Marble Canyon is a tiny populated place in Coconino County, Arizona, on US Route 89A, about 12 miles southwest of Page. It is a short distance from Lee’s Ferry, once one of the few places where travelers could cross the Colorado River and today a popular tourist spot. Marble Canyon got its name for its colorful purple rocks and cliffs.
1.Vermillion Cliffs Scenic Highway
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If you are driving along the Arizona Strip towards the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, between Fredonia and Bitter Springs, you will be driving along one of the most beautiful roads in the world: The 104-mile drive Fredonia-Vermilion Cliffs Scenic Road. Massive purple sandstone cliffs rise almost vertically from deep vermillion canyons dropping into the abyss, surrounded by vast open spaces, a landscape that could belong to some other planet, mysterious, magnificent, and breathtakingly beautiful. The drive will take you across the ancient Kaibab National Forest, and you will cross the fascinating turn of the 20th century Navajo Bridge, where the Colorado River carves out Marble Canyon below. If you look up, you might spot the endangered California condor with its bald, orange head and massive wings cruising through the sky. The road ends at the Grand Canyon, but don’t be in a rush to arrive; drive slowly and enjoy this magical place.
Highway 89A, Marble Canyon, Arizona
2.Carl Hayden Visitor Center at Glen Canyon Dam
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High on top of the huge Glen Canyon Dam, about 110 feet above its highest point, is the Carl Hayden Visitor Center, a magnificent modernistic structure with a curved wall of glass overlooking Lake Powell. The visitors center was built to provide information about the dam to the thousands of visitors who come every year to see this incredible feat of engineering, surrounded by the majesty of nature. The center offers a range of wonderful exhibits and tells the story about the challenges of building the dam through dioramas, photographs, and a wonderful relief map of the whole area – the dam, Lake Powell, and the surrounding wilderness. The Glen Canyon Natural History Association, a non-profit educational organization, together with the Bureau of Reclamation organizes 45-minute guided tours through Glen Canyon Dam.
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, US-89, Lake Powell, AZ 84533, Phone: 928-608-6072
3.Old Cliff Dwellers Lodge (Blanche Russell Rock House)
© Old Cliff Dwellers Lodge (Blanche Russell Rock House)
About a 10-minute drive from the Navajo Bridge's pedestrian walkway over the Colorado River and 9 miles from Marble Canyon is Old Cliff Dwellers Lodge. Today a rustic lodge for tired travelers, this beautifully restored 1920s stone and timber structure was originally built as a trading post for those who were first attracted by the magical vermillion cliffs and endless blue skies. Today, the lodge offers charming cabins with pine walls but also TVs, coffeemakers, and private bathrooms. There is also a restaurant that offers barbecue or sandwiches in front of a cozy fireplace or outside on a spacious patio overlooking the desert. Old Cliff Dwellers Loge is listed as a National Historic Site in Marble Canyon.
Mile Post 547 N Hwy 89A, Marble Canyon, AZ 86036, Phone: 928-355-2261
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Located about two hours from Flagstaff, Arizona, just below Glen Canyon Dam and stretching from this part of the Colorado River to its confluence with the Little Colorado River, is Marble Canyon. Together with Lee’s Ferry, Marble Canyon, with its magnificent purple and almost vertical cliffs, marks the start of the western end of the Grand Canyon. Just a preview of the incredible beauty that will come downriver, Marble Canyon and Lee’s Ferry are the popular starting point for river adventures along the Grand Canyon. The Navajo Bridge, where US Highway 89A crosses the Colorado River, is a great spot to see the majesty of Marble Canyon.
Marble Canyon, AZ 86036
5.Northern Arizona Guide Service
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The cool, clear waters of the Colorado River at Lee’s Ferry are known for some world-class trout fishing. To have a truly magical fishing experience, you should entrust all the details to the Northern Arizona Guide Service and Mike Roth. Mike fell in love with the purple canyons full of trophy rainbow trout in 1982 and started sharing his passion with other anglers in 1987. Lee’s Ferry is known as a world-class rainbow trout fishery, which also includes the occasional brown trout. The fishing is excellent year around, with the spawn that starts in late December and lasts until the end of April. The guide service offers 8 hours of fishing, both fly-fishing and spin-casting trips. They provide all flies and spin-fishing rods and tackle and rent out fly rods and waders to those clients who do not bring their own.
1 Honeymoon Trail Rd, Marble Canyon, AZ 86036, Phone: 928-719-1048
6.Lees Ferry Anglers
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Lees Ferry Anglers are the largest fly fishing outfitter and the oldest fly-fishing shop at the head of the Grand Canyon. If you have always dreamed of learning how to fly-fish, there is no better place to learn than at the side of one of the experienced Lees Ferry Anglers guides. They are also there for you if you want to refresh your skills or bring them to a new level. If you book a day trip with Lees Ferry guides, you will get hands-on experience on every aspect of fishing, and, best of all, you will actually catch some fish. The guides will teach you about safety, knots, rigging, casting, flies, equipment, entomology, and drifting. You will also learn how to fight, land, and handle fish safely.
