...around the Vermillion Cliffs
Lee's Ferry, Paria Canyon
The Vermillion Cliffs cover a lot of area, roughly from Page, Arizona and southwesterly toward the north rim of the Grand Canyon. Navajo Bridge, Paria Canyon, Lee's Ferry and Marble Canyon all are within a pocket of the Vermillions that offer incredibly scenic views and a vast range of hiking opportunites.
Though I've been in this area before, this time I did a little more hiking and gained a new appreciation for its raw beauty.
Highway 89 from Page and headed to the north rim of the Grand Canyon parallels the spectacularly picturesque Vermillion Cliffs.
Highway 89 crosses over the Navajo Bridge at Marble Canyon. An interpretive center is at the west end of the bridge that spans the Colorado River. A new bridge was completed in the mid-1990s after the original one was deemed unsafe for present-day traffic. The original bridge (on the right, above) has become a pedestrian-only bridge. From it you get great views of Marble Canyon, the Vermillion Cliffs and the Echo Cliffs.
Looking down at the Colorado River from the Navajo Bridge
It was our lucky day when we happened upon this California Condor sitting on the railing of the Navajo Bridge.
The bridge is known as a local hangout for the condor, but I had crossed it a few times before without laying eyes on one.
This one I spotted from way at the far end of the bridge, and at first I thought it was a person. But as I got closer, I realized the person had no legs, which made me wonder if I had happened upon someone about to jump.
Adrenaline pumping, I got closer still to realize it was a condor. I slowly approached, taking pictures all along the way, sure it was going to take flight at any moment. However, I was able to get well within six feet, and she didn't even blink. Then, she even posed, raising a wing to show off her beautiful underside. At that point, those who had since gathered were sure she must be mechanical, but we stood there anyway for nearly half an hour snapping pictures like crazy, yet trying hard not to infringe upon her space.
Love the spiky do, girlfriend. My sister has spiked hair, too, but she's blonde. And she's much prettier than you are!
There are two types of condors: this, the California, and one found in the Andes Mountains of South America. I learned they are a vulture, so unless we were dead, we had no fear of being attacked or eaten. I'm pretty sure this is a female, as it has no comb on its head. Almost all condors are tagged for tracking purposes.
This must be my favorite butte in all of the Vermillion Cliffs. It sits majestically towering over the Navajo Bridge at Marble Canyon. I seem to take numerous photos of it everytime I see it. Whether it has a name, I don't know.
The Lee's Ferry River Trial follows the Colorado River at the point where, for 55 years, a ferry service established by John D. Lee transported Mormon pioneers and other various travelers across the river as they entered Arizona from Utah. It was a dangerous crossing, and today several relics can be seen left in place.
The next several pictures were taken along the two-mile roundtrip trail.
Those who operated Lee's Ferry lived self-sufficiently here at the Lonely Dell Ranch. Located at the opening of the Paria River, it's now maintained by volunteers who harvest the fruit trees and do general upkeep on the ranch. A couple of houses, an orchard including apricot, cherry and apple trees, and a cemetery complete the ranch grounds.
A stone fort built at Lee's Ferry
The end of the Dell Ranch marks the beginning of the Paria Canyon hiking trail. The trail is some 45 miles long, and we actually met a volunteer at the ranch who had done the full length. We must have done around four (smile) - roundtrip. The river was low, and we felt oh-so-miniscule walking the dirt path among the shrubs and under the towering cliffs.
The small section at the beginning of the trail may look treacherous for those afraid of heights, but it wasn't bad at all, certainly not as scary as it looks in these pictures.
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Near what's called the Paria Riffle, the Colorado and the Paria rivers merge. At this particular time of day, the river had a pink cast as the reddish sandstone reflected off the water.