Arizona Strip: Desolation and Beauty

A lot of people, including people who live in Arizona, think Arizona ends at the Grand Canyon.  Anything further north must be Utah.  After all, there aren’t any towns of any size up there.  But every day Tom and I talk to people who are amazed at the beauty and desolation of the Arizona Strip.

The Arizona Strip is the piece of land north of the Grand Canyon and South of Utah.  The strip is bounded by the Colorado River and Utah.  Although the strip is about the size of Massachusetts, only 8,000 people here.  The largest town in the Arizona Strip is Colorado City, just south of the Utah border.  Most of the people who live in Colorado City are members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (still practice polygamy) and stay isolated from the rest of the people who live in the strip.

Tom and I came to the Arizona Strip because we are working at Pipe Spring National Monument for the summer.  The closest town to us is Fredonia, Arizona which has a gas station and a Dollar Store.  For grocery shopping or to go to a restaurant or drug store, we drive to Kanab, Utah, about 30 miles away.  Cell service is almost non-existent, although the campground where we stay has good WiFi.

Although we feel very isolated in the Arizona Strip, the area makes up for it in beauty and places to explore.  At Pipe Spring we are surrounded by the Kaibab Paiute reservation.  The reservation, in turn, is surrounded by federal land:  Bureau of Land Management and National Forest.  People who are traveling from Zion to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon (or vice versa) travel through the strip in order to get there.  Zion is an hour north and the Grand Canyon is an hour south.

The most predominant feature of the Arizona Strip is the Vermillion Cliffs, administered by the BLM.  Although the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument hugs the Colorado River, the cliffs run all along the strip.  A geologic fault thrust the Navajo Sandstone up along this area.  So you can see the cliffs from Lees Ferry to Hurricane, Utah.  Most of the road are dirt or rock and require a jeep.  Tom and I have been on a couple of them, and decided we would rent a jeep in Kanab before exploring more of them.  Because so much of the area is federal land, you can hike anywhere once you are off the reservation.

Tom and I look forward to exploring this beautiful and desolate area through the summer.  We will let you know what we find as we live in this remote outpost in the southwest.