• View of Grand Canyon National Park at sunset from the South Rim

    Grand Canyon

    National Park Arizona

There are park alerts in effect.
hide Alerts »
  • Dry and Warmer from Today into Early Next Week

    Monsoonal weather patterns have moved into the Grand Canyon area decreasing fire danger. As a result, on Tuesday, July 8 at 8 a.m. fire managers lifted fire restrictions within Grand Canyon National Park. More »

  • Two Bats Collected in the Park Have Tested Positive for Rabies

    One on the North Kaibab Trail and the other at Tusayan Ruin/Museum. Rabies can be prevented if appropriate medical care is given following an exposure. Any persons having physical contact with bats in Grand Canyon National Park, please follow this link. More »

Tuweep

View the current weather for the Toroweap/Tuweep area.
 
view of colorado river from tuweep

View upriver from Toroweap Overlook.

The View from Toroweap Overlook

3000 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.


A visit to Tuweep, a road accessible primitive area, can be very rewarding; however, access is challenging and demands skill at negotiating difficult roadways.

The National Park Service preserves the area for its uncrowded, rustic, and remote experience. This experience is dominated by nature and solitude. The number of visitors is limited at peak times of the year. Groups should have no more than four vehicles in their party.

 
Improvements are minimal and services are non-existent. There is no water, gas, lodging, or food. There is NO telephone or cell coverage at Tuweep.
 
Pipe Spring National Monument and the St. George Public Lands Information Center provide information, maps, and permits for visiting the Tuweep 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.

    • Sunshine Route (County Road #109), the primary access route, leaves Highway 389 8mi/13km west of Fredonia (6mi/10km east of Pipe Spring National Monument). The road is 61mi/98km long and is the most reliable route; however, it is subject to sharp rocks (flat tires), wash-boarding, and dust.
    • Clayhole Route (County Road #5) leaves Highway 389 at Colorado City. It is 56mi/90km long and is impassable when moist.
    • Main Street Route (BLM Roads #1069 and County Road #5) from St. George is 90mi/145km long. It is the most scenic route; but is impassable in winter due to snow and mud.
    • Winter Travel December through March, all roads, including the main Sunshine Route, become muddy and impassable when covered by melting snow. Travel is possible after prolonged temperatures below 20F/-7C. Click here for current Tuweep temperature.
    • Summer Monsoon Travel July and August, heavy monsoonal rains may wash out roads making travel difficult. Vehicles have become stuck for several days during these isolated storms.
    • Airstrip: The State of Arizona has closed the Tuweep Airstrip to the public.
 
Two road condition photos showing a SUV in deep mud and typical rocky section of road.
NPS photo by V.I.P. Marjorie Casse
 
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
Visitors are responsible for knowing and following all park regulations. These include:

  • High Clearance Required; no trailers, RVs, or vehicles over 22 ft (6.7 m)
  • ATVs, ORVs, side-by-sides, dirt bikes, and all vehicles not licensed and insured for highway use are prohibited. Utah and California vehicles require a metal license plate. Arizona requires an MC on license plate.
  • Day use only at Tuweep (sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset)
  • Collecting Firewood is Prohibited
  • No Hunting or Collecting
  • Pets MUST be Leashed and are only allowed on roadways
  • Camping and overnight use is only permitted at Tuweep Campground
  • Don’t Bust the Crust—Its Alive! Walk only on trails, roads, and washes.
 
Tuweep Campground (Primitive)

Effective September 1, 2014, a backcountry reservation permit will be required for all camping at Tuweep Campground. Reservations can be made on the first of the month up to four months prior to a trip and will be accepted through the park's backcountry reservation system.

Visitors may also be able to obtain a walk-up permit, up to six days in advance and based on availability, by visiting Pipe Spring National Monument near Fredonia, Arizona or the St. George Public Lands Visitor Center in St. George, Utah.

Camping/overnight use is ONLY permitted in Tuweep Campground.

There are 9 primitive first-come first-serve sites for 1 to 6 people.
  • A MAXIMUM of 2 vehicles, including motorcycles, is allowed.
  • ONE campsite is allowed per group travelling/congregating together.
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.
Camping is prohibited on the state land adjacent to the park and at the airstrip.
 
left: typical Tuweep campground site, right: high clearance access to campground
Left: Tuweep Campground site, right: high clearance required.
 
There is one PERMIT REQUIRED campsite in Tuweep Campground for groups of 7 to 11 people. A MAXIMUM of 4 vehicles, including motorcycles, 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 Trails

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 Loop Trail:
The Saddle Horse Loop 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.
 
color map of tuweep, Grand Canyon National Park
Tuweep Vicinity Map
 
Backcountry Camping/Overnight Use Permits Required

Permits are required for backcountry camping or overnight use and can be obtained at Pipe Spring National Monument the St. George Public Lands Information Center 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.
 
Geology

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.
 
Tuweep Geology site bulletin cover

Download

Geology of the Tuweep Area Bulletin

(2 pages 102kb PDF file)

 
Ecology

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.
 
Ranger John Riffey

Park Ranger John Riffey

Julie Russell, NPS

Human History

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?

THE VIEW FROM TOROWEAP OVERLOOK

The view from Toroweap Overlook (North Rim), 3,000 vertical feet above the Colorado River, is breathtaking; the sheer drop, dramatic! Renowned Lava Falls Rapid, just downriver, can be seen and heard easily from the overlook. This remote area is located on the northwest rim of the Grand Canyon. More...