in the middle of all this natural beauty are squaring up to each other and threatening violence. Like the storm we saw earlier it is soon over but leaves a bad taste. How quickly violence can escalate never ceases to amaze me.


We drive on to Grand View Point at the end of the road and take a mile hike around the rim to the furthest viewpoint. The river has certainly done its work here and the plateau below us is aptly named White Rim because of the odd colour in the rock. It is hard to believe that the river is almost two miles below us at this point.

And then to our last destination at Green River Overlook where we relax and wait an hour or so for the sun to set. The changing light is magical, first draining the rocks of all colour and then injecting them with a brilliant red and orange or highlighting the greys and whites in the valley.


Then so suddenly the sun drops below the distant hills turning the clouds a fiery red that fades to a pinky purple.

It is not long into our drive out of the Canyon before the light fades completely l leaving a jet black sky filled with stars.

Just like the storm that passed so quickly earlier so the day is suddenly and dramatically over.

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Torrey to Moab – Dinosaurs and Oasis

coffee at sunrise

planning the day at breakfast


Friday 30th .

We decide on a fairly quiet day today. A visit to the Fruita area and a short scenic ride ending in a gorge walk.

The skies have cleared and after watching the sunrise from our bedroom and a coffee in the desert garden we are soon on our way to a patch in the desert where a small group of devout Mormon families harnessed the Fremont River and established a group of orchards and smallholdings in a valley site. It is now known as Fruita. The orchards are still maintained and the visiting public are invited to pick the fruit for consumption. Cherries, apricots, almonds, apples and pears line the road of this little oasis. There still remain the restored schoolhouse and the house and barn of the Gifford family. The last families left in 1955 since when the National Park Service has made the area the admin centre for Capitol Reef National Park. 
We branch off on the Capitol Gorge dirt road for a scenic ten miles until the road ends at a narrow Gorge where we take a hike and then a brief scramble and climb to the ‘Tanks’ – depressions in the rocks that fill with water and provide vital water sources for local wildlife and the greenery that has established.

entering the gorge


The walk provides another experience of narrow Gorge walking. It is now an offence to graffiti or hack at these rocks but the Pueblo Indians made some of these walls their storyboards thousands of years ago and the local youth early last century made sure they left their mark.

early graffiti


We spot a world class combover at our return coffee stop before an early return to our Airbnb apartment.

small arch at the tanks

rock erosion

rock waves

Saturday 1st. On to Moab

This is mostly a travel day and although our Moab host advises us to stop off in the Goblin Valley Park we decide to give it a miss.

Before we leave Torrey our lovely host Heir gives us a short tour of his garden where he has collected and laid out hundreds of dinosaur fossils over the years. He is an ardent enthusiast and loves showing us the various claws and teeth that he has picked up on his walks in the area around his house. He did most of his collecting before the law changed making it a felony to remove artefacts from the ground. This area is rich in fossils and human artefacts like pots, arrow heads, beads, petroglyphs, and even historic villages are stumbled across from time to time. The archaeologists have made it clear that the importance in the find is to be able to record every aspect of it in situ. In fact the descendants of these ancient peoples would often prefer a group of artefacts to be left where the elders placed them and not removed to a museum.

Heir assures us that what he has accumulated is all within the law. It certainly adds another dimension to his already lovely garden.


We stop briefly as we pass through Fruita again to see some ancient Petroglyphs on a rock wall before setting off across some of the strangest and most desolate landscapes we have so far encountered. The rock is grey, like cement piles hundreds of feet high. It sustains hardly a scrub or blade of grass and there is little sign of life. It is a grim, post-apocalyptic landscape and again we wonder how the early pioneers managed to cross it on horses and wagons. No wonder it was one of the last areas to be mapped and makes the Fruita oasis even more remarkable. Later we find out the Mars Society established the Mars Desert Research Station in the area due to its Mars-like terrain. 

colourful bathroom

healthy lunch


We pull off the Interstate 24 at Green River ( pop 979 ) for petrol and a comfort stop. We are directed to the town coffee shop which we are led to by our noses as the aroma of roasting beans wafts up the road. The path is covered in a hatching of yellow butterflies which are very welcome as an antidote to the greyness of our drive so far.

