Lee’s Ferry – April 9-12

Navajo Bridge and Condors

Lee’s Ferry was, in “the old days”, the only place to cross the Colorado River within 600 miles.  So, first, Lee’s Ferry was an actual series of ferries that took people and livestock across the river.  Then, the Navajo Bridge was constructed.  There is a new bridge now to handle modern traffic and the old bridge is for pedestrian, sight-seeing only.

From atop the bridge, we saw 2 condors, perhaps sitting on a nest in the cliffs up river from the old bridge.  There is an experimental Condor release area not far from here in the Vermillion Cliffs area – so, if the two banded birds we saw are an indication, the program must be successful.  The river here is pretty quiet, although fast in the deepest channel.

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At Lee’s Ferry itself, there is the old fort, an assayer office, the remains of some gold mining (mostly old rusty stuff including a big boiler) and the remains of a sunken ferry.

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Sunken ferry – looks like it rolled over on its side by the shore and is now mostly buried in the silt.

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Makes me want to pull out my inflatable kayak and go for a paddle – but the water is deceptive fast here and most folks opt to pay for a tow upriver and then float down to this point.  Below Lee’s Ferry, you need a permit and a lot of paperwork.

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Raft trips!  The more modern use for Lee’s Ferry

Lee’s Ferry is known as “mile 0” or the start of raft trips down the Colorado.  Private trips seek permits through a lottery system and can take more than a year to get.  Rangers inspect your gear, your paperwork (over 30 pages!), ID’s etc. before your trip can start.  The boat launch is very busy – even at this time of year.

We saw both commercial and private trips setting up to launch while we were at Lee’s Ferry.

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Paria River Riffles – the only action at this point in the river.  At this time of year, Paria River is more like a little creek; I don’t know how active the Riffles get when Paria river has more water running.

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Hiking Cathedral Wash

There are a number of hikes in the Lee’s Ferry Recreation Area.  We took one up the Cathedral Wash which runs back up into the Vermillion Cliffs.  It starts out as a wide wash, becomes narrower, then much narrower, and then climbs more sharply over big boulders and becomes more accurately “scrambling and bouldering” than hiking.

The rocks here range from layers of creamy tan, to deep red/orange, with bands of yellow ochre, olive green, aqua blue, and forest green thrown in for contrast.

a bit deceptive - probably 5 feet deep and maybe 3 feet across.

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