Walnut Canyon National Monument

Walnut Canyon National Monument is a United States National Monument located about 10 mi southeast of downtown Flagstaff, Arizona, near Interstate 40. The canyon rim elevation is 6,690 ft; the canyon’s floor is 350 ft lower.

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Of all of the ruins we have lately been exploring, this was number 2 of our favorites, number 1 being Mesa Verde, so far. The ruins are up close and personable, yes it’s a hike but well worth it, 244 steps down to be exact. The views around every corner are truly spectacular and the ruins are very well preserved. Walnut Canyon lets you experience the ruins along the very trail the ancients used. This was Grampa and Gramma Thompson’s very favorite ruins to visit and we can now see why.

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Canyon De Chelly National Park

Canyon De Chelly

Cottonwood campground is located at the entrance of Canyon de Chelly National Monument. The campground consists of 92 sites, two group sites. All campsites are paved, no electric or water or sewer, its dry camping all of the way.  The campsite has three restrooms no showers, water station and dump facility. The campground is first come first serve, No reservations and cash only for payment, which is $14.00 a night. Park is open year round popular during October to April. www.navajonationparks.org

Now that we have  our trailer settled in our camping site it was time to make reservations for a jeep tour of the canyon.  We contacted Arizona Jeep Tours, spoke with Oscar Yazzie, 928-781-2113 and yay we had a tour at 9 am the next morning. Oscar advised us to dress warm, bring water and snacks and a personal guide would pick us up at our trailer. Sure enough, our guide was spot on time and arrived at 9 am sharp, in an open blue jeep wrangler, hence the dress warm.  Our guides name was JJ and he is pure Tseyi’ Dine’, not Navajo he assured us. Per JJ our guide Navaho means STUPID. We rode off towards the entrance to Canyon De Chelly; you cannot enter this Heritage area without a guide. The four hour and 30 mile round trip tour was very informative; we learned much about the people and their beliefs.  The ruins were highly historical yet slowly deteriorating due to the hands of man and Mother Nature. Many petroglyphs and pictographs remain in amazing condition. Be sure to bring cash because every time you stop along the tour there are many Dine’  (Indians) selling their goods and wares. If you are on a quest for history of the Navajo/Dine’ people, the jeep tour is highly recommended.

Later in the day, we took the scenic roadway that takes you on the south upper rim along the canyon with outlets to observe the canyon. Again – Bring cash because every time you stop along the tour there are many Dine’  (Indians) selling their goods and wares in the parking areas.

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Join us next time at Walnut Canyon for more Indian Ruins

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Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde is truly the Land Of The Ancients. Accessing Mesa Verdes premier sites is physically challenging. Most cliff dwelling trails are steep, uneven, with numerous steps, ladders, cliff edges and tight passages. The 7500 elevation and very dry windy hot climate can drain you fast if you are not properly prepared. Luckily, we arrived at the end of the season; temperatures were in the 70’s and nights 30ish. We found a lovely camp spot at Morefield inside the park, an seven-mile drive from the entrance, with a beautiful panorama. Being it is at the end of the season, no frills here, no, water, electric or sewer, pure dry camping-we did get a fire pit and very nice picnic table. This was a true test for our Solar and its working perfectly, I can blow dry my hair, vacuum, we even made sweet potato smoothies in the bullet. The park fee with The Senior America the Beautiful pass was $10.00 a night.
The first day we headed to visit Longhouse, we couldn’t get tickets as it was closing for the season so we opted to walk to the viewing platform, a 3 ½ mile loop, partially paved, with 4 additional Pithouse sites along the way named Badger House. The drive from our campsite to Longhouse parking was 23 miles of twisting, winding, curvy and a very steep roadway. Warnings along the way advising you cannot be over 25 feet long to drive this roadway, glad Julie was not on this road trip. The walk to see the ruins is worth it, unlike anything we have ever seen, the preservation, building skills and humans’ being able to survive in a bleak and harsh environment was astounding.
Our Next day’s adventure we were able to purchase tickets for a park ranger tour of Balcony House, $10.00 for two, named the most adventurous cliff dwelling tour. We met at the trailhead, approx. thirty of us in all and proceeded down a 150 ft. decent straight down, very, very steep steps. Then straight back up a huge ladder 32 steps to be exact to a ledge overlooking the vast Ancestral Pueblo Valley. If you happen to be claustrophobic, I would advise do not do this tour. We spent most of the tour on the ledge of an open cliff face with stone steps and tiny crawl spaces through rock tunnels. It is exhilarating, our Park Ranger was outstanding being an anthropologist he was informative and entertaining. The rest of the day, we spent self-touring other cliff dwelling and ended up at The Chapin Mesa Museum. The park is well marked with informative signage and easy to follow directions. There are a lot of dwelling you can visit, with wheel chair access and easy paved walking trails.

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NEXT ADVENTURE CANYON DE CHELLY
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