The shop is another eclectic little oasis of alternative culture in this hard western environment. It helps that the coffee and fresh muffins and cookies are superb but the shop is full of colour and art and music. We get to chat to the lady who owns it and she is a bit of an expert on the local music and early blues and bluegrass. 

Would have liked to chew the grass some more but Moab calls and soon we are hurtling through some more red mountains that make up Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, our playground for the next few days.

Our host is away for the weekend but we are made welcome by his housemate Sabine who settles us into yet another homely and comfortable room and house. There are two ultra friendly dogs to pet and, as it is our own puppy’s fourth birthday and we are missing her, it is an added bonus to have a pooch asking for tummy rubs.

Torrey – Slot Canyons and Monsoons

Route 12 is a scenic byway and is also designated as an ‘ All American Road’. This is because it has many features that make it unique.The last part of the road that passes over Boulder Mountain was not tarred until the 1980’s making Torrey ( population 179 ) one of the most remote little towns in the region, especially as the road is snowbound for up to six months of the year.The drive starts below towering grey cliffs, their summits poking through low cloud.


We pass through Grand Staircase Escalante which is a National Monument of over 1.9 million acres. It was one of the last areas in the States to be mapped in 1872 and even then the terrain made it very difficult for the pioneers to navigate.

We pass by canyons that spread into oblivion and where no one lives. The road has attracted a few inhabitants along its length and one hardy old fella built a beautiful eco house in the 80’s; made from massive wood pillars and glass it is a semi circular lookout on one of the bluffs. Now it has become a superb stop for coffee. I recommend the Kiva Coffee House to anyone passing this way.

At Boulder we turn off route 12 to explore a section of the Burr Trail. Eleven miles in, the road suddenly drops into a Canyon and soon we find the little slot Canyon that we are looking to explore. Slot canyons were formed by the force of water, and can be as little as 3 feet wide but up to 100 feet high and sometimes many miles long. It is only short – a couple of hundred yards, but it gives a feel what it is like to experience the rocks enclose you. Marilyn is actually quite afraid, especially when a man exiting the slot warns us of a large scorpion on the rocks. She is mighty brave ,however, and manages to drag herself along most of the Canyon before needing to make a quick exit. 


We continue to mile seventeen and have lunch overlooking a huge valley where the road eventually turns into a dirt track and which we decide not to chance in the hire car.

We return the way we have come to take the scenic road over Boulder Mountain. The Aspens are doing their autumn turn here at over nine thousand feet and contrast with the dark clouds that threaten a storm and the black cattle that graze the meadows. Their leaves shine and glisten in the breeze.

Route 12 is a scenic byway and is also designated as an ‘ All American Road’. This is because it has many features that make it unique.The last part of the road that passes over Boulder Mountain was not tarred until the 1980’s making Torrey ( population 179 ) one of the most remote little towns in the region, especially as the road is snowbound for up to six months of the year.

The drive starts below towering grey cliffs, their summits poking through low cloud.

We pass through Grand Staircase Escalante which is a National Monument of over 1.9 million acres. It was one of the last areas in the States to be mapped in 1872 and even then the terrain made it very difficult for the pioneers to navigate.

We pass by canyons that spread into oblivion and where no one lives. The road has attracted a few inhabitants along its length and one hardy old fella built a beautiful eco house in the 80’s; made from massive wood pillars and glass it is a semi circular lookout on one of the bluffs. Now it has become a superb stop for coffee. I recommend the Kiva Coffee House to anyone passing this way.

At Boulder we turn off route 12 to explore a section of the Burr Trail. Eleven miles in, the road suddenly drops into a Canyon and soon we find the little slot Canyon that we are looking to explore. Slot canyons were formed by the force of water, and can be as little as 3 feet wide but up to 100 feet high and sometimes many miles long. 


It is only short – a couple of hundred yards, but it gives a feel what it is like to experience the rocks enclose you. Marilyn is actually quite afraid, especially when a man exiting the slot warns us of a large scorpion on the rocks. She is mighty brave ,however, and manages to drag herself along most of the Canyon before needing to make a quick exit. 


We continue to mile seventeen and have lunch overlooking a huge valley where the road eventually turns into a dirt track and which we decide not to chance in the hire car.


