History of Lee’s Ferry

In 1871 Mormon settler John D. Lee was directed by the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to establish a ferry on the Colorado River. The location had earlier been scouted by the Mormon explorer Jacob Hamblin. With financing supplied by the church, Lee built the ferry in 1871–1872 near the confluence of the Paria River with the Colorado. It features a natural slope from the cliffs to the riverbank, allowing safe crossing over the Colorado River in otherwise impassable terrain. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Lee’s Ferry was the only crossing of the Colorado River by ferry between Moab, Utah and Needles, California; it was heavily used by travelers between Utah and Arizona.

In 1927, construction on Navajo Bridge began across Marble Canyon. When the bridge was completed in 1928, the ferry was closed. A newer bridge has recently replaced the old and now parallels the old spanning over 834 feet of the gorge at a height of 467 feet. The next opportunity to cross the Colorado River west of Lees Ferry is Boulder Dam, many miles below the Grand Canyon.

Lee’s Ferry Photo Gallery

Lee’s Ferry is considered the official beginning of Grand Canyon National Park on the Colorado River and is used as a fishing area and river rafting launch site. The site features several buildings built at the site beginning in 1874 along with a steamboat abandoned in 1913 by a mining company working the canyon walls nearby.

Activities at Lee’s Ferry

Many activities can be done at Lee’s Ferry. It is the principal starting point for rafting trips through the Grand Canyon. Fishermen enjoy world-class trout fishing upstream to Glen Canyon Dam. Backpackers finish their 4 or 5 day hike through the Paria Canyon Wilderness Area here. Day-hikers can explore canyons and desert ridges.

Traveling from Jacob Lake Inn to Lee’s Ferry

Lees Ferry is 44 miles from Jacob Lake Inn and will take roughly 50 minutes to drive with good weather. The Lees Ferry Junction is just west of Navajo Bridge Interpretive Center. A paved road leads 5 miles to the Ferry area. A National Park Service campground, ranger station, and public launch ramp are the only services available at Lees Ferry.

Stay at Jacob Lake Inn

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