F E B R U A R Y 2 0 0 8
How Santa Fe Almost Became Our State Capital
Great Ways to Explore Arizona’s Great Lake
Touring Glen Canyon Dam
Williams’ Best Restaurant
Vintage Airstreams in Bisbee
Tony Hillerman's Perfect Weekend
LAKE POWELL GUIDE
contents february 2008
Arizona lays claim to more than one great lake. While
Lake Powell and Lake Mead inhabit the northern
part of the state, many other lakes in Arizona offer
water enthusiasts boatloads of fun. Hop on board
at arizonahighways.com to discover those lakes and
ways to enjoy them. Plus, view additional images of
magnificent Lake Powell with our online slide show.
WEEKEND GETAWAY The living museum of Castle
Dome in Western Arizona tells the tale of a mining
town too proud to die.
EXPERIENCE ARIZONA Find out what’s happening
this month with our Calendar of Events.
Photographic Prints Available
n Prints of some photographs in this issue are available
for purchase, as designated in captions. To order, call
866-962-1191 or visit arizonahighwaysprints.com.
2 EDITOR'S LETTER
4 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
5 THE JOURNAL
People, places and things around the state,
including the best restaurant in Williams,
Airstream accommodations in Bisbee, Tony
Hillerman's ideal weekend, and how Santa Fe
almost became the capital of Arizona.
44 BACK ROAD ADVENTURE
Paria Plateau: Located within the boundaries
of Vermilion Cliffs National Monument,
the Paria Plateau is tough to drive
across, but it’s well worth the effort.
48 HIKE OF THE MONTH
Sand Hill Crack: A nontechnical route to
the top of the Vermilion Cliffs in Northern
Arizona features beautiful panoramas,
pioneer history and some very large birds.
LA VIEW EN ROSE Curtains of rain, Cathedral Butte and Lake Powell blush in sunset’s glow, while Navajo
Mountain — a site sacred to the Navajo Indians — looms in the distance. Photograph by Gary Ladd
n To order a print of this photograph, see information on opposite page.
FRONT COVER A mushroom-shaped rock formation seems to sprout from a slope near Cookie Jar
Butte, overlooking the reflective waters of Padre Bay on Lake Powell. Photograph by Gary Ladd
n To order a print of this photograph, see information on opposite page.
BACK COVER Kayakers can venture into Lake Powell’s myriad narrow gorges and hidden coves,
like this enthusiast paddling into Anasazi Canyon. Photograph by Gary Ladd
14 Powell Expeditions
With more than 1,900 miles of coastline and
millions and millions of years of geologic primping,
there’s a lot to explore at Lake Powell, and all
kinds of ways to do it. BY KELLY KRAMER
20 Out of the Clear Blue Sky
In case you hadn’t noticed, we have a lot of shots of
Lake Powell in this issue. They’re all spectacular, but
for our portfolio, we wanted something different, so
we sent our photographer up in a plane. BY GARY LADD
30 Reflecting on the Water
Edward Abbey wasn’t a fan. Few environmentalists
were, including our writer, who boycotted Lake
Powell for more than 25 years. He stayed away
until a story assignment forced him to contemplate
his opposition. We won’t give away the ending,
but chills are running up the collective spine of the
Monkey Wrench Gang. BY LAWRENCE W. CHEEK
36 Cleanup Crew
“Rob and Kathi” have no respect for Mother Nature.
Neither do the thousands of other vandals who carve
their names in the red rocks surrounding Lake Powell.
The task of removing the graffiti falls to volunteers,
who are doing their best to make a difference. It’s a
tough job, but somebody has to do it. BY GARY LADD
38 Dam Big
If one cubic yard of concrete landed on your head,
you’d die. If 5 million cubic yards of concrete
landed in Northern Arizona, you’d have something
called Glen Canyon Dam. Love it or hate it,
this thing is big — really big. BY GARY LADD
by Robert Stieve editor’s letter
lake superior is the big lake
they call “Gitche Gumee.” The name
comes from The Song of Hiawatha,
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic
poem about an Indian prophet who
used his powers for the good of human-ity.
Great poem. Great Lake. Great place
to get away from it all — if you live in
Wisconsin, Minnesota or Michigan. If
you live in Arizona … well, you need a lake a little closer to home.
That’s where Lake Powell comes in. Like Superior, Arizona’s
great lake is big, and even though it’s never been memorial-ized
by anyone of Longfellow’s stature, it’s certainly worthy
of its share of iambic pentameter. Not to mention the cover of
Of course, Lake Powell has been featured many times in this
magazine, but it’s been awhile since we’ve dedicated an entire
issue to the second-largest man-made lake in the country.
February 2008 seemed like a good time to do it again.
With 1,900 miles of coastline — more than the west coast of
the United States, from San Diego to Seattle — it’s hard to con-dense
all of that water and natural beauty into a single issue.
There’s so much to see and do, and the options go beyond the
Among other things, the list includes diving excursions,
guided fishing tours, a hike to the Hanging Gardens, scenic
drives and the John Wesley Powell Memorial Museum. If
you’ve never been, the museum is a great way to get your feet
wet when it comes to the region. As Kelly Kramer writes in
Powell Expeditions, “In addition to showcasing memorabilia
from Powell’s two expeditions down the Colorado River,
the museum also features a substantial collection of Native
American and pioneer artifacts.” That’s just the beginning.
In all, we spotlight 10 of the best things to do in and around
the lake. They’re all worth a look, but the best perspective
might come from the aerial tours — the bird’s-eye views of
Powell are out of this world. To get there, though, you’ll have
to climb into a small plane, and that’s not for everyone, so we
sent photographer Gary Ladd up in the air to be a surrogate for
those of you who don’t respond to Dramamine.
As you’ll see in Out of the Clear Blue Sky — this month’s
portfolio — Lake Powell is a sight for sore eyes. From the tow-ering
red-rock sandstone cliffs and picturesque canyons to the
brilliant blue-green water and beautiful sandy beaches, there’s
nothing like it anywhere, especially if you can look past the
fact that Lake Powell consumed what many considered to be
the most amazing canyon in the Southwest. For decades, Larry
Cheek was among those who couldn’t look the other way.
If you’re a regular reader of Arizona Highways, you recog-nize
Larry’s name. He’s a longtime contributor, and he’s one of
the best. Like Edward Abbey and a boatload of other writers,
Larry had wrestled with the nature of the lake for years. “In a
microboycott to honor my environmental ethic,” he explains,
“I never [went to Lake Powell] during the quarter-century that
I lived in Arizona. I believed then, and now, that we humans
hold a moral responsibility to tread as lightly as possible on the
Earth. How can anyone reconcile that principle with the colos-sal
bootprint of this desert lake?”
In Reflecting on the Water, one of the best essays ever writ-ten
about Lake Powell, you’ll learn how a five-day kayak trip
on the lake forced Larry to resolve what he calls the “rightness
or wrongness of its existence.” I won’t give away the ending,
but chills are running up the collective spine of the Monkey
Be that as it may, even Hayduke and his fictional band of
havoc-wreaking pranksters would have to admit that Glen
Canyon Dam — the enormous wall of concrete that created
Lake Powell — is impressive. Love it or hate it, the dam is an
engineering marvel. And it didn’t happen overnight. As Gary
Ladd writes in Dam Big, “More than seven years went into the
construction of the dam, and it took another 24 months to fin-ish
the power plant.” By the way, Gary also did the photogra-phy
for that story.
In fact, as you read through this issue, you’ll notice that Gary
shot most of the photos, and wrote a couple of stories. The
reason is simple: He’s lived at Lake Powell for 30 years, and few
people, if any, are more familiar with Arizona’s great lake than
our man on the scene. I don’t know if he can recite The Song of
Hiawatha, but when it comes to Lake Powell, Gary Ladd is the
closest thing we’ve got to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
— Robert Stieve
FEBRUARY 2008 VOL. 84, NO. 2
Publisher WIN HOLDEN
Editor ROBERT STIEVE
Senior Editor RANDY SUMMERLIN
Managing Editor SALLY BENFORD
Associate Editor PAULY HELLER
Book Division Editor BOB ALBANO
Books Associate Editor EVELYN HOWELL
Editorial Administrator NIKKI KIMBEL
Director of Photography PETER ENSENBERGER
Photography Editor JEFF KIDA
Art Director BARBARA GLYNN DENNEY
Deputy Art Director SONDA ANDERSSON PAPPAN
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Map Designer KEVIN KIBSEY
Production Director MICHAEL BIANCHI
Promotions Art Director RONDA JOHNSON
Webmaster VICKY SNOW
Director of Sales & Marketing KELLY MERO
Circulation Director NICOLE BOWMAN
Finance Director BOB ALLEN
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2 f e b r u a r y 2 0 0 8 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 3
C O N T R I B U T O R S
In 1977, writer-photographer
Gary Ladd had his
first article pub-lished.
the length of
Lake Powell, ap-peared
Highways. He’s been published numerous
times since then, and this month, more than
30 years after that first article, he’s at it again.
Instead of one story, however, there are three
(see Out of the Clear Blue Sky, page 20;
Cleanup Crew, page 36; and Dam Big, page
38). Although there were some challenges
in researching, writing and photographing
the stories, Ladd, who’s lived in Arizona for
36 years, was up to the task. In fact, he says,
there are plenty of other adventures he’d like
to take in the state as well. “There are many
backpacking trips in the Grand Canyon,” he
says. “And I want to continue photographing
the Grand Canyon and Lake Powell —
especially as the lake continues to fluctuate in
surface elevation.” Ladd, who lives in Page, is
currently working on a book about the major
overlooks of the Grand Canyon. His work
is also featured in our new book, Arizona
Highways Photography Guide: How & Where
to Make Great Photographs, which will be
available next month.
As a part-time
With that in mind,
it’s no surprise
that he pitched us the idea of doing a hike
in the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument,
one of the newest federal parks in the United
States. “To me, the state line really is a
meaningless abstraction,” he says. “Whereas
the geophysical province — the monolithic
Colorado Plateau, which runs east to west
across Arizona — is a physical and experien-tial
reality.” Although Engelhard is no stranger
to the Vermilion Cliffs, that’s not to say he
didn’t experience a challenge or two when
he journeyed there for this month’s Hike of
the Month (see Sand Hill Crack, page 48). “At
one point, I got separated from my backpack
on top of the cliffs and had to spend a rainy,
cold and miserable night in shorts and a
T-shirt, cowering in a shallow alcove,” he says.
Engelhard is a regular contributor to Arizona
Highways. He currently lives in Fairbanks,
Alaska, and works as a wilderness guide in
the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. His work
has also appeared in Outside, Utne Reader,
Wild Earth and Terra.
Elias Butler, his
visit to the Vermil-ion
Cliffs to shoot
this month’s Hike
of the Month
(page 48) turned
into quite the
trek up the Vermilion Cliffs was unforget-table,”
he says. “Once on top of the Sand Hill
Crack, I sat for lunch on the rim overlooking
House Rock Valley. A small black dot ap-peared
on the horizon, and flew closer. It was
a condor. I began shooting as the bird circled
lower, apparently to get a better look at me.
Looking through the viewfinder as I was
shooting, I was thinking that it was getting
awfully close when it soon filled up the entire
view and flapped its wings. I jumped back as
it landed a few feet away.” But the condor
wasn’t the only critter Elias encountered.
