Wupatki National Monument

10/15/17 Sunday traveling from Page, AZ to Cottonwood, AZ

On our way to the TT Campground Verde Valley, near Cottonwood, we stopped at one of 3 National Monuments that are north of Flagstaff. We’d seen Sunset Crater Volcano and Walnut Canyon last year when we had coolant hose repairs done at Freightliner in Flagstaff, but didn’t have time for Wupatki. It’s sort of fitting because Wupatki is all about early Puebloan dwellings, just what we’ve been seeing the past month. Apparently these square style buildings were far more prevalent for that time period than the cliff dwellings.

Here are some that were perched above a box canyon. Since a box canyon is blocked at one end, lots of rain water and silt gather at the bottom, making it a great place for farming.

Box Canyon and Lomaki Ruins

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Box Canyon

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Lomaki Ruin

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The Citadel Ruin was built on a huge rock base, the only one found. It seems well positioned for defense as well as a great view. Below are some buildings for families, with terraced (by rocks) land on the other side for farming.

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Nice view

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Nearby sinkhole. The mountain in the distance to the left is the Sunset Crater Volcano.

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They liked to use the black volcanic rock for decorative purposes, along with forming their walls.

Visitor Center Ruins

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Large collection of buildings. Those at the front were built with lower walls. Not sure why – a better view?

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Another group of buildings. You see the ceremonial, group gathering circle as well in the foreground.

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The Ballcourt, used for games (no seating as the other had)

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A Blowhole where air moves either into or out of the hole in the ground, based on the weather/temperature. There is no indication that the people who lived here made use of it. There was quite a breeze going into it when we felt over it. Sorry, no photo of the hole.

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Navajo Sandstone. Note the “Swiss cheese” look at the top of this rock. It happens when rain water (with acids in it) pelt the soft rock. Below you see how it can crack over time, leading to slate like pieces falling away.

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Grand Staircase-Escalante NM, Vermilion Cliffs NM, Wahweep Marina and Glen Canyon Dam (Glen Cyn NRA)

10/13/17 Friday in Page, AZ


Today we ventured into the Grand Staircase-Escalante NM. It’s Escalante name refers to the Dominquez-Escalante (two Catholic priests) expedition to find an overland route from Sante Fe, NM to their mission in Montery, CA.  It’s Grand Staircase name refers to the 5 different geologic layers (staircase) descending from Bryce Canyon to the Grand Canyon. Pink Cliffs (Bryce Canyon), to Gray Cliffs, to White Cliffs (Zion), to Vermillion Cliffs, to Chocolate Cliffs and then on to the landing or rim of the Grand Canyon. “The alternating configuration of cliffs, terraces, and slopes is due to varied erosion rates of different rock types.”  We also learned that every since 1996, under President Bill Clinton, when a president signs land into a National Monument, it is then administered by the BLM, not the NPS.  Both of which are under the Interior Dept.  These new monuments are to be preserved; no roads paved, no buildings put on them, largely left primitive.

Below are photos of Cliffs seen on our trek to the “Toadstools”.

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On this trek we had quite an adventure keeping on the path.  We didn’t see the marker for the final turn to get to the Toadstools, so it was a hard scramble.  John got way ahead of me, where I couldn’t see him, but we managed to find one another eventually.  Then we didn’t see the turn to get back to our car, but we managed there too.  Primitive must mean VERY little trail markings….


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We had to take this path because the wash we generally followed was stopped by (see next photo):

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This layer of rock that meant a very large leap/step for us hikers.

Toadstools – “a spine like feature with a boulder perched atop a pedestal rock, like a mushroom. It forms when softer rock erodes away leaving a column sheltered from wind and water.”

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Pahreah – a town first settled in 1865, followed by more arrivals. “Considerable progress was made in farming and stock raising until repeated floods (of the Paria (Pah REE ah) River) destroyed property, forcing the inhabitants to leave.” Same story as that at Fruita.

Cliffs seen on our drive to Pahreah Town (now gone). There even an old movie set there, but that was burned down by vandals. The only building there at this point was an outhouse/pit toilet for us tourists. Lovely views of the Cliffs though.


On our way back we stopped for some views around the Wahweep Marina, where Nancy/Greg are staying.

