The following takes place entirely on day 10 (of 15) in our drive through the American Southwest. Day 9 was a long one on the road: from Flagstaff, we drove north on US-89 and US-89A next to Echo Cliffs and Vermilion Cliffs, and ending up at North Rim for our first-ever visit to the Grand Canyon. After overnighting at Cliff Dwellers Lodge, day 10 began with a stop at the Rock Houses nearby, then retracing the previous day’s drive back to Cameron, before turning west to spend the rest of the day at the Desert View section of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. That began our first-time visit to the South Rim, spanning two days (days 10 and 11).
Total distance from Cliff Dwellers to Flagstaff (via South Rim): 217 mi (349 km).
- Cliff Dwellers Lodge
- The Russell Rock Houses
- Little Colorado River Gorge Lookout
- Desert View, Grand Canyon’s South Rim
- Grandview Point
- Sunset at Lipan Point
Cliff Dwellers Lodge
At mile marker 547 of highway US-89A is the location of Cliff Dwellers Lodge, established near fresh water springs at Soap Creek. In the midst of a desolate “Arizona Strip“, Cliff Dwellers Lodge is an oasis: a place to eat and rest, and to stock up on supplies. The rooms are modest, clean, and cozy; the restaurant’s food is ample delicious diner fare. Additional lodging includes Lee’s Ferry Lodge at Vermilion Cliffs and Marble Canyon Lodge.
The Russell Rock Houses
About a quarter-mile east from Cliff Dwellers Lodge are a set of unusual formations which I mistakenly believed was of indigenous origin. In the early 1930s, Blanche and Bill Russell were travelling through the area, fell in love with the location, and dropped anchor to build stone houses and operate a trading post, serving the needs of Mormons travelling to and from the nearest Mormon church in St. George, Utah. This spot is also called “Blanche Russell Rock Houses” or “Cliff Dwellers Stone Houses”.
Little Colorado River Gorge Lookout
Leaving Cameron and US-89 behind, we drive west on state highway AZ-64 on approach to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. But we first stop at the Little Colorado River Navajo Tribal Park for a visual appetizer. The Little Colorado River is one of the largest tributaries feeding the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon; we had already crossed the Little Colorado River in the Painted Desert on a previous 1-day drive. Squeezed between the Coconino Plateau and the river’s upper gorge where the canyon is deep as it is wide (240 metres), AZ-64 provides easy access to views of the Little Colorado, including the Tribal Park’s east overlook between highway mileposts 285 and 286.
Desert View (Grand Canyon)
This was our first ever visit to the Grand Canyon. We’d been blown away by the views of North Rim the previous day. But on this day the anticipation was high because the sun was out. We arrived at the South Rim’s Desert View, and the Grand Canyon’s eastern section did not disappoint.
With a lookout point labelled “Grandview”, ya gotta go find out why. Healthy skepticism and endless curiosity are a direct route to answering that question for ourselves. In the heart of the South Rim’s eastern section, the sweeping 180-degree view is magnificent as it is memorable, particularly for the hundreds of millions of years in geological evolution visible in the exposed rock layers below. There’s also a nice bit of “closure” with the North Rim’s Cape Royal where we had visited the previous day.
Sunset at Lipan Point
Naturally, we stayed for sunset, a perfect way to end our 1st day in the Grand Canyon’s South Rim and another 1-day drive in the American Southwest. As dusk gave way to darkness, we drove east on AZ-64 to Cameron, then turning south to Flagstaff where we established a base for the next couple of days; our Flagstaff hosts introduced us to the delicious southern stylings at Satchmo’s. Even better conditions accompanied our visit the following day to the remaining half of the South Rim.
I made these pictures on 14 October 2018 entirely with a Canon EOS6D mark1. Thanks to AB for making this memorable trip possible. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-f5i.