If you want a unique Grand Canyon experience, and are willing to pay the price, you might consider an excursion along the House Rock Valley Road.  This field trip route begins on pavement at Jacob Lake on the Kaibab Plateau, but descends into heart of House Rock Valley on the plateau’s eastern flank, traversing gravel roads that range from good to poor condition (the endless wash-boarding of the roads is maddening at times) (Figure 2.1 of FIELD GUIDE TO THE GEOLOGY OF THE NORTH RIM).   However, the trek has several interesting highlights that provide a flavor unlike any you’ll experience elsewhere on the North Rim, including North Canyon carved into the East Kaibab Monocline, Marble Canyon overlooks that cannot be reached in any other way, and the lower trailhead for the Nankoweap Trail. The entire route lies within Bureau of Land Management and National Forest lands.  Overnight camping near the North Canyon Trailhead offers two hiking options: one is a short hike to the tip of a large hogback in The Cockscombs, the erosional remnants of sedimentary rocks folded over the axis of the East Kaibab Monocline, the viewpoint here provides a superb aerial view of the fold structure; the other is a longer hike up North Canyon and through the axis of the monocline from the canyon’s lower trailhead.  A second driving option takes you to viewpoints along the western rim of Marble Canyon and potential overnight camping to catch a wonderful sunset or sunrise in a part of the Grand Canyon seldom seen by other human eyes.  A hike from the lower Nankoweap Trailhead up Saddle Canyon to the base of Saddle Mountain and the drainage divide overlooking Nankoweap Canyon is a spectacular third option to explore on this outing and provides yet another opportunity to observe the East Kaibab Monocline from the inside out.  This hike can be done as a day trip; but since this is the lower entry point for hiking the Nankoweap Trail, much longer trips can be undertaken.  Saddle Mountain Viewpoint offers a different perspective on the classic view into Nankoweap Canyon from Point Imperial and serves as a primary trailhead for the Nankoweap Trail.   The rough drive to reach these locations can be exhausting, but the rewards are many, no crowds, and pure solitude and scenic splendor.  Combined, these locations afford an outstanding opportunity to study the three-dimensional anatomy of a monoclinal fold, contemplate the geological forces that caused it, and experience a wilder side of the Grand Canyon without a backbreaking rim-to-river backpacking trip in the mix. Just come prepared if you do make the trek; a high clearance or 4×4 vehicle is recommended, and a spare tire along with camping gear and extra food and water are mandatory!

The East Kaibab Monocline and upwarping of the Kaibab Plateau formed by compression and deformation 80-40 million years ago during the Laramide Orogeny.  Uplift of the crustal block west of the Butte Fault generated folding in the Paleozoic and Mesozoic sedimentary rocks above (Figure 2.10 and Figure 2.11 of FIELD GUIDE TO THE GEOLOGY OF THE NORTH RIM), while much of the Mesozoic sequence was stripped away by erosion leaving the resistant Kaibab Limestone exposed across the plateau and adjacent Marble Platform (Figure 2.2 of FIELD GUIDE TO THE GEOLOGY OF THE NORTH RIM).  Geologists have generally concluded that warm, moist, subtropical climatic conditions prevailed in the southwest between about 80 and 30 million years ago, which tended to produce flatter, more subdued landscapes through enhanced chemical weathering.  Slope retreat kept pace with stream downcutting and broad scale, lateral erosion removed thick sheets of strata from the Grand Canyon region (Mesozoic and Cenozoic sedimentary rocks are still observed further north in the Grand Staircase area) (Figure 2.2 of FIELD GUIDE TO THE GEOLOGY OF THE NORTH RIM).  Landscape-wide planar erosion gradually gave way to localized vertical erosion as intensifying aridity and pervasive, cool, dry climatic conditions between 30 and 15 million years ago caused weathering and erosion to be limited to vertical dissection along stream corridors, creating the deeply incised canyons with broad, intervening plateaus and mesas of today.  Early Grand Canyon geologist Clarence Dutton was the first to recognize and distinguish two cycles of erosion on the Colorado Plateau; an early period he named the “Great Denudation” in which lateral stripping of Cenozoic and Mesozoic strata overlying the Grand Canyon region created the plateau county there and the Grand Staircase (he named) to the north, and a later period he named the “Great Erosion” which caused deep channel incision across the plateaus.

