“Arizona ~USA 🇺🇸 The Grand Canyon; North/South Rims, The Vintage Railway, Navajo Bridge, and Vermilion Cliffs National Monument”
“The Grand Canyon and All her Beauty”
The Grand Canyon is one of the most spectacular places on this planet, and I’m proud it can be found in my own country of the USA 🇺🇸!
Having traveled to so many foreign lands by this stage of my life, it gets harder and harder to wow me, because of getting to see so many spectacular sites; worldwide! But, on these few days we got to adventure, recently, when we toured both the North and the South Rims, it was just as magical, as the other times I’ve gotten to visit there.
Grand Canyon National Park, in Arizona, is home to much of the immense Grand Canyon, with its layered bands of red rock revealing millions of years of geological history.
Viewpoints include Mather Point, Yavapai Observation Station and architect Mary Colter’s Lookout Studio and her Desert View Watch
The Grand Canyon Railway
We’ve never ridden this train to the Grand Canyon, so it was on our list for this spring.
We boarded onto our 99-year-old Pullman car, sat back on padded seats, and enjoyed the ride.
I picked that particular car, because the windows opened.
The scenery changed from pine trees to prairie, then back to pine trees, once we reached the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, and we got off near the Village.
We enjoyed about four hours to roam around, before needing to board again, around 3:15PM, for the ride back to Williams.
Each way was a two-hour and 15 min trip. The train is slow moving; much slower than driving in a car, but the experience is truly unique and enjoyable. Be sure, though, the train tracks do not follow the Canyon Rim; but a simple scenic interior route.
Entertainment by the Railroad, included a pre-show with cowboys and horses, at the train depot, before boarding the train.
During the train ride, we had Singing Cowboys, a Cowboy “Marshall,” walking the train cars, and upon our return trip, even a “train robbery!”
⬆️ I think these Cowboys are scoping things out for a “possible” train robbery!
⬆️ Each day as the whistle sounds and another train pulls into station, the Train Depot reminds visitors of earlier days at Grand Canyon. The first train arrived in 1901, bringing passengers ready to marvel at Grand Canyon’s one-of-a-kind views. Today this feeling continues as folks step off the train, eager to make the walk up towards El Tovar Hotel and the canyon rim.
Constructed in 1909-1910, the Train Depot is part of the Grand Canyon National Park National Historic Landscape District and a designated National Historic Landmark
⬆️ Remembering about my much anticipated Mule Ride, from this starting point, 25 years ago!
⬆️ Bright Angel Lodge is where the check-in is and the weigh scale is for the Mule riding
⬆️ The Mary Colter’s Lookout Studio and viewpoint
If you look very closely, there is a California Condor sunning itself on the rock ledge, below the studio lookout
⬆️ Daryl eating beef jerky. He may or may not have accidentally left crumbs… the little stinker
⬆️Enjoying some shade at the look out studio
⬆️ Same California Condor. It’s marked with a #23, as it part of the breeding program for the almost extinct bird, where the young are released at Vermillion Cliffs Monument, many miles away.
Who knew we would end up going to the “North Pole” on this train trip!
Oh No…. I spy a member of The Cataract Creek Gang!
Here we go! A train robbery in progress!
In the past, I got to ride Mules to the Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Grand Canyon and spend the night in a rustic cabin, after a big steak dinner was served; cowboy style!
I’ve also done a Three-Night rafting trip through the Grand Canyon; flown in by helicopter to the put-in point, on the mighty Colorado River.
My first visit, though, to the Grand Canyon, happened on a family vacation, when I was quite young.
The Grand Canyon, NEVER gets old in my book!
……Speaking of the Mule ride, I would love to go again, and Daryl would too! Only thing is, the weight limit is 200 pounds; fully clothed. Daryl the big guy, doesn’t qualify. The other thing is; reservations are out 15 months, and then it’s a lottery to get drawn, if one is lucky enough to go. Not only is it a very popular activity with tourists, but only 10 mules a day make the trip each day. Well, I’m feeling lucky, so I’m signing up! Daryl can meet me at the cabin, by way of hiking. If not, he can lodge at one of the places in the village and wait for me. He’s a real sport.
