It is hard to leave the Grand Canyon and I think about someday planning far, far in advance to get one of the larger cabins with a deck that overlooks the rim. Maybe we’ll stay for a week then, watching the canyon from our deck, taking another mule trip, doing a few short hikes. . .The route out of the park is the same one we followed to get in – there really aren’t any other options. When we once again reach Jacob Lake, we turn east on 89A and head toward the cities of Marble Canyon and Page.
Our route follows the Vermillion Cliffs, which mark the edge of the Paria Plateau and provide stunning close-up views of this layer of the Grand Staircase. The cliffs rise straight up above the plains for a thousand feet or more, dwarfing the farmsteads scattered below. We drive below them, in awe, for miles.
At the end of this magnificent rock wall we come to the rest area at Navajo Bridge. The museum and other structures are lovely, designed to blend with the landscape.
The original Navajo Bridge was built in the late twenties to replace the ferry crossing. It is still the only bridge across the Colorado River for hundreds of miles. The original is now reserved for pedestrian use and somehow it seems sedate and peaceful, isolated even, while cars whiz by on the adjacent replacement structure.
As I cross I am startled by the rich green color of the river crawling 400-some feet below. Tiny splotches of bright colors – motorized rafts – move down the river, their passage marked by a buzz like that of persistent mosquitoes.
Across the Colorado, we continue on to find more red rock walls. There is a wonderful view from the parking area where the local Navajo sell their wares to the bus loads of tourists passing through on their way to Monument Valley.