Route Descriptions

The auto-touring route described for this field trip follows US Hwy 89A into House Rock Valley, then leaves the pavement to traverse the gravel-bedded House Rock Valley Road (FS Rd 8910) to reach three destinations along the base of the East Kaibab Monocline and on to the Marble Platform.  The main route takes you to the lower trailhead for the Nankoweap Trail, but two shorter side trips bring you to the mouth of North Canyon and to rim side views of Marble Canyon.

0.0 (0.0)       Refer to Map 2E.1.  Make your way to Jacob Lake, AZ on the Kaibab Plateau and the intersection of AZ Hwy 67 and US Hwy 89A.  Turn right onto US Hwy 89A (if turning from AZ Hwy 67) or continue straight (if you are already on the highway).  Jacob Lake, AZ is your last opportunity for gas and food before descending the east side of the plateau. For your House Rock Valley tour (and don’t forget to try the fresh baked chocolate chip cookies).

3.2 (3.2)       Cross the drainage divide separating Orderville Canyon from Trail Canyon and begin your descent toward House Rock Valley.  Rock outcrops along this route are in Kaibab Limestone (which caps most of the Plateau).

5.9 (2.7)       The road takes a sharp bend to the left (northeast) here as the tributary you have been following merges with the main valley of Trail Canyon.  Map 2E.1 indicates that the main course of Trail Canyon is quite linear, strongly suggesting fault-controlled erosion of the valley.

7.1 (1.2)       Refer to Map 2E.2.  Your route makes a second sharp bend here, this time to the right, as it exits Trail Canyon’s distinctly linear, northeast-southwest trend.  Shortly, the road tops a low divide and continues descending into House Rock Valley; the road grade is about equal to the eastward dip of the Kaibab Limestone (you are descending the eastward tilted limb of the East Kaibab Monocline).

10.9 (3.8)     A small pullout on the left (more easily accessed when driving in the opposite direction) offers an excellent view northward into upper House Rock Valley.  Pull in here if the traffic on Hwy 89A is light enough to do it safely; otherwise continue on to the next stop.

11.6 (0.7)     After swinging sharply to the right, and then more gradually around to the left, you reach a large pullout on the right commemorating the Dominguez- Escalante expedition.  Pull in here to contemplate the geology on display (the pullout is safer here, but the northern view is better at the previous stop).

Figure 2E.1 and Figure 2E.2 provide northward and eastward oriented views from the pullout.  To the north, look to the left side of House Rock Valley first (and the left side of the photograph); the folding of the Kaibab Limestone over the axis of the East Kaibab Monocline becomes obvious.  The red-colored cliffs to the righthand side of House Rock Valley are the Mesozoic sedimentary rocks of the Vermillion Cliffs.  The basal units are the Triassic Moenkopi and Chinle Formations; here, they are comprised of relatively weak, slope forming mudstones.  Above the Chinle are the resistant cliffs of Jurassic age Wingate Sandstone (or Moenave Formation), Kayenta Formation, and Navajo Sandstone making up the Glen Canyon Group.  These Mesozoic rock layers were stripped from the Kaibab Upwarp and Marble Platform by erosion during the Tertiary (Figure 2.2 of FIELD GUIDE TO THE GEOLOGY OF THE NORTH RIM), but here they form the basal “vermillion cliffs” portion of the Grand Staircase.  To the east, House Rock Valley broadens as it merges with the Marble Platform, while the Vermillion Cliffs stand sentinel in the background.  A closer view here reveals numerous immense slump blocks along the outer margin of the cliffs (Figure 2E.3).  Resistant sandstones above have rotated outward, cantilever-style, on the weak mudrocks below.  Carefully note the backward (down against the cliffs) tilt to the layers of sedimentary rock.  The large number of these slump features suggesting that cliff retreat in this way is a dominant process.

