Iceland geyser

Story and photos by Larry Turner
  “Please stop, Pete,” I said. “I want to get out and walk from here.” We had just driven sixty-plus miles of dirt road to the edge of paradise, the last three miles especially challenging, even for the 4-wheel drive pickup of friend Pete Smit. We were on the edge of the Grand Canyon at Toroweap, an entry explored by few. The spectacular North Rim of the Grand Canyon gets only 10 percent of the tourists compared to the South Rim, and I suppose Toroweap visits would be measured as just a minuscule grain of sand when all visits are considered for this Natural Wonder.

With camera in hand and a bottle of water in my back-pocket, I slipped out while Pete and our new friend Samantha (Sam) Cullinane continued to the designated parking area. A red flowering cactus first caught my attention. After photographing it, I worked my way to the canyon’s edge. I knew that my first view of this magnificent chasm would be awesome, but I wasn’t prepared for ‘beyond awesome.’ It literally took my breath away, and nearly made me dizzy as I peered 3,000 feet below and caught my first glimpse of the mighty Colorado River.
  Grand Canyon  
My heart and spirit soared with that first glimpse, and I had it all to myself without other tourists around. I spent nearly an hour photographing the grandeur before meeting back up with Sam and Pete. Both echoed what I felt. “Our hearts started pounding uncontrollably when we first peered into the canyon,” gasped Sam. “We nearly had to get on our stomachs to view the sudden dramatic earthly gash between canyon walls. My knees were trembling.”

  Toroweap, Grand Canyon   Toroweap, Grand Canyon  
  Toroweap, Grand Canyon   Toroweap, Grand Canyon  
  Toroweap, Grand Canyon   Toroweap, Grand Canyon  
  Toroweap, Grand Canyon   Toroweap, Grand Canyon  
Sam pointed out where they had gone to get a view of the world’s most famous rapids—Lava Falls—a class 10 rated on the Grand Canyon Colorado River scale. In the summer of 2019, Pete and I had spent two weeks rafting more than 200 miles through the Grand Canyon, including through the memorable Lava Falls Rapid. Arizona Raft Adventures ( were our guides. Once, as a private party, Pete (a college roommate and lifelong friend) captained a raft through the Grand Canyon. The Toroweap view of the Canyon was a first for all of us. Sam was especially tickled as it had been on her bucket list since moving to Kanab with husband Patty two years ago.

  Toroweap, Grand Canyon   Toroweap, Grand Canyon   Toroweap, Grand Canyon   Toroweap, Grand Canyon  
Toroweap is a Paiute word meaning dry or barren valley. It is accessed via a gravel dirt road off Arizona Highway 389 between Fredonia and Colorado City. There is a lovely campground near the canyon called Tuweep ( that requires reservations and is run by the National Park Service. I made a mental note to reserve a camp spot for several days and make a future return to explore the Toroweap view more vigorously and thoroughly. A note of caution: if you attempt to take this trip, make sure that your vehicle is in tip-top shape for the undertaking, because if you break down, expect to fork out $1,000 for towing fees.

Kanab: The Center for Adventuring

  Kanab campers   Kanab downtown   Kanab lodge  
  Kanab Dan Haggerty sign   Kanab Ronald Reagan sign   Kanab Omar Sharif sign   Kanab Dick Jones sign   Kanab Tom Mix sign  

Kanab, Utah, is clearly the hub for exploring this fascinating country of Southern Utah and Northern Arizona. Pete and I went there to visit my youngest sister Brenda Turner Walden who was managing the well-known Rocking V Cafe. Pete parked his trailer and I my camper at her place, trekking from there. She introduced us to Sam (an author and Ted Talk presenter) who accompanied us on several adventures from Kanab.

Kanab advertises itself as Magically Unspoiled ( It is a simple town of wide streets, surrounded by red rock, with plenty of lodging accommodations and restaurants worthy of patronage. Back in its heyday, it was known as ‘Little Hollywood’ with an impressive resume of more than 300 movies and TV shows filmed in and around Kanab. A good place to check out the film history is the Little Hollywood Museum ( Historical plaques with photographs of famous stars and their Kanab stories are on display throughout downtown Kanab. The famous celebrities often stayed at the historic Parry Lodge.

Within easy adventuring distance from Kanab are five national monuments, three national parks, two national forests and the renowned Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Kanab has a plethora of guides and outfitters for exploring these areas. Our guides were two local friends: Sam and Ron. Famous explorer John Wesley Powell had his headquarters in Kanab when he explored and mapped the Grand Canyon.

Adventures from Kanab

  Adventures from Kanab, Utah   Adventures from Kanab, Utah  
  Adventures from Kanab, Utah   Adventures from Kanab, Utah  
  Adventures from Kanab, Utah   Adventures from Kanab, Utah  
  Adventures from Kanab, Utah   Adventures from Kanab, Utah  
  Adventures from Kanab, Utah   Adventures from Kanab, Utah  
  Adventures from Kanab, Utah   Adventures from Kanab, Utah  
  Adventures from Kanab, Utah   Adventures from Kanab, Utah   Adventures from Kanab, Utah   Adventures from Kanab, Utah  
Our first adventure was on ATVs owned by Ron and Sam. Sister Brenda and niece Katie (Brenda’s oldest daughter) also joined us. Sam’s deluxe Razor—a Mercedes Benz or Cadillac ATV, if you will—took four of us. Pete was the driver. Sam and Katie took turns riding on Ron’s two-seater. We had a wild and woolly day exploring Hog Canyon, Peekaboo Trail and Barracks Ridge, giving us great views of Zion National Park in the distance, Diana’s Throne, and splendorous views of Kanab from above. We drove over rock trails that a sure-footed horse would find too challenging. A few times, the trail was downright scary. Once, Brenda and I disembarked, while Pete and Katie did a take three, and finally on the third try surmounted the formidable rock formations.