We return the way we have come to take the scenic road over Boulder Mountain. The Aspens are doing their autumn turn here at over nine thousand feet and contrast with the dark clouds that threaten a storm and the black cattle that graze the meadows. Their leaves shine and glisten in the breeze. 

They spread by their root system and it is said that the forest up here is one of the worlds biggest living organisms, joined as it is by its roots.

We can pass easily enough over the summit but until 1935 milk and mail needed to be delivered by horseback and in times of heavy snow the road is still very difficult leaving towns like Boulder and Torrey very cut off.

As we descend the mountain into Torrey we see a huge thunder cloud forming in the distance. We are actually above the threatening grey of the bottom of the towering cloud mass. As we reach Torrey itself the sky has lit up with sheets of lightening and thunder and we are glad to take shelter in the visitor centre. We are told that the storm has passed to the North and so we get back in the car to drive the remaining few miles to our Airbnb.

Mistake.

Suddenly the world turns black, winds howl and the heavens open with a deluge the like of which I have never seen. I find it impossible to drive and pull into a safe place to allow the storm to pass. Other drivers don’t seem so worried and continue to hurtle down the road which is now a river torrent. We can see free range cattle straddling the centre of the highway down in the valley and the stream of cars just manage to brake and manoeuvre around them. It is chaos and how no one was killed I do not know. 

And then ,as soon as it came, the rain stops and the storm moves on. These violent Monsoon storms are common in this area at this time of year and need to be watched out for when out on hikes. In slot canyons like the one we were in today sudden flood surges can appear from nowhere and water can deluge with the force of a couple of elephants. It is important to check on the weather conditions before setting out on walks or even when taking a car on any off road situations as rain can make the sandy tracks impassable for days at an end.

By the time we reach our lovely bnb the sun is coming out. We have a room with windows on three sides, elevated above a desert garden and facing the hills.

We watch the sun set as the last of the clouds disappear over the hills and ponder on how hard life must be for the folk who live here despite the breathtaking beauty of the surroundings.


They spread by their root system and it is said that the forest up here is one of the worlds biggest living organisms, joined as it is by its roots.

We can pass easily enough over the summit but until 1935 milk and mail needed to be delivered by horseback and in times of heavy snow the road is still very difficult leaving towns like Boulder and Torrey very cut off.

As we descend the mountain into Torrey we see a huge thunder cloud forming in the distance. We are actually above the threatening grey of the bottom of the towering cloud mass. As we reach Torrey itself the sky has lit up with sheets of lightening and thunder and we are glad to take shelter in the visitor centre. We are told that the storm has passed to the North and so we get back in the car to drive the remaining few miles to our Airbnb.

Mistake.

Suddenly the world turns black, winds howl and the heavens open with a deluge the like of which I have never seen. I find it impossible to drive and pull into a safe place to allow the storm to pass. Other drivers don’t seem so worried and continue to hurtle down the road which is now a river torrent. We can see free range cattle straddling the centre of the highway down in the valley and the stream of cars just manage to brake and manoeuvre around them. It is chaos and how no one was killed I do not know. X

And then ,as soon as it came, the rain stops and the storm moves on. These violent Monsoon storms are common in this area at this time of year and need to be watched out for when out on hikes. In slot canyons like the one we were in today sudden flood surges can appear from nowhere and water can deluge with the force of a couple of elephants. It is important to check on the weather conditions before setting out on walks or even when taking a car on any off road situations as rain can make the sandy tracks impassable for days at an end.

By the time we reach our lovely bnb the sun is coming out. We have a room with windows on three sides, elevated above a desert garden and facing the hills.


We watch the sun set as the last of the clouds disappear over the hills and ponder on how hard life must be for the folk who live here despite the breathtaking beauty of the surroundings.

​​

Bryce Canyon and Bikers.

 

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We make the short trip back into Bryce from our little cabin accompanied by a song recorded by a good friend. We have ‘Peak rock’ on loop as it seems to sum up this neck of the woods . Thank you Mike Jelly. We are travelling slowly, caught behind one of the monster motor homes that crisscross the country. This one is only a ‘ Minnie Winne’ – a ” small” Winibego that is as big as my house and is towing a 4×4 the size of a truck.
Part of the mountain road has been washed away by recent rains and we have to negotiate a narrow section in single file. If the Minnie can get through I can but both Marilyn and I have our eyes closed for a second or two.