Figure 2E.1.  Upper House Rock Valley from the Escalante-Dominguez expedition memorial pullout on US Hwy 89A; the folded Paleozoic sedimentary rocks of the East Kaibab Monocline lay to the left, and the Mesozoic age rocks of the Vermillion Cliffs lay to the right.

Figure 2E.2.  Upper House Rock Valley from the Dominguez-Escalante expedition memorial pullout on US Hwy 89A; the folded Paleozoic sedimentary rocks of the East Kaibab Monocline lay to the left, and the Mesozoic age rocks of the Vermillion Cliffs lay to the right.

Figure 2E.3.  The large slump blocks formed at the base of the Vermillion Cliffs attest to the unstable conditions created by dense, resistant sandstones stacked on weak mudstones.

11.9 (0.7)     The road curves around in a 180° left-hand arc just a short distance ahead and brings you to a spectacular road cut showing clear evidence of faulting (Figure 2E.4).  Park beyond the road cut on the left side of the road and walk back to it.  At this location brick-red Triassic Moenkopi Formation mudstones are shattered by several small, steeply angled normal faults along the length of the exposure and are starkly juxtaposed against bleached Permian Kaibab Limestone on one nearly vertical normal fault at the east end of the outcrop (Figure 2E.5).  It is not uncommon for resistant rock layers such as the Kaibab to fracture along tension joints parallel to the fold axis as they are folded.  These faults are likely quite localized as the Moenkopi rocks probably represent a small block down-dropped into a graben formed on the “back” of the dense, brittle Kaibab Limestone as it was stretched and broken over the axis of the East Kaibab Monocline.  The Moenkopi was preserved in a sort of a “ditch” (graben is German for ditch) as the Kaibab was beveled by erosion.

Figure 2E.4.  A spectacular road cut on Hwy 89A just down slope from the Dominguez-Escalante expedition memorial exposes normal faults and a small graben formed in the Moenkopi Formation and Kaibab Limestone during monoclinal folding.

Figure 2E.5.  The eastern edge of the graben structure exhibits a high angle normal fault that juxtaposes brick-red Triassic Moenkopi Formation against bleached Permian Kaibab Limestone; can you tell if my former 1st-year geology student has her arms oriented correctly to describe motion on the fault?

13.7 (1.8)     The northern extension of the gravel House Rock Valley Road to the left offers access to Vermillion Cliffs National Monument and some spectacular geology and scenery.  Alas, that route takes you into the Mesozoic rocks of the Grand Staircase which are not the subject of this field trip.  Continue straight ahead on US Hwy 89A.

19.6 (5.9)     Refer to Map 2E.3.  The southern extension of the gravel House Rock Valley Road lies to the right here and provides access to North Canyon, Marble Canyon, and the lower Nankoweap Trailhead.  Turn right on House Rock Valley Road.  The road is surfaced with gravel, but be aware, there are numerous dry washes that cross the road and flash flooding is a serious risk.  Also, flood damage can make the going rather tough (the road is only intermittently graded); I recommend use of a high clearance vehicle at the very least, and 4-wheel drive is handy in some locations.

23.5     As you drive the first leg of the House Rock Valley Road, you may notice several isolated

(3.9)     hillocks and patches of crumbly, red-brown rock exposed on the lightly vegetated surfaces around you.  Figure 2E.6 describes the typical scenery.  These are remnant mudstones and thinly bedded sandstones of the Moenkopi Formation, an Early Triassic sedimentary rock unit deposited widely across the Colorado Plateau.  The Moenkopi is thought to represent deposition on a low gradient, tidally influenced coastline.  A thick sequence of Triassic and Jurassic rock units lies just to the north in the Vermillion Cliffs suggesting a very slow rate of cliff retreat during recent geologic time.

Figure 2E.6.  Scattered erosional remnants of Moenkopi Formation mudrocks dot the landscape of House Rock Valley against a backdrop of stacked Mesozoic sedimentary rocks exposed in the Vermillion Cliffs to the north; proximity of the cliffs suggests slow retreat in recent geologic time.