Mp 547 North U.S. Hwy 89A, Marble Canyon, AZ 86036, Phone: 928-355-2261
7.Kayak the Colorado
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There are many ways of going down the mighty Colorado River and enjoying the purple canyons and majestic cliffs. What kind of vessel you will use depends on your skills and choice, but whatever you want to do, Kayak the Colorado will find the right equipment for you. They have a large choice of kayaks, canoes, fishing boats, and stand-up paddleboards. They also organize guided fishing trips on the Colorado River and offer a haul service for your boat to the dam. An inflatable kayak or ducky is the best choice if you want to make sure you are always afloat. Paddleboards are great for paddling upstream and enjoying the view of the Navajo sandstone painted walls. Motorboats are good for fishing, but you have to launch them yourself. There is something for everyone.
Lodge Loop Rd, Marble Canyon, AZ 86036, Phone: 928-640-6206
8.Cathedral Wash Trail
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Cathedral Wash Trail is one of the most popular trails in the area for those who want to enjoy Colorado Canyon up close and personal. Cathedral Wash is a short and incredibly scenic slot canyon, the shortest of the tributaries to the Marble Canyon. The trail to Cathedral Wash starts about 1.3 miles from Navajo Bridge, on the road to Lee's Ferry. At the beginning, Cathedral Wash starts as a shallow sandy arroyo but as you walk downstream, the walls of the canyon rise steeply and dramatically above. As you keep going, the wash changes into a true slot canyon, with almost vertical walls and spectacular geology. It is a moderately easy hike, with a few ledges that call for some scrambling. The trail eventually opens up at the clear, blue Colorado River in majestic Marble Canyon.
Lees Ferry Rd, Marble Canyon, AZ 86036
9.Kelly Outfitters at Lees Ferry
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A resident of Marble Canyon for many years, Steve Kelly knows where the best fishing is. He runs Kelly Outfitters at Lees Ferry, offering fishing trips and adventures in this magical purple canyon full of trout. Steve particularly enjoys helping inexperienced anglers learn the art of fly-fishing. He takes his clients fishing from Lee’s Ferry, atop the Grand Canyon, deep into Marble Canyon, probably one of the most wonderful experiences for any angler, especially if they manage to catch one of the trophy trout. Marble Canyon is an incredibly beautiful spot, with crystal-clear water and steep sandstone cliffs that rise up to 1,000 feet. Let Kelly Outfitters take care of all details while you enjoy the scenery and great fishing.
PO Box 6128, Marble Canyon, AZ 86036, Phone: 602-510-5511
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Tatahatso Point is the spot from which you can see spectacular views of Point Hansbrough, one of the largest and most scenic meanders of the Colorado River in north-central Arizona. Bigger and more dramatic than the much more popular Horseshoe Bend located a few miles north, Tatahatso Point is not easy to get to. About 80 miles north of Sedona, on Highway 89, you will reach the small town of Gap. Only about a 20-minute drive along the Indian Route 6110 will take you along a dirt road to Tatahatso Point, at the edge of the cliff that is buffeted by incredibly strong winds, with the whole Colorado Canyon stretching out ahead of you. Another way to see this point is while rafting down the river, but it is not as dramatic as from the edge of the cliff.
Coconino County, Marble Canyon, Arizona
11.Lee’s Ferry on the Fly
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Lee’s Ferry on the Fly specializes in organizing fly-fishing and light tackle trout fishing trips from Lee’s Ferry on the Colorado River. Run by Dave Foster and Dave Trimble, this reputable fishing outfitter has been taking trout fishermen down Marble Canyon since 2015. Anglers of all skill levels are welcome. The two Daves promise a fantastic adventure on the clear, cool waters of the Colorado River, in one of the most magnificent fishing spots in the world – the Grand Canyon. You will be able to see ancient Navajo sandstone cliffs from their Koffler jet boat while waiting for the fish to bite. They provide fuel, lunch, fly rods, and about 8 hours of pure fishing pleasure.