“When I left the rim to return to my truck, I
passed by Anasazi petroglyphs of bighorn
sheep,” he says. “Just below that spot, I
heard a noise and looked down the trail to
see a large bighorn sheep trotting away.” In
addition to Arizona Highways, Butler’s work
has appeared in USA Today, Backpacker and
National Geographic Adventure.
moved to the
State as a child,
and after develop-ing
his interest in
High School, he
realized that making pictures would be his
life’s work. Since that realization, Coffey has
been making photographs all around Arizona.
There’s one place, however, that he returns to
year after year — the Paria Plateau in Northern
Arizona (see Back Road Adventure, page 44).
“We return every year to share with friends the
stunning geology that is my photographic fo-cus,”
Coffey says. And even though he and his
wife, Twila, who wrote the story, go there often,
he says no visit to the Paria Plateau is complete
without its own adventure. “During this trip,
we took aim at Powell Monument. Deep,
powdery sand is the big challenge in traversing
the 400 square miles atop the plateau. Almost
to the Powell Monument, it was a wonderful
surprise to round a tight bend and be at the
very edge of a 3,000-foot view down into
Marble Canyon.” Keep in mind, this back road
is not recommended for anyone with limited
backcountry driving experience.
Water surges from enormous jet
valves at the base of Glen Canyon
Dam. On page 38, writer Gary
Ladd offers an inside look at the
colossal dam’s construction.
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 5
P E O P L E R E S T A U R A N T S L O D G I N G P H O T O G R A P H Y H I S T O R Y N A T U R E T H I N G S T O D O
4 f e b r u a r y 2 0 0 8
Taking Aim at Wolf Fables
I thoroughly enjoyed the article about
the Arizona Game and Fish Depart-ment’s
recent research efforts to reduce
elk-vehicle collisions [Crossways With
Elk, July 2007]. Well done, with one
very important exception. [The writer]
stated that “hunters” wiped out Arizo-na’s
wolves. Before the current model of
wildlife conservation was in place, there
were no restrictions on killing many spe-cies,
and early settlers worked very hard
to make the forests and rangelands “safe”
from predators. These actions are not
related in the least to the highly regu-lated
and scientifically based hunting
that occurs today. No species has been
hunted to extinction under modern
management. It was, in fact, the hunters
and their growing ecological awareness
that restored elk to Arizona starting in
1913. Hunters today can be proud of
being the cornerstone of the most
successful system of wildlife conserva-tion
the world has ever witnessed. To
blame them for the disappearance of
Arizona’s wolves does not accurately
portray hunters or the vital role they
play in conservation.
Arizona Game and Fish Department, Tucson
Heads-Up in Skull Valley
Two items caught my eye in the July
2007 back-road adventure [Sierra Prieta
Panorama]. 1) The inclusion of the
words on the tombstone saying, “A
cowboy forever.” This is the tomb of
Bobby Curry, a former school teacher in
Phoenix — what a departure from daily
life to what one dreams! Bobby lived in
Skull Valley, Prescott and then Phoenix,
I guess. 2) The photo of the Santa Fe
Railroad Station, which was moved
north to the old school yard. My dad,
Addison N. Turner, was the station
agent there. He made bills of lading
for cattle from the Diamond and A Half,
plus others driven in from Zane Grey
territory. So, it is little wonder that, as
Bobby lay dying, those scenes would
be with him. As you can imagine,
there are tears in my eyes as I type this.
Thanks a lot.
George W. Turner, Oceanside, California
Home Away From Home
I regularly get your excellent magazine,
thanks to my friends Loretta and John
from Arizona City, who gave me a gift
subscription. We already have been to
Arizona four times, and enjoyed every
day there. Whenever I read the various
articles in your magazine, my memory
comes back to the places we have
already been. I am not exaggerating by
calling Arizona our second home. Your
magazine makes it easy for us to feel the
spirit of all those beautiful and interest-ing
places, despite the fact that we live in
Germany, almost 6,000 miles away. Your
magazine also helps us to understand
the current situation and circumstances,
and keeps us up-to-date. It also gives
us an idea about the eventful history of
Arizona and its cities, especially the first
settlements and the battles against the
natives. We already have a lot of ideas
from your magazine about where to go
and what to see during our next vaca-tion
in Arizona. Thanks for the exciting
evenings you gave me due to the excit-ing
articles and breathtaking pictures.
Mario Rogus, Cottbus, Germany
Peddling an Idea
Your team should develop an Arizona
cycle “touring” article — bicycling and
motorcycling throughout Arizona. Or
add a tour of the month to each of your
David Yoches, Mesa
editor’s note: Thanks for the suggestion, Da-vid.
Turns out, we’re featuring some of the state’s
best cycling routes in next month’s issue. Keep
your eyes peeled.
Snail Mail vs. the Pony Express
My husband and his family are from
Arizona, but now that we live in Colo-rado,
his parents give us a subscription
to Arizona Highways for our anniversary
every year. Our family looks forward to
it coming by mail every month. In your
August 2007 issue, I could completely
relate to the story by Roger Naylor [Why
Are They Trying to Kill Me?]. After having
an incident on a horse with a tree a year
ago, I understand Roger’s fear of stay-ing
on his “mighty steed.” I chuckled
throughout his article. By the end of the
story, I wondered if perhaps we should
go back to the old ways of delivering the
mail by Pony Express. Three weeks ago,
a dear friend of mine from Cottonwood
sent me a package by priority mail.
Enclosed were pictures from our 30-year
high school reunion. Unfortunately, it
still hasn’t arrived. I believe that if Roger
had been delivering the mail on his
trusty steed, I’d have my pictures by now.
By the way, Roger, I’d have a cold brew
ready for you at the end of your ride.
Erin Wright, Lone Tree, Colorado
Hats Off to the Rodeo Queen
As an Arizona cowgirl, I want to let you know how very much I
enjoyed the article on Louise Serpa [Rodeo’s Grande Dame, November
2007]. I have attended the Tucson Rodeo every February for over 55
years, taking along my three sons, then my grandchildren and now my
great-grandchildren. I missed seeing her there last year — it’s nice to
know she’s well. Her daring ability to capture the excitement and
dangers of rodeo is awesome.
Leeta Ellis, Green Valley
If you have thoughts or comments about anything in Arizona Highways, we’d
love to hear from you. We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or
by mail at 2039 W. Lewis Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona 85009. For more information,
Admittedly, snowfall in Arizona has been
a little anemic in recent years. Still,
it’s a good idea to have your skis and
snowboards ready — you never know.
n For current snow conditions,
visit arizonasnowbowl.com or
8 N O V E M B E R 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 9
A champion photographer
won her buckle and spurs with
true grit and broken bones.
By Tim Vanderpool
PORTRAIT OF AN ARTIST Rodeo
photographer Louise Serpa poses with her
camera at the Tucson Rodeo Grounds Arena.
6 f e b r u a r y 2 0 0 8 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 7
he was known as “Mister Lake Powell”
and “The Sage of Page.” Stan Jones devoted
his life to Arizona’s great lake, becoming its
foremost cartographer and spokesman, and
sharing his discoveries through photographs,
articles and an iconic map. On September
3, 2007, after 40 years of exploring the lake,
Stan Jones died of prostate cancer. He was
88. Raised in Winnetka, Illinois, on the
shores of Lake Michigan, Jones spent an
amphibious youth diving, lifeguarding and
teaching aquatic survival in the Navy. His
self-described “insatiable zest for adventure”
drove him west, where he worked as a writer
and an editor in Tucson and Salt Lake City. He
also wrote for Walt Disney. In 1967, news of a
new lake in Northern Arizona lured him away
from his city job. That’s how he ended up in
Page with his wife, Alice, and their son, Steve.
It was there that he witnessed the birth of
Lake Powell, watching it grow from a mud
puddle to the nation’s second-largest man-made
reservoir. He once wrote: “For as long as
three weeks at a time, I methodically probed
the new lake’s coves and canyons, squeezing
through narrow clefts to explore the farthest
reaches of gorges known down through time
only to a few birds.”
By popular demand, the self-taught map-maker
created Stan Jones’ Boating and Explor-ing
Map of Lake Powell Country, which he
updated yearly. More than mere cartography,
the map reads like a 20,000-word love letter
to the lake. Hundreds of thousands of copies
have been sold, and it’s considered the bible
for Lake Powell country.
In 1969, Jones co-founded and became the
first director of the John Wesley Powell Mem-orial
Museum, which showcases Powell’s jour-neys
down the Colorado River, the history of
Page and the Indian cultures of the Colorado
Plateau. In recognition of his contribution to
preserving the state’s natural heritage, he was
inducted into the Arizona Outdoor Hall of
Fame in 2002.
Jones is described as a true gentleman with
a down-to-earth sensibility. He wasn’t a fan of
the champagne-laden boats zooming across
the lake, preferring the serenity of a slow
cruise in his 14-foot skiff with a pen, camera
and frothy beer at hand. Over the years, he
boated in torrential rain and hiked in scorch-ing
heat, but, he wrote, “I relished every day
and every night.”
Jones’ legacy will live on in the museum
and through his map, which still guides thou-sands
of fellow nature lovers to petroglyph-etched
coves and hidden ruins. Although
Jones turned over the map to his longtime
friend Steve Ward, Ward says he’ll always
think of it as the Stan Jones map. “No one,”
Ward says, “will ever know Lake Powell as
well as Stan did.” — Keridwen Cornelius
He’s not a household name, but
for the folks in Page, Stan Jones
was to Lake Powell what John
Muir was to the Sierra Nevada.
P E O P L E C E L E B R I T Y Q & A
broiled salmon filet basted with basil-butter and
served with cranberry-pine-nut couscous … that’s the kind
of thing you expect to find in Phoenix or Scottsdale, not in
Williams, Arizona. Not only that, the unexpected entrée is
served on a white tablecloth — or beige, as it were.
All of this is surprising because Williams, historically,
has been a meat-and-potatoes
kind of town.
Period. Places like Sue-B’s
Steakhouse, Rod’s Steak House and Wild West Junction are the
norm. The Red Raven Restaurant, with its gourmet menu and
notable wine list, is a considerable change of pace. In this case,
change is good.
Co-owned by the husband-wife team of David and Rozan
Haines, the Red Raven has been im-pressing
desperate locals and flavor-starved
tourists since it opened in June
2006. There are three reasons for that:
ambience, service and food.
In addition to the salmon filet, the
alluring menu includes Tempura Style
Shrimp and Red Raven Pasta (chicken
breast, sweet red peppers and oven-roasted
tomatoes tossed with penne
pasta and topped with Parmesan
cheese). And for traveling carnivores,
there’s a long list of steaks, including a
rib-eye that was recently dubbed “one
of the best” by a rib-eye aficionado.
“I have a passion for cooking and
wanted to create a restaurant that I’d
like to go to,” says David Haines, the
head chef. “Not just for food, but for
the whole experience.” Part of that
experience is the place itself. Long
and narrow — about 25 feet by 80 feet
— the Red Raven is cozy and inviting.
When you pass through the front
door (painted red), you’ll see a brick
wall at one end, a high ceiling (also
painted red) and green wainscoting
all around. There are 10 booths, eight
tables, retro artwork on the walls and
an abundance of charm, all of which is
orchestrated by Rozan, who will take
your order and make you feel at home.
Like the food and the ambience, the
service at Red Raven is spectacular,
which isn’t always the case in Phoenix
n The Red Raven is located at 135 W.
Route 66 in Williams. For more informa-tion,
visit redravenrestaurant.com or call
928-635-4980. — Robert Stieve
Fine dining isn’t running rampant in
Williams, but a popular new place on
Route 66 is a step in the right direction.
