Lee’s Ferry is the place where all Grand Canyon Colorado River white water rafting ventures begin! Lee’s Ferry is located in the Glen Canyon National recreation Area, just a few miles north of the Navajo Bridge, which spans Marble Canyon. The access roads to this destination are paved and RV or tent campgrounds can be found on site. There is even a long term parking area for the Colorado River rafters that are doing the float trip through the Grand Canyon.
Upon arrival, the setting of Lee’s Ferry next to the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument is a spectacular sight to see. The contrasting colors of blue river water, red sandstone cliffs, lush green growth on the river banks along with cotton candy clouds and clear blue skies makes this area one of the most beautiful places on earth. For this reason, Lee’s Ferry is simply a must to visit when doing a Grand Canyon region tour!
The old historic Lee’s Ferry used to be the only place to cross the Colorado River for hundreds of miles around and this old ferry crossing was a very dangerous one. Many lives were lost in the days of the old west in this section of the river. Lee’s Ferry continued to be a Colorado River crossing point till well after the age of automobile travel began. After a bunch of people met their tragic end while ferrying their vehicles across the mighty Colorado River, the Lee’s Ferry Crossing was finally closed for good.
Soon after the final Lee’s Ferry crossing disaster occurred, the first bridge was built over Marble Canyon.Upon completion, vehicles could easily traverse the route over the north side of the Grand Canyon when going west. As it turned out, the first Marble Canyon Bridge was great for vehicles, but pedestrians were mowed down by speeding cars on a regular basis, so this bridge too was deemed as being too dangerous. An improved bridge design was needed and eventually a modern twin span bridge was set in place. The modern Navajo Bridge has a safe pedestrian walkway, so the perils of crossing the Colorado River on foot at this location were finally conquered.
In modern times, Lee’s Ferry is an access point for hiking trails going into the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument and it is a Colorado River boat launch. The majestic Paria Canyon is close by inside the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, but special permits are required to visit this highly protected place. Along the entrance way to Lee’s Ferry, a few of the Mushroom Rocks can be seen, which are signature features of the strange Vermilion Cliffs landscape. The Mushroom Rocks truly are an amazing sight to see, because they look like they belong on another planet. This is a very photogenic landscape, so be sure to bring a good camera along for the ride!
For boaters, the Lee’s Ferry Boat Launch is the access point for following the Colorado River upstream to Horseshoe Bend, which is just a few miles south of the Glen Canyon Dam. In this section of the river there is some great fishing, but special restrictions do apply. As always, it is best to clarify the rules when purchasing a fishing license, in order to avoid steep fines. Boating restrictions include invasive species inspections, so it is best to check the regulations when planning the excursion.
For the more adventurous boaters, Lee’s Ferry is the starting point for organized Colorado River rafting trips through the Grand Canyon. The river rafting trips take a few days to a few weeks to accomplish, depending on the choice of end point. The most popular final destination for a Colorado River rafting venture through the Grand Canyon is located near the Bright Angel Trailhead. From there, all that a rafter has to do is follow the Bright Angel Trail up the steep walls of the big canyon to get to the village on top of the rim, which is where transportation can be found. For those who are unfamiliar with this hiking trail, the climb is like hiking a mile high mountain that goes straight up, so it is not an easy task to accomplish, especially after doing a strenuous whitewater river raft trip!
Lee’s Ferry certainly is a scenic destination like no other! Even if a visitor has no intention of dipping a toe in the water, this majestic place is simply a must to experience. The Paria River merges with the Colorado River in this area and the confluence is an interesting sight to view. The information placards in the park do detail the danger filled history of the old historic Lee’s Ferry, which lets a visitor know that this can be a perilous place. For those who seek a world of adventure in a majestic red rock landscape, Lee’s Ferry definitely is the place to go!
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