The Vermillion Cliffs National Monument
Yesterday I made the trip from the Petrified Forest National Park to Lee’s Ferry, Arizona, to spend some time exploring the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument. An uneventful trip west on Route 180 to Holbrook where I picked up I-40 West to just short of Flagstaff where I got on Route 89 North. All decent roads today with little traffic. About 30 miles south of Page, Arizona, I picked up Route 89A and drove into Lee’s Ferry, the starting point for a lot of the Grand Canyon River Runs. I was fortunate enough to snag one of the better sites in the Lee’s Ferry Campground, a flat pull through with a nice view.
As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.
This campground has about 40 sites, mostly back ins, mostly all not very level, along with maybe 7 pullthroughs, 2 or 3 of which are fairly level. Some sites have picnic tables, some have wind/sun screens, some have both, some have neither. Campfires are not allowed. $12/night or half that with the old fart’s discount, no hookups, but there are dumpsters and restrooms, and there is a dump station at the rangers station just a short distance from the campground.
The sites are all very close so there is no privacy. Fairly good Verizon signal and good satellite reception. There are no overhead lights so this place has brilliant starry nights.
This morning I headed up the road to the Lee’s Ferry landing to check on some rubber rafts I could see from my campsite. I was pretty impressed with the colors of the cliffside/mountainside caught in the shadows before sunrise, just an amazing rainbow of colors.
At 6:30 AM, the first of the day’s Colorado River runs was loading up and getting ready to shove off on a week or mores journey through the Grand Canyon.
By 7 AM I was heading back out the entry road to Route 89A and had to stop to shoot the ” balancing rocks ” along the Lee’s Ferry Road. The shot above looks like something I would imagine the Mars Rover would be shooting.
These rocks fell from the cliff top eons ago, landing on the ground at the base of the slope. Then thousands of years of erosion washed away about 6 feet of the ground around and under the rock leaving the pedestal that currently supports the rock, but that will eventually be eroded away as well, and the rock will fall once again
The colors and patterns that result from thousands, millions, of years of erosion are something to behold.
These cliffs run parallel to Route 89A for about 15 miles and I found it necessary to stop every half mile or so to shoot images.
This old settler’s ” Rock House ” sits directly on the side of the road.
I wanted to drive the Rock House Road that connects Rout 89 to Route 89A over 30 miles of dirt road along the western edge of the Vermillion Cliffs, to see if there were any dispersed camping sites I might be able to access along the road.
Heading north from Route 89A, the first 10 miles of this dirt road are relatively flat and the road is in good shape, easily travelled by any rig. But then the road becomes quite rough, deeply rutted and poorly maintained. For the most part I had little trouble negotiating the ruts and bumps with the Prius, but I don’t think I would want to risk this road with the motorhome, and I would guess that this road would be all but impassable after some wet weather.
In addition, I did not find any real dispersed camping sites along the road and the nice little State Line Campground had but 1 or 2 sites that would handle a larger rig.
There are several great hiking trails heading into the Vermillion National Monument Wilderness Area from this road. Many, such as the trail to the famous ” Wave ” require advance permits that are issued by lottery, but other trails can be accessed after purchasing a permit at the trailhead’s self pay stations. I didn’t get many shots along this road as all the good images were to the east and I travelled this road early in the morning.
At it’s northern terminus, Rock House Road joins Route 89 and I headed east through Page and then took Route 89A back to the campsite. The first few miles east on Route 89 after coming off Rock House Road give you a great idea of what the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument has to offer in terms of incredible rock formations and these formations appear completely different in color and form from those I have travelled through today.
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