We decide to head to the very end of the Canyon Road and work back, making a series of short treks where possible. All along the Canyon Edge we are offered tantalising views of this unique Canyon until we reach Rainbow Point at 9115 feet. We do a short walk that allows us to get to the very edge of the Canyon. There has been a special kind of erosion going on here and the rock is very red in places and grey to white in others giving strange contrasts in the gigantic hoodoos and crags that are formed. The rock is often very jagged and then shaped into strange forms that look like faces or animals.

At our lunch stop we see a group of bikers we have seen on the road. Some are on traditional Harleys and the like, but two couples are on unusual (to us) motorbikes with two wheels at the front. I strike up a conversation with one of the owners, an affable older guy named Bill. Biker Bill explains that he and others have bought these Canam bikes in order to keep riding into later life, as they cannot topple and hence are safer. According to his many badges, Biker Bill is a Vietnam Veteran and is President of the New Mexico chapter – though of what, it does not specify.  He, his wife and their friends are touring together. The eldest member of the group is 80 and on his first motorbike!

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We are reminded by signs that our safety is our responsibility. Not only should we not get too close to the edge but we should be aware of the possibility of wild animals.

 


We take a short walk around Rainbow Point that allows us to see how the Canyon has been cut to a rounded end by the river over a mile below.
Our return allows us to stop at Ponderosa Point, Agna Canyon, Natural Bridge and Sunrise Point. Each spot seems to trump the last as yet again we are lost for words.
Another special day, rounded off with some BBQ steak, local baked beans and a salad prepared under a dazzling Milky Way.

Zion Canyon and Lawbreakers


Tuesday 27th.Once again we are up and away before Cowgirl Ronnie emerges from her sick- bed. We both hope she is alive and well because ,other than entering her room, there is no way to know whether we are leaving a stone cold ex- cowgirl in her bed. If so we will have to wait for the law to catch up with us for today we are off to Zion Canyon to fulfil one of Marilyn’s lifelong ambitions. She was brought up on a diet of Wagon Train, Bonanza, and a fistful of other cowboy t.v and I think she is on a secret mission to find Rowdy Yates in one of these here Canyons.


The trail through Kanab and on to Springdale is another beauty and it is easy to see why Kanab became a centre for these early Westerns. We are keen to get to Zion so pass by the caves and Coral Pink Sand Dunes and the Peek-a-Boo Trail Head. We pass the Chequerboard Mesa on the Mt Carmel Highway and we are astounded how green it is between the red and grey rocks and hills. We reach a long tunnel and after a short wait we are allowed through in single file to make the descent into the Canyon below. Occasional windows in the tunnel give tantalising views of the glories that await us with sheer cliffs disappearing into an abyss below. Marilyn has her eyes closed for some of the descent but happily I am now used to the width of our rather large four wheel drive and I manage to keep from going over the edge.

We are advised not to try to park in the visitor centre and to continue into the little town of Springdale, park on the street and catch a shuttle bus back.

Cars are not allowed into Zion Canyon at this busy time of year. A well organised shuttle service offers pick ups and set downs at the numerous stops along the way. We pick up a shuttle from the visitor centre after a short wait. We are impressed by the sensitive layout of the landscaped centre and the well designed information boards. What parking there is is well hidden.

We decide on a short Grotto walk to start with and have lunch in the shade with the Canyon looming above us. It is a totally different experience from the Grand Canyon where we were atop looking down and beyond. Here the steep walls close in and, as we approach the end of the Canyon road they tower above and dominate. The bus stops and we exit at an amphitheater of rock that has been hewn by the river as it exits the ‘Narrows’ – the slit Canyon at the very head of the Canyon.


It is fairly busy with an assortment of sightseers at this end of the road stop. We notice many returning to the bus who are pretty wet through because here is the option to enter the ‘Narrows’. This is the point that the road stops but the trail continues for a further dozen or so miles up the increasingly narrow slit Canyon. Much of the trail is through waist high water. We decide against going too far in – maybe a trek for another visit – and enjoy a snack while people watching in the shade by the river. It is truly astoundingly beautiful and hard to choose where to point the camera. 

