Torroweap: The Ultimate Grand Canyon Experience

There’s nothing quite like a long drive through beautiful country. There’s especially nothing like ending that drive abruptly. Before you go over the cliff. But the real treat is an unspoiled view of the Grand Canyon. The way it should be. Fenceless and people-free.

Everyone knows about the Grand Canyon. Unfortunately, the Grand Canyon everyone knows is, for the most part, the South Rim, and to a lesser extent the North Rim, because they are easy to get to. The press of people (thousands of them if you head to the South Rim) threatens to help you over the edge, your only safety the guardrails. Luckily, there’s another Grand Canyon, further north and west of the area known as the North Rim. And at this Grand Canyon, you can fall over the edge if you step wrong or get too close to the edge. No fences to keep you from becoming just another part of the scenery.

Torroweap is the deepest section of the Grand Canyon. I approached it by traveling from Kanab, UT down US 89. The road takes you across the Arizona border and into Fredonia. Keep an eye out for AZ 389 and head west. Watch even more carefully for County 109. This has lately been labeled “Torroweap Road” in addition to County 109. I was crammed into the cab of an old pickup with other twentysomethings. We were singing to a tape (old pickup – no CD player) as we bounced (slowly) down County 109. It’s all dirt, with some of the bright red rocks sticking up. Anything lower to the ground, and we were likely to lose something important off the vehicle, like the oil pan. Cars are not recommended for this road.

Finally, though, after more than an hour, and after coming around a bend, we knew we had to stop. We were at the end of the line. Much further and we would meet an exciting end thousands of feet below in the Colorado River. That high up, though, the water looks calm and green rather than a torrent of whitewater. I only found this out after creeping to the edge of the canyon on all fours. There is almost no sign that humans ever come to Torroweap. Greg sat down with his feet dangling over the edge. He began blowing bubbles while kicking his feet like a little kid in a high chair.

I got up a little more courage and began poking around, walking around the edge and looking for trails. We discovered an outcropping of rocks out over the canyon. To get there, however, required a bit of jumping. A break about four feet wide separated the outcropping from where we were. And down that crack�a quick ticket to the bottom. One after the other, Greg, Tom and Rod jumped the fissure and then looked at me expectantly. Smarting from the humiliation of laying on my stomach to peer over the edge, I gathered myself (with a show of bravado) and made the leap.

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