The Grand Canyon of Arizona: How to See It,
George Wharton James
Part 1 out of 4
The Grand Canyon Of Arizona: How To See It
George Wharton James
Author of "In and Out of the Old Missions," "The Wonders of the Colorado
Desert," "Through Ramona's Country," etc.
Boston: Little, Brown, and Company
Kansas City: Fred Harvey
PREFACE TO REVISED EDITION
Because of the completion of a new driveway along the Rim of the Grand
Canyon, and of a new trail to the Colorado River, a second edition of this
book is deemed necessary.
These improvements, which have recently been made by the Santa Fe Railway,
are known as Hermit Rim Road and Hermit Trail. The first, said to be the
most unique road in the world, is nine miles long on the brink of the
Canyon, and the other, a wide and safe pathway down the south wall.
The contents of the volume has been revised, and descriptions of Hermit Rim
Road and Hermit Trail have been added. There are also new portions
describing the drives and trips that may be taken through the forest on the
Rim and in the Canyon itself, each carefully planned so that the traveler
may devote to sightseeing whatever amount of time he desires.
With these additions and alterations, the original plan to provide a
convenient handbook for all travelers to the Grand Canyon is more complete.
Upwards of ten years ago I sat on the south rim of the Grand Canyon and
wrote "In and Around the Grand Canyon." In that book I included much that
more than a decade of wandering up and down the trails of this great abyss
had taught me. At that time the only accommodations for sightseers were
stage lines or private conveyance from Flagstaff and Ash Fork, and, on
arrival at the Canyon, the crude hotel-camps at Hance's, Grand View, Bright
Angel, and Bass's. The railway north from Williams was being built.
Everything was crude and primitive.
Now the railway is completed and has become an integral part of the great
Santa Fe System, with at least two trains a day each way carrying Pullman
sleepers, chair cars and coaches. At Bright Angel, where the railway
deposits its passengers at the rim of the Canyon, stands El Tovar Hotel,
erected by the railway company at a cost of over a quarter of a million
dollars, which is equipped and conducted by Fred Harvey. Yet El Tovar is
more like a country club than a hotel, in many respects, and, to that
extent, is better.
Hence while nothing in the canyon itself has changed, and while my book,
"In and Around the Grand Canyon," is still as helpful to the traveler and
general reader as ever, there has been a growing demand for a new book
which should give the information needed by the traveler who comes under
the new conditions, telling him how he may best avail himself of them. This
book is written to meet this demand. It therefore partakes more of the
character of a guide book than the former volume, so it has been decided to
make it lighter in weight and handier in form, so that it can be slipped
into the pocket or handbag, and thus used on the spot by those who wish a
ready reference handbook.
Used in connection with the earlier volume or alone for it is complete in
itself in all its details--it cannot fail to give a clearer and fuller
comprehension of this "Waterway of the Gods,"--the most incomparable piece
of rugged scenery in the known world.
George Wharton James
El Tovar, Grand Canyon,
I. THE GRAND CANYON OF ARIZONA
II. ON THE GRAND CANYON RAILWAY TO EL TOVAR
III. EL TOVAR AND ITS EQUIPMENTS
IV. THE GRAND CANYON AT EL TOVAR
V. THREE WAYS OF SPENDING ONE DAY AT THE CANYON
VI. HOW TO SPEND TWO TO FIVE DAYS AT EL TOVAR
VII. HOW FULLY TO SEE AND KNOW THE GRAND CANYON REGION
VIII. FROM EL TOVAR DOWN THE BRIGHT ANGEL TRAIL
IX. TO GRAND VIEW AND DOWN THE GRAND VIEW TRAIL
X. A NEW "RIM" ROAD AND TRAIL INTO THE SCENIC HEART OF THE CANYON
XI. FROM EL TOVAR TO BASS CAMP AND DOWN THE BASS TRAIL
XII. ACROSS THE GRAND CANYON TO POINT SUBLIME
XIII. HOW THE CANYON WAS FORMED
XIV. THE CANYON--ABOVE AND BELOW
XV. THE HOPI HOUSE
XVI. VISITING INDIANS AT EL TOVAR
XVII. THE NAVAHO AND HOPI BLANKET WEAVERS
XVIII. PUEBLO AND NAVAHO POTTERY AND SILVERWARE
XIX. THE HOPIS AND THEIR SNARE DANCE
XX. AN HISTORIC TRAIL ACROSS THE GRAND CANYON COUNTRY
XXI. THE NAVAHO AND HIS DESERT HOME
XXII. FROM EL TOVAR TO THE HAVASUPAI INDIANS AND THEIR WONDERFUL CATARACT
XXIII. THE FIRST DISCOVERERS AND INHABITANTS OF THE GRAND CANYON
XXIV. EL TOVAR AND CARDENAS AND THE MODERN DISCOVERY OF THE GRAND CANYON
XXV. FRAY MARCOS AND GARCES, AND THEIR CONNECTION WITH THE GRAND CANYON
XXVI. POWELL'S AND OTHER EXPLORATIONS OF THE GRAND CANYON
XXVII. INDIAN LEGENDS ABOUT THE GRAND CANYON
XXVIII. THE COLORADO RIVER FROM THE MOUNTAINS TO THE SEA
XXIX. CLIMATE AND WEATHER AT THE GRAND CANYON
XXX. THE GRAND CANYON FOR PLEASURE, REST AND RECUPERATION
XXXI. THE STORY OF A BOAT
XXXII. THE GRAND CANYON A FOREST RESERVE, GAME PRESERVE AND NATIONAL
CHAPTER I. The Grand Canyon Of Arizona
Only One Grand Canyon. The ancient world had its seven wonders, but they
were all the work of man. The modern world of the United States has easily
its seven wonders--Niagara, the Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Natural Bridge,
the Mammoth Cave, the Petrified Forest and the Grand Canyon of Arizona--but
they are all the work of God. It is hard, in studying the seven wonders of
the ancients, to decide which is the most wonderful, but now that the
Canyon is known all men unite in affirming that the greatest of all
wonders, ancient or modern, is the Grand Canyon of Arizona. Some men say
there are several Grand Canyons, but to the one who knows there is but one
Grand Canyon. The use of the word to name any lesser gorge is a sacrilege
as well as a misnomer.
Not in the spirit of carping criticism or of reckless boasting are these
words uttered. It is the dictum of sober truth. It is wrong to even
unintentionally mislead a whole people by the misuse of names. Until made
fully aware of the facts, the traveling world are liable to error. They
want to see the Grand Canyon. They are shown these inferior gorges, each
called the Grand Canyon, and, because they do not know, they accept the
half-truth. The other canyons they see are great enough in themselves to
claim their closest study, and worthy to have distinctive names bestowed
upon them. But, as Clarence Dutton, the eminent geologist, has well said in
his important scientific monograph written for the United States Geological
Survey: "The name Grand Canyon repeatedly has been infringed for purposes
of advertisement. The Canyon of the Yellowstone has been called 'The Grand
Canyon.' A more flagrant piracy is the naming of the gorge of the Arkansas
River 'The Grand Canyon of Colorado,' and many persons who have visited it
have been persuaded that they have seen the great chasm. These river
valleys are certainly very pleasing and picturesque, but there is no more
comparison between them and the mighty chasm of the Colorado River than
there is between the Alleghanies and the Himalayas.
Sublimity of the Grand Canyon. "Those who have long and carefully studied
the Grand Canyon of the Colorado do not hesitate for a moment to pronounce
it by far the most sublime of all earthly spectacles. If its sublimity
consisted only in its dimensions, it could be set forth in a single
sentence. It is more than two hundred miles long, from five to twelve miles
wide, and from five thousand to six thousand feet deep. There are in the
world valleys which are longer and a few which are deeper. There are
valleys flanked by summits loftier than the palisades of the Kaibab. Still
the Grand Canyon is the sublimest thing on earth. It is so not alone by
virtue of its magnitudes, but by virtue of the whole its tout ensemble."
What, then, is this Grand Canyon, for which its friends dare to make so
large and bold a claim?
It is a portion--a very small portion--of the waterway of the Colorado
River, and it is so named to differentiate it from the other canyons of the
same river. The canyon system of the Colorado River is as vast in its
extent as is the Grand Canyon in its quality of sublimity. For it consists
of such a maze of canyons--the main canyons through which the river itself
runs; the canyons through which its tributaries run; the numberless canyons
tributary to the tributary canyons; the canyons within canyons, that, upon
the word of no less an authority than Major Powell, I assert that if these
canyons were placed end for end in a straight line they would reach over
twenty thousand miles! Is it possible for the human mind to conceive a
canyon system so vast that, if it were so placed, it would nearly belt the
Impression on Beholders. And the principal member of this great system has
been named The Grand Canyon, as a conscious and meaningful tribute to its
vastness, its sublimity, its grandeur and its awesomeness. It is unique; it
stands alone. Though only two hundred and seventeen miles long, it
expresses within that distance more than any one human mind yet has been
able to comprehend or interpret to the world. Famous word-masters have
attempted it, great canvas and colormasters have tried it, but all alike
have failed. It is one of the few things that man is utterly unable to
imagine until he comes in actual contact with it. A strange being, a
strange flower, an unknown reptile, a unique machine, or a strange and
unknown anything, almost, within the ken of man, can be explained to
another so that he will reasonably comprehend it; but not so with the Grand
Canyon. I had an illustration of this but a few days ago. A member of my
own household, keenly intelligent and well-read, who had heard my own
descriptions a thousand and one times, and had seen photographs and
paintings, without number, of the Canyon, came with me on her first visit
to the camp where I am now writing. As the carriage approached the rim at
Hotouta Amphitheatre and gave her the first glimpse of the Canyon, she drew
back terrified, appalled, horror-stricken. Subsequent analysis of her
emotions and the results of that first glimpse revealed a state of mind so
overpowered with the sublimity, vastness, depth and power of the scene,
that her impressions were totally inadequate, altogether lacking in detail
and accuracy, and at complete variance with her habitual observations.
Whence came so utter a confusion of the senses? The Canyon is its own
answer. It fills the soul of all responsive persons with awe. Explain it as
one will, deny it if one will, sensitive souls are filled with awe at its
superb majesty, its splendor, its incomprehensible sublimity. And in these
factors we find the great source of its attractiveness, for, in spite of
the awe and terror it inspires in the hearts of so many at first sight, it
allures, attracts and holds those who have once gazed into its mysterious
depths. Indeed, is it not to its very vastness, mystery, solitude and
awe-inspiring qualities we owe its power over us? The human mind is so
constituted that such qualities generally appeal to it. Hence the
never-ceasing call the Canyon will make to the soul of man, so long as a
susceptible mortal remains on earth.
Its Physical Features. Seen at any time it is bewildering and appalling to
one's untrained senses; but especially in the very early morning, during
the hours of dawn and the slow ascent of the sun, and equally in the very
late afternoon and at sunset, are its most entrancing effects to be
witnessed. At midday, with the sun glaring through into its depths, the
reds and chocolates of the sandstones (which are the predominating colors)
are so strong, and the relieving shadows so few, that it seems
uninteresting. But let one watch it as I did last night, between the hours
of seven and ten, and again this morning from five until eight of the
clock. What revelations of forms, what richness of colors; what
transformations of apparently featureless walls into angles and arches and
recesses and facets and entablatures and friezes and facades. What lighting
up of towers and temples and buttes and minarets and pinnacles and ridges
and peaks and pillars of erosion! What exposures of detached and isolated
mountains of rock, of accompanying gorges and ravines, deep, forbidding,
black and unknown, the depths of which the foot of man has never trod!
Turner never depicted such dazzling scenes, Rembrandt such violent and yet
attractive contrasts. Here everything is massive and dominating. The colors
are vivid; the shadows are purple to blackness; the heights are towering;
the depths are appalling; the sheer walls are as if poised in mid-air; the
towers and temples dwarf into insignificance even the monster works of man
on the Nile. Here are single mountains of erosion standing as simple
features of the vast sight spread out for miles before you, that are as
high as the highest mountains of the Eastern States. A score of Mt.
Washingtons find repose in the depths of this incomprehensible waterway, in
the two hundred and seventeen miles of its length. In width it varies from
ten to twenty miles, and at the point where I now sit writing, where the
Canyon makes a double bow-knot in a marvelous bend, the north wall (which,
in the sharp bend of the river, becomes the south wall of the reverse of
the curve) is completely broken down, so that one has a clear and direct
view across two widths of canyon and river to a distance of from thirty-five
to forty miles. Who can really "take in" such a view? I have gazed upon the
Canyon at this spot almost yearly, and often daily for weeks at a time, for
about twenty years, yet such is the marvelousness of distance, that never
until two days ago did I discover that a giant detached mountain, fully
eight thousand feet high, and with a base ten miles square, which I had
photographed from another angle on the north side of the Canyon, stood in
the direct line of my sight and, as it were, immediately before me. The
discovery was made by a peculiar falling of light and shadow. The heavens
were filled with clouds which threw complete shadows on the far north wall.