30.2 (6.5)     Refer to Map 2E.4.  The road gradually curves to the southwest and approaches the folded layers of Kaibab Limestone exposed on the east-dipping limb of the East Kaibab Monocline.  Here you reach Kane Ranch, a working ranch managed using techniques of conservation grazing as part of the 830,000-acre North Rim Ranches by the Grand Canyon Trust.  Trust lands are managed cooperatively with public lands administered by the National Park Service, National Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Arizona Fish and Game.  Continue southward on the road to the left (do not enter the ranch property).

Kane Ranch lies at the mouth of Kane Canyon; if you look closely into the canyon as you drive south, notice that the layers of sedimentary rock exposed in the canyon walls bend upward and flatten out to the west.  The canyon offers a nice view of the rock layers folded over the axis of the monocline.

31.2 (1.0)     Refer to Map 2E.5.  Signage here indicates that you are entering Kaibab National Forest.  The road name changes to FS Rd 8910; continue south.

34.3 (2.1)     A slight kink in the road occurs here, and signage indicates that you are entering House Rock Wildlife Area, 65,000 acres managed by Kaibab National Forest and Arizona Fish and Game as bison habitat; continue south on FS Rd 8910.

36.8 (2.5)     Refer to Map 2E.6.  “Y” junction.  FS Rd 8910 remains straight ahead and FS RD 631 veers to the right.  To continue toward the lower Nankoweap Trailhead stay straight on FS Rd 8910.  If heading toward North Canyon, make a right here.

North Canyon Road

0.0 (0.0)       Begin at the “Y” junction between FS Rd 8910 and FS Rd 631; turn right onto FS Rd 631.  Reset your odometer.  Your destination is the fairly unassuming mouth of North Canyon where it has cut a deep notch through the folded Paleozoic sedimentary rocks of the East Kaibab Monocline (Figure 2E.7).  The road has a few rough patches but is certainly traversable by a vehicle with descent clearance (a Subaru Outback would do just fine).

Figure 2E.7. FS Rd 631 to the North Canyon Trailhead.

3.3 (3.3)       Refer to Map 2E.7.  Parking area for the North Canyon Trailhead (not much more than a wide spot in the road where it dead ends).  Just shy of the parking area are a couple of nice, dispersed campsites, among the juniper and pinyon pine, making it relatively easy to spend a little time here and enjoy the solitude.  Set up camp, then take a few minutes to get acquainted with the area.

Take a short walk to the trailhead for a view of North Canyon’s narrow mouth (Figure 2E.8). North Canyon is referred to by geologists as a “wineglass” canyon, meaning that the shape of the canyon resembles a wineglass because the upper canyon is very broad (the bowl), but it tapers to a very narrow outlet (the stem) (Map 2E.7).  Wineglass canyons typically form where streams erode downward through deformed (tilted) rocks such as those produced by monoclinal folding.  Now take a stroll on the closed portion of FS Rd 631to where it turns sharply left and heads downslope; this is a good vantage point to see the serrate ridge forming The Cockscombs immediately to your west and southwest (Map 2E.7).  The northernmost of The Cockscombs lies just south of the North Canyon outlet.  The ridgeline, looking like the humps on the back of some enormous reptile (perhaps more easily observed when compared with Map 2E.7), is formed of the erosional remnants of tilted sedimentary rock layers.  The tilting of the rock layers is down to the east (toward you) and the cap rock forming the “backbone” of each serrate crest along the ridge is formed of a resistant rock unit, in this case, the Kaibab Limestone.  The tilted rock layers are part of the much larger East Kaibab Monocline fold structure: North Canyon has extensively eroded out the interior of the fold leaving only The Cockscombs along the outer, lower portion of the monocline’s eastward tilted limb.

Figure 2E.8.  North Canyon, its shape is suggestive of a “wineglass,” with a broad, open valley visible in the background which tapers down to a narrow stem in the foreground; note the hill left of center, this is the northernmost of The Cockcombs.

