Saturday, November 5, 2016

Cliffs and Canyons

We were sad to leave Bryce Canyon, but pulled out and headed south, anticipating more spectacular sights along the way.  We weren’t disappointed.  Reversing our route into the park, we had early morning views of Red Canyon…

and past an abandoned homestead.

We skirted the edge of Pink Coral Sand Dunes State Park, wishing we had more time to explore there.

Although the road itself left a lot to be desired, the cliffs along either side of Hwy 89 were amazing.

We crossed the border into Arizona and took Alt 89 past Vermillion Cliffs National Monument.

As we approached, we stopped for another “table with a view” lunch at one of the overlooks.

Information at the viewpoint described efforts to increase the population of wild California Condors in the canyonlands of southern Utah and northern Arizona.  Beginning in 1996, 6-10 condors that were hatched and raised in captivity have been released annually in this area.  They are monitored and receive supplemental feeding until they can survive on their own.   As of June 30, the condor population in the Vermillion Cliffs area numbered 73, and more birds were released in September of this year. 

Except for a brief glimpse of one flying in Bryce Canyon NP, unfortunately we didn’t see any condors.  They are the largest flying land bird in North America.  Scavengers that feed primarily on large land animals, they have a wing span of 9 1/2 feet at maturity, and can weigh up to 25 pounds.  They breed for life, and can live up to 60 years in the wild.  We wish them well in their beautiful home among the Vermillion Cliffs. 

We continued on our way and crossed the Colorado at the very upper end of Grand Canyon National Park.  

Then across miles and miles and miles of Northern Arizona, through Flagstaff to Williams, AZ, which calls itself “The Gateway to the Grand Canyon.”  Williams has the distinction to be the last town in America on Historic Route 66 to be bypassed by IH 40.  If you want to get a flavor for that historic highway, you can “Get your kicks on Route 66” in Williams.  

We also got our kicks at the lovely Dog Town State Park a few miles outside of Williams, and in the national forest behind our RV park, where the Bagley Pack had a good time sniffing around. 

We also got our kicks at Grand Canyon National Park.  The park is 50+ miles north of Williams, so we had a bit of a hike to get there.  On the way, we stopped to stretch our legs on one of several roads into Kaibab National Forest.  Rue was determined to dig out a ground squirrel, but never succeeded.

The canyon itself defies description.  A mile deep and 18 miles wide in places, it overwhelms the senses.

Dogs are allowed on the trail along the canyon rim, so the Bagley Pack accompanied us on our walk to some of the viewpoints.  At several of them, we had to stand in line for a chance to look down into the canyon.  It was a mob scene, with dozens of tour buses discharging hundreds of tourists.  It was ironic that many of them didn’t appear to be interested in the view.  They were just elbowing their way to the edge so they could take selfies with the canyon in the background.  Strange, and sad.  

We left the area near the visitor center in favor of some of the less-popular overlooks and were able to enjoy the views as the afternoon shadows crept into the canyon.

We had planned to spend two days at Grand Canyon, but the crowds were so thick, and so many of the viewpoints accessible only by shuttle or a several-mile walk that we decided not to return for a second day.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoy your blog. Your comments about the crowds of selfie takers at the Grand Canyon really hit home. That's one of the reasons that Old Faithful was my least favorite part of Yellowstone. I know that everybody has the same right as I do to visit our National Parks, but some people just don't deserve to be there!