September 30, 2008
I was looking for a more casual hike one day, and had a fun idea – to explore aimlessly through the woods. I chose the area west of Grand Canyon Village, west of Maswick Lodge to do this, in the vicinity of the Rowe Well Road.
My intent was to go at will, and to some extent try to get lost in the woods. Once I’d seen enough, I figured I could follow my compass north to the rim of the Canyon, or south to the road to regain my bearings.
The premise worked. I had a fun day out there.
My first discovery was the most exciting – this old car on its roof!
It was a short distance off of the Rowe Well road. I revisited the car numerous times since this first discovery, and I’m sorry to say it has deteriorated rapidly in the following years. Fire crews have done a lot of prescribed burning in the area since then, and it seems some of the hard metal pieces were hauled out, too.
I found an old trash dump nearby, with a lot of fun items:
Near the trash dump there was a condemned building that looked like it was at least a few decades old. It was surrounded by a modern, sturdy barbed wire fence, presumably placed by the Park Service.
Further inquiry revealed that it was an old water treatment plant.
This dirt road on the maps is called Ponderosa Run. It connects Rowe Well to the Hermit Road at the Abyss Overlook. The concessionaire for a short time did mule rides that utilized this secluded road to reach the rim of the Canyon.
I had no idea at the time what this “Escape Route” tag was for (it seemed rather ominous to me), but I’ve since learned it’s a marker for wildland firefighters, presumably during prescribed burn operations.
Once I grew weary I simply turned south and located the Horsethief Road (the Waldron TH approach) as intended.
The Rowe Well Road (and its vicinity) generally prove to be interesting for a Grand Canyon aficionado. The road runs along the fault line that geographically allows for the Bright Angel and North Kaibab Trails. The railroad line heading south from the village consequently lies parallel to it.
Along the road you’ll pass the Supai Camp (a miniature sort of native reservation within the park), and the Kennels (basically the South Rim Village’s dog pound). Eventually you’ll reach the Forest Road 328, from which you can go to east to Tusayan or west to the Havasupai mainland near the South Bass TH and Great Thumb.
Reclaimed wastewater occasionally flows along the fault, attracting all manner of wildlife including deer, elk, peccary, and feral horses nowadays. Cattle from the forest find their way to the area, too. One of the few wild bobcat sightings of my life was out here.
Finally, a Grand Canyon coworker once claimed to have seen a popular creature of Navajo superstition out here, dressed in animal hides.
see more photos from this day: