Toroweap, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona – The other end of Grand Canyon

3,000 vertical feet below us Colorado River looks like a tiny rivulet. The sheer walls of the north rim drop steeply to the river. The south rim is just a few beats of wings away. The rock mass to the east consists of red sandstone. Turning the view to the west we discover black lava. Toroweap Point is in the very west of Grand Canyon North Rim, far away even from summery tourist masses. The gorge offers a dramatic and well photographed view here, but is rather unknown and not much visited. This may be due to the remoteness of Toroweap Point. Depending on from where coming from, from Fredonia or St. George, Utah, one has to drive 100 km / 60 mi to 150 km / 90 mi gravel road after leaving hwy # 389. The trail from Fredonia is well maintained and easy to drive when dry, just the last few miles after passing the ranger station at the entrance of the National Park (no entrance fee) request for high clearance when the road turns into a slick rock track. Campground use is free as well, but there are not many sites and no comfort. There is no water, food, fuel, cell phone coverage, or other help out here. Having at least one usable spare tire is essential – and the ability to change it.

When walking around it’s important to stay on established paths, on rocks or in washes not to destroy the sensible cryptobiotic soil. This is valid not only for this site, but for all deserts of the south-west. The complex community of lichens, algae, and bacteria needs decades to grow. Only then it becomes visible as a blackish crust. A single footstep can destroy years of growth. The biological soil crust firms the surface sand and protects it from erosion.

Grand Canyon is always a special experience. But usually it is so wide and mighty (16 km / 10 mi in the average) that it is hard to perceive it as a gorge. Since the descending walls are terraced it is not possible to see Colorado River from the rim. One has to laboriously hike the Grand Canyon to really experience it. The narrows at Toroweap Point are a good spot to get an impression of this wonder of the world. The precipices drop in a 90°-angle, so it is easy to look down. Lava debris washed down into the river bed caused the largest and most demanding rapids of Colorado River and can be seen and heard from the view point – without any overexertion.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.