Hwy 89 A, Across From Marble Canyon Lodge, Marble Canyon, AZ 86036, Phone: 928-522-4124
12.The Cliff Dwellers Restaurant
© The Cliff Dwellers Restaurant
Just 9 miles from Marble Canyon, the Cliff Dwellers Restaurant is located in the iconic Cliff Dwellers’ Lodge, a beautifully restored 1920s stone and timber building, once a trading post for the early settlers. Located only 9 miles from Marble Canyon, the Cliff Dwellers Restaurant is a favorite eating spot for the locals as well as visiting fishermen. You can eat outside on the fully covered patio with spectacular views of the colorful cliffs. If the weather does not cooperate, grab a table by a warm fire in the old stone fireplace while still enjoying the views. The restaurant offers great hearty breakfast, gourmet sandwiches, wraps, burgers, steaks, barbecue, and salads. No alcohol is served, but there are plenty of juices, sodas, coffee, and tea.
Mile Post 547 N Hwy 89A, Marble Canyon, AZ 86036, Phone: 928-355-2261
13.Outdoors Unlimited Grand Canyon Rafting
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Rafting the Grand Canyon is on the bucket list of any whitewater enthusiast. Dangerous, difficult, and challenging, it is ultimately satisfying. All you need are some experienced guides from Outdoor Unlimited Grand Canyon Rafting, who make this adventure their life’s work. They have been outfitting and guiding visitors since 1969, and they are highly trained, completely familiar with the river and its quirks, and sensitive to the delicate ecology of this unique world. The trips start at Lee’s Ferry, Arizona, and the Full Canyon Rafting Trips will take 13 to 15 days to Lake Mead, but can be cut shorter at Phantom Ranch for a 5 to 6-day trip or a 8 to 10-day Lower Canyon Trip. There are also options that include spring wildflower and fall hiking side trips.
6900 Townsend-Winona Rd, Flagstaff, AZ 86004, Phone: 800-637-7238
14.Marble Canyon Lodge
© Marble Canyon Lodge
Marble Canyon Lodge is a rustic Old West-style lodge located about 5 miles from the Lee's Ferry and Lonely Dell Ranch historic district and a short walk to the Navajo Bridge over the Colorado River. The comfortable rooms have charming Southwestern decor, antique-style furnishings, and benches conveniently placed under a covered walkway. The private apartments can sleep up to six people and have cable TV, kitchens, and private balconies or decks. Guests enjoy an on-site restaurant with complimentary breakfast, a bar/lounge, a coffee shop, a lazy river, a business center, and a conference center. There is also a gas station, a trading post, and an airstrip.
U.S. Hwy 89 A, Marble Canyon, AZ 86036, Phone: 928-355-2225
15.Lees Ferry Lodge Restaurant
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Lees Ferry Lodge at Vermilion Cliffs offers comfortable, modern lodging for visitors to scenic northern Arizona and the Grand Canyon. Their restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The dining room is pleasant and comfortable and the outside veranda is a popular spot for a snack or a drink while enjoying the views. The menu is hearty and diverse, with steaks, lamb chops, chicken, ribs, burgers, and a number of vegetarian dishes. They have a nice wine selection, but are famous for their incredible collection of 75 beers from all over the world. It is a wonderful spot to relax and enjoy a warm, pleasant meal and a drink after a day of exploring the canyon or fishing on the river.
N Hwy 89A, Marble Canyon, AZ 86036-9702, Phone: 928-355-2231
15 Best Things to Do in Marble Canyon, Arizona
- Vermillion Cliffs Scenic Highway, Photo: Courtesy of SNEHIT - Fotolia.com
- Carl Hayden Visitor Center at Glen Canyon Dam, Photo: Courtesy of vadimgouida - Fotolia.com
- Old Cliff Dwellers Lodge (Blanche Russell Rock House), Photo: Old Cliff Dwellers Lodge (Blanche Russell Rock House)
- Marble Canyon, Photo: Courtesy of imageBROKER - Fotolia.com
- Northern Arizona Guide Service, Photo: Courtesy of Travel Stock - Fotolia.com
- Lees Ferry Anglers, Photo: Courtesy of Ray Redstone - Fotolia.com
- Kayak the Colorado, Photo: Courtesy of vetal1983 - Fotolia.com
- Cathedral Wash Trail, Photo: Courtesy of jon manjeot - Fotolia.com
- Kelly Outfitters at Lees Ferry, Photo: Courtesy of Ray Redstone - Fotolia.com
- Tatahatso Point, Photo: Courtesy of Masahiro - Fotolia.com
- Lee’s Ferry on the Fly, Photo: Courtesy of Colby - Fotolia.com
- The Cliff Dwellers Restaurant, Photo: The Cliff Dwellers Restaurant
- Outdoors Unlimited Grand Canyon Rafting, Photo: Courtesy of photolifepnw - Fotolia.com
- Marble Canyon Lodge, Photo: Marble Canyon Lodge
- Lees Ferry Lodge Restaurant, Photo: Courtesy of lcrribeiro33@gmail - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of PETER LAKOMY - Fotolia.com