The sun happened to shine through the clouds and light up the whole
contour of this Steamboat Mountain (so called because of its shape), so
that it stood forth clearly outlined against the dark field behind. In
surprise I called to my companion and showed her my discovery. Yet, such is
the deceptiveness of distance that, to the unaided eye, and without being
aware of the fact, even my observant faculties had never before perceived
that this gigantic mass was not a portion of the great north wall, from
which it is detached by a canyon fully eight miles wide.
No one can know the Grand Canyon, in all its phases. It is one of those
sights that words cannot exaggerate. What does it matter how deep you
say--in hundreds or thousands of feet--the Canyon is, when you cannot see
to the bottom of it? Strict literalists may stick out for the exact figures
in feet and inches from rim to river--elsewhere given as the scientists of
the United States Geological Survey have recorded them--but to me they are
almost valueless. Its depth is beyond human comprehension in figures, and
so is its width. And the eye of the best trained man in the world cannot
grasp all its features of wall and butte and canyon, of winding ridge and
curving ravine, of fell precipice and rocky gorge, in a week, a month, a
year, or a lifetime. Hence words can but suggest; nothing can describe the
indescribable; nothing can picture what no man ever has seen in its
What Men Have Said of the Canyon. Men have stood before it and called it
"an inferno, swathed in soft celestial fires;" but what is an inferno? And
who ever saw the fires of heaven? Words! words! words! Charles Dudley
Warner, versed in much and diverse world-scenery, mountain-sculpture,
canyon-carvings, and plain-sweep, confessed: "I experienced for a moment an
indescribable terror of nature, a confusion of mind, a fear to be alone in
such a presence. With all its grotesqueness and majesty of form and
radiance of color, creation seemed in a whirl." When the reader thinks of
grotesqueness, what images come to his mind? A Chinese joss, perhaps; a
funny human face on the profile of a rock, but nothing so vast, so awful,
so large as this. The word "majesty" suggests a kingly presence, a large
man of dignified mien, or a sequoia standing supreme over all other trees
in the forest. But a thousand men of majesty could be placed unseen in one
tiny rift in this gorge, and all the sequoias of the world could be planted
in one stretch of this Canyon, and never be noticed by the most careful
watcher on the rim.
Another, reaching the Canyon at night, declared that she and her companions
seemed to be "standing in midair, while below, the dark depths were lost in
blackness and mystery." Again mere words! words! For whoever stood in
Still another calls it "the most ineffable thing that exists within the
range of man," and later explains when he stands on the brink of it; "And
where the Grand Canyon begins, words stop." Yet he goes on and uses about
four more pages of words, and pictures after words have stopped, to tell
what he felt and saw. And the remarkable thing is that his experience is
that of all the wisest men who have ever seen it. They know they cannot
describe it, but they proceed to exhaust their vocabularies in talking
about it, and in trying to make clear to others what they saw and felt. And
in this very fact what a wonderful tribute lies to the power of the Canyon;
that a wise and prudent man is led to strive to do what he vows he will not
do, and knows he cannot do.
One well-known poet exclaims: "It was like sudden death." yet she is
still alive. Again, after breakfast, she wrote: "My courage rose to meet
the greatness of the world." Then she "crawled half prostrate" to the
barest and highest rocks she could find on the rim, and confessed: "It
made a coward of me; I shrank and shut my eyes, and felt crushed and beaten
under the intolerable burden of the flesh. For humanity intrudes here; in
these warm and glowing purple spaces disembodied spirits must range and
soar, souls purged and purified and infinitely daring." Yet here I have
heard the wild brayings of hungry mules and the worse ravings of angry
men--none of them impressed as was the soul of the poet.
One money-making business man declared that he went to the rim at
night-time, and when he and his friends reached the spot they put forth
their hands and found--"an absolute end. We clutched vainly at black space.
To fathom this space we thrust over a big stone. No sound came back. The
pit was bottomless--the grave of the world. The mystery fascinated, the
void beckoned. We scarcely knew why we did not obey the summons--why we did
not abandon the present, and, by following the big stone, escape to the
future." And yet he had no urgent creditors bothering him. His financial
position was secure and unquestioned. His family relations were all that
could be desired. Wonderful, indeed, that a mere feature of natural scenery
could have led him to wonder why he didn't leave all the luxuries and
certainties of life, and leap into the unknown future! Yet that is just the
way the Canyon affected a sober business man of steady judgment.
A well-known writer declares: "It is a paradox of chaos and repose, of
gloom and radiance, of immeasurable desolation and enthralling beauty. It
is a despair and a joy; a woe and an ecstasy; a requiem and a hallelujah; a
world-ruin and a world-glory--everything in antithesis of such titanic
sort." I agree with him, and regard his expressions as indicative of my own
Yet, when a reverend gentleman calls it a "delirium of nature," I cannot
agree with him. The delirium might be in his own mind, but there is no
delirium here. Neither does it seem to me that a certain university
president expresses things with any more wisdom or effectiveness, when he
says that it "impressed him with its infinite laziness." Lazy? When once,
in the far-distant past, after rising from the primeval sea, it sank back
again and deposited twelve thousand feet of strata, then lifted them out
into the sunshine, carved eleven thousand feet of them away, and sent them
dashing down the river to fill up the Gulf of California and make the
Mohave and Colorado Deserts? Lazy? When, after that was done, it sank
again, and allowed a thousand feet of Cambrian to be deposited; then two
thousand feet of Carboniferous; then Permian, Triassic, Jurassic and
Cretaceous, until the three thousand feet were increased to two miles of
deposits. Then it began to lift itself up again. Lazy? When lifting up two
miles' thickness of strata for the clouds and their children to carve away?
And it lifted and lifted, until it destroyed a vast Eocene lake, which
covered as large an area as perhaps half a dozen Eastern States, and at the
same time carried away about twelve thousand feet of strata. Lazy? When you
consider that from north to south, for a hundred or more miles, the whole
region has been heaving and tossing, curving and buckling, arching and
crumpling its strata, faulting by rising, faulting by sinking, until the
geologist who would study the faults finds, in the area of one half-mile,
near the mouth of Shinumo Creek, his work for a lifetime cut out for him.
No! No! Mr. College President! You must look more fully. You must guess
again! The Canyon is not lazy. It is merely a gigantic natural
representation of yourself. You are the embodiment of energy of body, mind
and soul; yet you are never seen hurried or disturbed. You have the
serenity of genius. So with the Canyon. It has done and is doing great
things. It has been a persistent worker during the millions of years of its
existence, but it has the calm serenity of consciousness of strength. What
you took to be laziness is the restfulness of divine power.
When First Seen. These are some of the effects the Canyon has upon men. I
once walked up to the rim with a lawyer, who to-day is one of the foremost
figures of the San Francisco bar, a man of lion-like courage and almost
reckless bravery. At the first glimpse he fell on his knees, clasped me
around mine, and begged me to take him away, declaring that a gift of all
Arizona would not lead him to take another glimpse into its awesome depths.
I know of one lady who, for weeks afterwards, would wake up almost every
night, and feel herself falling into the fathomless gorge.
Yet the next day the lawyer went with me down to the river, and to this day
declares it was the "most memorable trip of his life;" while the timid
lady, to my own knowledge, has made over five trips to the Canyon.
Those of less susceptible nerves cannot conceive the effect the first sight
of the Canyon produces upon such supersensitive natures as these to which I
have referred. I have seen strong men fall upon their knees. I have seen
women, driven up to the rim unexpectedly, lean away from the Canyon, the
whole countenance an index of the terror felt within, gasp for breath, and
though almost paralyzed by their dread of the indescribable abyss, refuse
either to close their eyes or turn them away from it. Some few remain away
for a day or two until their nerves become more steady. Yet I have never
known one of these susceptible observers, these keenly sensitive natures
that, on due consideration, has not been thankful for the experience, and
in every case has either returned to fully enjoy the Canyon, or has longed
to do so.
But, you ask, what is the Canyon for? The answer is simple, and reveals a
very humble task as the main work of this vast and gorgeously-colored
abyss. It merely acts as the home of a great river, that for hundreds of
miles does not serve a single useful purpose to man.
Yet purely material uses are of the lowest kind. The Grand Canyon has a far
higher mission than that I have spoken of, and others that are suggested in
various chapters of this book. The Grand Canyon is God's greatest gift of
His material handiwork in visible form on our earth. It is an expression of
His divine thought; it is a manifestation of His divine love. It is a link,
a wonderful connecting link, between the human and the Divine, between man
and his Great Creator, his Loving Father, Almighty God.
CHAPTER II. On The Grand Canyon Railway To El Tovar
History of the Grand Canyon Railway. The Grand Canyon Railway leaves the
main line of the Santa Fe at Williams, Arizona. It is an integral part of
the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway System, that operates its own
lines between Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Though surveys had been made years ago from Ash Fork, Williams and
Flagstaff, it was left for the Tusayan Development Company of New York, who
owned a group of copper mines located twenty miles south of the head of
Bright Angel Trail, actually to build the railway part way to the Canyon.
It was later extended to the rim by the Santa Fe, and afterwards
practically rebuilt. The original purpose was to reach the mines referred
to and convey the ore to Williams, where the smelter then erected is to be
seen on the hillside east of the town.
The promoter of the mines and railway was "Bucky" O'Neill, a prominent
Arizona citizen, at one time mayor of Prescott, who became world-famous by
his tragic death during the charge of the Rough Riders at San Juan Hill.
The First Four Miles. Striking due north, the railway passes over masses of
malapais, or lava float, until, four miles out, it crosses Havasu
(Cataract) Creek. If the rains are just over, the rough rocks will be
entirely covered and hidden by a gorgeous growth of sunflowers and lupines,
the yellows and purples making a carpet that, in the brilliant sunlight,
fairly dazzles the eye. Here and there a band of sheep may be seen, with
straggling herds of cattle and horses. In the winter time it is not unusual
to find snow covering the plateau, for it must not be forgotten that it has
an elevation of nearly seven thousand feet. During the early summer, before
the rains, it is often barren and desolate.
Yet at all seasons the slopes of Williams Mountain are charming and
beautiful. The tender and vivid tones of the evergreen trees that cover it
render it a restful and attractive feature of the landscape.
Havasu Creek. Havasu Creek flows above ground for several miles, then
disappears to make a subterranean stream, which finally emerges in
wonderful volume, in a thousand springs, in the heart of Havasu Canyon,
just above the village of the Indians of the same name. Crossing it, four
miles from Williams, the railway enters a belt of cedars and junipers,
passes Red Lake,--a volcanic sink-hole, which, at rare intervals, is filled
Deer and Antelope. For a dozen miles the road passes through a series of
charming parks, where deer and antelope are sometimes seen. While driving
his train through one of these parks, early in December, 1907, S. O.
Miller, one of the engineers of the Grand Canyon Railway, saw a majestic
black-tailed deer running a little ahead of his engine. Suddenly the
beautiful creature turned, tried to cross the track, and was instantly
killed. Stopping the train, Miller got help, and it took four men to lift
the dead animal and place it on the engine. The skin and head were mounted.
The animal is so perfect and royal a specimen that the owner says a
thousand dollars could not purchase it from him.
Miller rather enjoys the distinction of being the only known deer hunter of
the West who has chased his game and killed it with a locomotive.
Surrounding Mountains. One should not fail to look back, as the train
journeys along, for fine, full views of the Volcanic Mountains,--the San
Franciscos, Kendricks, Sitgreaves and Williams. The two former are sharp,
pyramidal-shaped masses, towering from nine thousand to twelve thousand
feet into the blue, while the two latter are well wooded and rounded,
though volcanic,--Williams Mountain having seven distinct crests at
When about ten miles out, Mount Floyd, another volcanic pile, rises above
the plain on the west. Two sharp peaks come in sight, and later, long
ridges of deep blue stretch away to the north. These are the Blue Ridge,
and are formed of lava which has flowed from Mount Floyd.
