Pesticides like DDT nearly sent majestic birds like the California Condor into extinction only a few decades ago. Fortunately conservationists created a program to save these gigantic birds and they can now be seen soaring in the skies over protected habitat areas once again. Condors prefer roosting and nesting in pockets on towering cliff walls, so the Grand Canyon region of Arizona definitely qualifies as a suitable home for these huge vultures. California Condors have also taken up residence in the neighboring Vermilion Cliffs National Monument and there actually is a convenient roadside spot where these intriguing birds can be viewed.
Highway 89A is the pathway to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and this touring route runs along the entire length of the southern end of the Vermilion Cliffs. The scenery is as majestic as can be and for those who wish to experience more of this unique landscape, doing a tour of House Rock Road along the west side of the Vermilion Cliffs is the best choice. This long dirt road goes all the way north to Highway 89 in Kanab, Utah and the points of interest along the way include the Condor Viewing Site, the Wave Access, Maze Petroglyph Trail and the State Line Campground. This dirt road does get rough near the midway point and a high ground clearance vehicle is recommended. For those who wish to do some gigantic bird watching, this dirt road actually is smooth enough for a regular passenger car to get to the Condor Viewing Site near Highway 89A.
The Vermilion Cliffs Condor Viewing Site offers unobstructed views of the towering red cliffs, but there is some lengthy distance involved, so packing binoculars or a powerful telephoto lens is recommended. The best times for viewing the California Condors soaring in the cobalt blue skies is early in the day from dawn till mid morning, when these gigantic scavengers are most active. The Vermilion Cliffs Condor Viewing site offers some shade, picnic tables and basic facilities, so be sure to pack a picnic basket for the venture!
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