Located in the remote and mostly uninhabited Arizona Strip, Whitmore Overlook is an iconic Overlanding destination. The trail ends at an uber-impressive viewpoint 500 feet above the Colorado River as it snakes through the western end of the Grand Canyon. The ambitious can hike down to the river. But most will be content to sit on the cliff's edge admiring the scenery and possibly seeing a group of river rafters passing below. While the end of the trail is a worthy destination, getting there is special too. The trail begins at the historic Mount Trumbull Schoolhouse. Constructed in 1922, the schoolhouse was the civic focal point for the hardy residents of the area until 1966. Today it houses artifacts and photographs of the era. Passing through a pinion-juniper forest, every curve on the trail presents a new and impressive view of the Uinkaret Mountains to the east and the Whitmore Plateau and flat-topped 6,500-foot Grassy Mountain to the west. The sandstone cliffs glow in a rainbow of reds, oranges, pinks, grays, and white. Traveling farther south, ominous dark lava flows spill over the sandstone heights. Part of the Uinkaret Volcanic Field, the lava flows range from 850,000 to 72,000 years old. Uinkaret flows dammed the Colorado River at least 17 times, forming a lake that spanned back to the present-day Phantom Ranch. Each time the river overflowed the dams. The silt-laden water of the Colorado River eroded the basalt dams allowing the river to return to its voyage to the Gulf of California. From the Whitmore Overlook, you can see the remains of one of the lava dams across the river. The climax of the trail is obviously a night spent under the stars on the edge of a cliff above the mighty Colorado. With no light pollution, the night sky comes alive with a blanket of twinkling billions of stars and galaxies overhead. Sunrise and sunset views are nearly unparalleled. It's worth the trip.
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