Ant-Hills. To many it is a novel sight to see the ant-hills that dot the
plain all the way along. These tiny creatures build their homes
underground, carrying out all the small pieces of rock that are in their
way. By and by they build up quite a mound of these stones, and, it is on
these that the Navaho Indians often find the garnets, rubies and peridots
they offer for sale. Around the mounds the ground is stripped bare by the
busy ants, who remove every particle of vegetation in a radius of two or
Desert Rains. If it is early summer when you ride over this region, do not
be deceived by the barrenness of the thirsty country (as you leave the
cedars), and the dry, cloudless sky, and imagine that it never rains. I
have been here in the midst of such rain storms as I have rarely
experienced elsewhere. When the showers do fall, they often come with a
fullness that is as distressing as is the want of water during the dry
Red Butte. Twenty-nine miles out, near the station of Valle, is the big
bridge, some fifty feet high and three hundred feet long, over a branch of
the Spring Valley Wash; and here Red Butte becomes a prominent landmark on
the right. This is known to the Havasupai Indians as Hue-ga-da-wi-za, the
Mountain of the Clenched Fist, for this is its appearance when seen at
certain angles. It is a remnant of the Permian sandstone that once covered
the whole Grand Canyon region, and its brilliant red, when illuminated by
the vivid Arizona sun, explains why for so many years it has been a
prominent landmark of the plateau. It stands boldly forth on the eastern
edge of what was undoubtedly once a portion of the vast Eocene lake, the
drainage way of which helped to cut down the Canyon we are so soon to see.
Interesting stories might be told of Red Butte and its region. The
Havasupais have a tradition that many years ago a large spring of water
flowed from near its base, but in the great convulsion of nature which
changed the current of the waters of Havasu Creek the spring disappeared,
and never has been seen since. The presence of a number of quaking aspens
in the region, however, denotes that water is still there. It also has been
claimed that documents on file in Tucson prove that silver mining was
extensively carried on here as early as the year 1650.
Prehistoric Lake. At the twenty-eighth mile post, we have left the cedars
behind, and until we strike Anita junction only a few scraggly, solitary
trees are to be seen. We are on the edge of the great prehistoric lake. The
country is seamed with small, rocky gorges, which we cross. They are
sometimes lined with scrub-brush, and made beautiful by many colored
flowers. All these "draws" are tributary to Havasu (Cataract) Creek, but
it is interesting to remember that most of them convey the drainage water
away from the rim of the Grand Canyon until, by the subterranean channel
before referred to, the stream is taken back to the Havasu Canyon and soon,
deep, deep, deep down, some five thousand feet below the rim, is ejected
into the muddy Colorado River.
The First Sight of the Canyon. A glance out of the right window will now
show one a portion of the north wall of the Canyon. It is a fairly level
stretch of wall running east and west, though there is a break in it, and
then an uprising curve, as if the crust here had received a lateral thrust
strong enough to break and then "buckle" it up from east to west.
Crossing the Red Horse Wash, known to the Havasupais as Ha-i-ga-sa-jul-ga,
the line reaches Anita Junction. Here a spur three miles long connects the
main line with the copper mines of the Anita Consolidated Company, for
which the railway originally was built. The grade of the spur was so
engineered that the loaded cars of ore from the mine (when in operation)
are brought down by gravity.
Coconino Forest. A few miles further on, the railway enters a country of
pine and juniper, a stately prelude to the majesties and grandeurs of the
Kohonino (Coconino) Forest. Here it seems as if one were suddenly
transported to England, and were passing through a succession of landed
estates, without, however, finding the accompanying mansions. Aisles of
stately trees, nature planted and grown, yet as perfectly in line as if set
with mathematical precision, lead the eye into open glades where deer and
antelope move to and fro, and where one looks instinctively for the bold
facade of an historic building, or the battlemented towers of some romantic
Arrival at El Tovar. Now, bearing off in a westerly direction, the railway
leaves the Kohonino Wash, and soon crosses a divide beyond which, to the
left, may be seen the house at Bass. This is a flag-station for Bass Camp.
A mile or so further, and a wash opens to the left. This leads to Rowe's
Well (Ha-ha-wai-i-the-qual-ga), where the chief ranger of the Forest
Reserve has his home. Another four miles of steady upgrade, and the whistle
of the engine denotes that Grand Canyon is reached. Here, in addition to El
Tovar, Bright Angel Camp, the powerhouse, and the buildings of the
transportation department, are a postoffice, photograph gallery and several
buildings for employees of the railroad, rangers, etc., so that there is
quite a little settlement.
The main attractions, however, are the Canyon and El Tovar, the hotel
itself being so unique and picturesque as to require a separate chapter for
CHAPTER III. El Tovar And Its Equipments
Location of El Tovar. The West has several unique and picturesque hotels,
but I question whether it possesses one more so than that bearing the name
of the gallant Spanish cavalier, Coronado's lieutenant, the Ensign Tovar.
Built upon the very edge of the Canyon, in latitude 35 degrees 55 minutes
30 seconds, it is the arc of a rude curve of an amphitheatre, the walls of
which are slightly higher than the elevation of the hotel. Its location
affords the most intimate views of the great gorge, attracting spectators
from all over the civilized world. Indeed, were it not for these visitors,
El Tovar would never have been built. Its existence came out of a crying
necessity. It was built by the Santa Fe Railway, and furnished and equipped
by Fred Harvey, whose hotel and dining service for over a quarter of a
century has made the Santa Fe noted as giving the best food service of any
railway system in the world.
The Building. And what of the building itself? Stand away a little distance
--say half a mile or more, for it is large enough to be seen and well
described that far away--and it presents the appearance of a three-storied
bungalow, though later you find that in some points it is four stories
high. Its base is of solid, native limestone rock, well built up and
continued in the massive outside chimneys, one of which stands at each end
of the dining-room. The first story is of solid logs, brought from faraway
Oregon, and the upper stories are of heavy planking and shingles, all
stained to a rich brown or weather-beaten color; that harmonizes perfectly
with the gray-green of its unique surroundings. It is pleasant to the eye,
artistic in effect, and satisfactory to the most exacting critic. Its
width, north and south, is three hundred and twenty-seven feet, and from
east to west, two hundred and eighteen feet. The main building and entrance
face the east.
Architecture. Its lines are in harmony with the simplicity of the
surroundings. The architect has followed, in admirable proportions, the
Swiss chalet and the Norway villa. Here are expressed a quiet dignity, an
unassuming luxury, and an appreciation of outing needs. Not a
Waldorf-Astoria--admirable as that type is for the city but a big, country
clubhouse, where the traveler seeking high-class accommodations also finds
freedom from ultrafashionable restrictions. You may wear a dress suit at
dinner or not. You may mix with the jolly crowd, or sit alone in a quiet
nook. You may lunch at almost any hour of the day or night. You may dine
with other guests, or enjoy the seclusion of a private dining-room. Good
fellowship perhaps best expresses the motto of El Tovar.
The hotel contains more than a hundred bedrooms. Ample accommodations are
provided for two hundred and fifty guests, and more can be comfortably
housed in the annex, at Bright Angel Camp. Outside are porches and roof
gardens, from which one has wide views in every direction. The inside
finish is mainly of peeled slabs, wood in the rough, and tinted plaster,
interspersed with huge wooden beams. Triple casement windows and generous
fireplaces abound. Indian curios and trophies of the chase are used in the
decorations. The furniture is of special pattern.
El Tovar is more than a hotel; it is a village devoted to the entertainment
of travelers. Far from the accustomed home of luxury, money has here
summoned the beneficent genii who minister to our bodily comfort. Merely
that you may have pure water to drink, it is brought from a mountain spring
ninety miles away! And that is only one of the many provisions for
unquestioned excellence of shelter and food. The hotel is conducted on the
American plan. The rates are four dollars a day and upwards.
The Rendezvous. Leaving the train at the station, a short distance from the
hotel, you proceed up a winding road to the main entrance, a hasty glimpse
through low cedars revealing the far canyon wall.
Above the wide steps, and in front of the Norway gable, hospitably swings
the Tovar coat-of-arms. On the broad porch are numerous rocking-chairs and
small tables, with a push-button handy for ordering light refreshments. The
porch corners are of solid rough masonry, built in old mission style, the
arches wide and low. The first impression is one of good cheer. Once
inside, the traveler will willingly linger a few moments in the Rendezvous
or Nimrod's Cabin. This is a large room, forty-one by thirty-seven feet,
notable for uneven walls of dark stained fogs and bulky rafters. In a huge
corner fireplace, pine knots burn cheerily when the air is chilly. Electric
lights are placed in log squares, swinging from the low roof at the end of
long chains. Gray Navaho rugs cover the brown floor. There are cosy
tete-a-tetes and easy chairs. On an upper shelf repose heads of the deer,
elk, moose, mountain sheep, and buffalo, mingling with curiously shaped and
gaudily tinted Indian jars from the southwest pueblos. An old-fashioned
clock ticks off the hours. Several small escritoires remind you of letters
to be written to the home people. Recessed window-seats, partly hidden by
red curtains, complete the picture.
What wonder that every morning and evening most of the guests gather in
this room--the ladies to read and gossip; the gentlemen to smoke and tell
of their latest adventures. Few country clubs have as pleasant a meeting
place; yet it is only one of El Tovar's many allurements.
The Office and Ladies' Lounging Room. Cross the western edge of the
Rendezvous, and you are in the rotunda, the centre of the hotel's many
activities and its very necessary hub. Whether bound for dining-room or
parlors, for guest chamber or amusement room; whether attracted by the
click of billiards below, or the brightness of the roof-garden above,--all
paths here intersect.
On the first floor is the office. A story above, reached by an easily
ascended stairway, is the ladies' lounging room, nestled around an
octagonal open space that extends from the office to the roof.
Just beyond are the art rooms, containing paintings and photographs of the
Canyon; on the walls hang paintings of southwest scenery from the brushes
of noted American artists, including some of Thomas Moran's masterpieces.
Yellow hangings and electric lights brighten the dark tones of the
The Sleeping-Rooms. There are more than a hundred of them. They are found
on all four floors. The Arizona sunshine generously enters each one at some
hour of the day. Steam heat (automatically regulated), electric lights and
office telephones are provided--willing servants quickly to do your
On the first and second floors are forty-two rooms en suite. There are
twenty-one commodious bathrooms, white as snow and kept spotlessly clean.
On the office and first floors are two private parlors en suite. The
furniture is mostly of arts and crafts design.
Dining-Room. When travel stains are removed, you are directed to the
dining-room. It is quadrangular in form, ninety feet long by forty feet
wide, arched overhead, the roof supported by six huge log trusses. Walls
and trusses and roof are all finished in rough wood, and are as brown as a
coffee berry. The two fireplaces are built of gray sandstone.
A dozen electroliers of rustic pattern hang from the ceiling. Electric wall
lights and candelabra for the side tables complete the lighting.
Through any of the many triple windows may be seen the large-eyed stars;
for here the sky seems to bend closer to earth than in lower altitudes.
The tables are adorned with glass, silver and flowers. You also notice old
brass dishes, antique Dutch and English platters, and Indian ollas,
displayed on the plate rail.
Well-trained waitresses, in white uniforms, deftly serve the meal, which is
Harvey's best. While you are leisurely dining, it is pleasant to look
around and see who your neighbors are. They have come here from every
section--perhaps a New York or Chicago banker, a Harvard professor, an
Arizona ranchman, an English globe-trotter, and a German savant. Pretty
women and lovely children complete the picture.
The dinner itself is prepared under the direction of a capable Italian
chef, once employed in New York and Chicago clubs. He presides over one of
the most complete and up-to-the-minute hotel kitchens in the United States.
On the right of the main entrance is a small breakfast room, tastefully
decorated in fifteenth century style. On the left is a private dining-room,
whose wall decorations mainly consist of Indian deer hieroglyphics,
reproduced from old pictographs in Mallery Grotto.
The Music-Room and Solarium. At the end of the north wing, on the office
floor, fronting the Canyon's abyss, is a spacious room devoted to refined
amusements. The wall decorations are of gold, trimmed in old ivory,
imitating fifteenth century leather. Sunshine streams in from numerous
windows. The music-room is so admirably located and so daintily furnished,
that it is a favorite resort for lovers of music, cards, and dancing.
Where the south wing terminates, and on the office floor, is a sunny,
glass-enclosed nook, open on three sides and sheltered from cool north
winds. It is called the solarium or sun-parlor. To this retreat come the
ladies, with sewing baskets and books. It is quite the fad to take a
On the top floor, and out of doors, are two roof gardens, where light
refreshments are served.
