Lees Ferry Arizona – Trading Post & Fort Meeks

Lees Ferry – Marble Canyon, AZ

In this area of the state, which was settled by Mormon John D. Lee, there stands a trading post built in 1913 and a stone fort built in 1874.  They are still standing to allow visitors to see what life would have been like in that time of unrest between the Navajo and the settlers.  The trading post has small fortified windows (gun ports) on the right side of the building to protect it from attacks.

Lees Ferry was the first ferry crossing on the Colorado River for 260 miles prior to the building of the Navajo and Glen Canyon Bridges which were built in the 20th century.  Everyplace else along the Colorado River is all limestone cliffs and sandstone from Moab, Utah to Laughlin, Nevada which made it impossible to ford.

Fort Meeks

You can see glimpses of the early Mormon pioneer and subsequent mining lifestyles while following the interpretive trails through the town, along the Colorado River, and at the Lonely Dell Ranch in adjacent Paria River Valley.

Probably the most impressive claim to fame for the community is that the Grand Canyon officially begins here.  The light band of limestone angling out above the water is the Kaibab formation, the upper layer at the rim of the Grand Canyon gorge. The Kaibab Formation becomes visible here, 3,000 feet above sea level, and climbs to 8500 feet at the North Rim of Grand Canyon, 90 river miles away.

In 1927 the need for Lees Ferry ended with the completion (1928) of the Navajo Bridge across Marble Canyon.  There is a newer bridge replacing the original one and parallels the old spanning over 843 feet of the gorge at a height of 467 feet. If you don’t want to cross here, the next opportunity to cross the Colorado River west of Lees Ferry is Boulder Dam, many miles below the Grand Canyon.

Lee's Ferry - John Doyle Lee - DesertUSA

If you are planning a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon you will probably begin your adventure in Lees Ferry.  You will need a permit which you should get a year or more in advance.  There are numerous commercial enterprises offering rafting packages so you can go that route too.

Lees Ferry offers a ranger station, campground, launch ramp, courtesy dock, fish-cleaning station, and access to 15 miles of the Colorado River (upriver only). A restaurant, service station, post office, and store are available at the town of Marble Canyon on Highway 89A, 3.5 miles south of Lees Ferry.

Lees Ferry is located just below the Utah state line in the central northern section of Arizona on Hwy 89.


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