The mighty Colorado River and its tributaries carved an extraordinary landscape, with intricate mazes of canyons, delicate arches and massive rock monoliths. And nowhere is the landscape more extraordinary than around Lees Ferry. As you wade the incredibly clear waters casting to football-thick rainbow trout, tilt your head back, look up at the 1,000-plus-foot tall sandstone cliffs, and view it as Col. John Wesley Powell, Lee and the other American pioneers found it. The word to describe the scene is breathtaking.
To the fly-fisher more accustomed to a traditional meadow or mountain stream, the Colorado River is often initially intimidating. However, in reality, it is much like a giant limestone river or spring creek with diverse fishing opportunities. The gravel bars, backwaters, eddies and main river channel offer opportunities to fish dries, nymphs and streamers within a few hundred yards. Stalk rainbow trout in water only a few inches deep or cast size #18 or #20 midge or pupae patterns to trout feeding in deep, dark runs. It’s hard to believe that a very large trout in the massive Colorado River will seek and eat such a tiny fly. They do. While the Colorado River at Lees Ferry is ideally suited to fly-fishing and is our primary emphasis, spin casting with appropriate barbless lures can be equally rewarding.
Lees Ferry is managed as a trophy trout fishery. The river yields wild rainbow trout from 14 to 22 inches. And larger.
Our philosophy of caring for this treasure of a river as a living resource will provide angling adventures for the next generation … and the next.
GUIDED FLY FISHING RIVER BOAT SERVICE
GUIDED SPIN FISHING RIVER BOAT SERVICES
Captivated by the Vermilion Cliffs and endless blue skies, it’s no wonder settlers chose to homestead in such an inimitable environment. The Arizona Strip, with its isolation and solitude, offered a unique way of life for travelers seeking the mythological freedom of the American West.
Before Cliff Dwellers was a vacation destination, travelers came because it was the only place where the Colorado could be crossed for hundreds of miles on either side.
This was no exception for Blanche and Bill Russell, the original homesteaders at Cliff Dwellers. They established a small trading post here in 1920 after crossing the Colorado, and their original home still stands at the end of the property. The pair established camp next to Soap Creek where established camp next to Soap Creek where they constructed the unique rock house for which the community received its name. The cowboys who drove cattle on the AZ Strip called the Russell homestead ‘Cliff Dwellers’ because of its proximity to the Vermilion Cliffs.
The next proprietor of Cliff Dwellers expanded their financial repertoire by starting one of the first river guide operations on the Colorado River. Beginning in 1943, Art Greene Senior and his family ran trips from Lees Ferry upriver to Navajo Bridge. The early river operations were primitive at best with Art Greene running the 60 mile trip in a 450 horse power everglades fan boat. His boat burned 30 gallons per hour, and it took him three days to reach the natural bridge. He took every other trip up river solely to stash fuel reserves. The Greene family continued to manage the trading post at the rock house until they expanded their operation and built the original lodge at Cliff Dwellers.
Today, we still operate Cliff Dwellers Lodge and Lees Ferry Anglers in the same spirit of its forefathers.
The lodge continues to provide food and a place to stay for intrepid travelers heading to the Kaibab Plateau, and our guided fishing trips take adventure-seekers into the same spectacular reaches of the Colorado in which Art Greene ran his guide operation. The canyons have since become a destination for families and vacationers alike.
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