The Amusement Room and Clubroom. On the ground floor, easily reached from
the office and from the rim pathway, is the amusement room, fitted with
billiard, pool, and card tables, and shuffle-boards. Adjacent is the
Water Supply. For fire purposes, there is a Knowles high-duty underwriter's
fire pump, which is regularly used for the transportation of water to the
high steel water-tank, capable of holding three hundred and twenty thousand
gallons. Pure spring water is hauled in tank cars from Bellemont, ninety
miles away, about seven cars a day being required for all purposes. Every
drop of water, before entering the hotel, passes through two quartz
filters, and drinking water is distilled twice and then aerated.
Sewerage. The sewerage system of a large hotel is a matter of primary
importance. At El Tovar the matter was given more than usual care and
foresight. An antiseptic system was installed, at a cost of over twenty
thousand dollars. The sewage is conveyed by underground pipes a long
distance to solid concrete tanks, where the solids are disposed of by
natural processes. The liquids pass through eight filter beds, and then
enter the ditch colorless and odorless.
Bright Angel Camp. To accommodate those desiring less expensive quarters,
Bright Angel Camp--old Bright Angel Hotel remodelled--is operated on the
European plan. Rooms are one dollar a day each person; meals are obtained
at Harvey cafe. The lodgings and fare here are of a much simpler kind than
at El Tovar, but clean, wholesome, and thoroughly comfortable.
This Camp supplements the higher class service at the big hotel.
Transportation Facilities at El Tovar. Travelers who visit the Grand Canyon
will be pleased to find an up-to-date livery service maintained in
connection with El Tovar Hotel and Bright Angel Camp. They are thus able
easily and comfortably to take pleasant sightseeing tours away from the
hotel to obtain different views of the Canyon. Most visitors here do not
realize that the granite gorge district of Grand Canyon alone is about
seventy miles in length, ranging from ten to fifteen miles in width, and
that from every accessible point along the rim a different outlook may be
had, each unsurpassed of its kind. The transportation department is only
one of the many pleasing details provided for the comfort of those who come
to the Grand Canyon. It is thoroughly organized and equipped.
Trips to Take. At both El Tovar and Bright Angel, throughout the day and
evening, will be found an agent representing this department. By means of
telephonic communication between the hotels and the stables, these agents
can provide in a surprisingly short time saddle-horses for a ride down one
of the many bridle-paths, turnouts for a drive along the shady roads near
the rim, or sure-footed animals for a descent into the Canyon on Hermit
Trail (now nearing completion), or Bright Angel Trail.
The Buildings in Detail. The several buildings of the transportation
department, which are located among the trees a short distance from the
hotel, across the railroad track, are all new and well built, being models
in design and construction, and are thoroughly systematized for rapid
That portion of the stables where the animals are kept, and which
accommodates about one hundred and fifteen head, is thoroughly equipped
with the most approved methods for the care of the stock, including a
complete system-for drainage and cleanliness; vermin proof, zinc-lined
storage bins, and automatic self-recording feeding apparatus. Other
departments are a blacksmith, carpenter and paint shop; harness, storage,
and repair rooms, offices for the stable manager and his assistants; and a
large wagon-room where the carriages, wagons, and other conveyances are
housed. Visitors to this part of the stables will note an interesting
feature in the painting of the vehicles, namely, that each is in the El
Tovar colors, the body being dark yellow, and the wheels lighter yellow,
striped with red. Each coach bears, in addition to the coat of arms of
Pedro del Tovar, an individual name, selected from tribes of the Southwest
Indians. For instance, visitors will recall having driven to various points
on the rim in stages named "Navaho," "Supai," "Walpi," etc.
A large corral provides for the turning out of stock not in use.
Employees' Quarters. There is also a building devoted to the accommodation
of the employees of this department, comprised of kitchen and dining-rooms,
sleeping quarters, and a smoking, reading and recreation room.
The grounds around the employees' building, commonly called the mess house,
are laid off into walks and gardens. Owing to the quantity and quality of
the soil being superior to that around El Tovar (which is near the rim and
therefore on almost naked rock), the grass, and the domestic and wild
flowers, which are cared for by the men, thrive abundantly.
The Mallery Grotto. This is a small and rather insignificant cave just
under the rim, to the extreme left (west) of El Tovar amphitheatre, wherein
a number of interesting Indian pictographs are to be seen. The overhanging
rock makes a rude cave or grotto, and it has been named Mallery Grotto,
after Garrick Mallery, the great authority on the pictographs of the North
American Indians. His latest monograph takes up the whole of one of the
large volumes of the United States Bureau of Ethnology, and in its nearly
eight hundred pages there are one thousand two hundred and ninety
illustrations. To this illuminating book, therefore, the curious student is
referred for further information regarding the pictographs themselves.
Trail to Mallery Grotto. Leaving El Tovar, the visitor can easily walk to
and from Mallery Grotto in half an hour: Keeping on the rim, he passes the
old Bright Angel Hotel, and all the buildings, about as far past the log
house as, that is from El Tovar. There, in a slight depression, he will see
the foot-trail leading down from the rim to the Grotto. It is a place about
forty to fifty feet long, and with an overhanging wall of from five to
fifteen feet high, and ten to twenty feet broad. The shelf upon which one
walks is narrow, but I have slept there many a time in cold and rainy
The pictographs are mainly in a rich brownish-red, and are of deer,
mountain-sheep, men and women, serpentine lines suggesting the course of
rivers, rain-clouds, lightning, and many-legged reptiles,--or what seem to
represent these things. They were here, exactly as one now sees them, when
I first camped here with some friendly Havasupais, nearly twenty years ago,
and I was then informed that some of the designs represent great hunts, in
which their ancestors had been successful.
Of the genuineness of the pictographs no one need have the slightest
question. They afford a good opportunity to those who have never before
seen such specimens of aboriginal art, to examine a fairly representative
lot of them.
CHAPTER IV. The Grand Canyon At El Tovar
If guests at the Canyon will take this book in hand and, line by line, read
this chapter, just as they would listen to the talk of a friend in whose
knowledge they confide, they will leave the Canyon with fewer erroneous
conceptions than are quite common now.
El Tovar Amphitheatre. The first thing to be observed is that El Tovar
rests in the centre of the curve of a wide crescent, named El Tovar
amphitheatre, the arms of which extend out into the heart of the Canyon,
and shut in the scenery from the east and west, concentrating the view.
These arms afford an excellent opportunity for seeing the various
carboniferous deposits. The topmost is the cherty limestone, the layers of
which lead the eye to the crossbedded sandstone, a creamy buff in color,
and composed of a soft, sugary sand. Each of these walls is from five
hundred to six hundred feet high, though in some parts of the Canyon they
are reduced to not more than four hundred feet.
Maricopa and El Tovar Points. El Tovar is six thousand eight hundred and
sixty-six feet above sea level; the highest part of the point on the left
is seven thousand and fifty feet, and on the right seven thousand feet. The
point to the left, Maricopa Point, is a portion of the great promontory
known as Hopi Point, to which all Canyon visitors should go. That to the
right is El Tovar Point.
Heights and Depths. The height of the lime and sandstone walls can readily
be measured by looking down upon the rudely carved mass of red sandstone
slightly to the left, which has been called the "Battleship." The top of
this is five thousand, eight hundred and sixty-seven feet above sea level.
Now look up to the Maricopa Point above, seven thousand and fifty feet. The
difference is one thousand, one hundred and eighty-three feet, which is
practically the height of these two strata.
Bright Angel Creek. Almost at the first glance, the attention is arrested
by the break in the north wall, slightly to the right of where we stand,
which makes a wide lateral gorge running at right angles to the main course
of the river. This is Bright Angel Gorge, showing the course of Bright
Angel Creek, which flows between its lower walls. It received its name from
Major Powell, when he and his party descended the river. Earlier in their
explorations they had ascended a side stream, and one of the men had
declared it to be a dirty devil of a river; and for many years it bore the
name "Dirty Devil River," until Powell changed it on the map to Fremont
River. When, later, this exquisitely pure and beautiful side stream was
reached, the great explorer determined that as one stream had been named
after the prince of the powers of darkness, he would name this after the
bright and beautiful powers,--hence the name "Bright Angel."
A reference to the chapter "How the Canyon was Formed," will explain how
this side gorge came into existence, and also account for the great
upthrust of the granitic rock at its mouth, for the most casual observer
cannot fail to note the presence of this rock much higher than it is seen
The North Wall. Before paying particular attention to the vast forms that
crowd the interior of the Canyon, let us follow the "build" of the
massive wall on the north side. This is part of the great Kaibab Plateau,
the highest wall of the whole Canyon system. Its elevation is eight
thousand three hundred, as against six thousand eight hundred and sixty-six
feet at El Tovar, and it is thirteen miles in an air line from the south
rim, where the hotel is located, to the north rim.
The reason for this difference in elevation is explained in the chapter
"How the Canyon was Formed." In brief, it is that, during a process of "
faulting," the north wall was thrust up above the level of the south wall.
Features above Bright Angel Creek. In any other region but here, this
Bright Angel Gorge and the massive figures of rock that sentinel and guard
it would be regarded as a scenic marvel, but here it is a mere trivial
incident in the greater scenery of the greater Canyon. Yet it is well to
note the massive red sandstone points that are lined up on either side on
the plateau, above the darkest recesses of the gorge, reminding one of the
rows of sphinxes that guard the entrances of some of the Egyptian temples.
Up Bright Angel Creek. Occasionally parties cross the river (either by boat
or in an iron cage suspended by a cable), and ascend to the north rim by
means of a rude trail up Bright Angel Creek. As the trail for a part of the
way ascends the floor of the gorge, down which the stream flows, and as it
is exceedingly narrow and without any way of escape in case of severe rain
or flood, it is not always safe. To one, however, who loves a rough and
adventurous trip, the ascent of this gorge will probably give great
satisfaction. A little more than a third of the way up, a waterfall is
passed, called "Ribbon Falls." The trail winds and twists with the course
of the stream, and finally reaches the summit at an elevation of eight
thousand five hundred feet, not far from Greenland Spring. From here one
may go east over the Walhalla Plateau to Niji Point, and overlook the Chuar
Valley at the mouth of Marble Canyon, where Dr. Walcott spent a winter
studying the Algonkian strata of that region. To the west is Point Sublime,
Powell Plateau, and other scenery of an unusually majestic character.
Features of the North Wall. But let us now return to the main north wall
before us. The green tufts, that at this distance appear as grass or
shrubs, partially covering the top of the wall and descending the slopes
into the Canyon, are in reality great trees, mainly pines and black
birches, from twenty-five to over one hundred and one hundred and fifty
feet in height. The forest that covers the Kaibab Plateau contains many
majestic trees, and some of these have wandered over the rim to peep into
the depths of the abyss below. The cherty limestone strata are thus largely
covered, but the next stratum is the clear band of cross-bedded sandstone,
which corresponds to the second member of the geological series seen in the
arm of the amphitheatre at Maricopa Point, and is from five hundred to six
hundred feet wide.
Then the eye rests upon slopes of talus, which reach down to the red strata
of varying thicknesses, which are deposited above the red-wall limestone,
the widest member of the whole Canyon group. These walls are cut and
recessed into all kinds of shapes and forms, angles, promontories and
recesses, which, especially in the early morning and late afternoon, cast
shadows of inexpressible beauty.
The Red-Wall Limestone. We now come to the red-wall limestone nearly six
hundred feet in thickness. What a striking, massive wall it is, and how
impressive, when seen even at this immense distance. This wall is red only
because it is stained by the color washed down by the rain from the red
strata above. In reality, it is a rich creamy lime, but only where the red
strata above have been degraded and washed away does the natural color of
this wall appear.
The Plateau. Below the red-wall limestone, there are several strata of red
and gray and olive rocks that slope to the plateau. This plateau is not
quite so wide on the north side as on the south, owing to El Tovar being
located in the recess of a great amphitheatre. It is from these plateaus
that the finest views of the real Canyon can be obtained. The visitor,
sitting on the porch or on the rim at El Tovar, cannot realize that below
his feet, as it were, there is an almost exact duplication of the wall and
slopes of talus, the thrilling precipices, the alcoves, recesses,
promontories and the like, that he sees on the north side. And yet a trip
down the trail on to the plateaus reveals these stupendous facts in a
manner that is surprising even to those who, for years, have been familiar
with them. How much more, then, is such an experience to a tyro. I have met
men who were world-wide travelers, and who were visiting the Canyon for the
first time; some of these were expert geologists, yet they refused to go
down the trail, with the excuse that they could fully grasp the scenery
from the rim. But that is impossible. The human mind cannot realize the
effects of vastness and power this Canyon scenery produces, except when one
stands below the cliffs and looks up. And where the opportunity is given of
looking both up to towering walls, and down over beetling precipices, the
effect is enhanced.
