Grand Wash Cliffs -Grand Canyon

“I’d like to sleep with you in the desert tonight, with a billion stars all around.”
Eagles 1972

I had the pleasure of spending five days in the Grand Wash Hook area of the Grand Canyon, assisting the National Park Service with an archeological survey. Grand Wash Hook is at the far Western end of the Grand Canyon, an area that I had not yet explored. Getting there involved a two hour back road drive from Kingman. Our camp was set up like a River trip camp, but in a Joshua tree forest. The meals served were close to gourmet. Early evenings were spent discussing the Canyon around a campfire with beer or favorite libation in hand. Temperatures got down to the teens. It was a little chilly in the old bag. One evening, strong winds blew my tent over with me in it.
The days were spent hiking and searching for parts and pieces constructed by those that came before us. We also were looking for desert tortoises and their burrows. Day time temperatures were in the high fifties and quite pleasant.

Apocalypse Now

Our camp was close to the flight pattern of the 80+ daily helicopter flights that bring tourists from Las Vegas to the view at Quartermaster Canyon. It is a splendid view. A great representation of the Canyon. I hiked down as close to the river as I could get.
The helicopters land on a pad on Hualapai Indian land and the tourists have a lunch of barbecue beef at the modest Hualapai facility. There is also a small gift shop. Cost of a trip from Las Vegas is about $275
We witnessed several helicopters flying much too low and barely clearing the Grand Wash Cliffs.
According to the recently published book “Death in the Canyon,” these flights are piloted by low paid and thus inexperienced pilots. In addition, many aircraft are not equipped with the proper power necessary to negotiate the Canyon.
A helicopter crashed late last year and took six lives. The only survivor lost her husband, child and her leg. Apparently the Canyon down drafts require a high level of skill and experience to navigate the complex environment.
Limiting the flights over the Canyon has been a controversial issue. In certain areas of the canyon the noise pollution is horrible. Grand Canyon air tours is a big business with a lot of money involved. This will not be an easy battle.


We found a plethora of roasting pits and a dense concentration of potsherds in numerous areas. We also found a dense concentration of post archaic assemblages. (Arrow heads, chips, spear heads, stones used as tools etc.
We did not sight any desert tortoises but did find and record numerous burrows.
Each area was mapped and data was collected. This was an interesting process and afforded me the opportunity to learn a lot about archeology.
Wildlife sightings included a herd of pronghorn antelopes, coyotes, mule deer, and rabbits.

No comments: