US Roadtrip 2017 - 10: Coyotes howling at night (50 p.)

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Proud Earthling

To the previous part of the series:
US Roadtrip 2017 - 9: Canyons and Potholes (50 p.)

The video for this series (please set to 1080p quality / full-screen mode):


Multimedia slideshow:

February 23 2017

We spent the night at the "Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon" in Tusayan. Our room looked towards the forest, during the night we suddenly heard coyotes howling in the vicinity and were surprised by a fresh layer of snow next morning.

The parts of the road in the shade still were quite slippery.

We headed to the Grand Canyon visitor center and parked at a fittingly named spot.

Near Mather Point we reached the trail along the southern rim - and started a day of monumental experiences.
Here an iPhone-panorama: dimensions can hardly be grasped by a human - the canyon is one mile deep, 18 miles wide and up to 277 river miles long. From spots like these the Colorado River cannot even be seen in the central gorge.

Everywhere dozens of new perspectives emerge.

Weather was sunny, an arctic wind made it properly chilly, however. We were prepared and properly clothed, but some families had their children walking around in shorts and bitterly complaining.

View towards the slightly higher northern rim which is closed to visitors in winter.

View of Mather Point.

At least this idiot's footprints returned.

Morning shadow-selfie at Mather Point in an unusual moment of solitude.

Right as we left the tourist groups arrived.

A rock squirrel looking down at the Grand Canyon.

Larger animals also could be found: a herd of wild elks stoically grazed throughout the village. Once we had to stop on the road for these unusual pedestrians.

Over punctually at 11:30 a.m. (scheduled arrival 11:45) the pair of Grand Canyon Railway F40PHR engines thundered up the grade into the station immediately accessing the track triangle.

Classic dome and observation cars - notice the elks!

More photo opportunities in the snow-covered landscape featuring untainted animal tracks as the train pushed back.

It came to a halt already in the correct position for afternoon departure. Mules can be rented for treks down the canyon.

At this spot the railroad is closest to the canyon - but the departing train would hardly be visible, probably behind cars queueing at the grade crossing.

At noon, we drove on east following Route 64, a short side road led to Grandview Point.

There is always more to explore: as last spot, we stopped at the Desert View. In the north snow showers were passing by, while we stayed in the sun on the southern rim.

The observation tower has been constructed as an ancient illusion.

Finally, you can follow the Colorado River in the valley.

A last view of the fascinating structures...

We continued our roadtrip east. On the way, we met someone who thought this was an acceptable way to park ;-):

We entered the Navajo Nation Reservation - the largest in the U.S. - which we would be driving through the whole afternoon. The confluence of Little Colorado River is an especially holy place - on the way we spotted a graffiti calling for its protection. Turning off Route 64 you can find this viewpoint at the canyon edge.

For a short bit we followed the 89 north, then took 160 towards Tuba City.

Before reaching Kayenta, we drove along the tracks of the Black Mesa and Lake Powell Railroad, a 78-mile-long electric coal line isolated from the national network. We did not get a glimpse of any rolling stock, but currently one train is supposed to do three round trips per day. Navajo Generating Station it serves, however, is supposed to close in 2019.
More info:

From Kayenta we drove the last miles of the day on the 163 to...

... Monument Valley! Also a Navajo holy site.

In February you were only allowed to access the rough park road before 5 p.m., so we had to postpone further exploration until next morning. I took a few photos in beautiful light but ice cold wind - here both Mittens and Merrick Butte.

We checked into "Goulding's Lodge" and took up quarters at a room featuring this view.

Burger with corn bread at the "Stagecoach Dining Room".

During dinner, we enjoyed a view of the last light fading on the rock formations.

In the evening, I experimented with time exposures from the balcony - but even in the desert light pollution turned night into day.

More monumental sights next time - for whom this part did not feature enough! :)

Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
Good photos. I once spent a night in Kayenta during a big summer thunder storm. Very spooky the way lightning periodically lit up nearby rock formations. I can understand why the area is sacred to the Navajo.

Your comment about the tourists showing at the Grand Canyon in shorts is funny. The elevation of the south rim is over 7,000 ft., so of course it is going to be cold in winter. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section. - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.