R E S T A U R A N T S
by Dave Pratt
AH: If you were trying to
convince an old friend that
Arizona is one of the most
beautiful places in America,
where would you take him?
TH: I’d take him to Window
Rock and Navajo National
Monument, giving him a view
of spots like Church Rock.
AH: If you were making a solo
road trip to Sedona, which
would you choose: Harley or
TH: I’d take the Mustang,
because that was a wonderful
vehicle, and leave the cycle for
younger folks. I’m 82, and feel
every year of it.
AH: Describe your ideal week-end
getaway in Arizona.
TH: I’d head for the extreme
southeast corner of Arizona,
where that mountain chain
sneaks in from Mexico, and join
the swarm of birdwatchers who
show up to watch the colorful
parrots, and all sorts of other
feathered species that come
up from the south. Aside from
being an internationally notable
birdwatchers haven, the people
who show up are interesting.
AH: When you go hiking,
what’s the one thing — other
than water — that you carry
in your backpack?
TH: A camera, with a couple of
extra rolls of film.
AH: If you were taking a
group of kids on an over-nighter
in Arizona, where
would you go?
TH: I think I’d take those young-sters
to Flagstaff to visit the
telescope used by the astrono-mer
who discovered Pluto.
— Dave Pratt is the host of the
“Dave Pratt in the Morning” show
on KMLE 107.9 FM in Phoenix.
Chef and co-owner David Haines
(below, left) chats with diners at the
Red Raven Restaurant in Williams.
8 f e b r u a r y 2 0 0 8 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 9
jack kerouac never slept here. Well, maybe he did, but
there’s no record of it. Still, it’s the kind of place he would have
been drawn to when he was out on the road. Nearby Bisbee
and its mixed bag of colorful characters would have caught
his eye as well.
Located along State Route 80 — at one time a main artery
between Savannah, Georgia, and San Diego — the Shady Dell
RV Park is about as far away from high-end luxury as you can
get. It’s low-key, as most things are in rural Arizona, and it’s a
step back in time, to the days of beatniks and blue highways.
Of course, there are a few modern-day amenities at the park.
In particular, full hookups for RVs and campers. If you’ve
blown the kids’ inheritance on a fifth-wheeler, you might as
well use it, but that’s not the best way to spend a night at the
Shady Dell. The better option is to shack up in one of the
park’s vintage aluminum travel trailers. There are several to
choose from, including a 1949 Airstream, a 1950 Spartan
Manor, a 1954 Crown and a 1951 Royal Mansion.
Take your pick. They’re all cool. The Airstream is the most
photographed, for whatever that’s worth. The Manor, however,
might be the closest you’ll ever come to time travel. The pol-ished
blond wood on the walls and ceiling is original, as are
the appliances and furniture. There’s even a vintage television
— no remote, no TiVo, no nothing, which is how it should be
when you’re flashing back to the 1950s.
The best of the bunch, arguably, is the Royal Mansion. Built
in 1951, this 33-footer has a full-sized bed and a small bathroom.
In addition, there’s a breakfast booth in the kitchen and leop-ard
carpeting in the living room, which adds volumes to the
exotic feel of this trailer. Imagine the Jungle Room at Graceland,
but without Elvis. By the way, he never slept here either.
In all, there are nine trailers at the Shady Dell, eight of
which are immaculately restored and used for sleeping. The
ninth, a 1957 Valentine, houses Dot’s Diner, a 10-stool eat-ery
that’s been featured in Gourmet magazine and National
Geographic Traveler. CNN and CBS This Morning have dropped
by as well.
When John Hart bought the Valentine in the mid-1950s, he
parked it on the corner of Ventura and Topanga Canyon bou-levards
in L.A. — it was “Burger Bar No. 3” in his chain of Los
Angeles hamburger joints. Development eventually forced Hart
to move it to the middle of nowhere, and after decades of neglect,
it was shipped to the Shady Dell on a flatbed truck. That was
1996. Six months later, it was opened as Dot’s Diner, in honor
of Dot Bozeman, the restaurant’s first cook and bottle washer.
Dot retired a few years ago, but her namesake diner is still
going strong. Check it out, and when you do, think about the
’50s. You won’t see Kerouac at the end of the counter, but if you
squint your eyes a little, you might be able to picture him there,
hip and cool in a tattered sweatshirt, milking a cup of coffee.
n The Shady Dell is located at 1 Old Douglas Road in Bisbee.
For rates and reservations, call 520-432-3567 or visit
theshadydell.com. — Robert Stieve
RV parks aren’t for everyone, but this park
is perfect for anybody wanting a trip back
to the days of beatniks and blue highways.
L O D G I N G
i was hiking recently with a group of photographer
friends on a little-known trail north of Phoenix. The group
was made up of professionals and amateurs, and along the
way, we shared canyons and conversation, tips and trade
secrets, successes and failures. We also talked about artistic
style, including individual technique and vision.
The great shooters, it was suggested, make everything look
easy, no matter what equipment they use. Their images are
always compelling. It’s as if they’re issued some sort of inter-galactic
press pass allowing unbridled access to the cosmos.
Perpetually accompanied by perfect weather and lighting
conditions, this sanctified group seemingly resides in a differ-ent
universe — a “Neverland” for photographers. The obvious
question: How to become a member?
Sadly, there are no magical secrets to making great images.
For the most part, it gets down to knowledge and hard work.
Photography has a language all its own, so when using your
camera, you must learn to think like a photographic Rosetta
Stone. Here’s why:
First, film and digital sensors don’t see the same way people
do. We live in a three-dimensional world — latitude, lon-gitude
and altitude. The photographic world has only two
dimensions — there’s no altitude. Whenever we review pro-cessed
prints or a computer monitor, we’re looking at a two-dimensional
surface. There’s no depth. Creating the illusion
of the missing dimension by use of light and shadow is a good
first step toward photographic success.
Second, our eyes and brains are constantly interpreting
visual data — instantly extracting details from the deepest
shadows to bright sunlight, adjusting colors from man-made
light sources and the natural world. Our eyes zoom in to iso-late
a solitary object. Then, using our peripheral vision, we
switch to a wide view, all within fractions of a second. The best
cameras simply cannot compete with the human eye. The only
real option is to learn the “language” of photography. Embrace
its limitations, and then explore and create. You’ll find there’s
beauty in photography’s simplified palette.
Whatever equipment you carry, go out and test it. Find out
what it can do successfully in as many situations as possible.
Pick a subject you enjoy shooting and go for it. Walk around
and explore how light interacts with your chosen topic from a
variety of angles.
Study the work of established artists and photographers.
In the beginning, give yourself permission to emulate the
style of others. Think of your early work as learning a second
language. You read, you repeat. You look at work that excites
you and you imitate it. The more you practice and review,
the quicker the translation process occurs. Soon, the vision
becomes your own.
Work on uncomplicated projects, get some keepers, and
then begin to experiment and push the envelope, which helps
establish your personal vision. The more you work, the sooner
your style will emerge.
Of course, following the trails established by others is only
a starting point. Eventually, you’ll want to strike out on your
own. The excitement really begins when you discover your
own style and process. — Jeff Kida, Photo Editor
P H O T O G R A P H Y
Like writers and painters,
photographers develop individual
techniques. What follows are
some tips on how to establish
your own sense of style.
In low-light situations, using an
on-camera strobe (flash) along with
a slow shutter speed can be both
beneficial and, at times, necessary.
Using this technique will allow you to
create very interesting effects that are
not always predictable. The flash both
illuminates and freezes the foreground
while the background becomes more
evenly lit due to the long exposure.
If you are hand-holding the camera
or there is motion, the resulting
backgrounds can appear streaked or
blurred. To try this, use the “night
scene mode” built into the menu or
program of your camera. If you prefer
to shoot in the manual mode, use a
shutter speed of between 1/10 and a
full second. — Jeff Kida
P H O T O T I P
For more photography tips and information, visit arizonahighways.com
and click on “Photography.”
This image was shot at 1 second at f-5.6. Using a lower ISO
of 100 allows for less grain in the final image.
editor’s note: Look for Arizona Highways
Photography Guide coming in March. For other
books, visit arizonahighways.com.
it’s hard to imagine the
U.S. government not clamor-ing
to bring Arizona into the
union, but in the early 20th
century, it was the prover-bial
last kid picked for the
team. In 1902, the territories
of Arizona, New Mexico and
Oklahoma introduced a bill
that would promote them to
statehood. However, President
and Senator Albert J. Beveridge
of Indiana were wary
of the rugged outposts.
To make his point, Beveridge
launched a tour of the
territories, determined to
give them a bad report and
stymie the bill. His frank
assessment: “Arizona is a
mining camp.” Others agreed.
Senator Thomas Bard of
“Arizona has reached its limit
of development, its mines
will play out, its population
will decrease, and it can
claim no more arable land.”
Turns out, the senator wasn’t
The senate never voted on
the bill, but politicians con-cluded
that Arizona and
New Mexico were too
sparsely populated to be
granted statehood indepen-dently.
So, Beveridge came
up with a solution: Make
them a single state, and
make Santa Fe the capital.
Arizonans, of course, bris-tled
at the idea, fearing their
territory “might lose her
name, identity and history.”
Arizona’s congressional dele-gate,
the extravagantly mus-tachioed
Smith, commented that
Beveridge had rejected one
rotten egg, and somehow
thought two rotten eggs
would make a good omelet.
persisted, delivering a con-gressional
the Arizona-New Mexico
omelet. Arizonans, who for
years had campaigned for
statehood, suddenly lobbied
against it. In 1905, 3,000
Phoenicians signed a peti-tion
stating: “We affirm that
with almost no exceptions,
our people are unilaterally
opposed to this obnoxious
union. …” In addition, the
Phoenix City Council,
prompted by President
Roosevelt’s passive support
of jointure, even changed
the name of Roosevelt Street
to Cleveland Street.
In 1906, Arizonans offi-cially
voted against merging
with New Mexico by a count
of 16,265 to 3,141.
Three years later, President
Taft said he’d grant statehood
to Arizona as long as its con-stitution
wasn’t radical like
Oklahoma’s. Taft authorized
Arizonans to elect 52 dele-gates
to a constitutional con-vention,
but instead of
likely to create a Taft-friendly
frontiersmen voted radical.
The delegates’ progressive
constitution was roundly
approved by the people in
1911. Taft, however, wasn’t
amused. He sent it back for
revisions, and Arizonans,
yearning more for statehood
than for provisions such as
judiciary recall, made the
Meanwhile, New Mexico
pulled ahead in the state-hood
race, becoming the
47th state. Then, on
Valentine’s Day in 1912,
Arizona got what it wanted
— admission to the Union as
the 48th state.
— Keridwen Cornelius
The focus of our February 1958 issue was Tucson. In his description
of the city, longtime editor Raymond Carlson referred to the Old
Pueblo as a place as “new as a bright, polished penny gleaming in
the sun, building and growing in every direction.” Fifty years later,
things haven’t changed a whole lot.
H I S T O R Y
Santa Fe, Arizona?
It seems inconceivable today, but a century ago,
Santa Fe was proposed as the capital of Arizona.
In Douglas, a mock funeral celebrates the defeat of an Arizona-New Mexico
joint statehood merger, circa 1906.
y ears ago in arizona highways
T H I S M O N T H I N H I S T O R Y
■ In 1875, Phoenix had 16 saloons, four dance halls and
one faro table.
■ On February 14, 1862, Confederate President Jefferson
Davis issued a proclamation creating the Confederate
Territory of Arizona. The following month, the U.S.
