After spending the first several days of our southwest vacation in colorful Colorado, the Centennial State, the next leg of our journey took us to a more remote location in Arizona called Marble Canyon. Marble Canyon feels like it is out in the middle of nowhere and from the fellow travelers we ran into, that was exactly the way they wanted it. Cliff Dwellers Lodge is one of about 3 small hotels, or lodges as they are called in these parts, located just 9 miles west of Lees Ferry and the Navajo Bridge where US Highway 89A crosses the Colorado River.

Cliff Dwellers sits right at the foothills of the Vermilion Cliffs looming behind and Echo Cliffs before. There is nowhere your eyes can see for 360 degrees that you will not have breathtakingly beautiful views of red Navajo sandstone cliffs. Throughout the day, from dawn to dusk, the sun and shadows play across the marble like cliffs creating a variety of colorful effects.

It is at the juncture of this part of the Colorado River that the Grand Canyon officially starts. This makes Cliff Dwellers Lodge an excellent location to take a day trip out to the north rim of the Grand Canyon. In an approximately 2 hour drive from the lodge you can begin hiking the north rim. The north side is spectacular and as one fellow traveler we met along the way encouraged us to go see it because – “There’s only one North Rim.” He was right and we are so glad we took his advice and made the trek out past Jacob’s Lake across the Kaibab plateau.

On your way to the north part of the canyon you will have more incredible views as you climb to the 8,000 foot elevation up Kaibab Mountain. Make sure you stop at the scenic overlook featuring the Vermilion Cliffs and the vast green plain below. This is a condor release location, so get your binoculars out and see if you might spot one of these rare raptors. Though with a 9 foot wing span you may not need the binoculars at all.

Getting back to the lodge we stayed at, it is also an excellent location to venture out to Lees Ferry where there is a National Park ranger station and campground. It is the only place in 700 miles where a traveler can drive right up to the Colorado River. Lees Ferry is where Colorado River Discovery rafting trip ends their journey and takes out (look for an upcoming post). At Lee’s Ferry is the original Navajo Bridge, an engineering marvel for it’s time, which spans the Colorado River. Since the new bridge was built, the original bridge spanning the Colorado River was decommissioned but is open for pedestrian traffic only, so bring your camera!

Navajo Bridges, Old and New, Over The Colorado River

It is pretty obvious that Cliff Dwellers Lodge is in an ideal location to make your vacation base for enjoying many of Northeastern Arizona’s finest natural geological formations – cliffs, canyons, plateaus, meadows, mesas and buttes not to mention the wild flora and fauna that abounds in these remote parts of Arizona. There is also an amazing amount of American history to take in, especially American Indian history and culture.

Cliff Dwellers boasts a friendly staff that works to accommodate your preferences and needs. When we checked in we discovered that another room had a more preferential view for our tastes and the host on duty very willingly accommodated us and let us switch rooms. We preferred the rooms with the front porch facing the Echo cliffs. While staying at Cliff Dwellers you will want to take advantage of the dark night sky. On a clear night you can see the constellations spanning horizon to horizon something you will never see near any moderately sized city. Can you say billions and billions of stars?

Of course the most popular reason many people stay at this remote lodge is for the outstanding trout fishing. If you are coming to Marble Canyon, Lee Ferry Anglers at Cliff Dwellers Lodge is the place to make your home base for however long you might be in the area – In less than 10 years Terry and Wendy Gunn have grown their business into the largest fishing guide service in the US.

Cliff Dwellers is a down home place to make your vacation base while touring the southwest. Whether you plan to¬† hike, raft, fish, or take pictures, the proprietors will do all they can to make your stay a comfortable one. Don’t expect lots of amenities – this is back country lodging. But do expect really good food at the semi famous restaurant and friendly people who make you feel right at home whether you are traveling through or staying a while.


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