Williams, Arizona is known as the Gateway to The Grand Canyon; with an easy 52 mile drive, to reach the South Rim. However, traveling to the East Rim of the Grand Canyon is quite a bit further, so we got up at 5AM on this day, and began the drive, to reach the Navajo Twin Bridges; 156 miles and 2.5 hours away. It is not touristy, as it’s lesser known, but oh so pretty.
The Navajo Twin Bridges ⬇️
The original Navajo Bridge was completed and opened to traffic in January 1929. Prior to the building of the bridge, the only way to cross the Colorado River and its formidable gorge was at Lee’s Ferry, a short distance upstream.
Here, the cliffs were almost non-existent, allowing travelers of all kinds to cross in relative safety. However, the automobile had come into favor as the best way to travel and the ferry wasn’t the safest way to cross.
The bridge, which was at first called Grand Canyon Bridge, would create a much safer method of crossing the river.
The plan was to continue to operate the ferry at Lee’s Ferry, until the bridge was completed, but in mid-summer 1928, there was a tragic accident that sank the ferry with its cargo and cost the lives of three men. Since the bridge was so near completion a decision was made to not replace the ferry. That meant the closest crossing of the Colorado River was about 260 miles away!
The original Navajo Bridge was more than adequate for the needs of travelers for over sixty years, but during that time, automobiles changed. Vehicles became wider and truck loads got longer until the narrow bridge was deemed unsafe for travel. Also, even though pedestrians were prohibited on the bridge, the temptation was sometimes too great and as a result there were several fatalities.
A decision was made to keep the original bridge and build an almost identical bridge just downstream. The historic bridge would be a walking bridge, and the new bridge would be built wider to allow modern traffic to flow safely.
It is designed so that you need to cross the bridge by vehicle and park at the Navajo Interpretive Center.
From there, you can walk across the old bridge and take pictures of the two bridges side by side.
After the Twin Bridges, we continued on to Vermillion Cliffs Monument, which was not much further.
This remote and unspoiled 280,000-acre monument is a geologic treasure with some of the most spectacular trails and views in the world.
The monument contains many diverse landscapes, including the Paria Plateau, Vermilion Cliffs, Coyote Buttes, and Paria Canyon. The monument borders Kaibab National Forest to the west and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area to the east.
Elevations range from 3,100 to 7,100 feet. The monument is also home to a growing number of endangered California condors. Each year, condors hatched and raised in a captive breeding program are released in the monument.
To visit the monument, you’ll need extra planning and awareness of potential hazards. Most roads need a high clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicle due to deep sands.
Marble Canyon Cliff Dweller Area ⬇️
During the Great Depression-fleeing Ziegfeld Follies dancer; Blanche Russell’s car break down in Marble Canyon in 1930’s and she decided to try turning the nearby boulders into a home.
She ran a restaurant and gas station here.
The remnants in the Vermillion Cliffs are called the “Old Cliff Dwellers Lodge.
After the interesting Cliff Dweller area visit, we turned around and made our way back across the Navajo Bridge, again,
and on to the South/North Rim of the Grand Canyon to spend the rest of our day there; driving both the Orange and the Red routes, to the many view points, overlooking the Grand Canyon.
The Grand Canyon is the most visited attraction in Arizona.
The South Rim of the Grand Canyon attracts over 5 million visitors each year and by far is the most visited side of the Canyon. That’s because it is the most accessible and provides the most amenities. As with all sides of the Canyon, the South Rim features astounding views of what took Mother Nature millions and millions of years to create. That why it has earned the distinction as one of the world’s Seven Wonders.
