Because of the fragile desert ecosystem
of the inner canyon, minimum impact camping practices are a must. Around 900 people a day will be camping
along the river on any given night during peak season. There’s significant potential for damage
to everyone’s favorite camps. But if we all work together,
we can help preserve the camps for future visitors. Humans have left their mark in the canyon,
long before we started running the rapids. These prehistoric and historic resource areas
are all a part of the canyon record, from ancestral Puebloans
to the miners and explorers. Each site is a protected area and
everything from the smallest flake of stone, to pieces of pottery;
even more recent historic artifacts are a significant part of the canyons history.
All are protected by law and should be left as they’re found. If you’re out hiking on a trail,
encourage everyone in your group to stay on the trail. This will lessen the
cumulative effects of traveling in this fragile desert environment. Remember when you hike on river left,
you may be entering the Navajo, Havasupai, or Hualapi Indian Reservations.
This includes the Diamond Creek Takeout. If you are planning on visiting these areas,
please apply for permits well in advance before entering reservation lands.
Consult with the main park office for the specific boundaries of these reservations
and any applicable fees. While exploring areas off the river
you’ll discover a wealth of archeological sites.
They’re all fragile and serve as a connection to the Canyon’s past
as well as a valuable study resource. Native Americans have been in the canyon
for over ten thousand years. Because of the dry desert environment,
many of the artifacts they left are still intact throughout the canyon.
Many are of significant religious importance to today’s tribal people. Archeological sites come in many varieties
from walls and foundations, to granaries, to large areas dotted with ruins
and roasting pits. These sites have endured decades
and sometimes, centuries, but with one misstep, an area can be
damaged or eliminated over time. Always stay on established trails and
don’t enter any of the sites. Most of them are very delicate
and can be degraded or destroyed very easily. Something as simple as leaning
against a wall can cause it to collapse. Grand Canyon covers over 1.2 million acres.
Most of this space is open for you to explore. There are certain areas though,
where you will need to show some caution, or simply avoid. Stanton’s Cave is at river mile 30.
You can hike up to the cave opening but are restricted from entering the cave
by a gate. This gate was constructed to preserve the
archeological site inside and allow a colony of bats to fly in and out of the cave. The artifacts that once were here
were excavated by archeologists long ago. Just down river and in view of Stanton’s
Cave, is Vasey’s Paradise. Vasey’s is home to the Kanab Amber Snail
that live in the vegetation. It’s best to stay 5 feet from any plants
for the protection of the snail and yourself; poison ivy abounds at this site. Due to the fragile nature of the remnants
of Anasazi Bridge on the cliff face at river mile 42, this archeological site
is closed to all stopping or visitation. Another area off limits to all stopping
is the Sacred Salt Mine just below the confluence of the Little Colorado River.
This is a religious site of great value to Hopi and other tribes of the Four Corners and out of respect we ask you
not to stop here. At River Mile 52 you will see
the Nankoweap Granaries in a small alcove in the cliff face. Hiking up the
stabilized trail is permitted, but please stay on the ledge
below the actual granaries. The Furnace Flats area is located
at river mile 71 and one-half. The site has undergone severe erosion,
and is closed to any visitation. While the park tries to stabilize the area,
please don’t stop there. At river mile 72 is one of the
largest archeological sites in the canyon.
Unkar Delta is perched on a large shelve above Unkar Rapid.
This area covers many acres and was inhabited some 1000 years ago.
There are dozens of structures, foundations as well as pottery pieces and other artifacts;
so take some time to explore this unique area. When visiting any archeological site,
please don’t enter any of the structures. If you want to examine an artifact more closely
you may pick it up, but please return it to the exact spot where you picked it up.
You’ll notice collector’s piles throughout the site where visitors have stacked
artifacts for display. It’s far more rewarding for you and those who will follow to make their own discoveries.
Please don’t pile artifacts on rocks or walls. The canyon has been host to several eras of
human occupation and activities. The late 1800’s saw a flurry of mining activity.
One of the richest minerals taken from the canyon was asbestos,
because of the potential health hazard both Hance and Bass mines sites
are closed to visitation.