Williams - Grand Canyon via Peach Springs
8 Oct 2010
|After being cooped up for three days with the rains and storms, hail and tornado, we were more than anxious and ready to hit the road and begin exploring this area so rich in national monuments, Native American relics and ruins, and many natural wonders. Our game plan was to leave the coach early in the morning, heading west on I-40 and getting off at the exit for us to follow another portion of the Historic Route 66. Then take the route up to Hualapai Hilltop (near the Grand Canyon) and enjoy the picnic lunch I had already packed.
We were out of here before 0800, brisk (50-degrees) but sunny and promises for a beautiful day ahead! We got off I-40 at the exit for Seligman; this is the beginning of the longest remaining portion of Route 66. Seligman, founded in 1842 is a small roadside town that is the reminder of the heyday of the “Mother Road”. As written in previous posts, Route 66 at one time extended from Chicago to Los Angeles and was the primary road used back in the early 1900s. This route is particularly popular with motorcycle enthusiasts – Seligman’s most “famous” restaurant is Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In, a famous diner whose owners have been dedicated to entertaining and teasing route travelers for generations – have included some pics of this diner!
This particular segment of the Route is definitely desolate and forbidding with miles between towns and even seeing another vehicle drive by. But, the route is broken up with these signs every five or so miles done in series – I took pics of two of them and all end with Burma Shave reminiscent of the times when Route 66 was the primary route across America. They were pretty hokey, but fun to see them approaching to see what they would hold – here are a few of them:
When you Can’t See
May Get You a Glimpse
Means Go Slow
Cuz that Old Bull
Is Some Cow's Beau
So, you get the gist I’m sure, was fun and was hokey!
We got to our turn off and were surprised to see that the route we wanted to take wasn’t a state or interstate marked road, but instead was called Indian Road 18 and it was closed – we assumed due to the recent rains, there might have been some impassable spots! But fortunately, I already had a back-up plan. While studying the map I noticed another route, Indian Road 6 that appeared to go all the way out to the Colorado River and be within the Grand Canyon – and we only had a few more miles to reach Peach Springs and then the turn off on this dirt road. Of course Jerry was thrilled to hear “dirt road” to try out the Jeep and hopefully some 4WD options!
Peach Springs is in the middle of the Hualapai (pronounced WALL-uh-pie) Reservation, meaning the People of the Tall Green Trees. This same tribe is also responsible for the Grand Canyon Skywalk, located further west from Peach Springs. We found the road and proceeded due north for the 19 mile trek before reaching the River. We were both relatively surprised at the good condition we found the road and marveled at how well maintained it appeared to be in. We must have driven approximately 8-10 miles before we saw another vehicle – a HUGE passenger bus! And just barreling down the road, pretty obvious it was not their first trek on this route! Then we saw two more truck-like vehicles pulling trailers behind it pass us, then a passenger van – not all in a group or rapid succession, but within a matter of say 20 minutes. We both started to realize that this route was obviously used by the Hualapai tribe to bring tourists to raft rides on the Colorado River and that’s why the road was in such good shape.
We finally reached an area that had an outhouse and a picnic table and stopped not only to use the facilities, but we had just read the sign saying that entering this area without a permit would result in a $500 fine and were contemplating walking the rest of the way when a Ranger approached us in a pick-up truck. We asked about the permit and were able to buy it directly from the Ranger and after our $32.20 was paid, we had permit in hand and proceeded the remaining one mile to reach the river. The Ranger also gave us a paper explaining the various things to visit on their reservation and that’s when we learned that we were heading to Diamond Creek on the Colorado River and this was the ONLY road into the Grand Canyon anywhere.
The last mile was by far the most treacherous portion of the trip because of all the water on the road and was pretty apparent that this portion of the road required a lot more work frequently to keep it an actual road rather than a “stream”. This is where Jerry got to use the 4WD for the first time; was fun! We pulled down to the area right next to the River and found two covered picnic tables, trash cans, amenities and what luck - we had it to ourselves! We had also been told by the Ranger that many rafters go on this portion of the Colorado River due to the rating of SIX out of a possible TEN for the difficulty in the rapids.
We selected “our” picnic table and walked around to explore the small clearing and walk out to the River. This area certainly paled by comparison to some of the other vantage points we had been to looking with the bird’s eye view of the Canyon whereas now we were at the worm’s eye view; but nevertheless impressive. We pulled out our lawn chairs and decided as long as we had paid our “fee”, we were going to remain a while, enjoy our lunch and the beauty of the area and our solitude to enjoy it as well. We saw several white water rafter’s and kayaker’s paddle by – it was just wonderful. Temps couldn’t have been more perfect!
After about two-plus hours, we decided it was time to head back home – and talk about timing. We probably had only gone half a mile when two cars passed us – we couldn’t believe the types of vehicles they were driving on this very rocky portion of road, but also recognized they were probably in rental cars!! Then we went by three more vehicles, and then four jeeps part of a Jeep Tour company went by us – we had just missed being inundated by visitors – phew; missed them all!
We took pretty much the same route back along Route 66 and then connect to I-40 to bring us back here to the RV Park. We had no sooner gotten on I-40 and pulled out from the ramp when the large semi-truck went by us and kicked up a stone that went right into our front windshield, and you betcha – a nick in our brand new window; we just can’t seem to escape the bad luck Gods here of late. Have already called our insurance company and have an appointment in Flagstaff on Monday to get it repaired. They were backed up due to all the hail damage resulting from the storms earlier this week with the tornado’s visit to the area.
Even though disappointed with how the day ended, we had a wonderful outing and was just a wonderful experience to be down on the Colorado River within the Grand Canyon, something neither one of us thought we would ever experience.
Hope you enjoyed this visit to the Grand Canyon, we’ll be going up to the South Rim to see it together and just enjoy the splendor of the wonders of nature.
Till the next time . . .