House of Representatives introduced a bill dividing
the New Mexico Territory into two territories, which
President Abraham Lincoln signed into law in Febru-ary
1863, overriding the Confederate proclamation
and establishing the official U.S. Arizona Territory.
■ In 1907, a Tucson judge ruled that miners and cattle-men
could wear their guns in town for up to two hours.
10 f e b r u a r y 2 0 0 8 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 11
For nine months of the year, Arizona’s most fearsome lizard is lazy. From
July through March, Gila monsters don’t eat. Instead, they live off the fat
stored in their expandable tails. In April, May and June, they hunt for
small rodents, bird and reptile eggs, young birds and frogs. Sometimes, they
consume up to a third of their body weight — talk about fat and happy.
COCHISE COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
PAUL & JOYCE BERQUIST
a family of harris’s hawks swoops in interweaving
arcs, scoping out prey and chasing each other off saguaro tops.
A prairie falcon tucks a wing and dives, corkscrewing to the
ground at top speed. A barn owl, its face as pale and round as
a sand dollar, coasts at eye level, then extends its talons and
lands on a paloverde snag.
In the Raptor Free Flight demonstration at the Arizona-
Sonora Desert Museum, cages have been cast aside so visitors
can see birds of prey glide, flap, pinwheel and dart in their
natural habitat. The program began in 1996
with three Harris’s hawks, and has since
expanded to 17 birds, including five
more species of raptors: the ferrugi-nous
hawk, grey hawk, prairie
falcon, great horned owl and
Raptors are birds with
sharp vision, sharper
talons and hooked beaks (all the better for eating live prey,
my dear). Also popular with visitors are two nonraptors —
greater roadrunners, which hunt rattlesnakes, and
Twice a day, the birds are released into the desert sky to
showcase their athletic ability and unique natural adaptations,
with trainers using leather lures to simulate prey. Barn owls
are known as silent predators, hovering buoyantly above visi-tors,
and then making beelines for their targets. Prairie falcons
whoosh with the speed and recklessness of a getaway car,
overtaking their avian prey in midair. Harris’s hawks — one
of only two social raptor species in the world — hunt like a
pack of wolves, cornering rabbits, reptiles or rodents. The
family dyamics of these hawks change constantly, with the
larger female establishing her authority by forcing the smaller
males off their saguaro perches.
The birds at the museum are treated like top athletes —
they’re kept in shape with daily checkups and exercise, and
their skills are continually honed in training sessions. During
initial flights, the raptors are often reserved and slow. As they
build strength and confidence, they accelerate and expand
their repertoire of complex maneuvers. In the case of the
Harris’s hawks, more experienced birds will demonstrate
complicated actions for the newbies. Although the birds are
taught to return to their trainers, the Free Flight demonstra-tion
is not a show — the aerial feats are natural behaviors.
There’s been growing concern in recent years over the loss
of wild raptors due to habitat encroachment and pest-control
chemicals. Therefore, the trainers at the museum inform visi-tors
about steps they can take to prevent unnecessary deaths,
such as avoiding rodenticides and contacting local utility com-panies
about making utility poles raptor-safe.
The delicate balance of the desert ecosystem hangs upon its
skyborne sentinels. Protecting these birds will help ensure
that they continue to soar over their natural habitat, their
shadows rippling across seas of cactuses as they watch, ready
n Information: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, 520-883-2702 or
— Keridwen Cornelius & Sue Tygielski
Let Us Prey
An innovative program near Tucson gives
museum visitors a chance to see raptors
in their natural environment.
N A T U R E
PAUL & JOYCE BERQUIST
12 f e b r u a r y 2 0 0 8
athleticism, speed, grace,
Native American tradition …
it all adds up to the Heard
Museum’s World Champion-ship
Hoop Dance Contest.
Top hoop dancers from
around the world compete
every February in this colorful
spectacle, which is held at the
Heard Museum in Phoenix.
Originally performed by med-icine
men and spiritual lead-ers
to cure ailments and see
into the future, today’s dances
weave stories that convey
messages about the impor-tance
of harmony in nature
and the never-ending circle of
life. The hoops, which were
traditionally made from wil-lows,
allow dancers to show-case
intricate movements and
footwork as they perform
tribal dances while manipu-lating
from four to 50 hoops
at a time. Among other things,
the dancers create shapes that
symbolize animals, butter-flies,
snakes, deities and
Mother Earth. The two-day
event takes place February 9-
10. The hoop dancing is the
main attraction, but the event
also features the Heard’s
world-class museum and gift
shop, Indian fry bread and
other Native American foods.
n Information: 602-252-8848
Hoopla at the Heard
T H I N G S T O D O
in the Old Pueblo
slip on your spurs and a 10-gallon hat and saddle up for
the country’s largest outdoor midwinter rodeo — Tucson’s
83rd annual La Fiesta de los Vaqueros. The celebra-tion
kicks off on February 16 with the Justin Junior
Rodeo and Dodge Mutton-bustin’ contest, as well as
a Pro Rodeo competition. The nine-day fiesta
includes an old-fashioned parade with more than
200 Western-themed floats, marching bands, folk dancers and
Western riders. After that, professional cowboys and cowgirls
hit the arena for
and bareback rid-ing
this month, gridiron
do-gooders host one of Super
Bowl XLII’s signature events.
Taste of the NFL is a fund-raiser
that offers a night of
food, football and excitement
while raising money for hun-ger
the country. St.
the nation’s first
food bank, and
other organizations will ben-efit
from the event, which
includes a silent auction and
entertainment, along with
delectable dishes prepared by
chefs and players from NFL
cities. The festivities begin on
Saturday, February 2, at the
Phoenix Convention Center.
n Information: 952-835-7621
Go for the Gold
In 1863, Henry Wickenburg dis-covered
a gold mine, but not just
any gold mine — Vulture Mine
would become the most produc-tive
gold mine in Arizona history.
The town celebrates its
145th anniversary with its
annual Gold Rush Days,
which takes place Febru-ary
8-10. The popular
event features gold-panning,
music and dancing, a parade, a
rodeo and an Old West shootout.
n Information: 800-942-5242 or
DAVID H. SMITH
Food-loving skiers can combine
two passions in one afternoon
during Flagstaff Nordic Center’s
Eat, Ski and Be Merry on
February 11. An after-noon
of food and wine
awaits at the center’s
groomed cross-country trails,
where gliding gourmands can
ski or snowshoe through a pro-gressive
buffet of haute cuisine.
n Information: 928-220-0550 or
No one knows the striking land-scapes
of Page, Lake Powell and
Glen Canyon better than Gary
Ladd. This year, Friends of Arizona
Highways offers two photography
workshops taught by Ladd, whose
background in both geology and
photography offers students the
chance to learn from a master.
n Information: 888-790-7042 or
Haute & Cold
Join a small group this year to:
• Photograph the distinctive artisans and
landscapes of the Hopi Mesas, April 17-20.
• Develop and refine your photographic
technique among the stunning backdrops
of Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly,
April 19-23; Oct. 28-Nov. 1.
• Master digital workflow with the help of a
professional Photoshop® instructor, Grand
Canyon, April 25-28; Sedona, Oct. 24-27.
• Escape to a local dude ranch to photograph
cowboys and cowgirls in action during horse
drives, cattle penning, barrel racing and
more, Horses & Cowboys, Apr. 29-May 3.
• Experience an exhilarating rafting
adventure through the Grand Canyon,
April 30-May 11.
• Sample a variety of Northern Arizona’s premier
landscapes, Best of the West, May 7-12.
• Discover the twisted interiors of some
of Arizona’s most amazing slot canyons,
May 11-15; Sept. 23-27.
• Helicopter into Havasu Canyon to
photograph its brilliant blue-green
waterfalls, May 15-19; Nov. 16-20.
• Select from several exciting workshops
led by Navajo photographer LeRoy DeJolie,
Hunt’s Mesa & Monument Valley, May 16-20;
Navajo Lands & People, June 4-8; Monument
Valley for Large Format Photographers,
• Photograph the Grand Canyon’s spectacular
North Rim at the height of fall color,
Sept. 29-Oct. 3.
• Join Gary Ladd as he guides participants to
stunning photography locations near Lake
Powell, Page and Glen Canyon, Preposterous
Landscapes, Oct. 18-23; Lake Powell by
Houseboats, Nov. 11-15.
• Journey to Southeastern Arizona for
breathtaking scenery and magnificent
displays of fall color, Chiricahuas in Autumn,
Professional instruction by
photographers will give
both film and digital
opportunity to improve
their creative and
Learn From the Best
These are just a few of the workshops we
conduct throughout Arizona and the West.
To obtain a free color brochure detailing all of our 2008 photography workshops and
prices, call toll-free 888-790-7042, or visit us online at friendsofazhighways.com.
For More Information
Rinus Baak, participant
Jim Ryder, participant Tom Rust, participant
J. Peter Mortimer 2008 Photo Workshops
With more than 1,900 miles of coastline and millions and millions
of years of geologic primping, there’s a lot to explore at Lake Powell,
and all kinds of ways to do it. BY KELLY KRAMER
MORNING STILLNESS On a late-October
morning, nothing but a ripple stirs on
Lake Powell at a houseboat camp in Face
Canyon. Photograph by Gary Ladd
14 f e b r u a r y 2 0 0 8 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 15
2. Rent a houseboat
LAKE POWELL RESORTS & MARINAS, PAGE
If man is the master of his domain, he can be the captain
of his very own floating fortress on Lake Powell. With
10 houseboat options available, Lake Powell Resorts &
Marinas offers much more than mediocre dinghies. Take
your pick from the 44-foot Explorer, which sleeps 10, but
lacks air conditioning, all the way up through the 75-foot
Odyssey, which features six staterooms, a GPS system and
a home-theater system, as well as a hot tub, water slide,
refrigerator and freezer. The houseboats are water-ready,
which means you won’t have to worry about launching
from a dry dock. Whether you’re a water-ready partier or
just looking to relax, a houseboat is the best way to chill
out and enjoy the scenery.
n For more information: 888-896-3829 or lakepowell.com.
3. Take a tour
LAKE POWELL TOURS, LAKE POWELL
Too bad Gilligan and the gang couldn’t have taken one
of Lake Powell Tours’ three-hour tours. From cruises to
Rainbow Bridge to breakfast sightseeing trips, the com-pany
offers a slew of adventures suitable for families or
couples looking for a romantic excursion. Popular water
expeditions are the Canyon Princess Dinner Cruise, the
Navajo Tapestry Boat Cruise, the Sunset Cruise and kayak
tours. Although the best way to see Lake Powell is from
the water, it’s not the only way. That’s why Lake Powell
Tours also offers a number of hiking expeditions.
n For more information: 800-410-8302 or
4. Take flight
WESTWIND AIR SERVICE, PAGE
There’s something special about Page. Not only is it
a charming little town, but it’s also smack-dab in the
middle of Arizona’s “scenic triangle,” which encom-passes
the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and Lake
Powell/Rainbow Bridge. That’s why Westwind Air Service
launches several of its tours from the town, including its
Grand Scenic Triangle Aerial Tour, which departs near the
lake and flies over Navajo Mountain, Monument Valley
and the Grand Canyon, before landing at Grand Canyon
National Park Airport. Westwind also offers packages that
feature air and ground tours of the area, including some
that can accommodate entire tour buses full of travelers.
n For more information: 800-245-8668 or
1. Take a dive
TWIN FINN DIVING, PAGE
Sure, Arizona’s landlocked. But that’s not
to say great scuba-diving options don’t exist —
particularly at Lake Powell, where the fish are
as common as the houseboats. Thanks to Twin
Finn Diving, the only full-service dive shop in the
Lake Powell/Page area, you can strap on a tank
and head out to the cool, blue water, search-ing
for creatures like bluegills, largemouth bass,
walleyes, crappies, catfish and carp. Twin Finn
rents out equipment at affordable rates ($45
per day for a regulator, weights, a wetsuit, two
tanks and a flag), arranges diving excursions
and offers introductory courses. Twin Finn also
rents kayaks and canoes for a little over-the-top
lake exploration of your own.
n For more information: 928-645-3114 or
BUBBLE UP Captured in the lens of an
underwater camera, a diver begins her descent
into Lake Powell’s submerged slot canyons.