Two geologically rewarding hiking options present themselves.  The first is a full day-hike up North Canyon to explore the internal structure and stratigraphy of the East Kaibab Monocline (see the North Canyon Trail – Tr 2E.1 described in the Optional Hiking Trails section of Field Trip 2E).  Since North Canyon cuts through the axis of the monocline, a careful observer can recognize that as you hike upcanyon the rock layers at first get older, but somewhere after passing the canyon’s midpoint, the rocks get younger again; an indication that you have crossed the fold axis. 

The second involves a short climb up the dipslope of the nearest hogback to your trailhead position.  This is a straightforward scramble of just over two miles round-trip to the summit of the ridgeline directly to your west that offers a superb view of the canyon, The Cockscombs, and the monoclinal folding.  If you care to take the latter hike, I recommend throwing in a sunrise.  Return to closed section of FS Rd 631 and follow it until it bends sharply downslope to the left (about where you stopped to view The Cockscombs).  Veer to the right here and simply bushwack your way to the summit of the nearest ridge crest (the one closest to the mouth of North Canyon).  Figure 2E.9 reveals the view that will greet you about halfway to the summit, an excellent place to observe the down-to-the-east curve of the strata on the northern wall of North Canyon, and made all the more pleasant when bathed in the first orange rays of the morning sun.  The V-notch before you is the “stem” of the wineglass; notice how the “bowl” of the glass spreads out to the west.  Despite their tilt, it should be easy to identify the rock units in the canyon wall: the Kaibab Limestone, a resistant cliff former is uppermost in the sequence, followed downward by the slope-forming Toroweap Formation, cliff-forming Coconino Sandstone, slope-forming Hermit Shale, and ledgy layers of the Supai Group (the cliff-band is the Esplanade Sandstone of the Supai Group).  Continue to the top from here for truly masterful views of the entire monocline from south to west to north.  Figure 2E.10 provides the view to the southwest, displaying the tilted ridgeline of The Cockscombs on the left (east), and the nearly horizontal East Rim of the Kaibab Plateau above and to the right (west).  The northeasterly tilted rocks of Saddle Mountain can be seen to the far south, on the far left of Figure 2E.10, while flat-lying rocks comprising Marble Point on the Kaibab Plateau’s East Rim can be seen just right of center.     Figure 2E.11 completes the 210° arc of your summit views, with a view to the northwest, displaying the down-to-the-east tilting of the Paleozoic sedimentary rocks on the north wall of North Canyon all the way around to the horizontal rock layers comprising the Kaibab Plateau’s East Rim.  Marble Point lies at the far-left edge of Figure 2E.11. 

Figure 2E.9.  Eastward tilted layers of Paleozoic sedimentary rock exposed in the northern wall of North Canyon as viewed from a hike to the summit of the hogback nearest the canyon’s outlet (northernmost of the Cockscombs).

Figure 2E.10.  The view southwest from the summit of The Cockscomb ridge; tilted sedimentary rocks comprising The Cockscombs occur left of center with nearly horizontal rock layers making up the East Rim of the Kaibab Plateau above and to the right.

Figure 2E.11.  The view northeastward from the summit of The Cockscomb ridge shows down-to-the-east tilting of the Paleozoic sedimentary rocks from the East Rim across to the north wall of North Canyon where they are folded over the East Kaibab Monocline.

      From this location, return to the intersection of FS Rd 631 and FS Rd 8910.

36.8 (2.5)     Refer to Map 2E.6.  Intersection of FS Rd 631 and FS Rd 8910.  To reach AZ Hwy 89A and a departure from this field trip, turn left (north) on to FS Rd 68910.  If you are continuing with the field trip, reset your odometer and turn right (south) onto FS Rd 8910.

38.4 (1.6)     “T” junction.  The road to the left leads to Buffalo Ranch and the headquarters compound for the Wildlife Management Area.  Continuing east on this road eventually takes you to the trailhead for South Canyon (a short rim-to-river backpack of 2-3 days not covered by this field trip).  Continue straight (south) on FS Rd 8910.  The road conditions worsen from here southward; I would recommend a retreat if your vehicle does not have high clearance and/or 4-wheel drive.

