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|September 2019 — Arizona Strip and Grand Canyon|
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Copyright © 2015 - 2021 Larrie Easterly
Earlier this year a friend from California suggested that we do a road trip to northern Arizona in the fall. As we worked out the route we contacted several other friends until there were seven or us. Our route would take us into the Arizona Strip and to several different points that overlook the Grand Canyon from the north side.
The Arizona Strip is the area north of Grand Canyon National Park, south of Utah and east of Nevada. The area is very remote and difficult to travel through. A high clearance four wheel drive vehicle is required to get to most of the places we visited. There are only two small towns close to the Utah border and only two paved roads, also close to the border that pass through the area. All other roads are dirt, gravel or rock.
The Meandering 7 met in Mesquite, Nevada at the Virgin River Casino. The hotel has inexpensive rooms where several of us spent the night before the trip. Three of the group decided to camp at Whitney Pockets in stead of staying at the hotel. We all met there the following morning to start our adventure.
Whitney Pockets — Photo Galley
Leaving Whitney Pockets we headed for Grand Gulch Canyon. On the way we visited Devils Throat, a 234 foot deep sink hole in the desert. There was a chain link fence around the hole to warn people traveling across the desert that it was there. Entering the fenced area we were amazed at the size of the sink hole.
Our lunch stop was at the abandoned Gold Butte mine. The deep dark shaft was blocked off with a grate to keep people out of it. On the surface there were several artifacts left over from the when the mine was operational. There were also two grave markers at the site.
We camped at the base of the Grand Gulch Canyon as planned and watched a huge thunder and lightning storm move across the valley towards us. The rain showed up as the storm came closer. We huddled under our awnings and enjoyed a small fire while talking about what we have been doing since the time we last we got together.
Road to Kelly Point — Photo Galley
After meeting up and exchanging stories about the roads we had taken we headed for the Savanic and Cunningham mines. The two mines are about two miles apart and the road to them across the mesa was in reasonable shape. The road down to the mines from the top of the mesa was narrow, steep and had not been used in many years. Bruce tried to get down the road to the Savanic but had to turn back due to the narrowness of the track. We backtracked several miles and found a sheltered spot to camp among juniper trees.
Pearce Canyon — Photo Galley
The group got separated on the way to Oak Grove and our campsite for the the night. The van seemed to be struggling as we were climbed up a wash in a narrow canyon. I radioed Bruce, who was about a half a mile behind me, that I was stopping to check if anything was wrong. He radioed back that his Jeep was overheating and was stopping to let it cool down. The steep canyon walls prevented us from contacting the other members of the group to let them know what was going on. The van seemed to be fine so once Bruce was ready we continued on up the wash to Oak Grove. The rest of the group was already there with camp setup when we got to the campsite. After dinner we enjoyed popcorn cooked over the fire in a dutch oven.
Sanup Plateau — Photo Galley
Parashant Canyon — Photo Galley
Bar 10 Ranch — Photo Galley
The roads were in pretty good shape until we started dropping down into Whitmore Canyon where they turned a bit rocky. We were glad to get to the Bar 10 where we had our first showers in seven days. The Bar 10 ranch is a large operation with 1,200 head of cattle, Colorado River rafting expeditions, cowboy adventures and the ability to sleep in covered wagons or bunkhouses at the ranch. The ranch is the only place to buy gas on the Arizona Stip.
Grand Canyon — Photo Galley
It is a seven mile slow drive down Whitmore Canyon from the ranch to the overlook. The road like most of the ones in the area is rough and strewn with imbedded rocks with many tight switchbacks and shallow rock ledges as it drops about 1,000 feet to the edge of the Grand Canyon. The view of the canyon and river was worth the drive. From the overlook we could see the Colorado River make a long sweeping east to west curve through the canyon. As we were admiring the view we saw several groups of rafters float by and pull to the bank. Using binoculars we saw that they were setting up camp for the night.
It was very windy at the edge of the canyon so I parked the van to act as a windbreak. After dinner we sat in the lea of the van and watched the stars come out. It was a clear sky and the Milky Way was out in all its glory.
Helicopter in the Canyon — Photo Galley
Later that morning we met up with the rest of our group at the Bar 10. They had spent the night on one of the mesas overlooking our campsite. After they got fuel had had showers we headed out and once again. Bruce, Mynor, and Curt took the hard route through Hells Hollow while the rest of us took the longer easier route through Potato Valley. We agreed to meet at the end of the road campsite on Mount Logan.