The Tonto Sandstones. Below the plateau, slight slopes lead the eye to the
last of the stratified rocks, the Tonto sandstones of the Cambrian period.
These are readily distinguished, mainly by their deep buff color and the
fact that generally they are found resting on the archaean or unstratified
rocks, locally though incorrectly termed the granite, which makes the Inner
Gorge through which the river runs. This "granite" is in the main a
The Algonkian Strata. Though the Tonto sandstones usually occupy the
location named, there is a deviation from this in the presence of some
remnants of strata of the Algonkian period, directly opposite El Tovar.
This deviation is discussed in the chapter "How the Canyon was Formed."
These remarkable rocks occur to the left (west) of Bright Angel Creek, and
lie immediately above the gneiss. Their brilliant red reveals them, and
they can be followed up under the base of the Cheops and to a small wash to
the left of Osiris. At the mouth of Bright Angel, they rest upon the
archaean, with the Tonto sandstones above them, but just in front of the
Battleship a break in the gneiss occurs, and on the portion nearest us the
Algonkian strata totally disappear, for the Tonto strata rest directly upon
Zoroaster, Brahma and Deva Temples. Now, in turn, let the eye rest upon the
temples, towers and buttes that stand in the heart of the Canyon, more or
less detached from the main wall. To the right of Bright Angel Creek,
striking buttes keep guard. The nearest is an angular mass of solid,
unrelieved rock, sloping in a peculiarly oblique fashion. It is Zoroaster
Temple, seven thousand one hundred and thirty-six feet in elevation. Close
behind it is a more ornate and dignified mass, Brahma Temple, named after
the first of the Hindoo triad, the supreme creator, to correspond with the
Shiva Temple, soon to be described, on the right. Shiva, the destroyer;
Brahma, the creator. The one controlling the forces that have destroyed the
strata; the other dominating the powers that have brought these structures
into existence. Brahma is seven thousand five hundred and fifty-four feet
in elevation. Behind Brahma is another butte, which, however, cannot always
be dissevered from the main wall. It has no cap of cherty limestone. It can
be readily discerned, therefore, by its flat-topped appearance. It is Deva
Temple, seven thousand three hundred and forty-four feet above sea level.
Buddha Temple and Cloister; Manu Temple. To the left of the Bright Angel
Gorge, quite an assemblage of buttes awaits inspection. The dominating pile
almost opposite Brahma--across Bright Angel--is Buddha Temple, and below it
is Buddha Cloister. Beyond this is another butte, which, however, at times,
can scarcely be detected from the main walls of the Kaibab. Yet it is a
separate butte of great proportions, and is named Manu Temple, after the
great law-giver of the Hindoos. Buddha's elevation is seven thousand two
hundred and eighteen feet, while Manu's is seven thousand one hundred and
Cheops Pyramid. To the left of Buddha Temple, and nearer to us, is a
massive though less ornately carved monument than Buddha. It is Cheops
Pyramid, a detached mass of the red-wall limestone, which, however, is
rapidly losing its red color, owing to the disappearance of the red strata
from above. Cheops is five thousand three hundred and fifty feet in
elevation, and is of a peculiar shape, as of some quaint and Oriental
device of symbolic significance.
Isis and Shiva Temples. Just above, and farther to the left, is a peculiar
temple, resting upon sloping taluses of the red strata beneath, its cap
formed of alone, narrow ridge of cross-bedded sandstone. It has two great
cloisters in front, and is named Isis Temple, after the feminine god of the
Egyptians. Isis has an elevation of seven thousand twenty-eight feet, and
is the eastern support of the gigantic rock mountain which towers over all
the lesser structures. This is Shiva Temple, a solid mass, sliced off from
the main Kaibab. The elevation is seven thousand six hundred and fifty
feet, and it is thus described by Dutton, who named it: "It is the
grandest of all the buttes, and the most majestic in aspect, though not the
most ornate. Its mass is as great as the mountainous part of Mount
Washington. The summit looks down six thousand feet into the dark depths of
the inner abyss, over a succession of ledges as impracticable as the face
of Bunker Hill Monument. All around it are side gorges, sunk to a depth
nearly as profound as that of the main channel. It stands in the midst of
a great throng of cloister-like buttes, with the same noble profiles and
strong lineaments as those immediately before us, with a plexus of awful
chasms between. In such a stupendous scene of wreck it seems as if the
fabled 'Destroyer' might find an abode not wholly uncongenial."
Horus Temple. Guardian temples to the west of Isis are Horus and Osiris.
The former is nearer to the river. It is capped with the white sandstone,
and is so closely sculptured that white fragments have fallen upon the
sloping red talus beneath. The whole appearance is not unlike a giant hat
of an Arab, with its streaming folds of white reaching far over the neck
down the back. It rests upon a massive block of the red-wall limestone,
which presents a bold face to the east. Its elevation is six thousand one
hundred and fifty feet.
Osiris Temple. Behind Shiva is Osiris Temple, with an elevation of six
thousand six hundred and thirty-seven feet. At the proper angle it is seen
to be as prominent before Shiva as is Horus, but our angle of vision gives
it the retreating effect. It is a gracefully domed temple in the
cross-bedded sandstone, and clearly reveals its five hundred feet superior
height over Horus.
The walls seen behind Osiris are not those of Point Sublime, as some
suppose. This massive promontory on the north side is hidden by the nose of
Maricopa Point. The walls are a portion of the Kaibab Plateau, leading
towards Point Sublime, but not a part of it.
Ra Pyramid. In front of Horus is the tower of a symmetrically constructed
pyramid in the red strata, far more like Cheops than is the structure of
that name. It is five thousand nine hundred and ninety-seven feet above the
level of the sea,--a memorial of the great Ra, far greater than any temple
erected by human hands.
The Maiden's Breast. At the end of Maricopa Point is a majestic structure
bigger than many national capitols combined, yet so small here as hitherto
to have passed unnoticed. It is crowned, however, with a small nipple in
red sandstone, to which the Havasupais give a name signifying the Maiden's
Breast. It is five thousand four hundred and fifty feet high,--quite a
height for any earthly maiden.
Miles of Walls of Varying Lengths. As we look at these wonderful walls, a
new idea dawns upon us. The engineer tells us that the Canyon is two
hundred and seventeen miles long. That, however, is only the length of the
river, as it runs its winding way along. But the walls cannot thus be
measured. Take the red-wall limestone and follow it on its devious way, in
and out of deeply alcoved recesses, up side gorges and down again, around
the curves of cloisters and along the bases of the great buttes. The
aggregate distance followed will be many thousands of miles. The strata
that have the longer course, on account of their greater extent of
terracing, are those that make an eight-hundred-feet-wide band of gray and
bright red sandstone, which rests above the red-wall limestone.
Angel Plateau and Indian Garden. Now let the eye fall upon the plateau
beneath. This is named Angel Plateau. The green near its centre has the
first claim. This green patch is called Indian Garden, for in past years,
before the white man wrested his possessions from him, a certain family of
the Havasupais used to farm in a crude way on this spot. When I first
visited this plateau, some seventeen or more years ago, the remnants of the
old Indian irrigating ditches could be seen. Now it is cultivated by the
white man to good effect, and delicious watermelons and cantaloupe as well
as tasty vegetables grow in abundance. This is called half-way down to the
river in distance. The elevation is three thousand eight hundred and
seventy-six feet, so that from our six thousand eight hundred and sixty-six
feet we gaze down two thousand nine hundred and ninety feet. Many who go
down the trail do not go below this plateau. A point can be seen, also the
line of the trail leading to it, from which an excellent and extensive view
of the raging river, with some of its rapids, may be had.
CHAPTER V. Three Ways Of Spending One Day At The Canyon
There are many who can take only a hasty trip to the Canyon. This is to be
deplored, as the Grand Canyon is one of the sights that cannot be fully
comprehended in a day; and yet, if one has but a day, to get merely one
good long glimpse at it is worth all the effort and expense that it may
cost, even to the least wealthy of its visitors. And while it cannot be too
strongly urged that all who come prepare themselves to stay at least a
week--a month is far better--I offer a few practical suggestions to those
who have less time, and wish to use it to the fullest possible advantage.
Three Suggestions to the "One-Day" Visitor. To those who have but one full
day, a choice is offered of three courses; first, and best of all, to drive
to the head of Hermit Trail on the new Hermit Rim Road, and to visit
Yavapai and Hopi Points; the second, to drive to Grand View; the third, to
ride down Bright Angel Trail.
First Trip--An Afternoon on Hermit Rim Road to Head of Hermit Trail. To
the less strenuous visitor who wishes to see all he can in one day without
the fatigue of the trail trip, two courses are open, both of which include
driving to prominent points on the rim and sightseeing in their vicinity.
One is to drive out on Hermit Rim Road, which drive will give a variety of
scenery unequaled by any other trip to be made on the rim. This trip,
giving panorama views to the west of El Tovar, can be made in one half of
the day, let us say the afternoon, leaving the morning for a drive to
Yavapai Point, which gives corresponding panoramas to the east, though
Yavapai is only three miles from the Hotel.
It is nine miles west of El Tovar to the head of Hermit Trail on the new
Hermit Rim Road, and about three and one-half hours are required for the
trip in addition to whatever time is consumed in sightseeing at the various
points on which stops are made.
The road passes Maricopa, Hopi, Mohave and Pima Points, and some time is
spent on each, as there is some special appeal in the buttes and the cliffs
and the depths as seen from each, but all along the route the gigantic
panorama of Grand Canyon stretches for miles and miles--a world of beauty;
all along the route the attention is claimed by some surprising
feature,--the precipices of the opposite wall, the great interior rock
temples, and side canyons, and everywhere the incomparable colors.
A picturesque shelter house is to be constructed at the end of the road,
which is near the head of Hermit Trail, where visitors driving on the Rim
Road may rest before returning to El Tovar or before starting down the
On the return journey the scene is entirely different, owing to the magic
of the sun's shadows, which have changed the aspect of every wall and chasm
and temple--whether in the gorge below, or across the river and up the side
canyons to the Kaibab Plateau on the north rim, and from October to May,
during the shorter days, if the return is made late in the afternoon a stop
will be made at Hopi Point, one of the best points on the south rim from
which to watch the glories of the setting sun.
A chapter describing the Hermit Rim Road and Hermit Trail will be found in
this book, but from no description can one comprehend the magnitude and the
silent grandeur of the Canyon as they are impressed upon the senses from
this highway and from this trail.
A Morning Trip--To Yavapai Point. Though Yavapai Point is but three miles
away, the drive and the time required for sightseeing occupy about two
hours. Leaving El Tovar, the road plunges among the trees at once on
passing the railway. Here are pines, pinions and junipers, with a
sprinkling of scrub oaks, and the flowering bush with white flowers and
long velvety tendrils locally known as the cinchona. Here and there a yucca
baccata thrusts out its bayonets from the ground, as if in warning, and a
score or more of flowers give variety of color to the greens of the trees,
in due season.
Outlook from Yavapai Point. Arrived at Yavapai Point, the river can be
clearly seen at two different places; before us, directly across the
Canyon, is the Bright Angel Gorge, with a full view of Zoroaster, Brahma
and Deva Temples. To the right, the nearest promontory is Yaki Point. Below
the point, its continuation terminates in a butte of great massiveness,
which has been named O'Neill Butte, after the Arizona pioneer who was slain
during the charge of the Rough Riders at San Juan Hill. Beyond Yaki Point,
in the far-away east, two other great promontories arrest the attention.
These are way beyond Grand View and the old Hance Trails, and are Pinal and
Lipan Points, leading the eye to a "wavy" wall, slightly to their left.
This wall, topped with a series of curves, is the western wall of the
Little Colorado River; and the smoother wall beyond, to the left, is the
further or eastern wall. Here this tributary river and canyon connect with
the Grand Canyon, from a general southeasterly course. It will be recalled
that transcontinental travelers cross the Little Colorado River at Winslow.
From that point it flows in a northwesterly direction, through the sands of
the Painted Desert, its banks bearing many and large cottonwood trees.
Wotan's Throne. Two majestic buttes in the heart of the Canyon, to the
east, have been demanding our attention for some time. They are both
towering mountains of rock, that stand out even more strikingly than do the
temples near at hand. The flat-topped mass is Wotan's Throne (once Newberry
Terrace), and is as massive as Shiva Temple, seen to the west. Its
elevation is seven thousand seven hundred feet.
