We left Grand Canyon through the East Entrance Station and headed up Highway 89 towards Kanab in Southwest Utah. Not too far along the road we came to the Navajo Nation Gorge. The band has a huge craft market in the parking lot during the summer, but since it was still early spring there were only a few vendors set up. The walk along the gorge was hair-raising: a very uneven and rugged trail right along the edge of a VERY LONG drop. If you look closely at the photo above you can just make out the muddy water of the Colorado River cutting through the gorge. Layers, and layers, and layers of cut-away rock. Whatever you do, do not go past the railings along the path. It is a long, long way down.I wondered quite often during those days at the Grand Canyon, and again at the Navajo Gorge, “What on earth did the first scouts think when they encountered these massive slices in the earth?” It must have been very daunting to try find a way around them in such a dry and barren land.
Highway 89 North takes you through the Painted Desert, a section of very aptly named hills and bluffs. Multi-layer ribbons of colour in rock. Totally cool! After crossing the Colorado, the road climbed the Vermilion Cliffs We were driving along, and came around a corner and off to the side of the road was a huge wide space where lived “The Cliff Dwellers.” Some of these massive boulders are the size of a tiny house. We pulled over at an historical marker commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Domínguez–Escalante expedition, which was a Spanish journey of exploration conducted by two Franciscan priests, Atanasio Domínguez and Silvestre Vélez de Escalante (for whom Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is named), to find an overland route from Santa Fe, New Mexico to their Roman Catholic mission in Monterey, on the coast of northern California. Domínguez, Vélez de Escalante, and Bernardo de Miera y Pacheco, acting as the expedition’s cartographer, traveled with ten men from Santa Fe through many unexplored portions of the American West, including present-day western Colorado, Utah, and northern Arizona.
We spent the night in Kanab, just outside the boundary of Zion National Park.