Area Info: Pearce Ferry 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. At lakeside there are
only a few buildings, a small marina and a campground (the ferry no
longer operates). A track leaves just west of the marina and branches
across the undulating cacti-covered land adjacent to the water, ending
at small promontories about 20 feet above the lake; this whole area
is a very relaxing place to stay for a few days, with very few people
and none of the litter that often spoils lakeshore campsites in this
Access: The Ferry is located at the end of a 52 mile
road, starting from US 93 half way between the Hoover Dam and Kingman.
This is a fascinating drive that passes by much dramatic scenery and
several places of interest. The first 8 miles are across the flat
Detrital Valley, through Dolan Springs - 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 sun.
The general store is worth a visit as it stocks every conceivable
item and has a good collection of western memorabilia.
Joshua Trees: Beyond town, the road climbs into the
White Hills and then across the Hualapai Valley. Joshua trees begin
to appear and grow steadily thicker eastwards, and around the hills
at the far side of the valley, at elevations of 4,000 feet, they grow
as densely as anywhere in the Southwest. The trees are large, old
and well-branched, and the whole spectacle is even more impressive
than the Joshua Tree National Park in California. Just before the
main concentration of trees, the Pearce Ferry road meets with Antares
Road, a long dusty track linking with old Route 66.
Approach: The main road climbs, and the Joshua trees
are replaced by various species of cacti - several types of spiny
opuntia, clusters of echinocacti and large barrel-shaped ferocacti.
An unpaved side road forks east, passing through rocky, uninhabited
land to the Quartermaster Viewpoint, a high plateau overlooking the
Lower Granite Gorge, part of the western end of the Grand Canyon.
It then meets the Buck and Doe Road that links Peach Springs with
Grand Canyon West where the Huapalai have recently opened the Grand
Canyon Skywalk, a projecting walkway over the canyon that has now
become the main tourist attraction in the Hualapai Indian Reservation.
Further along the main road there is more scattered habitation until
about 5 miles from Lake Mead; after here the surface becomes unpaved
and the track descends quite steeply along a dry, sandy valley (prone
to flash floods) towards the waters edge.
The Lake: Camping is free, either in a site with designated
places and quite good facilities, or along the rough tracks by the
lakeshore. The water in Lake Mead becomes pleasantly warm in summer,
when air temperatures often top 100 ° and fierce, hot winds are
common. 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. The rafts pass in front of the
high red cliffs that form a backdrop to the east end of the lake,
and which are particularly striking at sunset.