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Toroweap, a Paiute Indian term for “dry or barren valley”, is the name for a secluded area to the west of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. From Kanab, UT it can be reached via an exit off highway 389, seven miles west of Fredonia, AZ. From that point the road is not paved but well graded until the last three miles. Those last few miles consist of a rough and tire punishing mixture of fine dust and slickrock.

The Bureau of Land Management controls access to Toroweap, or Tuweep, and asks that only high-clearance 4-wheel drive vehicles be driven there. Driving time from highway 389 to the Toroweap overlook can be up to three hours when all goes well.

For this reason we had a guide, Don Kramer, from Dreamland Safari Tours in Kanab take us to Toroweap. The drive was rather pleasant until the last few miles where even his Chevy Suburban had to slow down to 5 MPH to negotiate the dust and slickrock.

Once we got there, we had the best view of the Grand Canyon, unmatched by any view from any other point, North Rim or South Rim. Don was very helpful, taking us around by foot and pointing out native plants and good spots for pictures.

Here’s looking down 3000 ft from where I stood. The Colorado River is flowing in from the east.


Here’s another view looking west. Lava Falls, well-known to rafters on the Colorado River, is clearly seen as a white plume. On both sides of it, there is still evidence of the black lava that fell into the canyon 1.6 million years ago and dammed up the river to a height of 2,300 ft. Over the years, the river finally carved itself out of the natural dam and today’s Lava Falls is a mere 13 ft in height, at least until the next time there is an eruption.


After lunch at the overlook, we began our trip back to Kanab, but I couldn’t help snap this photo of a rock that looks like a giant clam shell or a spaceship that has landed on earth.