This morning, I was sad to leave the beauty of The Grand Canyon behind. But before we left the park, I wanted to see the Kolb Studio. It is a small store and museum dedicated to the Kolb brothers – the first photographers and videographers in the canyon (starting in 1901). In the museum, some of the raw footage that Emery and Ellsworth Kolb had taken on their treacherous two month rafting tour of the Colorado River in the winter of 1911 is rolling on the screen. The brothers’ goal was to use the footage of their trip to promote their photography business at The Grand Canyon. After their trip, they traveled across the country showing their movie. I only spent about 15 minutes in the studio but it led me to a gem right next to it – Lookout Studio.
Here’s the scripture (Yes, Scripture!) and small prayer on the wall outside the Lookout Studio.
O Lord, how manifold are they works!
In wisdom hast thou made them all;
The earth is full of thy riches. Psalm 104:24
Father Almighty, wonderful Lord,
Wondrous Creator, be ever adored;
Wonders of nature sing praises to you,
Wonder of wonders –
I may praise too!
The beauty and majesty of The Grand Canyon shouts the glory of God.
From the Lookout Studio, you can look to the left and see hikers on the Bright Angel Trail. This trail is supposedly the easiest trail to the bottom of the Canyon. However, as I came out of Lookout Studio, Jimmy was trying to help a mother and daughter whose rental car was having brake trouble. I started talking to the mother’s college-age daughter.
She said, “Well, I guess our bad day is getting worse.”
I asked her what she meant. She told me that she, her mom, her friend, and her friend’s mom had hiked 11 miles down to the bottom of the canyon and 5 miles back up yesterday. Then this morning, they had 6 miles to go. At mile 2, her friend couldn’t make it anymore. She was dehydrated and out of energy. So the young lady I was talking to and her mom hiked out and found some rangers on the way to ask for help. The young girl that was in distress on the trail was either going to be airlifted out or carried the remaining four miles by rangers. Can you imagine carrying a grown woman four miles up a steep canyon trail?
From there, we headed east on 64 to the eastern exit of the park. Before we officially left, we stopped at Navajo Point for a few more pictures. Did I mention that I took over 400 pictures at The Grand Canyon? But honestly, not one of my pictures could truly capture the magnificence of it. From Navajo Point, we saw an interesting castle-looking tower to our right on the edge of the canyon. We asked around and people told us that it was the Desert View Watchtower and we could walk up to the top.
The Desert View Watchtower was quite a structure. It was built by the Santa Fe Railroad in 1932 as a way to bring tourists to The Grand Canyon.
Inside, we were able to walk up four stories into the stone tower. Each floor had multiple windows from which you could gaze on the beauty around you. At the top, we met Ranger Dan who was a wealth of knowledge about the canyon.
At one point, the boys saw a bird that they thought was a Black and White Warbler – Luke’s 3rd grade school bird report subject. After many different attempts to lure a Black and White Warbler to our house six years ago, we gave up. Luke, especially, thought he’d finally seen one. Ranger Dan was impressed with the boys’ knowledge of the bird but sadly, he told us that this striking black and white bird we saw is a Clark’s Nutcracker. He said that it’s rare to see them near the Watchtower, they are normally at higher altitudes. I guess we’ll continue our search for the Black and White Warbler.
Oh shoot, I saw something on the front grill of a car as we left the Desertview Watchtower that triggered a thought. I totally forgot to put my gargoyle on our van before we left North Carolina!
Goodbye Grand Canyon – hope to see you again sometime!
Our next destination was Horseshoe Bend in Page, Arizona – about 2 ½ hours away. As we continued on 64 East, Native American stands selling Navajo jewelry and other wares dotted the otherwise barren landscape. This is Navajo Indian Tribal Land. At one point, to the kids’ chagrin, we stopped at the Little Colorado River Gorge park to take a couple pictures.
By this point, the kids were “starving.” Coming out of The Grand Canyon, there is nothing to eat except sandwiches at the Desert View Watchtower. We’d had enough sandwiches. Finally, we hit Cameron, Arizona (the beginning of The Painted Desert) where we found a Burger King. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve eaten at a Burger King in the last 20 years but it hit the spot today.
Here’s dad after lunch trying to get a catnap. We could only find some loose noise-cancelling boxers (clean ones) in the car to put over his ears.
After lunch, we finally made it to Horseshoe Bend on US-89 near Lake Powell. Be careful, it would be easy to miss the turn into the parking lot. The entrance is quite unremarkable. It’s about a .6 mile hike up a sandy hill and back down to the view of Horseshoe Bend. At the start of the trail, they have warning signs about staying hydrated. We brought three water bottles to share. It was only 93 degrees – that seemed cool compared to the 110 we experienced in Phoenix.
Travel tip: the Ozark Trail (Wal-Mart brand) 24 oz Water Bottle have worked really well on our trip. They keep water cold and ice from melting in very hot temperatures. We fill them up every morning with ice and water. The best part is that the water bottles only cost $7.74 each.
The first point where you can take pictures of Horseshoe Bend can get crowded. I just waited in a makeshift line until other groups were done taking their pictures before I approached the edge. It’s quite a drop to the bottom with no railings so we were careful about getting too close to the edge.
The view of the Colorado river up close was well worth the wait – breathtaking.
To the right of the main view of the river, there are large sandstone rock formations that have higher views of Horseshoe Bend if you’re willing to climb up the rocks. The kids, especially the boys, really enjoyed climbing to the top.
But on the way back, we were all very hot and thirsty. Seth dropped one water bottle and it all emptied on the ground. So between the six of us, we had two water bottles that were gone very quickly. The walk back to the parking lot was hot. By the time we got back to our car, I was overheated. My face was bright red like I’d just played a soccer game. I think that the combination of the heat, the hot rocks, and the lack of water got to me. But it’s nothing that a McDonald’s milkshake couldn’t solve very quickly.
We had planned to tour Lake Powell a little bit, but we all agreed that we’d rather just get on the road to our hotel. We still had another 2 ½ hours to drive to our next stop in Utah.
The layers of sandstone do make for a great view as you drive.
We stopped at a Mexican food truck in Colorado City, Arizona. It was decent – nothing like our food truck experience in New Mexico. We crisscrossed the border of Arizona and Utah several times before landing in Hurricane, Utah at the Clarion Inn and Suites. We made it just in time to see the end of game 3 of the NBA Championship. I definitely picked a winner on this hotel. Thank you, God!