Nearby, Glen Canyon Dam. Here are some statistics:

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These are the Helios boats that Nancy/Greg got to ride on from the dam to Horseshoe Bend yesterday.

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Helios boats below Glen Canyon Dam on River side.

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Horseshoe Bend (Glen Cyn NRA) and Hanging Gardens (Glen Cyn NRA)

10/12/17 Thursday in Page, AZ

We hiked the ¾ mile trail to Horseshoe Bend this morning, but the shadows on the left were so deep that it looked black there.

We went on to hike to Hanging Gardens, where there are lovely ferns flourishing in the seeping water under their cliff.  This hike takes off from Hwy 98/89, just east of Glen Canyon dam.  Look for a hiking icon sign – it won’t say Hanging Gardens there.  You’ll see a more complete sign in the parking area.

Hanging Gardens

In the afternoon, at 2:45pm we again hiked the trail to Horseshoe Bend. SO much better for lighting then. John figures it would be best in the summer, like June.  Also, as you approach the cliff, head for the right end – that’s where you’ll get better photos of the whole river.

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This shot was taken using a “creative” filter that gave the scene saturated color.

Good day, with rest in between hikes.

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Vermilion Cliffs NM, Lee’s Ferry (Glen Cyn NRA), Lonely Dell Ranch Historic District and Navajo Bridge

10/11/17 Wednesday in Page, AZ

On our way to Lee’s Ferry NM, we (John and I plus Nancy and Greg, RV friends staying in Page while we are) saw the Vermilion Cliffs, as well as some cool “balancing rocks”.

Lee’s Ferry is the one place you can enter the Colorado River safely to travel by boat or raft in the Grand Canyon. All river trips begin here.

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There is no ferry here now, everyone just drives to this side of the river. This was originally built by a Mormon, Lee, who was wanted for killing a group of settlers (not Mormon) who he feared would harass/kill his family. So this must have seemed like a pretty out of the way place to escape detection. Eventually he did get captured and executed, but his wife pretty much ran the place even before then. As time went on, others used this place.

American Placer Corporation (gold) had their office here.

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Fort Lee. Because of concern for attacks here, Brigham Young ordered that a fort be set up here. Nancy is waving to us from this Fort. Note the Vermilion Cliffs behind it.

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Scenes of the Colorado River as we hiked to where a cable was set to hold the ferry and pull it back against the current.

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Scenes of the Colorado River as we hiked to where a cable was set to hold the ferry and pull it back against the current.

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Scenes of the Colorado River as we hiked to where a cable was set to hold the ferry and pull it back against the current.

Next we hiked to Lonely Dell Ranch. Another couple lived here after the Lees. They had to be self sufficient, using water from the nearby Paria River to grow their food. In 1965 an orchard was planted that NPS still maintains.

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Can you tell who’s standing by the pole?

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Lonely Dell dugout (root cellar)

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Weaver Ranch House. They had a Hopi stone mason build this lodge to house those coming to travel on the ferry or visit the area. Unfortunately this was during the Depression, so they didn’t make any money and had to leave.

Navajo Bridge, built 1927-1928, over the Colorado River (this is when the ferry ended). The original bridge is now only for pedestrians, the other is for vehicles.

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Next stop: John and I to our motel, Nancy/Gary to their RV to rest up.

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John Wesley Powell Museum and Antelope Canyon – Canyon X

10/10/17 Tuesday in Page, AZ

John Wesley Powell Museum

Not only is this a Museum about John Wesley Powell, it includes artifacts and information on the geology of the area, the Navajo and their ancestors, dinosaurs and more. Plus it’s a great Visitor Center where we learned many tips. We recommend you visit here if you are in Page.

John Wesley Powell was a Civil War hero (he lost his right arm in this war), a scientist (eventually he suggested the creation of and became the first head of the US Geological Society) and an explorer. He was the first through the gorges of the Green and Colorado Rivers, 1,100 miles by rowboat. This was from May 24 to August 30 of 1869. Here I’m whining about my trigger thumb while he managed all this with one arm.

Navajo weaving – when the Spanish came they introduced horses and domestic animals like goats and sheep, from which the Navajo made clothes. Before then they wove yucca and sumac leaves to form baskets.

