Lee’s Ferry – the only crossing for miles

My next stop was at Lee’s Ferry. Go back less than 100 years and there was no bridge or road across the Colorado River or its deep canyons for hundreds of miles meaning that Arizona and Utah were practically cut-off from each other. The only way across for all of this distance was down in the bottom of a canyon at a place called Lee’s Ferry.

Lee's Ferry

This location, now right at the boundary of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River, was home to a ferry that ran for half a century until the Navajo Bridge was built in the 1920s. This was the only path without going hundreds of miles out of the way for the Mormon settlers to get to Arizona or back to Utah.

I found the historic sites and followed a short trail that leads along the river. It was beautiful and very tranquil. I enjoyed the history, the natural beauty and the wildlife. I have a thing for reptiles and was lucky enough to see a few young chuckwallas and a desert horned lizard.

Since it is technically part of Glen Canyon NRA, it is a fee site. No worries though. Even if the history doesn’t interest you the scenery is spectacular, and it is quite a retreat. This is also the launch for rafting trips through the Grand Canyon. There is a campground, a sandy beach and of course some of the historical remnants.

young chuckwalla at Lee's FerryLee's Ferry RuinsLee's Ferrydesert horned lizard at Lee's Ferry

If you’re just stopping by on your way down U.S. 89A, then go to the boat launch area. This is where the short trails are that give you a small glimpse into the ferry and the various people who ran it. There are ruins of old buildings, a ship wreck and some glorious views.

It is important to note that had U.S. 89 to Page been open, most people would completely miss this section of Arizona. If you have the time, take this scenic drive through the Vermilion Cliffs, over the canyons of the Colorado River and up over the Kaibab Plateau where Teddy Roosevelt hunted mountain lions and were you can reach the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. This scenic route may take a little longer and wind a little more up and down the hills, but it is worth it.

Until next time, where do you think I should go? There is a handful of national monuments around Flagstaff or maybe Saguaro National Park near Tucson. Let me know what you think. Adventure is out there, so go have one!

Scenery at Vermilion Cliffs and Lee's Ferry

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