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May 5, 2010

From the “Big Ditch” to Virgin

Filed under: National Parks, The List, Travel, United States — anotherheader @ 6:14 am

Navajo Bridge near Lee's Ferry (Arizona)

It is hard to say that the drive from the Grand Canyon to Virgin Utah is particularly scenic.  For sure, the route winds through two National Parks and past many red rock vistas that surely inspired the backgrounds of Road Runner cartoons.  But scenic roads in the Southwest are not uncommon.  How do you choose the “particularly” scenic from amongst the merely scenic?  Suffice it to say that our drive was spectacular.  There’s nothing quite like the scenery in the Southwest.

Becky misuses her super powers to dislodge a balancing rock.

Our route took us by Lee’s Ferry, the edge of Grand Canyon National Park.  Lee’s Ferry functioned for years as the area’s main crossing of the Colorado River until replaced by the Navajo Bridge.  Becky and I had stopped here on a prior trip.  With a camera, there was little chance that we would miss getting a closer look at the surreal balancing rocks in the sandy and desiccated red rock landscape.  It is an easy place to sightsee.  The rocks and the landscape are easily visible from the short road.

Further on, Highway 89A passes through remote ranch land before reaching the entrance to Zion National Park.  The entrance to the National Parks was still free and the kiosk at the gate was empty.  We had a dilemma, though.  Zion’s iconic central tunnel is a tight fit for larger vehicles.  Bigger rigs require an escort.  The problem was that we were too late for an escort.  Further, we were not quite certain of our trailer’s dimensions.  All we knew was that it was going to be close, very close.  Avoiding the tunnel and going the long way around would add hours to our trip.  A detour would be particularly painful as we were almost to our destination in Virgin.  So we went ahead and drove our trailer into the mile long hole in the rock.  As long as you don’t count Becky’s fingernail marks permanently lodged in the truck’s armrests, we squeezed through unscathed.

The Colorado River viewed from Navajo Bridge

Later we determined that we were indeed over sized for two-way traffic in the tunnel.  If we met another rig of our size coming in from the opposite direction at the same time we might still be hermetically wedged in the rock, permanently included as a part of the National Park.  But the few cars coming in the other direction were all small.  Though it was a sweat, driving through the tunnel was not consequential.

We arrived in Virgin around sunset.  It was time for the next stage of our trip—mountain biking on Southern Utah’s mesas.

More pictures that I like are here.

A Highway 89A vista


  1. Spectacular!!!
    Thanks for the link the other pics.

    Comment by Judy — May 5, 2010 @ 9:15 pm

  2. […] somewhere else.  Though we twice paused to see the spectacular balancing rocks on the approach to Lee’s Ferry and to walk the amazing Navajo Bridge over the Colorado River but we hadn’t taken the time to explore the area’s other […]

    Pingback by Page Arizona « Another Header — April 25, 2012 @ 4:33 am

  3. […] there’s an explanation.  In this manner we’ve discovered all sorts of cool places like the Navajo Bridge, the Trophee des Alps, and Osoyoos’s Spotted Lake.  Our impromptu visit to the Menai Suspension […]

    Pingback by Wales: Menai Suspension Bridge « Another Header — September 15, 2012 @ 12:46 am

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