Photograph by Jeff Kida
IN PLANE VIEW Nestled among the trees (left), 251 tenting and full-hookup
campsites provide temporary residents of Wahweap Campground & RV Park
with a sunrise view of Castle Rock. Photograph by Peter Ensenberger
In August 2002, a tour plane flies over the long arm of Navajo Canyon (below).
Photograph by Gary Ladd
O, WHAT A REFLECTION Prior to Glen Canyon Dam’s
completion in 1963, Rainbow Bridge spanned dry
ground several miles from the banks of the Colorado
River. Photograph by Peter Ensenberger
16 f e b r u a r y 2 0 0 8
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 19
6. Pitch a tent
WAHWEAP CAMPGROUND, WAHWEAP
If you’re looking for a room with a view, this is it.
Composed of 112 tentsites and 139 full hookups,
Wahweap Campground & RV Park is the area’s best
place to pitch a tent, roll out the sleeping bags and
roast a marshmallow or two. Wahweap campers are
awarded full access to all of Lake Powell’s amenities,
as well as campsite grills and tables, utility hookups,
laundry facilities, restrooms, showers and fire rings.
And the campground is within close proximity to
Wahweap Marina, where you’ll find plenty of fishing
equipment, bait and boat rentals. If you can’t find all
you’re looking for at the campground, Page is only a
few miles to the south.
n For more information: 928-645-1004 or
7. Take a hike
GLEN CANYON NATIONAL RECREATION AREA
It’s not often that you stumble across a garden in the
middle of the desert, let alone a hanging one. But
thanks to winter precipitation, water collects in a Glen
Canyon National Recreation Area aquifer, then drips
downward through cracks and crevices in the porous
rock of the Colorado Plateau. When the water reaches
an impermeable layer — like the Kayenta Formation
— it flows sideways and down the walls of canyons,
where a variety of plants, including maidenhair ferns
and helleborine orchids, cloak the Jurassic Navajo
sandstone walls. Of the Colorado Plateau’s hundreds of
endemic plant species, 35 grow in the area’s nearly 200
hanging gardens, supporting water-loving birds and
wildlife. If you explore any of them, including Ribbon
Canyon Garden, tread lightly, as the slopes are fragile
and easily eroded.
n For more information: 928-608-6200 or nps.gov/glca.
8. Drop a line
BUBBA’S LAKE POWELL FISHING GUIDE SERVICE, PAGE
The bass are big in Lake Powell, thanks in large part to
nearly 2,000 miles of shoreline and plenty of smaller
fish on which to dine. And thanks to the company that
Jerry “Bubba” Puckett started 20 years ago — Bubba’s
Lake Powell Fishing Guide Service — novice and
hardened anglers alike can find some of the best bass-fishing
hotspots the lake has to offer. Although the
company is now owned by Bubba’s good buddy, Jim
Cliburn, its guides can customize a fishing trip built to
your own specifications, whether you’re a solo adven-turer
or have a school of kids to take along. Best of all,
you won’t have to haul your own equipment. Cliburn
and his crew have you covered.
n For more information: 888-741-2822 or
5. Visit the other canyon
NAVAJO TOURS, NAVAJO NATION
Even if you don’t believe in mythology,
you’ll have to believe that something
magical happened as rain and wind-driven
sediment carved the sandstone walls of
Upper and Lower Antelope canyons over
the millennia. Navajo guides have led
countless adventurers through the
canyons and into what they call “the
crack,” although Navajo Nation residents
no longer herd sheep through Upper
Antelope. Guided tours through the
Southwest’s most photographed slot
canyon typically last an hour, and don’t
require a lot of exertion — the majority of
travel occurs in a four-wheel-drive vehicle.
For shutterbugs, photography tours last
approximately two hours.
n For more information: 928-698-3384 or
9. Hit the road
HOLE-IN-THE-ROCK ROAD, ESCALANTE, UTAH, TO LAKE POWELL, ARIZONA
For 62 miles, from Escalante, Utah, to the western shore of Lake Powell,
Hole-in-the-Rock Road runs a ragged, rocky route. In the summer, it’s
hot (temperatures often exceed the century mark), and in the winter, it’s
cold (temperatures below freezing are commonplace), but Hole-in-the-
Rock is home to some of the most splendid scenery Lake Powell has to
offer. Although much of the road runs through Utah’s Grand Staircase-
Escalante National Monument, the last 5 miles or so are within the Glen
Canyon National Recreation Area — a four-wheel-drive vehicle is required.
Consider the names of some of the points of interest along the way
— Dance Hall Rock, Carcass Wash and Fifty Mile Spring, to name a few —
and hit the road. But be prepared. Take plenty of water and a few snacks,
and be aware of flash floods, particularly during the summer months.
n For more information: 928-608-6200 or nps.gov/glca.
10. Pay your respects
JOHN WESLEY POWELL MEMORIAL MUSEUM, PAGE
A trip to Lake Powell wouldn’t be complete without paying homage to the
man for whom the lake was named, one-armed Civil War veteran Major
John Wesley Powell. Back in 1869, 10 men in four boats set sail along the
Green River in Wyoming, looking to find a bigger slice of the American pie
and confirm Powell’s theories about the Grand Canyon of the Colorado
River. Powell did it, and like all good explorers, he discovered amazing
things along the way, such as the Virgin River (now under Lake Mead) and
several native ruins along the Colorado. In addition to showcasing memo-rabilia
from Powell’s two expeditions down the river, the John Wesley Powell
Memorial Museum also features a substantial collection of Native American
and pioneer artifacts, as well as exhibits that focus on the history and
development of Page and the geology of Colorado River-cut canyons.
n For more information: 888-597-6873 or powellmuseum.org.
ROCKY ROAD Near Hole in the Rock, the water of Lake Powell reflects clouds and
craggy cliffs on an early winter afternoon. This rough terrain didn’t daunt Mormon
pioneers who forged a wagon trail through the area in the winter of 1879-80.
Photograph by Gary Ladd
ANTELOPE INTERLOPER A dried
branch lies on a ledge in bristly
counterpoint to the swirling
sandstone patterns of Lower
Antelope Canyon. Photograph by
Ralph Lee Hopkins Kelly Kramer is a Phoenix-based writer and a regular contributor to Arizona Highways.
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 21
In case you
hadn’t noticed, we
have a lot of shots of
Lake Powell in this issue.
They’re all spectacular,
but for our portfolio,
we wanted something
different, so we sent
up in a plane.
of the Clear BlueSky By5 Gary Ladd
20 f e b r u a r y 2 0 0 8
TO THE POINT Kane Point juts across Lake
Powell, which combines the cinematic scenery
of Glen Canyon with the reflective beauty and
recreational possibilities of a reservoir.
n To order a print of this photograph, see page 1.
22 f e b r u a r y 2 0 0 8 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 23
STAINED STONE Houseboats camp in inlets (below) stained with
a “bathwater ring” that marks the lake’s level before severe
drought caused it to drop rapidly a few years ago.
“DESSERTED CANYON” Resembling powdered sugar dusted over
gingerbread (right), snow settles on Lake Powell’s Escalante Arm,
celebrated for its arches, narrow canyons and Indian ruins.
n To order a print of this photograph, see page 1. 5
24 f e b r u a r y 2 0 0 8
BAY WATCH The sun sets over
Padre Bay (left), illuminating the
stripes of sandstone that make
up the lake’s signature buttes
n To order a print of this photograph,
see page 1.
26 f e b r u a r y 2 0 0 8 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 27
AROUND THE HORN A houseboat takes an early
morning spin around Gregory Butte (left), a castle-shaped
monolith near Last Chance Canyon.
n To order a print of this photograph, see page 1.
REAL CANYONS HAVE CURVES With the lake down
140 feet from full, the serpentine loops of Reflection
Canyon (above) emerge, enticing boaters with new
scenes around every turn.
DISCOVERY CHANNEL Hundreds of squiggly channels
like Anasazi Canyon (right) radiate off Lake Powell,
inviting boaters to detour into the slickrock wilderness.
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 29
FATHER FIGURE It’s easy to see figures in some of the lake’s bizarre rock formations.
Padres Butte (above, left) rises like a sandstone Loch Ness monster prowling Padre Bay.
n To order a print of this photograph, see page 1.
SNOWBALL EFFECT When snow sifts over the canyons, houseboats
stay moored and silence reigns in the twisting course of Forbidding Canyon (left).
WHAT LIES BENEATH A speedboat narrowly misses rocks
bulging up from the main channel near Antelope Point (above). 5
MAGNIFICENT MORNING Sunrise illuminates
the craggy face of Padres Butte on a placid
Lake Powell. Named for John Wesley Powell,
who first explored the Colorado River in 1869, the
lake has more than 1,900 miles of shoreline.
n To order a print of this photograph, see page 1.
eflecting R the
BY LAWRENCE W. CHEEK PHOTOGRAPHS BY GARY LADD
Edward Abbey wasn’t a fan. Few environmentalists were, including our writer,
who boycotted Lake Powell for more than 25 years. He stayed away until a story
assignment forced him to contemplate his opposition. We won’t give away the
ending, but chills are running up the collective spine of the Monkey Wrench Gang.
30 f e b r u a r y 2 0 0 8
32 f e b r u a r y 2 0 0 8 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 33
AI’m spending five days on Lake Powell in a kayak, nominally
to scribble a travel story, but I’m gnawing on a deeper personal
agenda that I haven’t shared with the five other members of our
plastic flotilla. In a microboycott to honor my environmental
ethic, I never came here during the quarter-century that I lived
in Arizona. I believed then, and now, that we humans hold a
moral responsibility to tread as lightly as possible on the Earth.
How can anyone reconcile that principle with the colossal boot-print
of this desert lake?
This is a dilemma that overflows the borders of a travel story.
It’s worth visiting Lake Powell solely to consider the rightness
or wrongness of its existence. The conjunctions of nature and
civilization are among the most powerful issues of our time,
and they’re becoming more pressing as the planet grows more
crowded and our uses of its resources more daring. Lake Powell,
though nearly 50 years old, is perhaps the most radical and
controversial transformation of a landscape yet undertaken by
The idea of man-made lakes first occurred some 4,000 years
ago as small reservoirs for drinking water and irrigation in
China, Egypt and Mesopotamia. But these were little more
than beaver dams that happened to be built by two-legged land
mammals. The great reservoir boom had to wait for concrete
(huge earthen dams tended toward spectacular and lethal fail-ures),
and in North America, the New Deal and its public works
ambitions. With Hoover Dam in 1935, the second of six stoppers
As crime scenes go, Lake Powell is so staggeringly beautiful that it’s hard to hold in the lock of your
mind that you’re supposed to be appalled by it. Even Edward Abbey was grudgingly seduced: “Though
not a lake, [it] may well be as its defenders assert the most beautiful reservoir in the world.” Sierra
Club’s Executive Director David Brower likewise slipped during a boat trip staged by nature writer John
McPhee. “You can’t duplicate this experience — this lake — anywhere else,” Brower admitted.
