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Littlefield, Arizona

Camp at Tuweep Campground

Originally added by Mark Handy

Intimate views of the Grand Canyon and Colorado River along the North Rim. Dramatic sunrises and sunsets.

There are a number of ways to access Tuweep – and all access moves from the north to the south as you make your way toward the campsites. The most reliable road is Country Road #109 (a dirt road), which begins about eight miles west of Fredonia, Arizona. It’s also known as the Sunshine Route. Once you enter the dirt road, you’ll travel south for about 61 miles. Most of those 61 miles are tame and manageable enough but the last three miles can be treacherous. I highly recommend a high-clearance vehicle for this trip but I’ve seen regular cars make it to the campsites. Still, driving a regular car is not something I would advise. Moreover, be sure you have a spare tire; the National Park Service (NPS) does not maintain the last three-mile stretch – and there are sharp rocks that jut out of the road. The NPS puts your odds of getting a flat tire at one in four. If you haven’t guessed by now, getting here is an adventure unto itself.

Once you get to the campsites at the Tuweep campground, you should not have any trouble finding an open campsite. There are ten of them. If you need the largest one, which can accommodate up to about ten people, you’ll need to reserve that in advance. I camped here for a week. I was on location as a landscape photographer. But I was also here as a camper, having wanted to visit this remote location for a long time. This area is so remote (it is considered one of the most remote areas of the United States), that you’ll hardly see a soul. Indeed, during my six days and seven nights here, I saw exactly three other photographers. I saw a lot of hikers, however, who made their way down the Lava Falls Trail, which is a 2500-foot descent over a distance that is no more than two miles. From those I spoke with, they all concluded that it was a challenging hike well worth taking. As for fellow campers, I probably saw about 10 -- during my entire trip.

If you're camping, here is what you need to know: One, there is no running water. Bring your own -- and bring lots of it. Two, there is no gas, food, or lodging anywhere nearby. Bring exactly what you need -- and bring more than you think you'll need. Three, fires and charcoal grills are prohibited. Plan accordingly. Four, fuel up your vehicle before you make the long trek into Tuweep. Finally, you will need a reservation permit if you plan to camp. Thus, acquire one before you make this trip to be safe.

A couple of other things. The ground is extremely hard here. Be sure to bring a hammer (or something similar) to drive your tent stakes into the ground. Variable weather conditions, meanwhile, dictate that you have a fly on your tent. Rain, snow, and other conditions can happen at any time. Be prepared. As for food, we brought lots of dried goods, such as fruits and nuts. They're easy to carry with you on hikes and they're simple to eat. I'd say that half our diet consisted of fruits and nuts.

The untamed and wild, rugged area is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, the natural beauty – mostly undisturbed – cannot be beat. However, there are many danger spots in this area, including the Toroweap Overlook. While I spent a good amount of time at the Overlook, it was also one of the most dangerous spots. There are no guardrails, no fences, and simply nothing from keeping you from falling off the edge (which is 3,000 feet above the Colorado River). If you spend any amount of time in the area (multiple days, for example), your odds of finding danger increase. Use good judgment and be smart. That is my best advice.

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Camping
Photography
Hiking
Bathrooms
Scenic
Wildlife

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This is by far my favorite campsite at the Grand Canyon now, even if the road in can be unforgiving in spots. Toroweap is incredible at sunrise, sunset, or even night. There's no light pollution to be found and very few other people. You'll need a backcountry permit to camp here, but nearby Pipe Spring National Monument can help you get one.

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