We then make our descent using the shuttle back to the visitor centre and the car.

Here I notice a piece of paper on the windscreen that I take for advertising until I realise its official look. The law has indeed caught up with us and I have a traffic violation ticket for parking facing the wrong way! Fifty dollars or they will hang me out to dry.

I am determined it won’t spoil my day so I sound off several very Anglo-Saxon expletives to vent my frustration and head back along the trail and then North to our little Cabin that we have waiting for us near Bryce Canyon which is our destination tomorrow.

On the route we see cowboys with dogs rounding up cattle and I can see that Marilyn is made up. The dog is hanging off the steer as it tries to make it do what it wants. I remind Marilyn about what Cowgirl Ronnie said about all the brains being in the cowboys pants and she sagely nods and I notice her eyes go a little dreamy.


We turn off onto scenic highway 12 and into Red Canyon where the cliffs are sculpted into massive castles like Carcassonne in France or maybe a temple from India. The rocks are shaped into faces of gargoyles or animals. These hoodoos are frozen demons according to the ancient stories. They are frozen as a punishment by the Coyote God because they would come and steal rain or grain or animals from the local people. The Coyote invited them all to a feast where they could eat whatever they liked and once in his valley he cast his spell and the thieves were frozen as they tried to make a run for it to the river. It is not much of a stretch of the imagination to see the horror on the faces of the hoodoos as we pass them. 

On every side canyons fan out and disappear into the wilderness. It is in this area that Butch Cassidy would hide out when the heat was on. Often the locals would know of his whereabouts but such was his standing with them that folk would send the law officers in the wrong direction.


And so we reach our cabin in Cannonville. One of only five on a little site, we have hills for a view and the quiet of another starry night to surround us for sleep.

Lake Powell

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Monday 26th – We have left before the Cowgirl has risen this morning. We are heading back on the main Route 89 to Page on Lake Powell with the intention of maybe taking a short boat ride on the Lake.

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The landscape along the route is again different to anything we have seen. Rock formations that look like teeth in a skull, huge clay lumps and rock that looks like pumice line the Route until suddenly we see the waters of Lake Powell in startling contrast to the arid desert we have been travelling through for the last couple of hours.


The Lake is another man made marvel designed to control the Colorado flow into Lake Meade further downstream and also to produce electricity.Its planning and construction through the 50’s and 60’s was controversial. Many thought then that it was unnecessary and there is still a body of opinion that thinks so now.
Finished in 1967 it took seventeen years to fill the Lake behind the dam. Its construction has caused havoc with the natural dispersal of silt lower downstream with consequences on the ecosystem of the lower Colorado. It has not prevented the waters in Lake Mead from falling fifty metres.
It exists however and has produced a massive man made Lake that cuts through several National Parks. It has over a thousand miles of coastline and is hundreds of metres deep in places. As well as serving millions of people with water in the surrounding states it has become a focus for tourism since the 70’s and that is why we are here.

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We take a short two and a half hour boat ride that takes us around Antelope Island and into the upper reaches of Antelope Canyon. This Canyon can be accessed by road and foot from the south but it is interesting to get a view of it from a boat.


The first part of the trip takes us up Navajo Canyon. We learn the difference between a Mesa rock formation ( think table – longer than tall and flat topped ) and a Butte ( a tower – tall and thin ).

We get up close to the huge rock walls that the Navajo revered as tapestries that told stories in the strange shapes. We can make out dragons and other shapes as well as faces on the oxide stained sandstone walls. Some of the rocks have been sculpted into animal- like forms and we see a huge stone frog that is about to take a leap into the water.
The ever changing rock sculptures are fascinating. So too are some of our fellow passengers. One lady spends the whole trip taking selfies, pouting and preening herself against the changing background. We estimate she has a couple of hundred of them!
It has been refreshing to get onto the water and to get a different perspective of the landscape and the way of life of the many Americans who have a lifestyle built around this man made sea.

img_0474One of the houseboats in the new Marina is valued at over twenty million dollars and they sit there as second homes mostly. A young crowd can be seen on jet skis. Others have taken to canoes to explore quietly the millions of hidden creeks.
And like much of this area there was not even a tarred road or a proper bridge over this river until sixty years ago.

Such is the speed of progress in this country.

