Day Two--Moki and the Grand Canyon

North Rim Travel Blog

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Lake Powell

We were up early and drove towards the lake. Our plan was to take the John Atlantic Burr Ferry (named for pioneer Utah rancher, John Atlantic Burr) from the Bullfrog Marina on the northwest side of Lake Powell to Hall’s Crossing on the southwest side. It would be much faster than backtracking to drive around Lake Powell. So by 9:00 AM, the first crossing from Bullfrog to Hall’s, the four of us, plus the Nova and Pop Up were all on the ship and ready to go.

On the John Atlantic Burr Ferry
It was a bit weird to drive your car onto a ship, but certainly not strange enough to prevent us from going. The crossing itself took about 20 minutes and was very smooth and uneventful. We all sat outside and watched the water and we motored across the water. When we had loaded onto the ship we drove on from one end. Now that we had arrived at Hall’s Crossing, they opened up the other side and we awaited our turn to drive off the other.

 

From this point we got onto UT-276 and began our drive to the Grand Canyon. The most interesting part of our drive occurred about an hour and a half into our trip. We had taken UT-276 to UT-95, and turned on to UT-261. UT-261 runs into UT 163 at Mexican Hat, UT. Right before you get to Mexican Hat is a geological formation called the Moki Dugway.

Me, Margo, and Jessi. Being ferried right along.
The Moki Dugway is kind of large (about 1100 ft) sandstone plateau. The highway that we were traveling on arrives at the top of Moki and you have to get down to the bottom to continue the drive. To facilitate this, the Utah Department of Transportation has cut a long, narrow, twisty dirt road to the bottom. There are no guard rails and cause acrophobia in any sane person. We proceeded down at a breathtaking 5 miles per hour. This stretch of the highway is unpaved. I later read somewhere that it was left that way intentionally to keep the speeds down and save lives. Well, the lack of a guardrail and that one-wrong-move-and-I’ll-die feeling was enough for me. You got kind of used to it about 10 minutes into it, but you never felt comfortable.

 

We stopped at Kayenta, AZ for gas and a break.

Margo, Jessi, Jolene, and the Nova
It was about 2 PM, and we weren’t that far out. I was probably about another two hours. Both girls were behaving wonderfully. Jolene just played with her games, or slept, and Jessi was almost always asleep. After a short break we were back on our way.

 

We arrived at the North Entrance, and even though we already knew that we still had another 9 miles to go, we were still a bit disappointed that we weren’t seeing the canyon yet. But it wouldn’t be long now. The drive into the park saw more trees and prettier overall countryside. The sandstone features of south central Utah are pretty, but there were also a bit sparse. Mostly we had been looking at scrubs and desert for the last several hours.

Jolene, enjoying the boat ride
But, in another 10 minutes and we got our first good look at the canyon, as the Grand Canyon Highway took you close to the edge, at a parking lot for a trail. We didn’t stop, as we wanted to get set up and make sure there weren’t any problems. And there weren’t, we got our permit and directions to our space and off we went.

 

By the time we got setup it was not long until sunset. From the map we had gotten we saw that the Transept Trail was on the west side of this area, and sounded like a good place to watch the sunset over the canyon. So that is where we headed, to get our first good look at the canyon. It is hard to put into words the shear size of it. The feeling that you are small only compares when you gaze out into the ocean from a ship. The big difference here is that there so much to see. The ocean is just mile after mile of water. Peaceful and relaxing, Yes. But, you have to lose yourself in the churning of the water.

Looking down to UT-261 from Mokee Dugway
With the Grand Canyon you are both sucked in by the beauty and held at arm’s length by the size. At every degree of the compass is something else to see. You first focus on the big picture and then the details draw you in. You begin to feel guilty at take so much time to just “look”. It has that feel of being  “too good, so it must be bad” to it. You almost feel obligated to move on, so someone else can enjoy it too. But that is ludicrous as had little competition.

 

But we did move along. To get to the trail we had passed a general store, and we wanted to check hours and see what they sold. The exact details of both escape me, but Margo did notice a large area dedicated to moccasins. And as we were in Indian (Hopi) country, she brought up getting a pair. Sure, but not now.

Jolene at Mokee Dugway
We did still want to see the sunset. So we went back and staked out a piece of trail and watched a very pretty sunset. Truthfully, it was good, but the sunset itself was a bit disappointing. But, the changing of the light in the canyon more than made up for it. The colors grow darker and the shadows change the whole character. We left while the light of the downed sun still gave us lamination to see.

 

The remainder of our evening was spent with dinner and getting the kids ready for bed. This campground featured pay showers. Margo was more than ready for one of those, but the kids got sponge baths, instead. Jolene didn’t really appreciate the therapeutic powers of a shower yet. She was only 3, and Jessi obviously wasn’t going to take one. But, that was pretty much it for the night. I think we picked up some snacks at the store, and some candy for Jolene, and bedded down for the night.

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Lake Powell
Lake Powell
On the John Atlantic Burr Ferry
On the John Atlantic Burr Ferry
Me, Margo, and Jessi. Being ferrie…
Me, Margo, and Jessi. Being ferri…
Margo, Jessi, Jolene, and the Nova
Margo, Jessi, Jolene, and the Nova
Jolene, enjoying the boat ride
Jolene, enjoying the boat ride
Looking down to UT-261 from Mokee …
Looking down to UT-261 from Mokee…
Jolene at Mokee Dugway
Jolene at Mokee Dugway
Towards Halls Crossing
Towards Hall's Crossing
Looking back at Bullfrog Marina
Looking back at Bullfrog Marina
North Rim
photo by: marg_eric