Thursday

South Cove & Pierce Ferry

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(Fig. 01)
MAP-Pierce Ferry Area
(Fig. 02)
Directions: Pierce Ferry is about 110 miles from Henderson. Driving on US 93 South through Boulder City, over the Mike O'Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial bridge, cross into Arizona and drive approximate 50 miles before turning left onto Pierce Ferry Road at the Dolan Springs, Meadowview, Pierce Ferry exit. Refer to (Fig. 02) above. It is then about 59 miles to the Pierce Ferry landing the end of Pierce Ferry Road. Starting just after the turnoff for South Cove (Fig. 03), the road turns into a well graded gravel road for the remaining nine miles.
                   
MAP-Pierce Ferry
(Fig. 03)
05/20/2014 Trip Notes: A beautiful sunny morning, Harvey and got an early morning start as we headed out for South Cove and Peirce Ferry Arizona. The first 8 miles cross the flat Detrital Valley, through Dolan Springs. This is a typically scattered desert town with isolated houses surrounded by a large selection of broken vehicles and old pieces of machinery, all rusting away under the intense desert sun. Beyond town, the road climbs into the White Hills and then across the Hualapai Valley. Joshua trees begin to appear and grow steadily thicker (Fig. 04) as you drive eastwards, and around the hills at the far side of the valley. At an elevations of around 4,000 feet, they become as dense as anywhere in the Southwest. The trees are large Fig. 05), old and well-branched. This was the most impressive stand of Joshua Trees I have ever seen. As the main road climbs, the Joshua trees are replaced by various species of cacti - several types of spiny opuntia, clusters of echinocacti and large barrel-shaped ferocacti until it begins to level off at the town of Meadowview. Meadview lies at elevations between 3100 and 3500 feet. The Ute Trail, used for centuries by Indians crossing the Colorado River, is in the Grapevine Wash located east of Meadview (Fig. 03). The trail continues to the south of Grapevine Wash with one branch continuing to the west at Cottonwood and the east branch crossing Hualapai land to reach the Hopi. The community of Meadowview is of recent origin, having been started in the early 60’s as a retirement community. One of our goals for the day was to explore several old mines located west of the town of Meadowview. Unfortunately, we were unable to locate any roads that weren’t labeled “private property – keep out” or that didn’t appear to be private driveways. Abandoning out mine search, we continued on just a few miles past the town, to the road that headed west, down to South Cove, located at the southern end of Gregg Basin (Fig. 03).
                      
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(Fig. 04)
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(Fig. 05
South Cove: Just before reaching the road to South Cove there was a scenic pull-off that provided a great view of Lake Mead, south of the cove (Fig. 01). Only a mile or two upstream is Sandy Point, a popular camping area with some beautiful sandy beaches. Managed by the National Park Service, this popular picnicking and fishing spot (Largemouth Bass, Striped Bass, Crappie, Sunfish, Channel Catfish and Carp) has several restrooms and covered picnic tables scattered along the upper shoreline The boat launch ramp has recently been improved with 3 paved parking lots, lights, and a more picnic tables. There is also an emergency call box at the top of the boat launch ramp. As you can see from (Figs. 06 thru 09), the road to the cove, the river and the surrounding mountains provided some outstanding views. Click to enlarge and see if you can find the fisherman in (Fig. 08). After hiking around the area for a while we headed out for Pierce Landing.
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(Fig. 06)
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(Fig. 07)
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(Fig. 08)
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(Fig. 09)
Pierce Landing: The road that continues down to Pierce Ferry becomes unpaved as the track descends quite steeply along a dry, sandy valley overgrown with tamarisk as it winds it way towards the waters edge (Fig. 10). Pierce Ferry is located at the very end of the 52 mile road that starts from US 93 half way between the Hoover Dam and Kingman, and.marks the boundary between Lake Mead and the Grand Canyon, where the low sandy banks around the lake give way to imposing, colorfully-layered cliffs that enclose the Colorado river for the next 280 miles upstream.
            Pearce Ferry was started in 1863 by Jacob Hamblin, bought by Pearce in 1876, and operated until 1891. His "Colorado Crossing," one of several ferry routes across the river, was intended for Mormon settlers traveling south from St. George, Utah, to new farmland in Arizona. The first party crossed at Pearce Ferry in 1877, ferrying wagons, and herding livestock through the current. But the terrain to the south proved so difficult for wagons that few other settlers followed. After six years, Pearce abandoned his ferry. All of the ferry crossings were covered by the waters of Lake Mead when the lake was formed after the building of the Hoover Dam in 1935.The picture in (Fig. 11) is looking north, down river from the raft “take-out” ramp. The view in (Fig. 12) is a view looking up the heavily silted river as it emerges from the Grand Canyon to the east
                        
This area became popular again during the Grand Canyon-Boulder Dam tours in the 1940's. A concession maintained a floating dock, supply depot, dining room, and had elaborate plans for improvement. The tour boats left Hemenway, stopped at Pearce Ferry, continued to Rampart Cave (discovered in 1936 by Willis Evans) and then on 12 miles into the Grand Canyon. The tour cost $101. With the filling of Lake Mead, a delta formed at Pearce Ferry. This silting in, followed by the lowering of the lake level after 1941, forced the concession to be abandoned. Scenic flights were also part of the tourist trade in the 1930's and 1940's with airplanes landing on the strip at Pearce Ferry. Today its main function is that of a “take-out” ramp for rafters coming down the Colorado River. Pearce Ferry is the final destination for raft trips down the lower Grand Canyon, particularly those run by the Hualapai Indians, which depart from near Diamond Creek at the end of Peach Springs Canyon in the morning and emerge late afternoon onto the calm waters of the lake after around 8 hours sailing. Though there are a few campsites just south of the area, the brown silted waters here were a visual disappointment when compared to those at South Cove.
                                          
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(Fig. 10)
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(Fig. 11)
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(Fig. 12)
On our return we decided to head south on Stockton Hill Road (Fig. 02) towards Kingman, Arizona. This 40-plus mile drive through Hualapal Valley is flanked by the Mt. Tipton Wilderness Area and the Cerbat Mountains to the west, and the dried up Red Lake and Grand Wash Cliffs to the east. There were several areas along the east side of the road that showed evidence of farming, most likely supported by the runoff from the mountains that often flood the valley during heavy rains. Upon reaching Kingman we stopped for lunch at the famous Mr. D’z Route 66 diner (Figs. 13 & 14) before the ride home.
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