Vishnu Temple. The more ornate and sculptured of the buttes is Vishnu
Temple, a solid mountain of rock carved into a majestic form by centuries
of erosion. Wherever one stands, at the eastern end of the Canyon, whether
on the north or the south, on the promontories at the rim or on the
plateaus beneath, it is the dominating and eye-compelling object. It is,
without doubt, the most stupendous mass of nature's carving in the known
world. It is seven thousand five hundred and thirty-seven feet above sea
level, and over five thousand feet above the Colorado River, which
practically laves its base.
In front of Wotan's Throne, and a trifle nearer the river, is the Angel
Gate, described in the chapter on Indian Legends.
Indian Garden. Now let the eye fall upon the Bright Angel Plateau. The
tents at Indian Garden are clearly to be seen as well as any trail party
that may happen to be crossing the plateau. The insignificant size of the
horses and mules and their riders can scarcely be believed. On the rim the
elevation is seven thousand and eighty-one feet. At the Garden the elevation
is three thousand eight hundred and seventy-six feet, so we are looking
down four thousand two hundred and five feet, over three-fourths of a mile.
Immediately below us, to the right, we see the rugged gorge of gneiss in
which flows Pipe Creek. The left fork of this (to the west) is Garden
Creek. A small break from Angel Plateau will be observed, where Garden
Creek curves to enter Pipe Creek. Here is a beautiful mass of green, and
not far away the trail that leads from the plateau to the river is in
El Tovar Point. A quarter of a mile west from Yavapai Point is El Tovar
Point (formerly called Grandeur Point), so named because it is the end of
the right arm of the amphitheatre in which El Tovar is located. Its
elevation is seven thousand feet.
Coconino Forest and Angel Plateau. To the west and south is the Coconino
Forest; beyond is seen the dry bed of the ancient Eocene lake, and the
blue ridge, where the lava-flows from Mount Floyd shut in the view. It is
a glorious expanse of over a hundred miles, and on a clear day every object
is plainly discerned. Here even better views of the Angel Plateau may be
obtained than from Yavapai Point, and an excellent outlook over the narrow
break in the great wall, where the shattering of the strata and the
deposition of talus and vegetable matter made possible the building of the
zigzag portion of the trail near the top. The faulting of the strata is
clearly seen, and the observer will not fail to note that the strata of the
left arm of El Tovar Amphitheatre are thrust up some one hundred to two
hundred feet above the level of the same strata upon which El Tovar itself
stands. This is one line of the Bright Angel fault, which extends across
the river, and accounts for the carving out of the Bright Angel Gorge as
described in the chapter "How the Canyon was Formed."
How exquisite is the rich beauty of the greens of the Douglas spruces, and
the vegetation on the upper part of the trail, contrasted with the reds and
grays and creams and buffs of the rocks around!
The round trip from El Tovar to Yavapai Point is about six miles. A
foot-path has been cut from El Tovar to El Tovar Point, so that visitors
may walk to and fro between these so diverse and yet equally attractive
outlooks over the Canyon.
Many visitors, however, after the drive to Yavapai Point, go to Hopi Point.
And, while this point is passed on the Rim Road drive, it is also very
popular as a morning drive.
Drive to Hopi Point. This point is three miles to the west, and is just
beyond Maricopa Point, which is practically the left arm of El Tovar
Amphitheatre. The round trip is about six miles, taking in both points, and
occupies from an hour and a half to two hours. Those who go in private
conveyances generally stay longer, and make a three-hour trip of it.
Leaving El Tovar, the road turns southwest for a short distance, and then
enters the forest to the north. It is a restful drive over a section of the
well-made Hermit Rim Road.
View at Hopi Point. The first impression when one arrives at Hopi Point is
of the nearness of the buttes, and the sheer precipitousness of the place
upon which he stands. Both are owing to the fact that Hopi Point is thrust
far into the heart of the Canyon. Its elevation is seven thousand and
Dana Butte. Immediately facing the visitor, a continuation of Hopi Point at
the five thousand and twenty-five foot level, is a butte that would dwarf
into insignificance the most stupendous of all the world's city
sky-scrapers, yet here it is hardly noticeable in the wealth of more
massive and majestic structures. It is Dana Butte, so named after the great
geologist. Across the river, which here can be seen in five different
places, are the temples to the right or east of Bright Angel Gorge, while
Buddha and Manu on the left (west) are equally in evidence. But right
before us is the dominating mass of Shiva Temple, with Isis Temple and
Cheops Pyramid guarding it on the right. To the left, new architectural
forms and masses come out into clearer view, two of these being stupendous
structures of great beauty and majesty that guard the approach to Shiva
Temple. These are Osiris and Horus Temples, the latter being in front.
Tower of Set. Just before Horus is a smaller but massive structure, known
as the Tower of Set. The elevation of Osiris above sea level is six
thousand six hundred and thirty-seven feet, that of Horus six thousand one
hundred and fifty feet, and of the Tower of Set five thousand nine hundred
and ninety-seven feet. Beyond these, to the west and north, are Confucius
and Mencius Temples, the latter being the nearer. These are respectively at
an elevation of seven thousand one hundred and twenty-eight feet and seven
thousand feet. The eye now rests on Point Sublime, the spot where Captain
Dutton indited his vividly descriptive accounts of the Great Canyon.
Marsh Butte. On this side of the river, nearly opposite Mencius Temple, is
a butte of singularly beautiful structure, of an elevation of four thousand
seven hundred and thirty feet. This is named Marsh Butte, in honor of the
great paleontologist, the rival of the equally great Cope. In the far-away
distance is Havasupai Point, the most notable of all the points of the
south rim, because of its great projection over the river.
Dutton Point. Across from Havasupai Point, on the north side, is the mass
of Powell Plateau, the "nose" of which, facing this way, is named Dutton
Point, after the poet-geologist. Beyond, in the faraway distance, is to be
seen the curve of the Canyon wall, at the great bend of the river, where
the granite disappears from the Inner Gorge, and, resting upon the paler
blue of the horizon, is the line of the Uinkaret Mountains in Southern
Utah, about sixty-five miles away. What a wondrous outlook it is!
On returning, a short stop is made at Maricopa Point, where the views are
much the same, but changed by the new angle of vision. It is one of the
great charms of the Canyon that each point of view, even though not more
than half a mile away, reveals new and interesting features of the
Second Trip--Drive to Grand View. This is a fourteen-mile trip, over a
fairly good road, made in comfort in two and one-half hours. One may stay
from two to four hours, observe all he wishes to see, and return to El
Tovar in another two and a half hours, thus making twenty-eight miles for
the round trip. The drive is through the Coconino Forest, by narrow
canyoncitos (little canyons), washes, and through grassy glades and royal
parks, where one need not be surprised at any moment to see deer or
antelope bound before him. A full description of this trip is found in the
chapter devoted to Grand View and its trail, the scenery being too varied
and important to be hastily described.
If one has but one day, and he wishes to spend it on the rim, the Grand
View trip may be made with a limited amount of time devoted to sightseeing
at that point, so that on the return the drive may be taken to Hopi Point
in time to view the sunset. This, however, can usually only be done in the
summer months, when the sunset is late enough to afford time.
Third Trip--Down Bright Angel Trail. To an ordinarily well person, there
is neither danger nor serious fatigue in this trip, but it is not to be
ignored that riding down, down, down, for four thousand four hundred and
thirty feet (the difference in elevation between the rim and the river)
puts a pressure upon certain generally unused muscles, so that one returns
tired. But it is a healthful fatigue, and invariably benefits all who
experience it. To go down the trail and back is enough to accomplish in one
day, unless the visitor is very "strenuous," although not a few do take
the drive out to Hopi Point and see the sunset, upon returning from the
trail trip. Those who take this ride down the trail, after arriving on the
morning train, do not go as far down as the river. They visit the Indian
Garden, and are then taken out to a prominent point of Angel Plateau, and
there obtain a fine view of the river. From the scenic standpoint, this is
much to be preferred to going down to the river itself, especially when
time is limited. The trail to the river is down a side gorge, where one's
view is materially obstructed, and while there is great satisfaction in
standing immediately before the river itself, and seeing it roll along
between the gloomy walls of the Inner Gorge, one does not see as much of
it, or in so striking a setting, as from the plateau, one thousand three
hundred and twenty feet above.
If one is determined to go to the river, however, it will be necessary for
him to arrange for a special guide, and push along down the trail with
vigor, for the regular trail party for the river leaves at 8:30 A.M., while
the train does not arrive at El Tovar until about 9 o'clock, and one may
wish to take breakfast before starting. Hence the start is seldom
accomplished until after ten o'clock, two hours beyond the allotted time.
Sunrise and Sunset at Hopi Point. It already has been pointed out that
this is the strong scenic point near to El Tovar, for both eastern and
western canyon scenery, though the eastern is not so fully revealed as from
Yavapai Point. Regular conveyances take visitors out to this point both
morning and evening. The scenic effects are heightened in the Canyon a
hundredfold by the presence of the morning and evening shadows. In the
glare of the midday sun, the temples, towers, walls and buttes lose their
distinctiveness, while in the shadows of either early morning or the late
afternoon, they stand forth as vividly as a profile cameo cut in black on a
light ground. As the hours of sunrise and sunset vary, the drives are so
planned as to reach the points at the proper time, so as not to weary the
visitor by too long waiting, or lose the enchanting effects by too late
arrival. As the sun sinks, the shadows lengthen and deepen, bringing out
into bold relief features hitherto unobserved, and giving a sublimity to
the vast scene that it did not possess in the full blaze of the sun. If
clouds obscure the direct rays, all the better, for then other and even
more startling effects of beauty and color are produced. At times the whole
Canyon seems filled with a luminous mist, in which the temples float into
individual prominence in a remarkable manner.
Then, as the vision is turned to the east, one may see the shadows
gradually, and, at the last, rapidly rise and shut off the peach glows, the
vermilions, the absolutely fiery lights, that often blaze in lingering
affection on the peaks they love so well to illumine. No two nights are the
effects the same. One can never grow weary of watching them. Sometimes the
tones are soft and tender. Again the vividness of the flaming colors is as
if the god of color were declaring his power, and demanding special homage.
From the soft tint of rose-ashes to the fiery red of a blinding sun, the
whole gamut of colors and effects is used. The afterglow is by many
considered more alluring than the sunset itself.
The Canyon Before Sunrise. An exquisite effect is seen by those who watch
the Canyon before sunrise. A soft flood of reddish purple fills the vault,
and rests in perfect harmony upon the great north wall. Little by little
the darker tints are subdued, every moment adding to the charm of the
changing effects, until suddenly the sun bursts over the horizon, floods
the plateaus with light, or casts dark and richly purple shadows, and this
sets wall and recess, mountain butte and deep abyss in startling contrasts.
Returning in Time for Trains. One thing should be noted about these rim or
trail trips. They are all planned so as to afford ample time for meals
before and after making them and also to insure the catching of trains. The
Fred Harvey system runs in harmony with the Santa Fe Railway system, so
that no matter how nervous the visitor, he may rest perfectly contented
that when he goes on any of these trips he will always be back "on time,"
both for meals and trains.
CHAPTER VI. How To Spend Two To Five Days At El Tovar
Suggestions for Two Days. Suppose the visitor to the Canyon arrives in the
morning on an early train and must leave the next night; how can he best
fill in his time?
In the morning of the first day he should take the popular drives to
Yavapai and Hopi Points, and the afternoon can be spent in driving out on
the Hermit Rim Road to the head of Hermit Trail, with a stop, returning, to
view the sunset from Hopi Point.
The second day can be well spent in going down Bright Angel Trail.
Suggestions for Three Days. If the visitor has three days at his disposal,
let him spend the first day on Hermit Rim Road; the second day he can drive
to Grand View and enjoy the eastern end of the Canyon. These trips will
give him a general outlook over the Canyon from all the salient near by
points on the rim, El Tovar, Yavapai and Grand View on the east, and
Maricopa, Hopi, Mohave and Pima west on Hermit Rim Road, and an extensive
panorama stretching many miles from the end of the road.
The next day the Bright Angel Trail trip may be made, and at the end of the
third day on returning from this trip, the traveler will be able to assert
with truthfulness that he has gained a reasonably comprehensive view of
Suggestions for Four or Five Days. If one can spend four or five days, and
wishes to fill every hour with travel and sightseeing, he can take one or
all of the day's experiences already suggested.
To the Boucher Trail. Then let him plan either to ride a saddle animal or
be driven to the head of the Boucher Trail (about six thousand five hundred
feet elevation) through the forest to the west, by Rowe's Well, a distance
of ten miles. This trip can be made in about two hours. If one has been
driven to this point, the harness is removed from the horses, saddles
substituted, and the descent of the trail begun.