Top of Mt. Logan — Photo Galley
We arrived shortly before the other group and were enjoying the panoramic view of the valleys below when they showed up. That evening, like others, we sat around a small campfire and swapped stories and had smokies and popcorn.
Nampaweap Petroglyphs — Photo Galley
You do not need a permit to visit Toroweap Point and look down into the canyon. A permit is only required to spend the night there. The permits that we had only allowed two cars and three people at each campsite. This was sort of a problem because there were six vehicles. Mynor and Chuck decided that they would head back to the area of the petroglyphs and camp there. No fires are allowed in the park so after dinner we sat and watched the stars come out.
View from Toroweap Overlook — Photo Galley
The view into the canyon at the Toroweap overlook is much better than at the campground as the campground is setback quite a ways from the edge of the canyon. Like all the roads on the north rim a high clearance four wheel drive vehicle is required. It is a slow rough ride to get anywhere on the strip.
As we reached the top our cell phones started downloading text messages. We stopped and made some phone calls and sent texts to check in with our loved ones. Cell phone coverage on the strip is almost non existent so you need to take advantage of it when it does shows up. The funny part was that I had service where I was standing and Mynor, who was standing right next to me, did not even though we had the same carrier. He walked about ten feet away from me and got service. Go figure.
Chamberlin Canyon — Photo Galley
After we checked in we headed for the Kanab Point area. Our first stop was at Chamberlin Canyon. The location gave a wonderful view down its length to a more impressive view of the Kanab Creek Canyon. While admiring a view we got to see a tarantula and a horny toad. The tarantula was all furry and the toad was very cute.
View from Kanab Point — Photo Galley
We had camping permits to spend the night at Kanab Point. These did not have the same restrictions as the Toroweap permits. Where Toroweap had designated camp sites Kanab point did not. We picked a spot right at the edge of the canyon where we could enjoy the view of the canyon and the river during sunset and sunrise. Once again the stars did not disappoint.
Grand Canyon near Kanab Creek Canyon — Photo Galley
Today turned into the day that the group began to split up. Charles and I headed for Kanab to see if we could get permits to hike into The Wave rock formation. The rest of the group were headed back west to visit some other points that we skipped.
It looks like the person that put in the road into and out of Kanab Point was given the goal of missing every tree they possibly could. The route is narrow and winds around trees in a long series of tight S turns. I was glad to get off it and back onto the plateau.
Charles and I stopped at the Bureau of Land Management office in Kanab and asked about the permits to hike into The Wave. The gentleman there said they issues 10 permits a day and usually have about 150 applications. This is not good odds. He said the best odds are in December when there are far fewer applications.
Instead of hiking into The Wave we decided to hike Wire Pass instead. Both hikes are located in the Coyote Butte area of Utah. The hike is about 1.7 miles one way. It starts in the broad Coyote Wash and then narrows into slot canyon that is just wide enough to walk through with some points requiring that you turn sideways to continue on.
Wire Pass — Photo Galley
It was a beautiful and remarkably quiet place to hike. The red sandstone rose at least 100 feet above us. At the junction of Wire Pass and Buckskin Canyon there is a large amphitheater like area formed in the rock face. While we were admiring the view we heard a strange noise. We looked up and saw two crows flying above us. The noise was the sound of their wing beats and the vibration of the feathers. We got back to the vehicles about 4:00 pm and headed for the Stateline Campground a few miles south of our position. We got the last of the eight camping spot. The campground is the northern terminus of the Arizona Trail and sits directly on the border between Arizona and Utah.
Before the group split up Chuck recommended I take Cottonwood Road north rather than heading back to Kanab on the highway. I took his advice and was glad that I did. It was a beautiful drive through the canyon. The road passes by Grosvenor Arch. I stopped to enjoy the view of the double arches while eating lunch.
Grosvernor Arch — Photo Galley
Cottonwood road changes from dirt to pavement at the entrance to Kodachrome Basin State Park. Even though all of the campsites were full the ranger let me stay in the parking lot of the group site. (At times it helps to be in a self contained vehicle.) After a shower and doing laundry I hiked up Angel’s Palace Trail up to the viewpoints and enjoyed the light of the setting sun playing on the sandstone cliffs.
Kodachrome Basin State Park — Photo Galley
The next morning I stopped at our church temple in Sandy, UT for services before continuing north. My last night was spent on the banks of the Snake River a few miles inside Oregon.
After a good nights sleep I was on the road again on the final leg of my journey. It was good to be home again with Ann and our cat Shadow.
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