Our Vantage Points
Grand Canyon North Rim
Part Two


Mount Hayden
W hen you step from your car at Point Imperial, the first feature you're likely to notice is Mount Hayden.   It's a vivid orange mountain rising from the canyon with a stone "monument" mounted smack dab on its peak.   Hayden rules the colorful empire of Point Imperial.


Woolsey Butte
Looking northward from Point Imperial we see a profound barrier.   And indeed just behind this "wall" and Woolsey Butte is a major east-west border of Grand Canyon National Park.   This is not, however, the most northerly point of the park.   A narrow corridor of the park, beginning 7 miles east of here, follows the Colorado River upstream 40 miles to Lee's Ferry, that historic crossing place of the Colorado River.

The scenes here at Point Imperial are in a slightly different class from those at the well worn overlooks of Cape Royal, Bright Angel Point and those along the south rim.   Point Imperial overlooks the remote north end of the Grand Canyon, somewhat isolated from the popular canyon area.

For one thing these canyon shoulders are more thoroughly covered with evergreen foliage than even those in The Transept side-canyon just eleven miles southwest of here.   This probably indicates a slight difference in climate.   The elevation is about the same.   Maybe its simply that the weather travels here from highland to canyon.   It's pretty much the opposite over at The Transept.


A Cozy Green Canyon on the south side of orange Mount Hayden.
Heading south through the Kaibab Forest from Point Imperial, we stopped at three major overlooks along the way to Cape Royal.   The first is Vista Encantata 7 miles south of Imperial.   Here we found Brady Peak, a "mountain" in the canyon very reminiscent of Mount Hayden, complete with bright orange Hermit Shale on its ridge and A Coconino Sandstone "monument" on top.  


Vista Encantata
Enhanced by pine and fir
Brady seems to have a longer ridge than Hayden, but then we were not able to get a good broadside view of Hayden.   Brady has an elevation of 8107 feet, just 265 feet lower than Hayden.   I thought it interesting that these "mountains" were so similar, yet out of sight of each other.

We offered Appy a chance to take in the sights and maybe let her learn about the trees of the area.   It was very difficult to get her interested in reading the material in this interpretive kiosk.   Maybe she knows all about it and finds it boring.   I have to admit that she is very informed about sticks and chipmunks and about excavating for critters.   Or maybe she's just dreaming of home and getting out of this leash.   But for a dog that likes to run like a deer, the Grand Canyon presents some serious hazards.



The map will remind you that we are now on a peninsula jutting about 9 miles into the Grand Canyon to virtually the center of the canyon.   This is the Walhalla Plateau.

After a stop at Roosevelt Point we continued on to Walhalla Overlook, a fascinating place 16 miles south of Point Imperial.

Here, looking southeast, we are treated to a clear view of the Colorado River as it makes a wide turn around the Unkar Delta.   Unkar Creek, flowing from the Walhalla Plateau, contributes water to the Colorado River and sand to the flat delta area.   It's 5-1/2 miles southeast and almost 1 mile lower than Walhalla Overlook!

The Unkar Delta Area
Viewed from Walhalla Overlook: Desert View overlook on the south rim is directly above the left edge of the delta.

For about 350 years, beginning about A.D.   850, the Unkar Delta was occupied by pueblo people ancestors.   It was an ideal location, particularly in winter.   It's much warmer deep in the canyon at 3000 feet above sea level.   Indeed, it's beastly hot during summer.   Fortunately, archeological evidence here on the plateau at Walhalla Glades suggests that, these people moved up the creek to live on the plateau during summers.   Just imagine!   ...a family of people pretty much isolated in this fabulous place for 28 generations.   What would that be like?  Let's Hopi they were mostly content with each other.

Note the current location of the creek bed across the left side of the delta.   If you return to the previous photo, Unkar Creek can be seen in the lower center of the photo as a light tan horizontal line.   From this distance the water is not visible in its rocky creek bed.


Now somehow Mary got her mitts on the camera and pointed it at an old geezer gazing blankly over the view of Unkar Delta.   She mumbled something like: "...to prove that you were here."   But when I saw the picture it was obvious that the gazing geezer was someone really old.   My best guess is that he was one of those pre-Puebloan guys pondering the good old days on the delta.

Just one more mile puts us at the end of the road and the parking lot for Cape Royal.   From here a mile walk takes us to the main overlook at Cape Royal.   The trail is hard-surfaced and mostly level, suitable for wheel chairs.

Along the way we stop for a couple of views of Angels Window, a huge rock with a window and miniature people walking on top.   In the lower left corner of the first view we clearly see the snow-capped 12,000 foot Mount Humphreys, 56 miles away near Flagstaff, Arizona.
Then by positioning ourselves at just the right spot, we can look through the Angels Window to see a relatively calm pool on the Colorado River just above (left of) Unkar Delta.   The sage-covered beach area looks like a relaxing place to hang out with the rattlesnakes.

Through Angel's Window
The Colorado River, 80 twisted miles from Lee's Ferry




A Different Angle than the Angel's Angle
This time that placid pool on the river is placed in a grand perspective from the Cape Royal Overlook.


Wotan's Throne
Located just below the brow of Cape Royal.



Vishnu Temple with Mount Humphreys in the Background

The placard at the tip of Cape Royal identifies 5 topographical features including Vishnu Temple and Wotan's Throne shown above.   Then it describes how Clarence Dutton, a geologist working at the Grand Canyon in the 1880's had a personal interest in so called "Eastern Philosophy." Many of the names were eminent figures in the literature he was reading, so names like Vishnu and Wotan were used.   This naming practice was called "heroic nomenclature." And because Dutton thought some of these topographical features resembled temples of Eastern religions, names like Brahma Temple, Buddha Temple and Zoroaster Temple were applied.

Francois Matthes, as part of the U.S.   Geological Survey continued this practice from 1902-1923.   And because this naming process was used early on, most of the more prominent features carry the names that some of us believe represent the hopeless religions of the world.

But we can also note that other topographical features carry names and themes derived from Judeo-Christian scripture, names such as, The Tabernacle and Solomon Temple.   Not only that, Angels Gate, Angel's Window and Bright Angel are used on the most enjoyed features in the Park.   Certainly Bright Angel Point, Bright Angel Creek and Bright Angel Canyon, et al are carried in the very key features.   These come from the religions of hope.



An In-depth View Westward from Cape Royal
Zoroaster and Brahma Temple.   These can also be seen from Bright Angel Point.


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