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Off the Editor’s Desk – 3-13-2013


Described as one of the wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon is a site that one should not pass by if you are planning a vacation. We have been at the south rim before, but have never been down to the Colorado River at the floor of the canyon.

That was, until we booked a 12-hour trip from the place we were staying in at Sedona, AZ. For the canyon trip, a van picked us up at 7:00 a.m., and along with three other people made the long trip up to I-40 and then onto the old Route 66 into Peach Springs, AZ and the Hualapai Indian Reservation.

We left I-40 at Seligman and went onto historical Route 66. This 156-mile stretch between Seligman and Topock, AZ is just like it was before the Interstate was constructed through, thanks to the biggest supporter and one of the founders of Route 66 Association of Arizona, Angel Delgadillo. Delgadillo, a Seligman resident and local barber, formed a group to lobby the state legislative to keep that highway and the name Route 66. We stopped at his barbershop for refreshments. Seligman is also noted for the old cars that line the main street. It was those old cars that inspired the movie “Cars” and the owner of some of them painted eyeballs in the windshields to resemble the cartoon drawings of the movie. Parked on the main street was a 1959 yellow four-door Edsel. Just like my dad had.

When leaving Seligman and heading down Route 66, one finds several recreated Burma Shave signs. We then entered Peach Springs and the Hualapai Indian Reservation, and stopped at a new building, which serves as the entrance to the Grand Canyon, a café, gift shop and motel.

Each person crossing the twenty-mile dirt road journey to the river is charged fifty bucks. But let me tell you, it was worth it. Did I say a dirt road? Well, washed rock would better describe it. A tribal ranger stopped us to make sure we had paid our dues and the paperwork was in order. It took us more than an hour to make the twenty miles, we were allowed to exit the vehicle only twice and weren’t allowed to pick up anything, including any rocks. There are millions of rocks, who could miss one? But we obeyed.

The twenty-mile route drops about four thousand feet to the river and that drop also brings the temperature up – it must have been close to 70 when we reached the river.

But on the way, the beauty of the canyon becomes visible as one is exposed to the two billion years of the earth’s geological history. Our guide was well versed in what we were seeing and explained in detail about the different layers of earth that we were seeing. Over those two billion years the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels through layer after layer, while the Colorado Plateau was uplifted.

The canyon is some 277-river miles long, up to 18 miles wide and a mile deep. Over 5 million people visit the Grand Canton each year, and while most visit from the south rim, which is at about 7,000 feet above sea level, a few get to the north rim with is at 8,000 ft. As we reached the river, the first thing that our guide said was, “It might be nice and sunny here, but we traveled twenty miles down into the canyon and it could be storming back up that twenty miles. So if you hear water rushing, head for the high ground.” On the way in, we were treated to the presence of three wild burrows, which quickly came up to our vehicle and accepted any food that might be handed their way.

Our point on the river was at mile 225 and a large group of people using rubber rafts were just loading up, after spending 18-days on the river and having traveled those 225 miles.

I would compare the size of the river at the point where we were at as being about the same as the Red Cedar River downstream from the dam at Menomonie, only flowing three times as fast.

— Carlton