Dripping Spring. It is a little over a mile to Dripping Spring, which is at
about five thousand four hundred and ninety-three feet elevation. The trail
descends easily at first through a beautiful wooded canyoncito, where it is
completely hidden and embowered in foliage. Then it winds its way down and
around the cherty limestone, to the top of the cross-bedded sandstone, down
which zigzags and steps lead one to the spring itself. This is located in a
picturesque spot. Picture a great, overhanging wall at the very bottom of
the cross-bedded sandstone, from twelve to fifty and more feet high, the
recess being perhaps thirty or forty feet back. From the rocks above, with
a drop of about fifteen feet, seeping through a green cluster of maidenhair
ferns, the pure water of the spring drips into a stone trough placed to
receive it. Day and night, winter and summer, fair weather or foul, it
seldom varies its quick, tinkling, merry drip, drip into the receptacle
below. Below the trough, a natural cavity in the rocks receives the
overflow, and here, within the pool and on its edges, aquatic and other
plants grow in profusion. By the side of this ever-flowing water, Louis
Boucher, the builder of the trail, has his simple home camp. Two tents,
placed end to end, rest against the wall, well protected from sun and rain,
though the morning's sun shines in freely. Below is a corral for horses,
mules and burros used on the trail.
Hermit Basin. Here, after lunch, one continues on his trail trip to the
river. For three miles the trail winds in and out of the recesses, on the
easily rolling ground of the plateau. There are no sharp descents. For
about half a mile the trail is in Dripping Spring Amphitheatre, an alcove
on the edge of Hermit Basin, so named by Louis P. Brown, a miner and
prospector, who, in the early eighties, made this basin his home while
engaged in prospecting operations in the Canyon.
As the plateau passes across the basin and out to the open Canyon, the
scene becomes more and more enlarged, until it is stupendous and vast
beyond description. Down on the right, Hermit Creek cuts its narrow path
deeper and deeper, until it reaches the red-wall limestone, where it makes
a narrow gorge, that, from the elevation of the plateau, seems more like a
mere slit in the rock than a gorge. Louis Boucher assures me that it is so
narrow and deep that he has seen stars from its recesses at midday, and I
record his statement in spite of the fact that eminent astronomers have
told me that such a sight is impossible. Anyhow, the effect of that
stupendous descent is such as to almost make the rider on the trail see
stars, though there is no danger to any one with ordinarily steady nerves.
Two miles out, one sees the continuation of one arm of the Bright Angel
fault in the shattered strata of the red sandstone, some masses of which
are toppled over at the base of Pima Point. It was this fault that made the
talus slopes, down which the Boucher Trail descends, and also the great
eroded recess of Hermit Basin.
Columbus Point. The nose of the plateau on which we have been traveling,
now directly under Yuma Point, is named Columbus Point, and from this spot,
where several noted American painters have made paintings destined to
become memorable, the outlook in three directions, east, west, and north,
forms one of the noblest of all the panoramas of the Canyon my eye has ever
rested upon. Shiva's Temple is almost directly opposite, as we look towards
the northeast. Stretches of the river are exposed east and west, where
raging rapids send up their roar to us. Overhead is a great castellated
structure, surmounted by a lesser building, with a round tower,
embattlements and all the architectural accompaniments of an elaborately
equipped castle of ancient Europe. An attempt to describe all the objects
seen in the heart of the Canyon is needless. Suffice it to say that the
panorama takes in every tower, temple, butte and structure, seen from Point
Sublime on the north side; or any of the points on the south side, from
Havasupai Point on the east, to Yavapai Point on the west; and includes
Wotan's Throne, Vishnu Temple, and the wall of the Little Colorado to the
On the Lower Trail to the River. The trail then winds under Yuma Point, and
zigzags down the thinner strata of the red sandstones on to the red-wall
limestones, where it affords more extended views on a lower plateau of
lesser area, the rocky butte on the end of which is named Bunker Hill
Monument. From this plateau another rapid descent is made through masses of
rock to the bed of Long (or Boucher) Creek, where, at the distance of about
a mile from the river, is located the lower camp. Here Boucher has planted
a garden of all kinds of vegetables, and with seventy-five trees, which
include oranges, figs, peaches, pears, apricots, apples, nectarines, and
pomegranates; he boasts of his melons, canteloupes, beets, onions,
tomatoes, chile, carrots, cucumbers, parsnips, etc., and I can vouch for
the sweet and refreshing qualities of his melons. Tomatoes, ripe and green,
covered his vines in January, and he has them throughout the year. It needs
no comment to explain how delightful fresh vegetables are, after one has
made this trail trip, especially if it should be in the hot summer months.
Good and comfortable beds and other camp accommodations are provided here,
so that a stop may be made over night. In the morning, the river is
visited, and the return trip accomplished in easy time for dinner. The
distance from rim to river has not been measured, but it is estimated to be
from eight to ten miles.
Boucher also has a copper mine, rich in mineral. He claims that it is a
continuation of the copper ledge of Bass's mine, and is possibly the same
deposit that continues east to the Canyon Copper Company's mine on the
The return trip can be made over various routes, including the ascent of
Bass or Bright Angel Trails, but a majority of visitors will wish to return
by way of Hermit Trail, across Hermit Basin from Boucher Trail. In that way
they will get the experience of using two trails with their different
outlooks and a journey across the plateau down in the Canyon, as well as a
drive back to El Tovar on Hermit Rim Road.
CHAPTER VII. How Fully To See And Know The Grand Canyon Region
Advantages of Camping Trips. The suggestions in this chapter are mainly for
the strenuous and strong, though this by no means excludes members of the
gentle sex. Many women and girls--some who have never before been on
horseback--have made these extended trips, even those that have required
weeks of rough camping. For detailed particulars of the scenery, those
interested are referred to the various chapters devoted to the respective
trails. The transportation department at El Tovar is under the control of
competent men, and is thoroughly well equipped to send visitors on
prolonged camping trips with everything needed for a week, a month, or six
months. It is merely a question of time and meeting the necessary expense.
On the occasion of my last visit to El Tovar, a small party of both sexes
was equipped and started out for a trip to last fully three weeks.
Reference to the chapter entitled "Across the Grand Canyon to Point
Sublime," mainly written as her diary by an elderly lady, will give the
ideas of a woman who had next to no previous experience of the hardships,
as well as the immediate enjoyments of such a trip. But no one can estimate
the continual source of delight and pleasure the memories of such a trip
are to those who have resolutely faced and overcome the merely temporary
discomforts entailed. The experiences with the burros, the surprises of the
scenery, the exquisite delight of the perfect rest and dreamless sleep one
enjoys, after the first few nights of novelty are worn off, the
satisfaction of seeing and knowing much of the most sublime piece of
natural scenery on earth, are compensations and satisfactions enough.
Down Bright Angel Trail. After one has gained the slight knowledge of the
Canyon afforded by the easier trips described, let him plan to make the
following as "a starter" in his more thorough investigation. With a good
guide, pack animals carrying a full equipment of sleeping, cooking and
eating necessities, plenty of water in canteens, one or two extra canvasses
in case of rain, a note-book, and pencils or fountain pen, a compass and
barometer for altitude readings, and the United States Geological Survey
maps of the region, one is ready to make a "good start." Descend the
Bright Angel Trail to the river, study the formations all the way down; get
a clear idea of the relative positions of the strata, and learn to detect
them by the individualistic appearances of wall, temple, butte, etc.; and
examine the so-called cliff-dwellings hidden away in the Tonto sandstones
before descending on the gneiss into Pipe Creek Canyon. Arrived at the
river, spend a day there investigating the peculiar foldings and tiltings
of the Algonkian strata. Sleep, as did Powell and his men for weeks, on the
sands of the Colorado River, with the noise of the rapids ever in your
ears. Breathe the pure air, and watch the solemn march of the stars.
Have you ever noticed how delicious the most ordinary food is, when cooked
and eaten in the open air, after a day of reasonable exertion? Climbing,
riding, and walking expand the lungs, and this means the absorption of
immeasurably more oxygen. Weak stomachs, fickle appetites, dyspeptic
symptoms, insomnia, blue devils and a score of the ills that human flesh is
heir to, disappear before the floods of sunshine and oxygen that bathe the
body, inside and out, of the man or woman who gladly accepts the outdoor
life, even though only for a short time, in this Canyon region.
These philosophizings are aroused by the smell of bacon frying over the
camp-fire, or the crack of a fine, mealy Arizona potato, roasting in the
ashes, or a whiff from the coffee-pot, just about to topple over on the
burning sticks. The fire is made of driftwood washed down possibly from
some storm-swept region where a Mormon dwells with his numerous family; or,
mayhap, from a forest where the elk of Wyoming still roam.
How real life in this Canyon now begins to be. It is opening up its secrets
to us as we thus come into it. We are learning to love it, therefore it
shows its heart to us. It no longer is a "thing" to be looked at; it is a
real something, an individuality to love, to listen to, to question, to
On the Tonto Trail. We are now ready to go over the old Tonto Trail the
trail made centuries ago by mountain sheep, small bands of which are still
to be found in the remoter corners of the Canyon--then followed by the
Indians, whose moccasined feet made less impression upon it than did the
hoofs of the sheep. And in the two or three decades just passed, a few
white men trod it. Perhaps Powell, or some of his men, or Stanton, walked
where we now walk, or ride, and surely some of those early mining
prospectors of the Canyon--Ashurst, McClure, Marshall, Hance, Boucher,
Berry, Brashear,--once went this way.
In and out of the recesses of the much carved walls, up and down the wavy
ridges of the plateaus, sometimes descending into deep side gorges, we
ride, our guide leading the way to the Grand View Trail, and our pack-mules
and burros following, while we occupy the rear of the procession. We stop
for noon lunch in one of the side canyons where is a spring of clear water.
We take off the packs from the animals, and let them nibble away at the
rich grama and gallinas grasses that flourish here after the summer rains.
Comfortable and contented after our meal, we lie on our backs under the
shelter of a juniper or a friendly cottonwood, or in the shade of an
immense block fallen from some cracked wall above. Already we are becoming
familiar with the strata, and can call each one by name. The red wall
limestone, we find, is known to the guides and miners as the "blue lime,"
owing to the fact that its capping stratum, where exposed, has a light blue
Cottonwood Creek and Horseshoe Mesa. In due time we reach Cottonwood Creek,
which flows down to the left (west) of Grand View Point. Here the plateau
opens out, but we leave it in order to follow the creek, on the Berry Trail
down to the river. Perhaps we spend the night here, and in the morning
ascend to the mesa on to the Tonto, then up the well-engineered trail to
Grand View Cave (see description in chapter on Grand View Trail). Sending
the pack animals on from here, we wait until some one descends from the
near-by Horseshoe Mesa, where the camp of the Canyon Copper Company is
located, with candles ready to conduct us through the wonders of this
natural excavation in the red-wall limestone. This occupies the whole of
our afternoon, so that when we reach the mesa, we are ready to partake of
the substantial and cheery fare of the Camp, and then unroll our blankets,
lie down, listen to the chat of the miners and guide, hear them recount
some of their thrilling and exciting experiences, enjoy their singing of
old-time melodies, with a peculiar western flavor to them, and then roll
over to dreamless sleep.
Copper Mines. Half a day can be well spent on the morrow in the mines, and
one is surprised to find here over half a mile of tunnels and shafts, with
workings on seven levels, and ore so rich that under usual conditions it
pays to mine, sort, pack on mules three miles or a little more to the rim,
place in wagons, haul some fifteen or twenty miles to Apex, load on railway
cars and ship--paying full freight, of course--about six hundred and eighty
miles to El Paso, Texas, where it is "milled," and the copper, silver and
gold extracted. These various processes are expensive. It costs to buy
grain in Flagstaff, or Phoenix, and pay freight on it to Apex, and then
haul it to the head of the trail, and thence to the stables on the plateau
near the mine. Hay, too, has to come just as far. Every pound of the
provisions used by the men has to be hauled in similar fashion over
railroad, wagon road and canyon trail. Every pick, shovel, piece of iron or
woodwork, every pound of powder, dynamite and fuse, every box of candles
has to pay toll in like fashion, before it can be used in the mine. So we
are not surprised to learn that the ore is rich, the first thousand tons
mined going as high as thirty percent in copper, with several ounces of
silver to the ton, and small but appreciable and valuable traces of gold.
(At the time of this writing, the mines are temporarily shut down.)
