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Trip Log:

  • 09:45am - Arrive at Lee’s Ferry and pay for the permit
  • 10:02am - Reach the parking lot
  • 10:06am - Look at the historic houses and boat wreckage
  • 10:15am - Start to hike Spencer Trail
  • 11:45pm - Summit and hang out
  • 01:12am - Start to hike back
  • 02:24pm - Back to the trailhead
  • 02:57pm - Start to hike Lower Cathedral Wash
  • 03:56pm - Reach the back of Colorado river
  • 04:10pm - Start to hike backs
  • 04:52pm - Back to the parking

We began to understand why Utah and Arizona are a photographer’s dream. It is a land of contrasts and wonders. Driving along the highway without a destination is like visiting a gallery where audacious sculptures and carvings are being displayed.

But today we did have an destination: Spencer Trail, located within Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (entrance fee required). At the trailhead there are historic houses and an informational displays about the founding of Lee’s Ferry.

This 4.4 mile out-and-back trail is categorized as difficult on the official website. It is not hard to imagine how tough it would be during summer because the trail is fully exposed. You will not find a single tree during the ascent. As we embarked on the trail during winter, we actually appreciated the warmth from the sun as the morning desert temperature was low.

The trail provides a stunning view of the meandering Colorado River with the Vermillion Canyon walls as background.

But don’t get too distracted by the view, because there are narrow, steep and even slippery sections on this trail!

At the end of the trail is a vast plateau formed with Kayenta and Navajo sandstone.

We walked to the edge of the cliffs and sat down to gnosh on some snacks while enjoying the canyon and river view.

There is a sign close to the start/end of Spencer Trail.

Trying to make full use of the day, after finishing Spencer Trail, we drove to the nearby trailhead of Cathedral Wash. This trail is divided into Upper and Lower sections. We only had enough time to hike the lower one, which ends at the bank of Colorado River.

Contrast to Spencer Trail which is fully exposed to the sun, this jaunt through Lower Cathedral Wash is mostly in the shade due to its special geological composition. It resembles cracked puff pastries. We were tiny ants who were marching along the open cracks in the pastries and climbing down numerous puff layers until reaching the bottom.

It was fun to explore the quiet labyrinth-like wash in the daytime, kicking tumbleweeds like balls or shouting to hear the echo of our voices.

But we wouldn’t choose to be there at night. With the afternoon sunshine fading, it looked more and more like a perfect setting for horror movies.

Luckily we did make our way out before it was totally dark! It took less than 2 hours out and back.