39.5 (1.1)     “T” junction.  A dirt two-track lies to your right; ignore it.  Just ahead, FS Rd 8910 drops into the first of several washes in succession, all draining northeast toward South Canyon.  The low bluff to the left on your side of this first wash offers a good view of Saddle Mountain and Saddle Canyon (Figure 2E.12).  Notice how the Kaibab Upwarp has swung eastward (paralleling the position of the East Kaibab Monocline and trace of the Butte Fault.  Saddle Canyon is just to the right of Saddle Mountain and its eastern wall exposes the Coconino Sandstone which clearly dips down to the northeast across the fold axis.

Figure 2E.12.  A view of Saddle Mountain and the adjacent Saddle Canyon; the east wall of Saddle Mountain exhibits layers of sedimentary rock (the Coconino Sandstone is easy to spot) bending down to the northeast across the axis of the East Kaibab Monocline which has shifted to a NW-SE orientation.

      Ignore the next three dirt roads to your right and a fourth dirt road to your left (stay on FS Rd 8910).

42.9 (3.6)     “Y” junction.  FS Rd 8910 splits here to make a loop that connects back on itself.  Veer to the left for now to visit Buck Farm Canyon and the Marble Canyon overlooks; it’s about a ten and a half miles round-trip drive from here, but dispersed camping at either one of the overlooks is a possibility (if you don’t mind the primitive conditions).  Heading to the right will take you to the lower Nankoweap Trailhead.

Buck Farm Canyon Road

0.0 (0.0) Begin at the “Y” junction where FS Rd 8910 splits to form a loop.  Reset your odometer. Shortly, the road crosses the last wash draining northeast into South Canyon.  In about one mile, the road splits again at another “Y” junction, stay to the left (it is the obviously better used road of the pair).

1.8 (1.8)       Another “Y” junction; these things are getting out of hand!  This time, veer to the right.

2.1 (0.3)       A final “Y” junction.  The better used road lies to the right here, but this road merely completes the loop in FS Rd 8910 (you can reach the lower Nankoweap Trailhead this way if you wish to complete the loop). Stay to the left to visit the Marble Canyon overlooks.

2.6 (0.5)       The first Marble Canyon overlook lies on the righthand side of the road here.  This site offers a great view of Buck Farm Canyon (Figure 2E.13).  There is also a spectacular little promontory just large enough to serve as a dry campsite.  The sunrise from your sleeping bag is quite a delightful way to greet the morning (Figure 2E.14)!

Figure 2E.13.  Buck Farm Canyon; the perfect promontory campsite is to the right side of the photograph.

Figure 2E.14.  A sunrise over Buck Farm Canyon, the perfect promontory campsite is in the righthand foreground.

Marble Canyon has carved a deep and twisting course into the gently undulating surface of the Marble Platform, capped by the bleached layers of the Kaibab Limestone.  However, Marble Canyon is not named for the limestones of the Kaibab; instead, it is named, quite appropriately, for the exposures of Redwall Limestone forming immense cliffs within the canyon generally found at river level.  The Redwall Limestone in Figure 2E.13 is the recognizably sharp gray bench and cliff deep in the canyon best observed at its confluence with Marble Canyon.  If you are unfamiliar with Grand Canyon stratigraphy, refer to Figure 2.5 of FIELD GUIDE TO THE GEOLOGY OF THE NORTH RIM; the rock units between Kaibab Limestone and Redwall Limestone include, from top to bottom, the Toroweap Formation (a slope-former), the Coconino Sandstone (a cliff-former), the Hermit Shale (a slope-former), and the Supai Group’s four individual formations which are often hard to distinguish.  The top unit in the Supai is the cliff-forming Esplanade Sandstone, readily identified in the photograph by the three, broad, red-colored benches formed midway into the canyon.

5.2 (2.6)       The end of the road.  You have a choice of overlooks here which offer marvelous views up- and downstream directly onto Marble Canyon and the Colorado River. 