To the Old Hance Trail. The mouth of the mine enters the face of the cliff
to the east, and overlooks the trail down which we descend into Hance
Creek, where the old Hance Trail to the river used to be. It is an old
friend, for we have been down it more times than once, and can recall every
feature. We rest awhile here, in order to go down to the place where the
side canyon through which the creek flows "narrows up." We pass through,
and on the other side stand before the shattered Tonto sandstones that
Thomas Moran, years ago, named the Temple of Set, and even further on,
where we used to leave the horses and climb down a boulder, and up the face
of the cliff, and down the rope ladder over the archaean rocks--here a
crystalline mica schist--and so on, all the way to the river. So another
day passes, and we stretch out our blankets, and sleep on the very ledge on
which we bunked years and years ago, when we made our first descent and
camp in this canyon.
Red Canyon Trail. The next day we are ready to continue on to the west. We
climb out of Hance Canyon, and cross the ridge into Mineral Canyon, ascend
again, cross another ridge, and find ourselves in that wonderland of the
geologist, the Red Canyon Trail.
What do I mean by the Wonderland of the Geologist? Ask of these tilted
strata of red rock, that give the canyon its name, that the men wise in
rocks call the non-conformable Algonkian strata! Ask of the folds, or,
flexures, in the strata, which the untrained eye can readily discern!
The Algonkian. This is one of the spots that all geologists--from every
part of the civilized world--aim for. They know it is one of the rare
things of the known world, and they come here to see it. So make yourself
as wise as you can while you are here and have the chance. Read Dr.
Walcott's monograph from the fourteenth report of the United States
Geological Survey, Volume No. 2, entitled "Pre-Cambrian Igneous Rocks of
the Unkar Terrane." Then read Major Powell's luminous earlier descriptions
of these rocks in his "Explorations of the Colorado River of the West."
Learn from their own words what these geological masters say of these
wonderful five hundred feet thick remnants of twelve thousand feet of
strata that were once piled here above the archaean rocks. Imagine over two
miles of strata thrust up into the air, and then pay strict attention as
the scientists reason out their conclusions as to the how, why, where, and
whence of the eleven thousand five hundred feet of washed away strata.
Asbestos Mines. If your guide knows how to compass it, cross the river here
at the foot of the Red Canyon Trail, and visit the asbestos mines of the
Hance Asbestos Mining Company of New York. Try to comprehend what asbestos
is; how it is formed. See where it is located in these much burnt and much
If possible, go up and down the river, and see where the Inner Gorge--the
granite or gneiss--really begins. It is not so very far away.
Then, when you are ready, watch the guide adjust the much-lightened pack,
for the supply of "grub" is getting low; perhaps assist him swing the
packs on the packsaddle, put on the canvas covering and throw the "diamond
hitch," and then saddle your own horse--for by now you will have begun to
feel some confidence and pride in doing things that the "tenderfoot"
generally leaves to the guide--and soon you are climbing up the trail on
your way to the rim. As soon as you are on "top," you "push on" the pack
animals and "hit the trail hard" by way of Hance's Ranch, now owned by
Martin Buggel, to Grand View, and over the familiar road back to El Tovar.
Eastern Points. Or, before returning, one day or several more days can be
spent in visiting the salient promontories--Moran, Zuni, Papago, Pinal and
Lipan Points--and then descending the most eastern trail of the Grand
Canyon, known as the Tanner-French Trail.
Imagine the gain after such a trip. Count up the store of knowledge
acquired; the health, vim, vigor added to one's store; the capacity for
energetic life developed; the experiences accumulated; the hardships
laughed at and overcome; and then tell me whether any similar outlay of
cash elsewhere can produce equal benefits in results.
This is but one of many such trips which I will now briefly and succinctly
name, each one of which is different from every other one.
To Havasu Canyon. One, two, or three weeks (or more) can profitably be
spent in going westward (twenty-five miles) over the Topocobya Road to the
head of the Topocobya Trail into Havasu (Cataract) Canyon. This is a drive
of forty miles. Camp over night there, and then descend in the cool of the
morning down either arm of this stupendous cliff (see chapter on Havasu
Canyon) to Topocobya Spring, and on down the wash into Havasu Canyon,
fifteen miles or so to the Havasupai village.
Camp near, or in, one of the fields of the Indians, where good alfalfa can
be purchased for the animals and fresh vegetables and fruit (in season) for
one's own use. If you are not too squeamish to see aboriginal man in his
primitive dirt, study him in his home. Try to learn to look at things from
his standpoint. If possible, witness one of his dances--a religious
ceremony--and arrange to enter his primitive toholwoh or sweat-house, where
he will give you a most effective and powerful Russo-Turkish bath. Swim in
Havasu Creek to your heart's content, several times a day. Climb to the old
fort, where the Havasupais used to retire to defend themselves when pressed
too closely by their hereditary foes, the Apaches. Listen to the stones,
the legends, the myths about the stone figures your eye cannot fail to see
soon after you reach the village, which command the widest part of the
Canyon, where the Indians live, and which are called by them Hue-puk-eh-eh
and Hue-gli-i-wa. Get one of the storytellers to recite to you the deeds of
Tochopa, their good god, and Hokomata, their bad god, and ask them for the
wonderfully fascinating legend of the mother of their tribe--the daughter
of Tochopa, from whom the whole human race descended. Ask one of the old
men to tell you the stories of some of their conflicts with the Apaches,
and why Tochopa placed the Hue-gli-i-wa in so prominent and salient a
position. If you desire something of a different nature, engage some of the
younger men to get up a horse race. The wise and judicious expenditure of a
few dollars will generally produce the desired effect.
Then, when you are ready to travel again, get a Havasupai to guide you--no
one else can--up to the fascinating spring called Pack-a-tha-true-ye-ba, or
to some of their side canyons where cliff-dwellings, corn-storage houses
and pictographs abound.
Bridal Veil Falls. On your return, descend to Bridal Veil Falls, and see
where a capitalist spent many thousands of dollars in unnecessary work
because he had been deluded into the belief that platinum existed here.
Then forget men and their mad search for gold, and stand reverent before a
secret shrine of beauty incomparable--this exquisite fall in its majestic
setting. A day or more can be well spent here, and yet not exhaust the
delight of this one fall. There are four ways of approach to it from the
village above. Go over them all, as each has its own peculiar charm. Then
strike off down the Canyon to Mooney Falls, and hear the story, as you
cross and recross Havasu Creek, of the poor miner who was killed here and
from whom the fall obtains its name. And finally, follow the winding of the
pellucid stream until it is ejected through a narrow passageway into the
Cushing's Story of the Havasupais. On returning from the Havasupai village,
come out by the Wallapai Trail or ascend the steep cleft of the Hopi Trail.
Both ought to be seen and gone over, in order to know something of the
engineering skill of these Blue Water Indians. And if you can get hold of
it, read Frank Hamilton Cushing's delightful account (in Volume 50 of the
Atlantic Monthly) of his trip from Zuni and down the Hopi Trail to the
village you have just left. Also, if you care to read more ancient history
still, get Lieutenant Ives's fascinating report of his trip into this
Canyon (published by the War Department) and, even earlier still, the diary
of Padre Garces (see chapter on Garces), the man who camped with the
ancestors of these hospitable Indians, while Jefferson, Adams, Washington
and Hancock were defying the British and preparing to launch the
Declaration of Independence.
To Powell Plateau and Point Sublime. Another two or three weeks' delightful
experience can be gained by arranging to go down Bass's Trail, cross on his
cable ferry, go up the Shinumo Trail to Powell Plateau, watch the herds of
protected and preserved deer and antelope, look longingly upon the
succulent and delicious pine-hens that live upon pinion nuts and roost in
the branches of the pine trees of the Kaibab forest, and pleasantly saunter
along out to Point Sublime. The guide will point out to you--or he is no
guide--the spot where in 1873 Thomas Moran sat with Major Powell, and
afterwards painted the memorable canvas of the Grand Canyon which now hangs
in the Capitol at Washington. Sleep out on Point Sublime and remember
Dutton, whose beautifully polished descriptions of the Canyon, written
here, have thrilled thousands of civilized and cultured people. Then push
on west to the Greenland Spring, over Walhalla Plateau to Naji Point,
whence you can look down into Chuar Creek, where Dr. Walcott, with three
Mormons, spent a snowy winter studying the Algonkian strata.
An Adventurous Trip. Or, better still, if you are ready for whatever
adventure may befall on a seldom used trail, descend Dr. Walcott's old
trail to the river, and there build a raft (it is perfectly feasible and
not too dangerous, unless the river be at the flood) and cross to the other
side, letting your horses swim over. Then come out by way of the Tanner
Trail, after riding up and down the wide beach and sandy stretches of this
part of the Canyon as far north and east as the Little Colorado.
Indeed you may walk up the boxed-in canyon of this side gorge--where few
white men have trod--on your return.
Qver the Desert to Hopiland. A fascinating trip, not however connected with
the Canyon, is suggested in the chapter on "An Historical Trail across the
Grand Canyon Country." Arrange to go in mid-August, even though it be hot
weather, if you have grown a little toughened, for then you will reach
Hopiland at the time of the Snake Dance, which thrilling ceremony I have
briefly, but truthfully, described in a special chapter.
Many such trips can be planned for those who really wish them, and he who
is wise enough to take them will probably improve in health, gain a
wonderful knowledge of one of the most fascinating regions of the earth,
and fill the memory with treasures that nothing can destroy.
CHAPTER VIII. From El Tovar Down The Bright Angel Trail
The Start. Leaving El Tovar promptly at 8:30 A. M., fortified with a good
breakfast, and suitably clothed, the trail party in a few minutes reaches
the head of Bright Angel Trail near Bright Angel Camp. For three-quarters
of a mile this trail descends, zigzagging back and forth until the top of
the cross-bedded sandstone is reached.
Faulting in the Sandstones. Here the visitor should not fail to observe the
faulting in the sandstone, there being a difference in the two sides of
about two hundred feet. Without this fault there would have been no trail,
for to the lifting up, or dropping down of the strata, is due their
shattered condition, which alone makes trail-building possible. When about
a mile down, the separation line between the cross-bedded sandstone and the
upper red sandstone is clearly revealed to the left of the trail.
By this time all timidity has vanished, and you implicitly trust both mule
and trail, even when going around that narrow ledge known as Cape Horn.
Now, immediately before us, the majestic pile known as the Battleship
presents itself with new power. The ship itself is composed of the red
sandstone. The base upon which it rests is the red-wall limestone.
A few feet further, and the cross-bedded sandstone may be seen far below on
the right, out of plumb with the same mass on the left, to which it
belongs, clearly showing that some convulsion of nature has either thrust
the mass on the left up, or forced the mass on the right down.
From this spot a fine view is had of the red-wall limestone below and the
Indian Garden; and, far below, at the end of Pipe Creek, the peculiar
folding of the Algonkian strata. This folding is also to be seen on the
other side of the river in the same rocks.
Trees, Flowers and Birds. While descending the first mile of trail, one
sees plenty of flowers and shrubs, and many Douglas spruces. These do not
exist on the rim, and, strange to say, the pines which abound there are
never found on the trail. One will generally hear the sweet descending
"pipe" of the canyon wren, and the harsh scolding of the blue-winged pinion
jay. Hawks, owls, mocking-birds and robins are often seen. Butterflies,
moths, and humming-birds wing their way to and fro and give a delicate
touch of life to the stern rocky features. Time was when the visitor at El
Tovar who went down the trail to the river might have seen mountain sheep,
bear, deer, antelopes and coyotes.
Jacob's Ladder. When the "blue lime"--the top of the red-wall limestone--is
reached, one may study a fine piece of real canyon trail-making, locally
called Jacob's Ladder. Here steps have been cut in the slippery and solid
rocks, in some places built up with timbers, and thus made perfectly safe.
It is customary for everybody to dismount here, so as to lighten the load.
The well-trained saddle mules of El Tovar stables go up and down this part
of the trail without hesitation.
Red-Wall Limestone. Standing on the summit of the red-wall limestone, we
are again forcefully reminded that it is the most prominent member of the
Grand Canyon strata. Its insistent mass is a thousand feet in thickness.
The face of this wall, close before us, is carved into numerous alcoves,
and as we near its base, we observe to the right a vast double-cornered
recess known as Angel Alcove. From here it is interesting to look up to the
rim and observe the peculiar and varied contour of the many pinnacles cut
by wind and storm out of the cherty limestone.
Buddha and Manu Temples. From this point, also, the first good view, from
Back to Full Books