View the current weather for the Toroweap/Tuweep area.
The View from Toroweap Overlook3000 vertical feet (880m) above the Colorado River, is breathtaking; the sheer drop, dramatic! The volcanic features, cinder cones, and lava flows make this viewpoint unique in Grand Canyon National Park.
Pipe Spring National Monument (http://www.nps.gov/pisp) and the St. George Interagency Visitor Center (BLM Field Office) provide information, maps, and permits for visiting the Tuweep/Toroweap and western Grand Canyon areas of Grand Canyon National Park.
The area is reached from Arizona Highway 389 near Fredonia or Colorado City, Arizona, or from St. George, Utah. Allow two to three hours travel time from the highway to the overlook. The last three miles to Toroweap Overlook are across a rough rocky surface. A high-clearance vehicle is required. Twenty-two feet (6.7 meters) is the maximum vehicle length. Do not rely on GPS for navigation.
Twenty-five percent of visitors receive at least one flat tire. You may need tire plugs and a portable air compressor to address multiple flat tires. Ensure you have enough fuel and appropriate tires. Confirm you have a full size spare tire, jack/lift, and an owner’s manual. A tow, if available, costs $1,000 to $2,000. Assistance is not guaranteed on any route; be prepared to spend the night (carry water, food, and warm clothing).
Grand Canyon National Park Regulations
Tuweep Campground (Primitive)
Camping is ONLY allowed in Tuweep Campground. There are 9 primitive first-come first-serve sites for 1 to 6 people. A MAXIMUM of 2 vehicles is allowed. ONE campsite is allowed per group travelling/congregating together. There is no fee.
Picnic tables, fire grates, and composting toilets are provided. Collecting firewood and kindling is strictly prohibited. Bring your own fire materials and water. Put fires out ONLY with water. Due to mice and ravens, all food and garbage must be stored in a vehicle. Occupation of multiple campsites is prohibited. MAXIMUM vehicle length is 22 FEET/6.7 METERS.
The campground fills daily in the spring and fall. When Tuweep Campground is full, beautiful campsites are available off County Road 5. From Tuweep Campground, return approximately 13mi/21km north and turn left onto the road leading to Mt. Trumbull. Multiple primitive campsites are scattered off both sides of the road.
There is one PERMIT REQUIRED campsite in Tuweep Campground for groups of 7 to 11 people. A MAXIMUM of 4 vehicles is allowed. The group site may be reserved, free of charge, up to four months in advance submit an email request here. Please include the following in your email: name, address, phone, license plate, date(s) you are interested in, and organization name. (if applicable)
Tuweep’s hiking trails are marked with cairns (piles of rocks). Shade and water are scarce; heat exhaustion is possible. Don’t bust the crust--stay on the trails! Each footstep off trail may destroy fragile biological soil crusts. Without biological soil crusts, erosion and wind-blown sand occur. All trails are CLOSED to PETS, BICYCLES, and VEHICLES.
1. Tuckup Trail: The Tuckup Trail is 6mi/10km long (out and back) following an old two-track road. This is the best trail to experience the spectacle of red rock sand-stone and beauty of the unique Toroweap area geology. The trailhead is located just north of Tuweep Campground or can be accessed from campsite 10.
2. Saddle Horse Canyon (Loop) Trail: The Saddle Horse Canyon Trail is a gorgeous 45 minute loop walk with two access points. This trail is accessed from a trailhead between Toroweap Overlook and Tuweep Campground or from a trailhead near campsite 5. The trail offers a spectacular view of the Colorado River.
Looking for a trail to the river? Please visit the Whitmore Trail, a moderate 4mi/6.5km long (out and back) hike, located at Whitmore Overlook (2.5 hour drive from Tuweep). Whitmore Overlook is accessed from the Main Street Route and requires high clearance.
Contains the map and essential information from this web page.