Figure 2E.15 provides the view from the downstream-facing overlook.  In the photograph, once again, it is easy to pick out the Redwall Limestone as the sharp bench and cliff that occurs at the mouth of Buck Horn Creek (at the bottom center of the photograph).  Have you memorized the remaining Paleozoic sedimentary rock units yet?

Figure 2E.15.  The “goosenecks” of the Colorado River in Marble Canyon; formed when the pace of channel downcutting remains about equal with uplift.

The view shows the “goosenecks” of the Colorado formed just below its confluence with Buck Farm Canyon.  Goosenecks are though form by a fluvial process known as superposition; that is, an older meandering channel pattern developed on a low gradient river system has been superimposed on a younger landscape undergoing uplift.  The key is that the rate of uplift must be gradual enough so as not to increase the stream’s erosive energy too much (too much will alter its stream pattern to a straighter channel).  The photograph focuses on the first gooseneck which wraps around the Esplanade Sandstone ridge to the left of center, the second one has formed where the river curves around to the east and then back to the west as it navigates around the next ridgeline downstream (also capped by the Esplanade Sandstone).  The proximity of these goosenecks to the Kaibab Upwarp may be coincidental, and then again, uplift of the Kaibab Plateau is likely to have played a role in downcutting of the river channel (Saddle Mountain and the East Kaibab Monocline lay just west of the area shown in the photograph).

      From this location, return 5.2 miles to the initial point where FS Rd 8910 split to form a loop.

42.9 (3.6)     “Y” junction and split in FS Rd 8910.  To reach AZ Hwy 89A and a departure from this field trip, turn right (north) on to FS Rd 8910.  If you are continuing with the field trip, reset your odometer and turn right (south) onto the FS Rd 8910 loop.

47.0 (4.1)     Parking area for the lower Nankoweap Trailhead.  You have reached the end of the road.  There is really not much to see here (even the views of Saddle Mountain are better from a distance).  So, if you have come this far (Figure 2E.16), you have undoubtedly planned to hike at least part of the Nankoweap Trail (see the Lower Nankoweap Trail – Tr 2E.1 described in the Optional Hiking Trails section of Field Trip 2E).  This trailhead is generally accessible year-round (unlike the upper trailhead); although, getting over the saddle and past the upper section of the Nankoweap Trail after a winter snowstorm could be rather tricky.  And accessibility may be its strongest appeal (even though the route getting here is a dozy).  Otherwise, the lower trail does offer pretty views of Saddle Canyon and an opportunity to examine the affects of, and recovery from, a recent forest fire.

Figure 2E.16.  My son Isaac and I capturing memories as we prepare to hike the Nankoweap Trail; note the fire-scarred forest in the background

Follow the field trip route in reverse to reach US Hwy 89A.

Road Route Maps

Map 2E.1.  Color shaded-relief map of the Jacob Lake, AZ 7.5-minute quadrangle showing segments of Field Trip 2A, 2D, and 2E.

Map 2E.2.  Color shaded-relief map of the House Rock, AZ 7.5-minute quadrangle showing a segment of Field Trip 2E.

Map 2E.3.  Color shaded-relief map of the Emmett Hill, AZ 7.5-minute quadrangle showing a segment of Field Trip 2E.

Map 2E.4.  Color shaded-relief map of the Kane Ranch, AZ 7.5-minute quadrangle showing a segment of Field Trip 2E.

Map 2E.5.  Color shaded-relief map of the Buffalo Tanks, AZ 7.5-minute quadrangle showing segments of Field Trip 2E.

Map 2E.6.  Color shaded-relief map of the Buffalo Ranch, AZ 7.5-minute quadrangle showing segments of Field Trip 2E.

Map 2E.7.  Color shaded-relief map of the Dog Point, AZ 7.5-minute quadrangle showing segments of Field Trip 2A, 2B, and 2E.

Map 2E.8.  Color shaded-relief map of the Point Imperial, AZ 7.5-minute quadrangle showing segments of Field Trip 2A, 2B, and 2E.