Lees Ferry is a small settlement located next to the Colorado River. It is the beginning of the Grand Canyon. It is located about 10 miles south of the Arizona Utah border near Page, Arizona. It is 85 miles from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
It can be reached from Page by driving 23 miles (37km) south on Hwy 89 to Bitter Springs. Then turn north on Hwy. 89A and drive 14 miles (22km) to Navajo Bridge. The Lees Ferry junction is approximately 300 yards (90m) west of the bridge on the right.
Lees Ferry is known best as the launching point for the Grand Canyon rafting trips.
A little bit of history....
Lees Ferry was instrumental concerning the migration of pioneer families into Arizona and Mexico. Mormon frontiersmen built a raft at the mouth of the Paria and made the first successful crossing at the point that would be known as Lee's Ferry. Their mission was to stop the Navajo Indians from raiding into Utah killing livestock and threatening Mormon expansion. Over the next few years there was war between the Mormons and native Americans.
The years from 1876 to 1890 were the busiest for the ferry operation. Successful Mormon colonization along the Little Colorado River in Arizona was responsible for increased emigrations through Lees Ferry.
The ferry fee for Mormons at that time was $2.00 per wagon, $1.00 per horse and rider, and $0.25 per head of stock. Non Mormons paid about 50 % more.
In 1872, John D. Lee started a ferry service here.
Lee was not the nicest guy you ever met... he was responsible for the Mountain Meadows Massacre of 120 some pioneers who were on their way to California. He was a fanatic Mormon who took revenge for perceived insults to his religion.
A few years after building the Ferry, he was captured and executed. Prior to his capture he was exiled by the Mormon church and lost his wives and properties.
He spent most of his life as a “haunted man.” Although there were others involved in the massacre, he was the only one punished and was truly a scapegoat for the crime committed.
The ferry continued to operate after his death until 1928 when an accident in which a ferry carrying a Model T capsized killing 3 people. The next year the Navajo Bridge was built a few miles downstream.
Lees Ferry is a popular place to visit. Listed below are some of the varied activities....
- Walking tour of Lonely Dell Historic District.
- Camp at Lee's Ferry campground.
It has 54 spaces perched on a mesa that offers great views of the Colorado River. It has water, sinks and toilets but no showers. If you are bringing a boat there are other campsites up river. It's first come first served so no reservations.
- Hiking trails..there are several hiking trails in the area.
World class trout fishing. You will need a license and there are rules that you will have to follow.
- White water rafting
Be aware that you need reservations at least 1 year in advance. Check with the park service to get more information.
For detailed information about Lee’s Ferry and the surrounding area, contact:
National Park Service
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
PO Box 1507
Page, Arizona 86040
National Park Service
Grand Canyon National Park
P.O. Box 129
Grand Canyon, Arizona 86023
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