EXPOSED TO THE ELEMENTS A houseboat navigates the curves of
Reflection Canyon (above), exposed due to low water levels in the lake.
MIRROR IMAGE Tower Butte (right) reflects on the blue-green water
of a quiet cove in Labyrinth Canyon.
n To order a print of this photograph, see page 1.
34 f e b r u a r y 2 0 0 8 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 35
along the Colorado River in Arizona, an era of titanic dams
— and vast reservoirs behind them — was in full bloom.
Glen Canyon Dam, which created Lake Powell, was unique
because the landscape upstream was no everyday desert basin.
It was a labyrinth of crinkly canyons, some as dark and forebod-ing
as dungeons, others as dramatic as Gothic cathedrals, punc-tuated
by occasional waterfalls and sunlit splashes of Gambel
oaks and willows. Abbey, who devoted a chapter of his book
Desert Solitaire to his rubber-raft trip through the canyon before
the lake backed into it, concluded that the landscape was “an
Eden, a portion of the earth’s original paradise.”
The dam’s raison d’etre, strangely, is murky. The Bureau of
Reclamation sold the idea to Congress as a means of hoarding
Colorado River water for irrigation and hydroelectric power.
But Arizona and Utah also saw it as a catalyst for mass tourism,
which Glen Canyon’s wilderness had not been. After the lake
arose, its unique beauty seemed to overwrite all other consid-erations.
A brochure authored by Floyd Dominy, the Bureau’s
commissioner from 1959 to 1969, is empurpled with prose
likely not matched by any bureaucrat in modern times: “Colors
like a symphony of Nature’s music … a front-row seat in an
amphitheater of infinity … a oneness with the world and God.”
But the lake has not forged a oneness of opinion. Countless
writers have seconded Abbey’s alternating heartbreak and fury
over the loss of Glen Canyon, and in 1997 Richard Ingebretsen,
a Salt Lake City physician, formed the Glen Canyon Institute
with the goal of draining the lake. The most remarkable sec-ond
thought about the lake came from Arizona’s rock-ribbed
Republican Senator Barry Goldwater, who said in 1976 that in
all his Senate years, what he most wished he could change was
a vote he cast to construct Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado
River. Goldwater was remembering the river he’d visited in 1940,
rizona is a land of audacious schemes, partly
because it’s young and open, and also because
the outrageous landscape seems to provoke
us into competing with it. More than a mil-lennium
ago, the Hohokam created the larg-est
canal system in North America in the
valley that now cradles Phoenix. On the modern Colorado
Plateau, artist James Turrell has spent more than three decades
remaking a volcanic crater into an experiential observatory.
Metropolitan Phoenix, an oasis supporting more than 4 mil-lion
people, is an act of faith in a desert that enjoys 8 inches of
rainfall a year.
Most of our schemes alter the landscape. Some respectfully:
The prehistoric Sinagua pueblo of Tuzigoot crowns a Verde
Valley hill so gracefully that Mother Nature
herself could have arranged the rock walls.
And some do not: Modern homes perch on
the slopes of Phoenix’s Camelback Mountain
and Tucson’s Santa Catalinas, each making
its personal architectural statement, and the
cumulative effect is grandly scaled clutter.
But it’s dreamy naiveté to imagine that
ancient Native Americans were more enlight-ened
stewards than we are. Pueblo archi-tecture
flows with the mood and shape of
the land because of its builders’ limitations.
They couldn’t truck in materials from distant
places; they had to fashion their architecture
out of whatever the site provided: sandstone,
clay, pine. Naturally, it took on an organic
air. Tuzigoot and similar pueblos probably
assumed their tight, clustered forms from the
necessity of defense. Modern mountainside
homes, widely separated on acre lots, grow
out of a different need — the yearning for
Whatever the reasons, transforming land-scape
is what our species does. At whatever
level the technology of the moment allows,
we build roads, bridges, dams, canals, fences,
fortifications and houses. The Hohokam built
vast earthen mounds and scooped out ball
courts; we move dirt to sculpt golf courses
and parking lots. These ambitions are as legit-imate
a part of our nature as building nests is
for eagles. Every living organism’s biological
imperative is to exploit its environment, to
maximize opportunity. For better or worse,
we humans are equipped to make more of
this mandate than any other species.
We’re also uniquely equipped to predict
the consequences of what we’re considering doing, but we
haven’t used this feature of our brains very well. This, I think,
is the unspoken debate at the heart of the Lake Powell issue.
John McPhee suggested it in his 1977 book Encounters With the
Archdruid: “Possibly the reaction to dams is so violent because
rivers are the ultimate metaphors of existence, and dams destroy
Lake Powell is a monster metaphor. It’s a summation of mod-ern
technology’s nearly unlimited power to revise nature, and
its opponents fear that it stands as a precedent. Draining the
lake, on the other hand, would be an equally monumental but
opposite symbol: a scaling back of human aspirations, a rec-ognition
that the human species is only part of a much larger
community of life on Earth, one over which opposable thumbs
do not automatically give us dominion.
That’s a seductive idea for someone who believes that our spe-cies
needs a booster shot of humility, as I do. The problem is that
when applied to Lake Powell, it disregards the human capacity
for creating beauty, another piece of our biological uniqueness.
We are rearranging nature whenever we design a garden, build
a house, sculpt a figure out of stone or wood, or even make a
painting. (Canvas is a reorganization of plant fibers; pigments
derive from minerals.) If Lake Powell is, as Abbey intimated,
“the most beautiful reservoir in the world,” then it also serves
as a stunning example of artistic success. Most of our meddling
with nature, from suburban lawns to other man-made lakes, is
not nearly as laudable.
Of course, Lake Powell’s beauty only builds on what was
there before: the spectacular canyons and slickrock shelves. The
spectacle that transfixes us today is the starkly dramatic juxta-position
of pink stone, sapphire sky and turquoise water, all on
a scale never before seen in a desert. And yes, another spectacle,
precious and irreplaceable, has been drowned underneath it.
How to weigh the value of each against the other? Most of us,
including me, never visited Glen Canyon in person. What we’re
really weighing is the symbolic power of the engineered lake
versus the natural canyon.
One of my fellow kayakers throws out a provocative thought
as we fabricate a camp in a stony bowl embracing a bay. “If this
were natural,” he says, “no one would ever think anything other
than that it’s fabulous.” Why, then, condemn it for its human-engineered
origins? Or to ask a question one step deeper: Why
is a lake unnatural when it was made by creatures who are,
unquestionably, part of nature?
Behind our camp, the moon rides over a ring of serrated bluffs.
Its white light, cold and sharp as ice, renders the red mountains
into silhouettes that glow with vague menace, like charcoal
hoarding a secret fire. Then intimations of lightning begin flash-ing
on the southern horizon, and for the next two hours we
watch — warily — as a late-summer thunderstorm scribes a
half-circle around us. Faint orange virgas scratch the sky, but the
rain never finds the ground — a reminder that despite the 27
million acre-feet of water beside us, we’re in the desert.
Possibly we humans have a legitimate role to play in this
grand scene, or perhaps we already have improvised beyond
what the desert’s script will tolerate. Lake Powell eventually will
prove to be a dramatic example of what we should or should
not do. All I know is that in this flicker of geologic time, I’m
in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and no longer
Lawrence W. Cheek lives near Seattle, where he’s a boat builder, sailor,
kayaker and architecture critic for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
CANYON COUNTRY Lake Powell twists through the winding narrows
of Cascade Canyon (left).
KAYAK CONVOY A kayaker tries to stay afloat in the waves below a
120-foot-high waterfall in Bridge Canyon (above, left). Surrounded by
towering Navajo sandstone walls, kayakers paddle through slots in
Anasazi Canyon (above, right).
36 f e b r u a r y 2 0 0 8 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 37
Hole-in-the-Rock and climb the 700 feet to the rim. Along the
way, remnants of retaining walls, drill holes and numerous
historic inscriptions are still visible. Unfortunately, Hole-in-the-
Rock, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places,
has been defaced, and recent inscriptions vastly outnumber the
That’s why Foti, Dowding, Page and I climb to the top. Sixty
miles of dirt and slickrock road ends at the summit of The Hole,
and we suspect that many of the vandals arrived via this route.
We circle around from the road’s end back to the rim of the
canyon where there’s a stupendous view eastward. We can easily
see across the lake into Cottonwood Canyon, and with binocu-lars
we can see remnants of a road leading up to the far rim at
Aladdin’s Lamp Pass. It’s too bad that such extraordinary land-scapes
have been covered with graffiti, even if the destruction
wasn’t perpetrated by calloused criminals, but rather average
people like “Rob & Kathi,” who probably fail to comprehend
their own depravity.
The next day we park the speedboat near the mouth of the
Escalante Arm of the lake. Nearby we locate an inscription hid-den
in a yawning sandstone alcove: “J.W. Black, 1896.” Black
was a pioneer trail builder and explorer. But again, disrespectful
boaters have scrawled scores of names, dates, blasphemies and
declarations of love around Black’s name. We go to work. Four
hours later, we’ve cleaned the alcove, leaving the Black inscrip-tion
alone and unblemished.
On our last full day we head to Rainbow Bridge, a place
revered by Native Americans, archaeologists, geologists, histo-rians
and just about every intelligent biped. Despite its stature,
we find blighted rock. All we are allowed to do, however, is
make notes and take photographs because restoration work at
Rainbow Bridge National Monument must be supervised by a
National Park Service archaeologist and representatives from
Native American tribes.
During our trip back to Antelope Point, I open True GRIT’s
unofficial ship’s log. Inside, I find descriptions of weekly adven-tures
and discoveries, brilliant sunrises, cartoons and praise for
the graffiti-removal program, all recorded by the volunteers. It’s
a distinguished record of daily adventures and hard work. In
2005 and 2006, 85 volunteers removed more than 11,000 square
feet of graffiti around Lake Powell.
A few months after my trip, a True GRIT volunteer discovered
one of the most egregious examples of graffiti vandalism. In a
rocky ravine near Padre Bay, a Spanish inscription read: “We
passed this way, 1776.” It’s believed to have been carved by a
member of the Dominguez-Escalante Expedition on its return
trip to Santa Fe. After failing to reach Monterey, California,
before winter, the expedition reversed course, traveling through
this area just before a climactic fording of the Colorado River.
The inscription survived intact for 218 years until Rob & Kathi
scratched their names over it in 1994.
Rob and Kathi: If you’re reading this, the National Park
Service would like you to give them a call. IIt’s a Friday morning, and Jim Page is issuing me a hat, work
gloves and a T-shirt. He’s an ex-Marine who hates Lake Powell’s
shoreline graffiti. Because of that, he’s volunteered to pilot True
GRIT, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area’s houseboat, and
lead volunteer groups eager to scrub rock walls until they’re
graffiti-free. This week, I’m one of the crew members.
Five years ago, four longtime Powell enthusiasts decided
they’d seen enough — Lake Powell’s graffiti problem was out of
control. That’s when Bob and Vicki Schwartz, and Bill and Carol
Williams, donated a houseboat. The boat was christened True
GRIT in April 2004 — GRIT is an acronym for “Graffiti Removal
& Intervention Team” — and it’s patrolled the lake ever since,
armed with binoculars, buckets and brushes.
Two other crew members are joining me on this trip.