The following day, Pete, Sam and I journeyed to Bryce Canyon National Park, stopping en route to hike a secret slot canyon outside Orderville, Utah. The town was named such because in the 1800s, Mormon LDS President Brigham Young established an experimental order of communal living in this location. It lasted 20 years.

Bryce Canyon is a must-see for adventure travelers. There is nothing quite like it anywhere on the planet with a variety of multi-red and -white colored hoodoos in a giant amphitheater of red rock. There is a great trail system for exploring these 12 huge bowls of sedimentary rock. The Paiute Indians describe the hoodoos as ‘red rocks standing like the men they were before Coyote punished them.’ One of the formations goes by the name Five Naked Guys in the Shower. Well, just use your imagination on that one!

Driving to Bryce, we passed through Mt. Carmel where the Maynard Dixon Home and Studio is located. The great landscape painter became known as the Father of Western Art. Because of covid-19, the home and studio were closed to the public, but I placed it on my must-see list for the future, as I’ve always admired his work. I have a large coffee table book of his paintings which I treasure.

Not to be missed when staying in Kanab is the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary (, a no-kill facility (the first of its kind in the United States) for companion animals that gives refuge to more than 1,700 of these creatures every day. Established in 1984, the Sanctuary now encompasses nearly 400 acres.

White Pocket

  The Wave hike ticket lottery   White Pocket Grand Canyon condor viewing sign  
  White Pocket Grand Canyon condor wingspread sign   White Pocket sign  
  White Pocket   White Pocket,  Grand Canyon  
  White Pocket, Grand Canyon   White Pocket, Grand Canyon  
  White Pocket, Grand Canyon   White Pocket, Grand Canyon  
The Wave was a place relatively unknown except to locals, ardent explorers and ‘desert rats’ until Microsoft Windows 7 launched it as their desktop wallpaper in 2009. It is now known as one of the Holy Grails of Hikes. In fewer than 15 years, it has become so popular that a lottery is held every morning - Monday through Friday - in Kanab’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Visitor Center for those wanting to visit. It is a geological sandstone masterpiece of swirling rocks, but because of its fragility, only 20 visitors are allowed in each day (10 via an online draw and 10 via a live draw). Pete and I showed up one morning and placed our names in, along with more than 100 others. No luck—we decided not to try again.

However, Sam and Patty mentioned that they prefer a place called White Pocket. “We like it even better because it is larger, more stunning, and it requires no permit,” exclaimed Patty one evening over dinner at their place. A few days later, we made the trek to White Pocket over challenging dirt, gravel and sandy tormented roads. It was worth it though. Well worth it! I’ll let my photos do the talking!

En route, we also stopped at the Condor Viewing Site and for the first time in my life, I was able to view these magnificent birds in flight and in repose.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Paria Toadstool Hoodoos

  Glen Canyon fish in hand   Glen Canyon four hikers   Glen Canyon hike Glen Canyon spire with top  
  Glen Canyon caught fish in air   Glen Canyon fishing boat  
  Glen Canyon mountain behind river   Glan Canyon river i-turn  
  Glen Canyon river scene   Glen Canyon hiking group  
  Glen Canyon river basin   Glen Canyon riverbank  
  Glen Canyon colors   Glen Canyon shady scene  
  Glen Canyon river rapids  

Brenda’s friend Joe Porto from Ashland, Oregon, had booked a striped bass fishing trip on Lake Powell, Arizona, for the two of them. He had another two open spots so Pete and I said yes. We made arrangements to stay two nights at the wonderful Lake Powell Resort, Wahweap, outside Page. En route, Sam guided us to a new slot canyon beside Highway 89, along with a hike into the enthralling Paria Toadstool Hoodoos. Next, we made a visit to famous Horseshoe Bend near Page where the Colorado River makes a 270-degree curve around a sandstone pillar. There we saw the biggest crowd of tourists that we had seen since the beginning of our respective journeys, but this geologic wonder is worth sharing with others.

Lake Powell has a mind-boggling 2,000 miles of shoreline and 90 major canyons accessed only by watercraft. Our four-to-five-hour fishing excursion from Antelope Marina was very productive with ample striped bass caught. The scenery was amazing and our captain, 26-year-old Danny, was overflowing with knowledge about the lake and landscape. That evening, we had a scrumptious dinner at the resort’s Rainbow Room Restaurant while enjoying evocative views of Lake Powell.

The following day, I wrote in my dairy: ‘Our morning view is enchanting from the veranda. Pete and I are having coffee, looking out to a flat, calm Lake Powell, framed by an eroded landscape of ancient limestone, creating fascinating pillars, columns, dinosaur-like desert mountains, framed by plateaus. Red, a variety of browns, sandstone, white and tints of green color the rock. Lake Powell is aqua green and blue. Our second-story room affords a perfect view of the landscape. We have died and gone to heaven once again on this old and new Earth.

  Larry Turner is a regional, national and international photographer/writer. His work has appeared in countless magazines and books, including National Geographic Traveler, Travel and Leisure, and Sunset. He is the co-author of the book Mount Shasta Reflections, and his photographs have appeared on many covers. He is an active skier, gardener, fly fisherman,  and adventurer.   Larry Turner