Rock Garden

Bass Canyon — This area is the earliest site of tourism in the Grand Canyon. W.W. Bass lived and raised a family at the rim, taking visitors on an overnight trip by horse to the river and back. He farmed and mined in the Shinumo area across the river and had a ferry and two cable cars for access to the north rim (North Bass Trail). The south trail is comparatively short and not difficult, but brushy in spots below the Redwall. Although there may be seasonal water in the area below the Tapeats, the only reliable source is the river. The 3800 foot line of the bed is the site of "Bedrock Camp;" the old photos match, but no sign of occupation remains. There may be water in the basin above the pouroff, but I have never seen water flowing. The lower bed drops off before reaching the river, but the beach is accessible by a steep, boulder-choked route down a small ravine just downriver. The boat "Ross Wheeler," pulled up in the rocks above the beach, dates from a later period.

The original trail continues west above the river, passing a platform and rock chimney, to a narrow slot that was the site of Bass Ferry. The eroded trail, supported in spots by weathered cribbing, descends the upriver side of this slot to a tiny beach. Crossing this quiet section of river in an inflatable boat would not be difficult. From the top of the slot a somewhat more obvious route takes the downriver slope to the site of the cable platform. The cable was anchored to holes drilled through a rock fin; pulleys and other wreckage of the cable car remain. Careful observation of the opposite bank reveals the site of the other end of the cable installation. Bass gave the name "Mystic Spring Trail" for the trail from the rim (it does not quite pass Mystic Spring), and it is listed this way in the Santa Fe tourism guide Titan of Chasms (1904). This area was known as "Trail Canyon" to G.W. James.

Above the river, faint traces of the trail continue past the mouth of Shinumo Creek and on to Copper Canyon. The rocky shore opposite the mouth of Shinumo is an accessible, if somewhat steep, detour from this old route. Continuing downriver, very little sign of travel is visible and the track is easily lost.

There are also numerous points of interest at the Esplanade level, including the Grand Scenic Divide, Mount Huethawali, Mystic Spring, ruins and prehistoric sites. See notes on Bass Esplanade.

Trails — South Bass rim to river. Extreme western sections of Tonto Trail going west or east (West Tonto). A nameless trail goes west along the Esplanade to the upper basin of Royal Arch Creek and beyond, returning to the rim at Apache Point.

Routes — A route following the bench above the river to Copper Canyon, up Copper Canyon, and returning to the Tonto Trail is passable, but difficult. This was once a constructed trail of W.W. Bass, but little sign of it remains. See notes on Bass/Copper route.

1989 November - Bass to Hermit trip with Luis and Nancy (7 days).

1991 October - Bass to Copper Canyon exploration with Danny, and onward to Elves Chasm.

1993 April - Last night of Royal Arch loop with Bud and Marty. For an amusing story about what happened the next day see Murphy's Law.


Catalog of Places - Trips - Routes - Notes