On our drive back we notice yet again the complete absence of litter. The roadsides in both town and countryside are utterly free of plastic bags, bottles, cans and all the other detritus that we see every day in the UK. Yet there are not more litter bins, and we haven’t seen anyone sweeping the streets. The only possible conclusions is that despite being avid consumers, Americans just don’t  drop  their rubbish like we do.

This evening we eat out in Kanab, a small town nearby that was a centre of the film industry in the 1930s when it was known as Little Hollywood; a  few films were made here into the 70s, including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Photos from the film sets adorn the bars and restaurants including the one where  we get to sample ‘Bob’s famous gravy’ which comes ladled on the mashed potato and on Marilyn’s fried chicken and my chicken- fried steak. No, we couldn’t work it out either, but it tasted ok.

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Fredonia and The North Rim

Sunday 25th.We rustle up some of Ronnie’s chicken eggs for breakfast. For someone who is ‘up with the sun and in bed with the dark’, she is a late riser. It is Sunday after all. We leave her sorting through her cowgirl dresses and frilled suede tops as she is getting ready to ‘hang out with the Mormons ‘ in church for the next few hours.

for sale guns and booze and ammo


We are on the road early and get a chance to see Fredonia before we blink. There is a garage come store that sort of sums up this area. Guns and booze for sale in the same place! Seems like a recipe for disaster in a town run on testosterone.

We are soon back at Jacob Lake where we have to try another Mormon cookie and coffee before heading down the scenic route that takes us into the North Rim National Park. 


Route 87 is another stunning drive. It rises steadily to over 8000 feet. Here clusters of bright yellow quaking Aspens break through the burnt out pines. In the bright sun and breeze their leaves quiver and shimmer and quake in colours that range from gold through to bronze and russet and seem to be on fire.

Our first experience of the North Rim at the visitor centre highlights the how different the North Rim is to the much more popular South Rim. We are told that over five million people visited the South Rim this year as opposed to about six hundred thousand in the North Rim. It is over a thousand feet higher on this rim and noticeably chillier. The park closes from October through to May as the snow is so heavy it blocks off the windy road.


We take a short hike from the Visitor Centre to Bright Angel Point. This is possibly the busiest little trek as the majority of visitors don’t venture far from their cars. Immediately we are hit by the enormous drops on both sides and the panoramic vistas. We can see the South Rim some twelve miles away and we are looking down nearly a mile. At some points on this little walk that takes us along a ridge we have drops on both sides. Not great with heights, it takes some deep breaths to get near the edge. 

We decide to take the car right round the rim to Cape Royal, making stops at Vista Encantanda ( 8480 ft ), Roosevelt Point, Walhalla Ovelook, Angels Window and Cape Royal  where the road ends. 

The road rises through forest initially before reaching the higher plateau of this section of the Rim. The views open up as we make the stops. Each one is different but one thing in common today is the clarity in the atmosphere. We are told by a ranger that it is a ‘ hundred and fifty mile day’. The mountains in the distance are in Southern Arizona where we were staying in Flagstaff.

Marilyn and I are often lost for words as the vista opens up. We can see the ribbon of the Colarado a mile down in the Canyon and although not the best light because the sun is actually too bright, the contrasting and subtle changes in the rock strata against a consistent cobalt blue sky are wonderful. It is hard to get our heads around the enormous scale of what we are seeing and to realise that this epic canvas has been created by the power of water, wind, cold and heat over millions of years.


We make the decision to leave before sunset as we feel that in a cloudless sky it won’t be the best ever seen. 

It is difficult to compare the experiences of South over North Rim. Both provide heart stopping moments of wonder. However, the relative quiet of the North Rim and the enormous distances that can be seen from the elevated plateau make it a more enjoyable experience in my book and one that it will be hard ever to beat in terms of ‘ wow’ factor.

We return to Fredonia to a quiet house. In the middle of supper ( Marilyn musters up a vegetarian masterpiece)  a spluttering Cowgirl exits her room to apologise for hiding away but she is very poorly with cold and doesn’t want to spread her germs. She disappears coughing and spluttering and that is the last we will see of her as we leave next morning after the sun has risen but before Cowgirl Ronnie sees the light of day.

the mountains on the horizon are a hundred a fifty mile distant

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