John Dowding is from Salt Lake City, and Sally Foti is from
Greenehaven, a small town near Page. Our commander, Jim
Page, is from Big Water, Utah. The four of us are going to focus
our efforts on historic locations around the lake.
After a quiet cruise up the lake to a camp in Oak Bay, I ask
Page about the program’s funding. “It comes mostly from the
National Park Foundation,” he says. “And Antelope Point
Marina helps by contributing a boat slip at the dock and boat
maintenance.” Elbow grease does the rest.
The next morning, we pile into the speedboat we’re towing
behind True GRIT and head up the lake to Hole-in-the-Rock,
the cleft in the rim of Glen Canyon where, in 1879, Mormon
pioneers blasted an improbable wagon route down a 1,000-foot
chute to the Colorado River. After six weeks of labor, they skid-ded
83 wagons down “The Hole,” ferried them across the river,
then forced their way out of the canyon. Six months after leaving
civilization, hardened and exhausted, they founded the town of
Bluff in southeastern Utah. It’s one of the most celebrated migra-tions
in the history of the West.
These days, Lake Powell boaters can anchor at the foot of
“Rob and Kathi” have no respect for Mother Nature. Neither do the
thousands of other vandals who carve their names in the red rocks
surrounding Lake Powell. The task of removing the graffiti falls to vol-unteers,
who are doing their best to make a difference. It’s a tough job,
but somebody has to do it.
GUARDS AGAINST GRAFFITI Volunteers remove modern-day graffiti that has damaged historical
inscriptions and ancient petroglyphs on the red-rock surfaces lining the shores of Lake Powell.
Written & Photographed by Gary Ladd
editor’s note: Several months after the discovery of the 1776
inscription near Padre Bay, Gary Ladd helped carry 175 pounds of laser-scanning
equipment to the site to test it for authenticity. Preliminary
results indicate the inscription is genuine.
n True GRIT heads out approximately 12 times a year, for five to seven
days at a time. For information, call 928-608-6200 or visit nps.gov/glca.
Gary Ladd can’t imagine what some people are thinking when they visit
Glen Canyon and surround themselves in its beauty, and then sabotage the
very landscape they went to experience. Ladd lives in Page at the edge of
If one cubic yard
of concrete landed
on your head,
If 5 million cubic yards
of concrete landed
in Northern Arizona,
you’d have something
called Glen Canyon Dam.
Love it or hate it,
this thing is big —
BIRD’S-EYE VIEW An aerial view of Glen Canyon Dam reveals its graceful
concrete curve. The adjacent Glen Canyon Dam Bridge was dedicated in 1959.
W R I T T E N & P H O T O G R A P H E D B Y G A R Y L A D D
38 f e b r u a r y 2 0 0 8
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 41
“Everybody brings their own eyes to this place,”
Joanna Joseph says with a smile. “Kids ask if anybody’s ever skateboarded its face.
Calculus students look at it and wonder what part of a conic section it might be,
engineers see formulas expressed in concrete, and environmentalists see a river
OPTICAL ILLUSION The sun casts a straight shadow of the
Glen Canyon Dam Bridge onto the curved surface of the dam.
For a little more than a decade,
Joseph led tours of Glen Can-yon
Dam, telling visitors from
around the world about the
concrete Goliath that gave birth
to Lake Powell, which winds for
186 miles through the canyons
of southern Utah and Northern
Arizona. More than seven years
went into the construction of
the dam, and it took another 24
months to finish the power
plant. The lake took even longer
— although it started rising in
March 1963, it didn’t hit its high-water
mark until June 1980.
Glen Canyon Dam was authorized
by Congress in 1956 as part of the Colorado River Storage
Project. The Bureau of Reclamation oversaw the construction,
and today operates the dam as one of several projects along the
Despite its immensity, the dam doesn’t sit still. The hydroelec-tric
power plant at its base pulses with the spinning of eight
400-ton turbine rotors. It hums, too — a German visitor once
pointed out that the buzz of the power plant is a continuous B-flat.
And like a living organism, the dam squirms a little in its
sandstone seat. In the summer, the sweeping concrete face heats
up beneath the sun and bulges upstream. The annual expansion
is measured by engineers, who use lasers and plumb lines to
track the movement — the recordings show an upstream shift
of 1.5 to 2 inches at the dam’s center every summer.
Not surprisingly, engineers are constantly looking for signs of
any unusual movement or change. That’s why the dam houses 3
miles of inspection galleries, which form a labyrinth of tunnels
throughout the dam, from top to bottom and canyon wall to
“We’re continually updating our monitoring equipment,” says
Jeff Jones, foreman of the dam’s group of electronic equipment
mechanics. “The trend has been to go from daily, weekly and
monthly physical checks to continuous electronic checks.”
For subtle, long-term movements within the dam, there are
hundreds of strain gauges and piezometers to measure the resolve
of the lake to slip beneath the dam. And there’s a seismograph to
measure larger, more sudden stirrings. So far, the seismograph
hasn’t revealed anything of interest.
Like Hoover Dam to the west, Glen Canyon Dam is a gravity
arch dam — its 10 million tons of mass help prevent the deep
waters of Lake Powell from shoving it aside. Equally important
is the arch-shape of the dam, which maximizes geometry to facilitate
stability. Because the arch hunches against the force of the
water behind it, the push of the lake only wedges the dam more
tightly into the canyon walls. (The same geometry stabilizes
nearby Rainbow Bridge — the world’s largest natural bridge.)
Of course, the dam wasn’t built to be a lab exercise for engi-neers.
Or a tourist attraction, for that matter. It was built to
generate electricity and store water for use in drought years. And
it’s served its purpose. From 1985 to 1993, during a period of
below-normal snowfall in the Rocky Mountains, Lake Powell
released half of its water to downstream users. It gained back
most of that water in subsequent wet years. But in the summer
of 1999, another drought rolled in, and by April 2005, Lake
Powell had surrendered two-thirds of its volume to water users
in Arizona, Nevada and California. Since then, the lake has
rebounded to about half-capacity.
Drought, however, isn’t the only thing affecting lake levels.
Evaporation from the surface of Lake Powell skims off about 4
feet of water per year. That translates to more than 800 cubic feet
per second, averaged over a year, when the lake is full. By com-parison,
the Colorado River typically loses about 10,000 to
20,000 cubic feet per second. The decrease in water is a concern.
RAPID RELEASE Hollow jet valves, located at the base of the dam,
release water from Lake Powell when necessary.
42 f e b r u a r y 2 0 0 8 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 43
From his home in Page, Gary Ladd can hear the hum of Glen Canyon Dam’s
electrical transformers, but he prefers the rumble of the Colorado River as it
hurries toward the rapids of the Grand Canyon.
And so is the increase in sediment.
Like all lakes, natural or man-made, Lake Powell will eventually fill
with sediment. Surveys conducted in the mid-1980s theorized that silt
would choke off the lake in a few hundred years. No one knows for
sure. What is certain, however, is that dredging won’t help, because
the rate of siltation is staggering — on average, Lake Powell’s tributar-ies
pour the equivalent of 10,000 dump truck loads of silt and sand
into the lake every day.
Ironically, the silt that now clogs Lake Powell above the dam is
sorely missed downstream in the Grand Canyon, where the natural
riparian habitat is starved for spring floods and fresh sand. The ancient
ecosystem of the Grand Canyon has been altered by Glen Canyon Dam,
and a new, post-dam ecosystem reigns with an array of both positive
and negative effects.
Ken Rice, the dam’s facility manager, says the bureau is well aware
of the challenges. “We’re discussing reasonable options for handling
the growing silt accumulation,” he says. There’s a “pandemic plan” as
well, he says, for dealing with any situation where routine operations
and maintenance are interrupted for long periods of time.
Time will tell what’s necessary. Meanwhile, the water continues to
flow. And not just to meet water commitments downstream. Recently,
a team of environmental scientists and other experts was given a voice
in the operation of the dam. Their concerns are many: the preservation
of downstream archaeological sites, the enhancement of wildlife hab-itats,
the maintenance of water quality, the contentment of river run-ners,
and the protection of Native American cultural resources, among
others. Of course, not every need is met every year, but a largely work-able
compromise has been achieved, and that seems to appeal to locals
and visitors alike.
“There are quite a few tourists who come here specifically to learn
more about its pros and cons,” Joseph says. Beyond that, the reactions
of the tourists vary, depending on where they’re from. According to
Joseph, the Germans ask, “How tall, how wide, how does it work?” The
French remark, “Look at those beautiful curves!” The Japanese ask, “Is
it cost-efficient?” And the Americans wonder, “How does this compare
with Hoover Dam?”
The height of Glen Canyon Dam from
the river below is 587 feet, which makes it
taller than the Washington Monument.
The height of the dam from its bedrock foundation
is 710 feet, which is just 16 feet shy of Hoover Dam.
The maximum thickness of the dam is 300 feet,
which is the length of a football field.
There are almost 5 million cubic yards of
concrete in the dam.
The maximum hydropower output of the dam
is 1,320 megawatts, which is enough to serve
the needs of more than a million people.
The maximum capacity of Lake Powell is approximately
27 million acre-feet, which is a little less than Lake Mead.
Lake Powell comprises 252 square miles with a shoreline
of 1,960 miles, which is more than the U.S. Pacific coastline
from Canada to Mexico.
BRIDGING THE GAP The steel arch of Glen Canyon Dam Bridge
spans 1,028 feet with a deck length of 1,271 feet. Before the
bridge was opened in 1959, motorists traveled almost 200 miles
to reach the other side of the canyon.
Glen Canyon Dam
towers 587 feet over
the Colorado River,
making it the fourth-highest
dam in the
n For information on dam tours, visit glencanyonnha.com. For informa-tion
on Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, visit
44 f e b r u a r y 2 0 0 8 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 45
“We leave behind a long line
of cliffs, many hundred feet
high, composed of orange and
vermilion sandstones. I have
named them ‘Vermilion Cliffs.’
I look back and see the morning
sun shining in splendor on their
— John Wesley Powell, 1870
even before we crossed
the Colorado River at Marble
Canyon, we could see the dis-tant
“painted faces” that John
Wesley Powell had described
more than a hundred years
earlier. Soaring 3,000 feet
above the Colorado River, the
Vermilion Cliffs are almost
as impressive in height as the
Grand Canyon is in depth.
The vast and mysterious
wall defines the Paria Plateau’s
impenetrable south side,
which comprises 200,000
acres of shifting sands and
sculpted rock known as the
For this trip, my husband
and I had a plan to cross the
plateau from west to east,
coaxing our ancient Suburban
along unmarked “roads” that
are little more than sand-drifted
trails, where land-marks
are few, and so are
other human beings.
Because a rare rain had
drenched the area just before
we got there, we were optimis-tic
that we could maneuver
the axle-deep sand that barri-cades
Joe’s Place — the pictur-esque
remains of the oldest
ranch house on the plateau —
and ride the moist sand all
the way to Powell Monument
at the southeastern edge.
Our base camp was Lee’s
Ferry Lodge at Vermilion
Cliffs, better known as
“Maggie’s place.” Maggie
Sacher, the corporate drop-out
who owns the motel,
oversees a community of
free spirits, ranging from her
restaurant crew, to Peregrine
Fund staffers who keep vigil
at the nearby condor release
site, to a regular clientele of
ranch hands and government
employees. She welcomes
tourists, too — folks who are
fascinated by the mystery and
history of the vast plateau.
On the day of our trip, we
woke at dawn and loaded
our camera equipment, along
with a sheaf of BLM and topo-graphic
maps, energy bars,
water, a tire pump, a shovel,
a first-aid kit, and a notebook
with scribbles of advice and
directions. We also packed
a satellite phone, which we’d
rented in Flagstaff.
