Don’t open until you arrive
6. Split Decision
Take a picture!
N 36° 59’ 05.0”
W113° 37’ 48.9”
Do a double take!
Take County Rd. 103 until it splits with BLM Rd. 1019. Follow 1019 to the end paying attention to hairpin turns. Park in a safe place away from any blind corners or hills.
Difficulty: ♦ ♦ ♦ -
Congratulations, you made it to Twin Point! The road was long and rough. Take time to stretch, walk around, and get your blood flowing again. Enjoy the breathtaking views of endless mesas and canyons that disappear into the distant horizon. Once you‘re ready, let’s take a minute to learn, geographically, just where you stand.
Twin Point is located in the western half of the Grand Canyon, near its end at the Grand Wash Cliffs. The peninsula is situated between Burnt Canyon to the west and Surprise Canyon to the east. From where you stand, the cool waters of Lake Mead are about twenty-five river miles downstream, to the west. Across the river to the south lies the Hualapai Indian Reservation.
To get here, you drove along the top of a long, narrow peninsula, or arm, of land. This arm overlooks the remote, western portion of the Grand Canyon, and you have arrived at its terminus, or end. If you walk to the edge of Twin Point, you’ll notice that you stand perched on top of steep cliffs that rise roughly eight hundred feet above the mesas and canyons below.
You won’t be able to glimpse the Colorado River from this remote overlook; the carved and rugged Sanup Plateau blocks the views of the mighty river. Sanup is a Southern Paiute word for pine pitch, the sticky resin that was used to coat weaved baskets to make them watertight. This plateau is etched deep by many drainages that empty into the lower Colorado River, the lifeblood of the southwestern United States that millions of people depend on.
Visually, Twin Points is a majestic landscape. But did you know that these colorful vistas are just as stunning to the ears? If you have a little time to spare, select a safe spot near the rim, sit down facing the canyons below, and get comfortable.
In a moment, close your eyes for at least three minutes. You’ll make a mental list of all the sounds you hear. Looking around now you can see that you’re perched on the edge of a giant canyon. Once your eyes are shut, however, how will your ears relay information about the scene before you?
You may hear the noises of life, such as insects chirping or lizards scurrying under rocks, detectable on either side of your body, to the left and right. But what will you hear directly in front of you? Is there anything that suggests you’re sitting at the edge of one of the greatest chasms one earth? Try it now, close your eyes for at least three minutes and pay attention to what you hear, or don’t hear.
Enjoy experiencing this landscape with your eyes and your ears. Natural sounds, after all, are yet another reason why Parashant National Monument exists. In our daily lives, it’s easy to become lost in the noise of the city, the factory, the school, the grocery store. But out here, you can become immersed in, and refreshed by, the sounds of nature. Author Craig Childs sums up our visit with his experience:
“Standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon with your eyes closed, even on still, cool nights when the crickets stop chirping, you can hear the size of the abyss before you. Inside this chamber, I heard emptiness. It sounded like nowhere. There were no dimensions at all; my brain was unsure what to do with the lack of information.”