As the halfway point between the Grand Canyon’s South and North Rim, Marble Canyon is more than an outpost town. It is a nature lovers gateway to paradise. Considered to be a base camp for Lees Ferry, Marble Canyon is an adventurers thoroughfare. River rafters, backpackers, day hikers, kayakers, and fishermen come from all over the world to experience this jewel of the southwest.
Tourists utilize Marble Canyon’s facilities to refuel their gas tank and grab a bite on their way to the North Rim; many remain unaware of the attractions and adventures that this outpost town has to offer. Below are ten reasons why you should consider spending a few days exploring Marble Canyon.
1. NAVAJO BRIDGE TWINS
The two Navajo bridges, one historic and one new, represent one of only seven land crossings of the Colorado River for seven hundred miles.
Serving as a pedestrian crossing, the historic bridge provides visitors with an opportunity to observe river rafters floating down the Colorado River and the chance to see the endangered California condor.
2. CALIFORNIA CONDORS
Only 225 California condors are living in the wild and 75 reside in Marble Canyon and Vermilion Cliffs National Monument.
These majestic birds are often seen flying in the thermal currents and roosting on the steel girders underneath the Navajo Bridge.
3. LOWER CATHEDRAL WASH
The Lower Cathedral Wash Trail is located in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. This 2.5 mile round trip trail ends at Cathedral Rapid on the Colorado River.
4. PARIA BEACH
Directly across from Lees Ferry campground is Paria Beach. Known for its white sand and turquoise water, Paria Beach is a great place to watch rafters navigate their first set of rapids down the Grand Canyon.
5. LONELY DELL RANCH
This historic ranch, which lies near the mouth of the Paria River, was home to the families who operated Lees Ferry. Living in a such an isolated area demanded a self-sufficient lifestyle. Harvesting their own fruit and vegetables, these pioneers turned a barren desert into a green oasis.
The main ranch buildings are a short walk from the parking area. Be sure to tour the orchard, log cabins, stone house, and the pioneer cemetery.
7. PARIA RIVER
If you visit the ranch cemetery, follow the dirt road all way the until you reach the Paria River Trail. Whether it’s a short nature walk or full-blown day hike, Paria River is a wilderness area begging to be explored.
For dog owners, this is a great place to take the dog for a hike and swim.
8. LEES FERRY BOAT RAMP
As the official start of the Grand Canyon, Lees Ferry boat ramp is a great place to watch commercial and private rafting expeditions launch.
For the price of a kayak rental and backhaul shuttle, you can explore a sixteen mile stretch of the Colorado River. Rated as a Class 1 paddle, I highly recommend spending a few days camping and kayaking your way back to Lees Ferry.
For a detailed trip report
10. FLY FISHING
Home to more than 20,000 wild trout per mile, Lees Ferry ranks as one of the nation’s top fishing destinations. Guided excursions, private and rented boats, and walk-in fishing are permitted for fifteen canyon miles upstream from Lees Ferry boat ramp. I highly recommend hiring a local fishing guide to take you upriver to fish the backwaters, gravel bars, and main river channel.
Lees Ferry Campground is located 1.5 miles from the boat ramp. Wind breaks, flush toilets, and a waste station are available for RV’S. First come, first serve, at $20 a night.
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