The first point of interest on Hermit Road going west from Grand Canyon Village is Powell Point. Powell Point is a canyon rim spur that juts far enough into the canyon to provide visitors with unobstructed views that extend nearly 360º around. Powell Point not only offers endless views of the Grand Canyon landscape, this spot overlooks the lodges on the South Rim. A visitor can also clearly see the Bright Angel Trail as it zig-zags down the canyon wall. The Grand Canyon mule ride staging area is close by and remnants of the old Orphan Uranium Mine Superfund Cleanup Site can be seen from this scenic overlook.
The abandoned Orphan Mine is closed to tourists because this area is heavily contaminated from years of copper and uranium mining. This mine site is listed as a Superfund Environmental Cleanup Site because of high levels of radioactive waste material, so viewing from a distance is all that is recommended. The Orphan Mine has an interesting history in itself and the markers along the Rim Trail provide plenty of information. If one can imagine being hoisted in an ore bucket tied to a cable, then being lowered 1,000 feet down to the adit on the canyon wall, then it will be easy to see just how dangerous the working conditions must have been back in the day.
The Powell Point Trail is paved, so those who have mobility challenges will have no problem enjoying this scenic overlook. There also is a trail branch that leads to a steep staircase that extends downward to a canyon pocket overlook. The staircase trail is the best place to view the mule ride caravan on the Bright Angel Trail. When using binoculars or a telephoto lens, onlookers can clearly see the mule riders making their way down the trail to the Phantom Ranch by the Colorado River. The mules have no fear of heights and the steep slope of the Bright Angel Trail can be quite intimidating for riders, to say the least.
There are many historic markers along the short Powell Point Trail, so the walk can be a good educational experience for visitors of all ages. At the end of the trail near the Grand Canyon overlook is where the John Wesley Powell memorial is located. The memorial is dedicated to the two Colorado River expeditions that John Wesley Powell led through the Grand Canyon in the mid 1800s. The Powell Memorial is quite a site to see and as this explorer probably would have wished, the top of the memorial structure was designed as an observation post that offers views that extend well into the horizon.
There truly is something special about Powell Point that words simply cannot describe. There is something about this scenic overlook that causes visitors to take their time while transcending, with no hurry and no worries. The silence of the canyon fills the air and the majestic views do all the talking. The views from Powell Point will create memories that will last a lifetime and this is reason enough to plan a tour of Hermit Road when exploring the Grand Canyon!
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