Adventures in the American West: Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

‘Please, for the good of your soul, travel west.’-Daniel J. Rice

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is massive. It encompasses much of Lake Powell and the areas around Page, Arizona. It is famous for several things, Horseshoe Bend and the Rainbow Bridge. The former I visited twice and the latter can only be accessed via watercraft, thus was not an option during my trip. Next time! The Glen Canyon Dam is also a view point and where the area gains its power.

It truly is a stunning region, the Vermillion Cliffs loom large and only get bigger as you get closer. What is incredible is the cliffs are the same stone as others in the area, notably Bryce Canyon and Cedar Breaks, but different colors due to sciency things that I cannot comprehend. Cool none the less!

Before heading to the Grand Canyon, I decided to take a brief detour to check out the Navajo Bridge and Lees Ferry. The Navajo Bridge is actually two bridges, one for pedestrians and the other for motor vehicles. While the bridge is cool, it is famous for the California Condors that hang out there early in the morning. When I was growing up, the California Condor was on the verge of extinction. I never, ever thought I would see them in real life. The closest I thought I would get is the massive, stuffed one at the San Bernardino County Museum, where I took field trips as a kid. I read that Glen Canyon had become a key habitat with their protection and survival. They enjoy the rafters in the early morning hours, or so I had read.

So there I was on Christmas Day, enjoying the sunshine, and see some birds on the rafters. It was about 11ish, so not early morning, and they didn’t seem very big nor have pink, featherless heads. I assumed, while cool, they must be vultures. There was another woman and her adult son and we were chatting about whether they were condors. I was like, no way due to the reasons above. Adult California Condors have a wing span of like six feet. And again, I had read they are not there after early morning. ALL LIES! When I got home, I realized they were the fabled condor. In addition, they are tagged and you can look up the ones you saw and learn their history. One I saw had a gray head because they were still a baby (relatively speaking). So I learned a lot and to the woman I unintentionally lied to, I am very sorry!

I continued down to the road to Lees Ferry. My guide at Horseshoe Bend told me that you can access the Colorado River at Lees Ferry. There is a pay station but I have my parks pass so just continued. What was really cool is that the banks of the Colorado are actually part of Grand Canyon National Park. I never knew the park extended this far and can now say I have been to the bottom of the canyon (my mom would be so proud-story to come). The water was really brown and it was a bit cold. I have been in the Colorado River so opted out of putting my toes in the water this time, ha!

I saw a sign for cliff dwellings, so decided to check it out. Its free, on the side of the road, and kinda cool. While I definitely thought driving there it was cliff dwellings ala the famed ones made by the Anazai, this homestead was constructed during the Great Depression by a couple whose car broke down and they decided to stay (or so I read…the Condor story has shaken my faith but this seems legit). The rocks that surround the homestead are MASSIVE. Like 20 feet tall. It feels like you are walking on Mars. It was an awesome, roadside detour.

I should note that I actually came back this way after the Grand Canyon to get home. I do not know if this is the case outside of winter (the North Rim is closed from October-ish to May-ish), it was for mine. So if this is the route you are heading, know you will return. I cannot wait to explore further when it is warmer and check out the water access only spots!

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