Kaibab Rim (Orange) Route
The Kaibab Rim is a figure 8 loop that provides transport between the Visitor Center Shuttle Bus Terminal and South Kaibab Trailhead, Yaki Point, Pipe Creek Overlook, Mather Point, and Yavapai Geology Museum.
The road to South Kaibab Trailhead and Yaki Point is closed to private vehicles. Access is by park shuttle, on foot, or by bicycle, unless you qualify for a special handicap permit to drive your own vehicle.
On the Orange route, we parked our car and got our electric scooters out, and tootled around on them for awhile, visiting the Mule Barn, where Canyon Rim only riding for tourists is done from. I was delighted they let us on property to love on some Mules. Incidentally, these Mules retired from the Phantom Ranch Mule rides, which go all the way down, then back up the switch back trail. The Rim Ride is up to a few hours and all flat and much easier on the older Mules.
Daryl found a friend ⬆️
It was on this part of the viewpoints where we saw many elk. There were some wandering around, that were quite visible, but there were many more, not as easily noticeable, since they were cooling off in the shady, brushy areas, unseen by most tourists.
The day was warm and sunny, with a slight breeze; and THE best time of the year to visit, before it gets too hot as of course too cold, later.
A cow Elk and her two last years babies ⬆️
Hermit Road (Red) Route
From March through November, this road is closed to private vehicles, but shuttle buses service the area, so hop on a shuttle. It’s worth the time to tour and experience Hermit’s Road! (Private vehicles are allowed along this route from Dec. 1-Feb. 28th with the right handicap permit.
With nine scenic overlooks providing stunning Grand Canyon and Colorado River views, Hermit’s Road is a scenic drive to include on your travel itinerary.
This scenic drive, which was constructed in 1912 by the Santa Fe Company as a scenic tour route, starts at Grand Canyon Village and continues west for eight miles before arriving at Hermit’s Rest. A little over halfway into the drive, be sure to stop at The Abyss, a 3,000-foot dramatic drop to the Tonto Platform.
The Grand Canyon Vintage Railway
Since 1901, the Grand Canyon Railway and Hotel has been taking passengers on a fabled journey to the heart of one of the seven wonders of the world.
The Grand Canyon Railway is more than just a mode of transportation, it’s a trip back in time on the lovingly restored rail cars, with entertaining musicians and the antics of cowboy characters.
Out your window, the terrain changes from high desert to prairie, from prairie to pine. It’s a view that’s ever-changing until you come across a view so brilliant, it could very well change you.
The canyon itself is only half of the experience. After your historic and scenic ride on the Grand Canyon Railway from Williams, Arizona, to the Grand Canyon, South Rim, you will disembark in the heart of the South Rim’s Historic Village. Revel in the architectural marvels of Mary E.J. Colter; from Lookout Studio, to Hopi House, to Hermit’s Rest–while you walk along the Rim Trail.
You may even encounter some of the elk who call the rim home in the distance.
Archive Blog Posts of Our Country Visits
- “Arizona ~USA 🇺🇸 The Grand Canyon; North/South Rims, The Vintage Railway, Navajo Bridge, and Vermilion Cliffs National Monument”
- “Arizona ~USA 🇺🇸 “Grand Canyon Deer Farm”
- Mexico 🇲🇽 ~“Interior State of Sonora, Town of San Carlos for Six Weeks”
- USA 🇺🇸 Williams, Arizona ~on Route 66 at the Canyon Motel and RV AND About “Jonah” The Bug”
- “USA 🇺🇸 ~Arizona and Her Beauty, INCLUDING a Sloth!”
- USA ~Arizona “Here Comes Bella Coach-Ella!”
- “USA ~From Florence, and Casa Grande, Arizona Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!”
- “USA ~The Tri-States; Including Oatman The Living Ghost Town, Arizona”
- “USA 🇺🇸 ~We Made It Back to California and Gone Again, Already!”
- “Intermittent Fasting in Our Senior Years”
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