The Arizona Strip is the land between the Colorado River and Utah. At one time Utah thought they should annex it, but I’m glad it remains in Arizona, even though it is remote from the rest of the state. The Grand Canyon is not easy to cross and the roads around it are few.
Friends Sigi and Marjorie came to visit and, after a night in Prescott, we headed for the town of Page. There are many good reasons to travel to Page, Arizona, but none of them are in Page itself. The drive there is beautiful and there are many things to do and see nearby.
We rented a townhouse northwest of Page, nearly on the Utah border. The view was fantastic and we found ways to amuse ourselves. The weather started out a little dicey, but improved as our stay unfolded.
We had booked a private tour in Antelope Canyon, but due to the risk of flash floods the tour was canceled. That evening after stopping at the Wahweap overlook, we took the Panoramic Lake Powell Tour from the Wahweap Marina. The highlight of the trip was the dramatic scenery of Gunsight Bay. Some of the photos show the “bathtub ring”, which indicate the high water mark. The lake was very low, but was expected to rise another 50 feet or more, with all the recent rain and coming snow melt. As the sun set, we headed for the Rainbow Room restaurant at the marina.
The next day we took off bright and early for the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area, where we had arranged a guided hike to Wire Pass and Buckskin Gulch. We drove into Utah, just south of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, to get to the trailhead. The beginning of our hike was open and scenic. As we progressed, we came upon the first slot canyon, Wire Pass. It was very narrow, with undulating walls. At one point there was a boulder jamb requiring a daring drop, so some of us opted for the easy route around it. It was not easy. At the end of Wire Pass there was a panel of ancient petroglyphs.
Buckskin Gulch is the longest slot canyon in the US and possibly in the world. It drains part of the Vermillion Cliffs into the Paria River, which in turn flows into the Colorado River. The water was fairly high (sometimes thigh-high for our shorter hikers) and required caution as the mud was like quicksand and random rocks challenged our balance. We came out to an open area and had lunch…
…before doubling back. Marjorie selected the deepest spot of all to fall in and completely submerged. Twice. Back in Wire Pass, the “easy route” around the boulder jamb was even harder in the opposite direction.
We left the trailhead and headed for the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, where we believed we had reservations at the lodge for another two-night stay. Fortunately we discovered (while we were still two hours away) that our reservations were at the South Rim (the two rims are over 200 miles apart by car). Given that there really aren’t many other lodging options within an hour or two of the North Rim, and we had paid for the rooms at the South Rim, we headed around the Canyon to the other side. The North and South Rims are only 14 miles apart, if you go down and up the canyon. We didn’t.
In the morning it was threatening rain, but we soldiered on and spent the whole day at the Rim — most of it in glorious weather, with warm temps, blue skies, haunting shadows, and beautiful clouds.
We settled in at Hopi Point for the sunset, and were treated to quite a show.
The next morning some elk greeted us as we headed for home.
Oh, and there were flowers.