According to the maps,
there were five potential
routes from House Rock
Road east onto the plateau.
Through a process of trial and
error, we decided that BLM
Road 1017 was the route with
the fewest impediments.
It helps to know the “lay of
For directions to Joe’s
Place and Powell Monument,
we talked to a retired ranch
foreman, who, we were told,
knows the area as well as
anyone. He wasn’t impressed
with our maps and GPS coor-dinates.
Turns out, he didn’t
need them — if he said there
was a sliver of road spanning
the plateau, we’d later realize
that he was right. We also
realized that with a little prac-tice,
even novices learn to rec-ognize
the remnants of roads
that haven’t been reclaimed
by the sand. Still, with each
fork in the sand, the route got
more obscure and the maps
Nevertheless, we found
our way to the unmistak-able
landmark of Pine Tree
Pockets, the now-abandoned
headquarters for Two Mile
Ranch’s water operation. At
the time, the three-room
dwelling was occupied by the
plateau’s sole human inhabit-ant.
These days, the warning
cry of a raven is about all that
breaks the silence.
Back on the road, stretches
by Twila Coffey photographs by Mike Coffey
Located within the boundaries of Vermilion Cliffs National Monument,
the Paria Plateau is tough to drive across, but it’s well worth the effort.
back road adventure
GOOD OL’ JOE On Northern
Arizona’s Paria Plateau, a 19th
century structure, known as Joe’s
Place (right), sits abandoned on the
barren landscape of Sand Hills.
PERFECT BACKDROP Rising 3,000
feet above the Colorado River, the
rugged escarpment of the Vermilion
Cliffs (above) showcases the region’s
intriguing geologic timeline.
46 f e b r u a r y 2 0 0 8 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 47
of deepening sand forced us
to shift the Suburban into
a lower gear as we headed
toward Joe’s Place, which is
14 miles beyond Pine Tree
At Joe’s we stopped in some
shallow sand near a gap in the
ancient pole fence that con-nects
the 19th century ranch
house to its sizable store of
water. Recently replenished,
the pond sparkled with reflected
light. While we were
there, a battalion of ravens
seemed to scold us. They
were persistent and vocifer-ous
in their defense of the
To the delight of the black
birds, we left Joe’s Place and
headed for Powell Monument.
And along the way, we took
note of the route, knowing
it would be dusk, and then
dark, when we backtracked
off the plateau.
On the high perimeter,
the conifers were heavy
with cones, succulents were
plump, and in the damp
sand, the comings and goings
of wildlife were vividly
recorded. We saw evidence
of rabbits, coyotes or foxes,
and what was either an elk,
an overweight deer or maybe
even a bighorn sheep.
As it turned out, the sand
tracks took us almost to the
precipice. The condor’s-eye
view of the valley 3,000 feet
below is, in the truest sense
of the word, awesome. From
where we were standing, we could see Maggie’s place. And
even though the buildings
were barely distinguishable,
like anthills in the sand, the
surroundings were easily
identified by the incised con-tours
of the Colorado River
just beyond. In the distance,
we could see cars and trucks
crawling soundlessly along
U.S. Route 89A.
At Powell Monument, a
butte that anchors the eastern
façade of the Vermilion Cliffs,
we looked for petroglyphs.
Although we found a few
panels, we didn’t have time to
look for more. The setting sun
told us it was time to go.
Heading back to Joe’s Place
in the company of our long-trailing
shadow, we were
tempted to bed down in the
Suburban in order to catch
a glimpse of the watering
hole’s early morning visitors.
But when we used the satel-lite
phone to call Maggie and
let her know our plan, she
mentioned something about
steaks for dinner. Without
a second thought, our plan
went out the window. Maybe
next time we’ll make it an
WHAT A VIEW A crevice along the
cliffs (left) opens up to the valley below,
where the Colorado River begins its
journey through the Grand Canyon. In
the background, the Echo Cliffs
bracket the valley’s eastern border.
Vehicle Requirements: A high-clearance,
vehicle is required. Because
of long stretches of loose
sand that can be difficult to
maneuver, this road is not
recommended for anyone
with limited backcountry
Warning: Back-road travel can
be hazardous, so beware of
weather and road conditions.
Carry plenty of water. Don’t
travel alone, and let someone
know where you’re going and
when you plan to return.
Information: North Kaibab
Ranger District, 928-643-7395;
Bureau of Land Management,
435-688-3200; Lee’s Ferry
Lodge at Vermilion Cliffs, 928-
355-2231 or leesferrylodge.com.
Note: Mileages are approximate.
> Begin at Lee’s Ferry Lodge at Vermilion Cliffs driving west on U.S. Route
89A for 24.2 miles, and turn right (north) onto House Rock Road (BLM
> Drive north 9.4 miles to Pine Tree Pockets Road (BLM Road 1017)
(36°51.67’N, 112°03.79’W). A corral on the west side of House Rock Road
locates the turn-off. The following mileage is referenced from this point.
TRAIL’S END At 6,700 feet, Powell
Monument sits above Marble
Canyon on the Vermilion Cliffs’
House Rock Valley
MAR BLE CANYON
PAR I A P L AT EAU
> In Corral Valley, at 3.15 miles (36°51.56’N, 112°00.67’W), note a fork to
the left and continue straight on BLM 1017.
> Reach Pine Tree Pockets at 6.3 miles (36°50.61’N, 111°57.67’W), and
take the road, BLM Road 1104, to the right (south) of the line shack
> At 6.65 miles (36°50.51’N, 111°57.44’W), take the left fork onto BLM
> At 11.5 miles (36°48.82’N, 111°53.40’W), bear right at a fork,
continuing on BLM 1105 and begin a long, sandy downhill stretch.
> At 13.15 miles (36°47.42’N, 111°53.24’W), note a water tank ahead,
taking a left fork to find a sand track (still on 1105) in front of the tank
> At 14.5 miles (36°47.57’N, 111°51.98’W), note a road joining from the
left; continue ahead as 1105 becomes BLM Road 1110.
> Joe’s Place is at 20.25 miles (36°49.33’N, 111°47.61’W). The sand is very
powdery here, making driving difficult.
> Continue northeast on BLM 1110 to a sand track “intersection” at 22.8
miles (36°51.21’N, 111°46.51’W) and take the right (east) track.
> At 24.2 miles (36°51.30’N, 111°45.07’W), bear right at an unmarked
junction, continuing through difficult/powdery sand to a “T”
intersection with a fence line at 26.5 miles (36°51.18’N, 111°43.39’W).
Turn right (south) and follow the tracks along the fence line.
> At 28.3 miles (36°50.12’N, 111°42.11’W), stop and enjoy the view of
Marble Canyon, 3,000 feet below. Continue following the sand track
northeast toward Powell Monument and Paria Needle, parking at 30.2
miles (36°51.12’N, 111°40.85’W).
> To return, backtrack along the same route.
48 f e b r u a r y 2 0 0 8 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 49
hike of the month
in arizona’s north
country — far north
— sandstone flanks the
Colorado River like a
misplaced slab of the Great
Wall of China, forming
the centerpiece of one of
the state’s newest national
monuments: the Vermilion
Cliffs, which is administered
by the Bureau of Land
Management. The prospect
of scaling this 3,000-plus-foot-
high bulwark can be
intimidating — even on a
mild spring day. Fortunately,
any hiker in halfway decent
shape can get to the top
through a gap known as the
Sand Hill Crack.
When you go, park near
the fenced ranch house next
to the trailhead, which is
located off U.S. Route 89A
in House Rock Valley. The
home’s rough stone walls
are decorated with cowboy
graffiti, and none other than
Buffalo Bill Cody watered
his horses at this place in
1902. The site also was a
stopover on the Honeymoon
Trail as Mormon newlyweds
returning from the temple
in St. George, Utah, camped
under stars scattered above
like juniper berries.
My hike began on a faint
dirt road that took me into
the foothills. Along the way,
jackrabbits — their ears
drawing attention like translucent
pink exclamation marks
— zigzagged among yucca
spikes, saltbushes and blooming
globemallow, while the
morning light flushed the
enormous cliffs in front of me.
A ravine parallels the trail
toward the rainbow-colored
Chinle sandstone swells,
and, against all expectation,
willows burst from a hillside
above. Insiders know this
oasis as Rachel’s Pools, the
homestead of a woman who
lived on the site in a wattle-and-
daub shack. The remains
of the nearby rock corrals,
somehow surviving on the
bleached badlands in the
distance, serve as testimony
to pioneer resilience that is
beyond my imagination.
After filling my water
bottles at the spring, I tackled
the gullied slope to the left,
switchbacking to where the
trail levels off and is marked
by cairns. It then follows a
huge sand slide to the base
of the cliff, hundreds of feet
below a northeasterly notch
in the rim. The deep sand
slowed me down, but I still
outpaced some darkling
beetles that struggled uphill.
From there, a breach
opens in the cliff face, steep
and boulder-choked. This
is one of several ancient
routes traveled by Ancestral
Puebloans who farmed,
hunted and gathered wild
plants on the Paria Plateau.
At this point, I took a short
break to gear up for the
toughest stretch of the hike,
thankful I wasn’t climbing in
June or July.
Halfway up, I had lunch
on a rock ledge and tried
to catch my breath. Views
opened onto Marble Canyon,
the snowy North Rim of
the Grand Canyon and flat-topped
Shinumo Altar on the
Navajo Indian Reservation.
Swifts whistled by, reeling in
I continued up a defile,
past petroglyphs pecked into
the desert varnish more than
800 years ago — some so
crisp they looked as if they
could have been created the
Piñon pine and juniper
trees welcomed me to the
top, where I pitched my tent.
While I was making camp, six
gigantic black shapes glided
along the escarpment’s lip.
To my surprise, the shapes
were California condors,
which were released nearby
in an effort to re-establish the
species in its former range.
The birds flew close enough
for me to see their heads and
to hear the whooshing of
their feathers. Although their
eyesight is superb, I doubt
that the condors’ perspective
of this landscape could have
been more impressive than
by Michael Engelhard photographs by Elias Butler
Sand Hill Crack
KID CONDOR A product of
reintroduction efforts begun in the
Vermilion Cliffs area in 1996, juvenile
California condor No. 10 (above)
perches on a sandstone ledge. One
of several hoodoo formations (right)
greets hikers who complete the
climb through Sand Hill Crack.
A nontechnical route to the top of the Vermilion
Cliffs in Northern Arizona features scenic views,
pioneer history and some very large birds.
onli n e For more hikes in Arizona, visit our hike archive at arizonahighways.com.
Length: Approximately 4 miles round-trip.
Trailhead Elevation: 3,000 feet.
Elevation Gain: 2,000 feet.
Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous.
Payoff: Views, condors.
Getting There: Turn north from U.S. Route 89A between mileposts 557 and 558,
near the Escalante-Dominguez marker. Drive this fairly good dirt road about 2
miles toward the Vermilion Cliffs. Park south of the ranch house at Jacobs Pool.
Travel Advisory: Avoid this hike during summer months or lightning storms.
Carry water, or treat water from the spring at Rachel’s Pools. Take snacks and
a good topographic map. Loose rock and sand might make climbing
hazardous. In wet conditions, access might require four-wheel-drive.
Information: Bureau of Land Management, 602-417-9200 or 435-688-3200.
House Rock Valley
MARBLE CAN YO N
P AR I A P LATE AU
Sand Hill Crack
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