Arizona Strip Exploration
Toroweap Trail and Lava Falls
Way out west in a rarely visited part of Grand Canyon National Park is Toroweap Point (4563') and the Toroweap Trail which descends 2560' to the Colorado River right at Lava Rapids. Due to its remoteness, there is no fee required to enter the Park at this point nor is there a camping fee at Toroweap Campground. Toroweap is on the Esplanade sandstone which here in the western canyon is the inner bench.
Getting out here is pretty straightforward, and doable in the family car. The best way is to drive about 9 miles west on Arizona SR 389 from Fredonia, Az, and turn south onto the Mount Trumbull Loop Road. The road is good graded dirt, and it's about 60 miles to the Toroweap Ranger Station and another 5 or so miles to the Toroweap campground. There's no water, pit toilets, and often pretty much total isolation.
This trip segment begins on Day 3 of my vacation and starts Monday morning June 26th from my campsite on the Colorado River at the foot of Bighorn Cove, about 15 miles south of Hoover Dam. I left there in the 90°+ heat of early morning, crossed back over Hoover Dam, and then drove up through Lake Mead National Recreational Area to Overton, Nevada, then to Interstate 15. It was late afternoon when I left I-15 at Mesquite, Nevada, and proceeeded to make the climb up extremely rugged Elbow Canyon in the Virgin Mountains. With nasty stairsteps and bouldery streambed driving, high-clearance, 4-WD and torque are required to go up this narrow, precipitous canyon that bifurcates the Virgin Mountains. With the Suburban, I had to seesaw my way around some corners due to the long wheelbase and the poor turning radius. However, I didn't lose any tires or bang any rims. Stuff like bumpers and trailer hitch did bottom out a time or two.
That evening I camped just beyond the top of Elbow in a valley about two miles south of Mt. Bangs (8012'). Tuesday morning (June 27th) I worked my way southwest along Route 1041 and the Tom and Cull Wash down through the cuesta-lined Buggy Draw and into the Hachet Valley, to Red Pockets Mountain. From here I followed Route 101 through Cow Canyon,then joined Rt 1027 and following the general contour of Cottonwood Ridge. Up atop the ride, I turned right on Rt 1003 and headed south from there. At Allan Well, the road joins Rt 111 which drops down off the mesa into the Cottonwood Wash, then I picked up Rt 113 for the final drive down sandy, rocky and finally tamarisk-infested Grand Wash to the head of Grand Wash Bay and Lake Mead.
After a fine bath in the lake with an awesome view of Wheeler Ridge on the south side of the lake (imagine Ayres Rock in Australia except really BIG!), I decided to head back northeast to climb up on the Shivwits Plateau. The easiest way to do this is via the Grand Gulch (Rt 113) / Pakoon Spring (Rt 111) / Nutter Twists (Rt 1003) Rds which get you up over the Grand Wash Cliffs via Hidden Canyon (a little difficult for the family car, but not for any reasonable high-clearance machine).
Once in Hidden Canyon and after winding in among the Hidden Cliffs, I seemed to have gotten lost, and probably ended up going up Last Chance or Rattlesnake Canyon, got into some very-overgrown old paths and scratched up the paint a bit. Eventually, I found a way out of the wilderness and stumbled on the Mount Dellenbaugh Rd (Rt 103) but at the intersection of Rt 1054 instead of where I should have hit it at the intersection of Rt 1003 and Rt 103, about six miles northeast. (After this, I made sure to never go into Strip country without the BLM map, which is by far the most accurate map of the area. Oh, and always bring a GPS receiver. That helped me this time especially without the map.
At least now I was on the Shivwits Plateau and back on the Southern California Automobile Club's Indian Country map. From here I went south on the Dellenbaugh road eventually to Oak Grove and the Twin Point Road (Rt 1019). I went only as far as the Parashant Ranch BLM Workshop just south of Oak Grove. No one was there, so I turned around and headed back to Oak Grove, then east on Rt 103 again which then leads over to the NPS Shivwits Ranger Station (pretty deluxe place! Like a little resort, all out by its lonesome). Again, no one was there, and I couldn't figure out the route to Mount Dellenbaugh itself, so I turned around and drove back to the Dellenbaugh Rd and headed north to above the Wildcat Ranch.
At the cattle grate and vehicle gate here at the Wildcat Ranch, there is a memorial to the three who left Major John Wesley Powell's Colorado River Expedition of 1869. William Dunn, O.G. Howland and his brother Seneca Howland were killed by Shivwits Indians near this spot after they left the Powell party at Separation Rapids deep in the Grand Canyon just 30 miles due south. Powell writes of the separation:
"The last thing before leaving, I write a letter to my wife, and give it to Howland. Sumner gives him his watch, directing that it be sent to his sister should he not be heard from again. The records of the expedition have been kept in duplicate. One set of these is given to Howland; and now we are ready. For the last time they entreat us not to go on, and tell us that it is madness to set out in this place; that we can never get safely through it; and, further, that the river turns again to the south into the granite, and a few miles of such rapids and falls will exhaust our entire stock of rations, and then it will be too late to climb out. Some tears are shed; it is rather a solemn parting; each party thinks the other is taking the dangerous course."
The Automobile Club's Indian Country map shows a marginal road that leads east from the Dellenbaugh Rd over to Mt Trumbull. Well, I couldn't find it at the time. So I ended up having to head up the Dellenbaugh road all the way to Main Street Valley, then down Main Street Valley on the Mount Trumbull Loop Road to Bundyville (aka Mt. Trumbull townsite). There's nothing there now but an old abandoned schoolhouse.
Now headed east on the Mt Trumbull Loop road, I climbed the escarpment of the Hurricane Cliffs up onto the Uinkaret Plateau, went around the south side of Mt Trumbull itself (8028'), then descended Nixon Canyon into the broad, awesome Tuweep Valley.
Tuweep Valley is more or less linear, running north-south, more or less level, and framed by the Uinkaret Mountains and Mt Trumbull on the west and the Tuckup Point arm of the Kanab Plateau on the east. The valley's cross-section is U-shaped, with the floor about 2 to 3 miles wide, and 1500' to 2500' walls on each side.
At the south end of the Tuweep Valley lie Grand Canyon National Park and Toroweap Point, Trail and Campground.
Grand Canyon NP North Rim
Vermilion Cliffs - Lee's Ferry Area