This remote section of the North Rim contains awesome views atop sheer cliffs that rise nearly 3,000 feet above the Colorado River. Volcanic eruptions between 1.2 million and 30,000 years ago have covered the landscape with cinder cones and lava flows. The long drive out follows dirt roads with some rough spots that can damage low-clearance vehicles. There's an emergency phone at Tuweep Ranger Station, but no water or services anywhere. A primitive campground has a pretty setting overlooking small canyons; a group side can be reserved. Toroweap Overlook at road's end has the vertigo-inducing views. Downriver, you can spot Lava Falls roaring in the distance; it’s the biggest rapid in the Grand Canyon.
Toroweap has several trails and routes ranging from easy to very strenuous. The easy Esplanade Loop Trail begins from the campground, 5.4 miles south of the ranger station, and makes a 2.9-mile loop. Saddle Horse Canyon Trail is an easy 1.6 miles roundtrip, starting from the main road 5.7 miles south of the ranger station and heading east to an overlook, then into wonderfully sculptured rock. Lava Falls Route is a tough one, dropping down a cairn-marked route of cinders and lava to the Colorado River and Lava Falls. Although only about 1.5 miles roundtrip, the 2,500 elevation change with poor footing and steep sections will give you a workout. Note that it's way too hot in the summer to attemp this hike.
Experienced hikers may wish to try Tuckup Trail, which extends more than 60 miles upcanyon; you are guaranteed solitude, but water may be tough to find. Be sure to talk with rangers about trail conditions and water sources before attempting it. The trailhead is 4.7 miles south of the ranger station. Because Toroweap’s elevation is only about 4,600 feet, you can visit year-round, with spring and autumn having the most pleasant temperatures. The drive to Toroweap will give you a feel for the remoteness of the Arizona Strip, a rugged land of canyons and mountains with very few year-round residents. Several routes lead to Toroweap; most people take the turnoff from AZ 389 that’s 9 miles west of Fredonia, then follow 61 miles of unpaved roads. Hazards include free-roaming cattle and washouts; the last few miles are the roughest.
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- Although in Grand Canyon Park, Toroweap didn't have entry or campground fees at press time.
- A backcountry permit is needed to camp anywhere other than the established campground. It's best to obtain the permit before arrival, but you might be able to get one from the ranger stationed here or from Pipe Spring National Monument.
On the North Rim, 140 road miles west of Bright Angel Point
Grand Canyon National Park, P.O. Box 129
Grand Canyon, Arizona 86023
Review by Away Copyright © 2010 Away.com all rights reserved.
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