Just before the river plunges into Lava Falls, one of the most notorious rapids in the Grand Canyon, you float past a 50-foot tall vertical volcanic plug protruding out of the deceptively calm pool that lies above the maelstrom below.
Vulcan – The Roman God of Beneficial Fire and Volcanoes
Vulcan’s Anvil was named after the Roman God Vulcan. Like his Greek counterpart, Hephaestus, Vulcan was a blacksmith who forged swords, spears, jewelry and other metallic objects on his anvil in a smithy beneath the slopes of Mount Etna, a volcano in Italy. Vulcan’s Colorado anvil was created by massive lava flows that poured through this part of the canyon 400,000 years ago, damming the river and leaving behind the black rocks that mark the landscape in the lower part of the canyon.
The explorer John Wesley Powell described this area, “What a conflict of water and fire there must have been here! Just imagine a river of molten rock running down into a river of melted snow. What seething and boiling of the waters; what clouds of steam rolled into the heavens!”
A Sacred Rock
According to river lore, Native American’s consider Vulcan’s Anvil to be sacred and prefer that visitors refrain from touching the rock or leaving artifacts on its sides.
Two Ways to See Vulcan’s Anvil
1. Rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, you will pass by the rock formation a few hundred yards before Lava Falls, the canyon’s fiercest rapids.
2. View Vulcan’s Anvil at the Toroweap Overlook on the North Rim. To get to the overlook, take the turnoff from Highway 389, 7 miles west of Fredonia. A sign points to 61 miles of dirt road. There are no facilities past this point except for a ranger station with an emergency phone 6-miles before the overlook. It is advised to be well supplied with water, food, and a 4wd vehicle. See more routes to Toroweap