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(The yellow color is from the lighting-it’s actually white) Basket – The center represents “sipapu” – the belly button, the center from which “The People” came. The white beyond that represents “The People”. The black triangles (bottom) represent darkness, struggle/clouds. The red is for marriage/rainbow, the mixing of the blood of husband and wife, the creation of family. The top black triangles represent the mountains. Note the pathway to light, from center to outer rim.

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Weaving – I was amazed at the complexity of this dress.

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Dinosaur tracks. A fascinating fact – 26% of the known dinosaurs weighed less than 220 lbs. Only 14% were gigantic. Most tracks found in this area are one inch to over 20 inches.

Here we got our tickets for a guided tour of Antelope Canyon, Canyon X, paying $3/person at Powell Museum, then $35/person in cash at the site. The name “X” comes from what you see when you fly over this slot canyon – an X.  I recommend this one because you really get more individual attention. We understand at Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons there are large crowds of people that get herded through, so you don’t have nearly as many chances for photographs. Luckily, John could take photos with our big camera while I took them with my phone. Unfortunately I can’t download my phone pics because I don’t have the right cord. It was a great experience, from the fun sand trip to the canyon, to the “dune buggy” trip down into the canyon, to our sweet, informative, very helpful guide. Besides showing us better settings for our cameras, she showed us favorite views of the Navajo Sandstone that form these slot/narrow canyons. By the way, a huge flash flood 3 years ago stripped sand from the lower 3 feet of these sandstone columns/towers, even revealing an arch.

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Four Corners Monument and Navajo National Monument

10/09/17 Monday traveling to Page, AZ

Four Corners Monument

The only place in the US where you can stand in four states at once: Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona. It’s actually in thenNavajo Nation, just off Hwy 160. There is a fee of $5/person.


Navajo National Monument

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They have 2 well done tapes on the Ancient Puebloans (Anasazi in Navajo) and one on Navajo basketmaking. There are fun bits of history behind the Visitor Center:


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Sweat house: note how small it is. This was not only a way to feel relaxed, it was also a way to bath in an area with little water.

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Hogan: it’s called forked stick because its support is by 3 poles with their forked ends interlocked at the top. Even today you’ll see modern versions of this, used for curing ceremonies.

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Dinosaur footprints

They have 3 large cliff dwellings, but only “Betatakin” (Bay TAH tah kin) can be seen from an overlook. There are guided tours to Betatakin only once a day and another (Keet Seel) is closed until May 2018. “Inscription House” is not open to the public.

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Colorado Welcome Center, Anasazi Heritage Center and Hovenweep National Monument

10/07/17 Saturday in Cortez, CO

Colorado Welcome Center

After reviewing information on Yucca House NM, Canyons of the Ancients NM and Hovenweep NM, we realized it would be smart to get complete information (and Passport stamps) and the Colorado Welcome Center. So glad we did. Because the Yucca House NM is very difficult to find and has only a piece of a wall excavated at this point, it wasn’t worth going to see, yet I could get my Passport stamp here at the Welcome Center. We also learned that the Canyons of the Ancients NM is administered by the BLM, on which land it stands. Thus that Visitor Center is actually in the Anasazi Heritage Center which is about 9 miles from Cortez, in Dolores, CO. We also got maps at the Welcome Center helping us find out way to Hovenweep and a couple sites in Canyons if we wanted to see them. Since you need a 4 wheel drive high clearance vehicle to get to those we decided it wasn’t worth it.

Anasazi Heritage Center

Beautiful artifacts to enjoy and explanations of the Puebloan cultures.

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The blanket on the left is made of rabbit fur, the one on the right is made of turkey feathers!

Hovenweep National Monument

The Visitor Center is at the campground here. Small, no fee. Lovely 2 mile loop trail goes around Little Ruin Canyon. At one end the canyon ends so you are walking on mesa around it, at the other end you get to descend into that canyon and ascend out of it. Great little hike, with lots of dwellings from the Chaco culture, I believe.

Right off the bat you see a number of the sites you’ll come across on your hike:

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Stronghold House

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Stronghold House from the other side (of the canyon).

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Twin Towers

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Rim Rock House

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Eroded Boulder House

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Tower Point

More that we saw along the rail:  Hovenweep Castle

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Square Tower

It took an hour to drive to Hovenweep from Anasazi Heritage Center. Our hike took just over an hour and our drive home in Cortez was another hour. Still worth the trip. We even saw feral? horses along the road back.

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