Backcountry Camping/Overnight Use Permits Required
Permits are required for backcountry camping or overnight use (except at Tuweep Campground) and can be obtained at Pipe Spring National Monument (www.nps.gov/pisp), the St. George Interagency Visitor Center (BLM Field Office), or from Grand Canyon National Park's Backcountry Information Center. You may email the Backcountry Information Center for further information or call (928) 638-7875, 1 to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday, AZ Std. Time.
The geologic history of the Tuweep area is similar to the rest of Grand Canyon, but includes a more recent chapter of volcanism. The Toroweap Fault underlies the valley, crosses the Colorado River, and continues south up Prospect Canyon. Volcanic activity began along this fault around seven million years ago. Over time, lava issued from more than 60 vents. Beginning about 1.2 million years ago, lava flowed into Toroweap Valley, forming the flat-bottomed valley we see today. Vulcan’s Throne, Mount Trumbull and the Uinkaret Mountains are all the result of volcanic activity.
More than a dozen times, lava spilled over the canyon rim, damming the Colorado River. Remnants of these flows and dams are visible just west of the overlook. Sediments clinging to the canyon walls high above the river indicate the formation of large lakes. The river eroded the lava dams and continued its downward cutting. It is now 50ft/15m deeper than the base of the dams. Despite its name, Lava Falls Rapid was formed from debris washed down Prospect Canyon, not from remains of the lava flows.
It is less than one mile across the canyon to the Hualapai Indian Reservation on the South Rim, making this one of the narrowest and deepest segments of the inner canyon. The colorful red-rock of the Hermit Shale and Supai sandstones to the east contrasts with the black, basaltic lava flows to the west.
Geology of the Tuweep Area Bulletin
(2 pages 102kb PDF file)
Tuweep sits at an elevation of 4500ft /1400m on a landform known as the Esplanade which forms a flat shelf situated about halfway between the coniferous forests of the North Rim and the hot canyon bottom. This is a high desert area with mild winters and light snows. Summers are hot with thunderstorms from July to September.
In Toroweap Valley a chaparral community exists with juniper and pinyon pines, sagebrush and saltbush, Mormon tea and other woody shrubs, and various grasses. Near the Esplanade, succulent cacti, yucca, and agave predominate. In years of abundant winter moisture, wildflowers proliferate. Some life forms, like the crusty black biological soil crust, are rare and sensitive. Please avoid stepping on these fragile living organisms!
Wildlife includes coyotes, mule deer, jackrabbits, rodents, and numerous species of birds and reptiles. An often-overlooked and little-understood biotic community exists seasonally in the slick-rock potholes on the Esplanade. Fairy and horseshoe shrimp, tiny frogs, and microscopic organisms emerge from the muddy bottom when moisture fills these pools.
Julie Russell, NPS
Toroweap, a Paiute term meaning "dry or barren valley," refers to local features, including the valley and the overlook. Tuweep came into use to describe the local white settlement and later the park area. Tuweep in Paiute (pronounced Tu-VEEP) refers to "the earth”.
The first humans in the Tuweep region were ice-age hunters who lived a nomadic hunting-gathering existence in what was a milder climate. The Ancestral Puebloans, arriving about 2000 years ago, farmed in this area. They migrated eastward around A.D.1300. The most recent native Americans living here were the Paiute. They now live to the north.
John Wesley Powell, led by a Paiute guide, visited Tuweep in 1870. He mapped and named many of the local features. More recently, European-Americans ranched, mined, and settled in the area. While ranchers used this valley seasonally in the early 1900s, the first year-round homestead was the Lower Kent Ranch, built in 1927, located just north of the park. Other pioneers in the region included the Schmutz, Cunningham, Craig, and Bundy families. Henry Covington herded sheep and mined on the Esplanade for over 20 years. There are still many sites that speak of his determination to live and prosper in this arid region.
Did You Know?
Each year, thousands of hikers enter the Grand Canyon on the Bright Angel Trail. They follow a route established by prehistoric people for two key reasons: water and access. Water emerges from springs at Indian Garden, and a fault creates a break in the cliffs, providing access to the springs.