Today we visit North Rim in Grand Canyon National Park – less visited but certainly no less stunning part laying away from popular routes.
Grand Canyon National Park, located in northwestern Arizona, protects a gorge of the Colorado River, which is often considered one of the Wonders of the World. The Grand Canyon was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979. In February of this year it celebrated 100th anniversary. The Grand Canyon, including its extensive system of tributary canyons, is valued for its combination of size, depth, and exposed layers of colorful rocks dating back to Precambrian times. The canyon itself was created by the incision of the Colorado River and its tributaries after the Colorado Plateau was uplifted, causing the Colorado River system to develop along its present path. The primary public areas of the park are the South and North Rims, and adjacent areas of the canyon itself. The rest of the park is extremely rugged and remote, although many places are accessible by pack trail and backcountry roads. About 90% of the visitors come to the South Rim (even if I personally think North Rim is more amazing).
Driving across Navajo Nation we cross into tiny (in comaprison) Hopi is a Native American reservation for the Hopi and Arizona Tewa people, surrounded entirely by the Navajo Nation.. The site in north-eastern Arizona has a land area of 6,557 sq km and a population of approx 7000. Until recently, the two nations shared the Navajo–Hopi Joint Use Area, though the partition of this area, commonly known as Black Mesa, by Acts of Congress in 1974 and 1996, has resulted in continuing controversy, as since the 1960s it has been strip mined for coal by the Peabody Western Coal Company, an act that is seen as violation of Mother Earth to native people. The system of villages unites three mesas in the pueblo style traditionally used by the Hopi. Walpi is the oldest village on First Mesa, having been established in 1690 after the villages at the foot of mesa Koechaptevela were abandoned for fear of Spanish reprisal after the 1680 Pueblo Revolt. The Tewa people live on First Mesa. Hopi also occupy the Second Mesa and Third Mesa. The Hopi Tribal Council is the local governing body consisting of elected officials from the various reservation villages. Its powers were given to it under the Hopi Tribal Constitution. We stop at Oraibi – a village belonging to the Hopi tribe that is found on the Third Mesa near the village of Kykotsmovi. Oraibi is cosidered to be the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in North America, having been established before the year 1100 CE. According to archeological speculation, the Hopi were forced to abandon some of their smaller villages in the area due to a series of severe droughts during the late 13th century. As a result, the Hopi were concentrated in a few population centers around the area. Oraibi is among the surviving settlements whose population grew making the place popular. Today only few native people inhabit small houses, but it is here where I buy my Katchina. Next we stop at Walpi, but it’s a day of ceremonies and no outsiders are allowed into the fortified clifftop village (on other occasions it can be visited, but only with a guide).
Last (but not least) we reach Petrified Forest National Park, which has been named for its large deposits of petrified wood. PPark covers about 600 sq km, encompassing semi-desert shrub steppe as well as highly eroded and colorful badlands. The Petrified Forest is known for its fossils, especially fallen trees that lived in the Late Triassic, about 225 million years ago. The sediments containing the fossilized logs are part of the widespread and colorful Chinle Formation, from which the Painted Desert gets its name. Beginning about 60 million years ago, the Colorado Plateau, of which the park is part, was pushed upwards by tectonic forces and exposed to increased erosion. All of the park’s rock layers above the Chinle, except geologically recent ones found in parts of the park, have been removed by wind and water. In addition to petrified logs, fossils found in the park have included Late Triassic ferns, cycads, ginkgoes, and many other plants as well as fauna including giant reptiles called phytosaurs, large amphibians, and early dinosaurs. Paleontologists have been unearthing and studying the park’s fossils since the early 20th century.
Hoover Dam is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon on the Colorado River, at the border between Nevada and Arizona. It was constructed between 1931 and 1936 during the Great Depression . Its construction was the result of a massive effort involving thousands of workers, and cost over one hundred lives. Originally known as Boulder Dam it was officially renamed Hoover Dam, in 1947. The dam impounds Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States by volume when it is full. As happens in case of all dams, the changes in water flow and use caused by Hoover Dam’s operation have had a large impact on the Colorado River Delta. For six years after the construction of the dam, while Lake Mead filled, virtually no water reached the mouth of the river. The delta’s estuary, which once had a freshwater-saltwater mixing zone stretching 64 km south of the river’s mouth, was turned into an inverse estuary. In recent years – with the draught that has struck western USA level of Lake Mead has fallen dramatically, which can be observed on the shores over the dam.
U.S. Route 66 was one of the original highways in the U.S. Highway System, established in 1926, with road signs erected the following year. The highway, which became one of the most famous roads in the United States, originally ran from Chicago, Illinois, to Santa Monica in Los Angeles County, California, covering a total of 3,940 km. US 66 served as a primary route for those who migrated west, especially during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. US 66 underwent many improvements and realignments over its lifetime, but was officially removed from the United States Highway System in 1985 after it had been replaced in its entirety by segments of the Interstate Highway System. Portions of the road that passed through Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico, and Arizona have been communally designated a National Scenic Byway of the name “Historic Route 66”.
Desert View Watchtower, also known as the Indian Watchtower at Desert View, is a 21 m high stone building located on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon within Grand Canyon National Park approx 30 km to the east of Grand Canyon Village. The four-story structure, completed in 1932, was designed by American architect Mary Colter, an employee of the Fred Harvey Company who also created and designed many other buildings in the Grand Canyon vicinity including Hermit’s Rest and the Lookout Studio. The interior contains murals by Fred Kabotie.