So rather than face the hordes traveling north to view the Solar Eclipse, we decided to head in the exact opposite direction: Tuweep Campground & Toroweap Overlook, located at the North-West side of Grand Canyon National Park.
Tuweep (a Paiute word for “the earth”) is an isolated wilderness experience: uncrowded, rustic, and extremely remote. It includes 60+ miles of unpaved, washboard-rutted, tire ripping, gut-shuffling primitive roads across the Arizona Strip in order to reach this (little-known) entrance to the North Rim. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon may be remote, but the Tuweep section of the Grand Canyon is 2.5 hours from -any- kind of civilization! And services… HA! Services are non-existent: there is no water, gas, food, lodging, or phone service.
The Tuweep Campground may be a primitive campsite on a rocky plateau half a mile from the canyon rim. However, this stunning setting is full of visual lushness with a vast horizon of colorful cliffs visible in all directions, slickrock that flourishes with desert vegetation, and critters of the cottontail and jack-rabbit varieties, as well as a plethora of chatty corvids, and even a condor (from a great distance away)!
It was at the Tuweep Campsite were we decided to watch the Solar Eclipse, before heading to Toroweap Overlook (a Paiute term meaning “dry or barren valley”, strictly refers to the valley and the overlook). This overlook is located not too far from the campsite; easy walking distance for most; however, with 60+ lbs of camera gear, we decided to take Junior instead. While the first 60 miles were bad, the last mile was insane. *laughs* The road not only significantly narrows, but was strewn with patches of exposed, sharp rock, as well as sharp gradients. Obviously, one needs to have excellent skills at negotiating challenging and demanding roadways! Considering I’ve never been bouldering with a vehicle like this before; it was truly an experience!
Toroweap Overlook was overwhelming in its expansiveness and staggering in its height. The drop from the top of Toroweap Overlook to the sun-glinted-yet-muddy Colorado River is a whopping 3,000 feet (880 m)…
It was more than just a little slightly unsettling (for me) to stand at the very edge, and gaze into the chasm below, especially for someone who’s learning to desperately get over their fear of heights… this one was a doozy!
The nausea-inducing heights aside, the sheer drop from Toroweap allows for truly spectacular views, both up and down canyon. Down Canyon (down-stream), one can see those of the inner gorge, and up canyon (up-stream), the canyon rims is covered in a variety of cinder cones and surrounded by unusual volcanic rocks. In fact, on the drive back out, I counted 16 collapsed volcanoes!
Pictured above: “2017 Solar Eclipse” by ArgoShots by Jason