Category Archives: Wildflowers

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

According to Wikipedia there are 59 National Parks and 109 National Monuments.  We have been to 32 of the National Parks and 16 of the National Monuments.  I guess that may be considered impressive and that does not include National Recreational Areas.  Most of the National Monuments I have never heard of, including the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, which is 55 miles northeast of Albuquerque.  A friend of mine knew of it and suggested we hike there.

This area was named a national monument in 2001 and includes 4,645 acres of public land.  The words kasha-katuwe mean white rocks.  Rocks found here were formed 7 million years ago when 20 small volcanoes erupted repeatedly. The tent shapes were caused by erosion from wind and water.

They have two trails there, the slot canyon trail and the cave loop trail.  Together they are just over three miles.  All of the hike was scenic, with views of desert flora, cliffs and the tent rock formations.  Hiking through a slot canyon is always interesting with its twists and turns.  There was a steep incline after the slot canyon that led to outstanding views.  If you find yourself in this area, I highly recommend this hike.

Toadstools and River Rafting

Page sits on Arizona’s northern border.  Lake Powell is located in Arizona and Utah, mostly Utah.  In Utah is the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, spanning nearly 1.9 million acres.  We drove Route 89 from Page to Kanab, about a 70 miles stretch.  The Toadstools Trail was our first stop.  This is a scenic trail that is less than a mile long and leads you to the area where the toadstools are.  A toadstool is a spire-like feature with a boulder balanced on top, giving the appearance of a mushroom or toadstool.  On our way back, we could see a thunderstorm was coming our way, so we picked up our speed to get back to the car.  We made it back safely.

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We made one other stop before we reached Kanab.  It was a pretty area and we wanted to walk around it a little.  We were on our way back to the car when the thunder started.  Once again we had to rush back to the car.  Further on down the road we ran into rain.  There is a visitor center in Kanab and we stop to inquire about hikes in the areas.  Unfortunately, they had rain the day before and the hikes took you into canyons where water was still flowing.  They suggested the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park.  We went there and I wanted to walk around the dunes, but again, a storm sent us back to our car.  Back to Page we went, but not without hitting rain again and even some hail.  Not a real successful day of hiking.

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The next morning gave us a beautiful sunrise.  John woke me up for this and while I was photographing the sunrise, it began to drizzle.  I turned around and there was a sight to behold.  A beautiful rainbow with our RV right in the middle.

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The Colorado River gently runs by Page.  We did a river raft adventure starting at the Glen Canyon Dam and floating past Horseshoe Bend.  Then they used motors to get us back to the dam.  It was nice gently floating down the Colorado with Glen Canyon towering above us on both sides.  We stopped at a beach down river for a bathroom break and a short hike to see some petroglyphs.  There was nothing exciting about this trip, but it was nice.

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We hiked one afternoon to Horseshoe Bend overlook.  You can get right up to the edge of the cliff to see Horseshoe Bend.  It is a long way down and there are no guard rails. We waited for the sunset hoping that it would be good, but there were too many clouds.  I still got some good shots of Horseshoe Bend though.

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Lake Powell is a beautiful lake.  We didn’t do a rental boat or a boat tour since John and I had spent a week on a houseboat on Lake Powell a number of years ago.  If you get to this area, I would certainly recommend you do that though.  It really is awe-inspiring.

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Our next stop is Albuquerque for the Balloon Festival.




Page, Arizona

Leaving Sedona turned out to be quite an experience.  John decided it would be best to take the southern route out of Sedona and hit I-17 to travel north.  The other road out of Sedona is 89A and it is a narrow two lane road with hair pin curves and uphill.  Our RV does not go up steep hills well, slowing way down and holding up everyone behind us.  We came into Sedona that way and we saw all the pull offs were barricaded because of damage from flash floods.  I-17 seem to be the best choice, even with its steep upgrade for many miles, at least people would be able to get around us.  To go that way though, you have to go through nine roundabouts.  We didn’t think that would be a problem.  When we stopped for fuel in Flagstaff, we saw that one of our tire straps holding our car on the tow dolly, had come off.  We guessed it was because of the tight curves on the roundabouts.  Our tire rode up on the dolly a bit causing the dolly to get up against the car on turns.  The bottom strip on the car is dented and a big patch of paint is scratched off the door.  The passenger door was damaged by the dolly on a trip to the Florida Keys.  Time to get rid of that dolly.  We just bought this 2011 Honda Accord in May, without a blemish.  It truly brought tears to my eyes.  Oh the joys of RVing.

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The scenery from Flagstaff to Page is superb.  You pass by canyons, rock formations and the painted desert.  I just kept snapping pictures as the scenery flew by me.  Some of the pictures turned out pretty good.

We are camping in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in the Wahweap Campground.  The campground is very nice with all its desert flora, but watch out for the sand spurs.  They have big ones here and they are all over!  We have a great view.

After we got settled into our site, we rode into Page to the visitor center to pick up maps and get some information on hiking and other activities.  When we were approaching the Glen Canyon Dam, we noticed a sign about a guided hike at 5:30.  We decided to do that.  It was a half mile hike through the desert to a hanging garden.   The ranger gave a very informative talk about how this area was formed and about John Wesley Powell’s expedition down the Colorado River in 1869.

We have a Jack Rabbit hanging around our campsite at times.  His long ears help keep him cool.  They are very thin and as blood runs through the vessels the heat is radiated out through his ears.

Tomorrow we are doing a photo tour inside three slot canyons.  We had planned to do one during our travels last year, but due to delays leaving home, we had to scratch Page, Arizona from our itineray.  Not this year.



Sedona, Arizona Part 1

We made a quick stop in Winslow, Arizona on our way to Sedona.  I just couldn’t pass up the chance to have my picture taken on the Route 66 corner made famous by the Eagles’ song, “Take It Easy.”

Sedona is a very unique town, surrounded by red sandstone formations and desert flora.  The town itself is full of artsy shops.  Tourist flock to this small town to shop, hike,  and just take in its beauty, which is stunning.

We camped at Rancho Sedona RV Park, which is one of the nicer parks we have stayed at.   The sites are roomy and beautifully landscaped.  Oak Creek runs along the back side of the park.  They have some strict rules though.  The most unusual one is, all outside lights must be off by 10:00 p.m. and you must be inside your unit.  They observe Sedona’s “Dark Sky Initiative.”  I understand the 10:00 p.m. curfew is to discourage you from disturbing your neighbors, but I have never come across that in campgrounds rules before.  Usually, they just say quiet time from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. but you can still sit outside your unit and talk quietly with friends.

We met up with friends here and enjoyed dinners, hiking and just relaxing in the campground together.  John’s brother, Ed, and his wife, Judy, drove up from Green Valley for an overnight stay in Sedona.  We enjoyed visiting with them.

John and his brother, Eddie.

John and his brother, Ed.

Our first hike was a seven mile hike in Boynton Canyon.  We went with our friends, Mike and Pam, and got an early start as it was going to be near 90 degrees.  The trail was not difficult with only a 400′ elevation gain. There had been a recent sighting of a bear on this trail.  We hiked a short side trail to a vortex first.  A vortex is believed to be an area of concentrated energy rising up from the earth.  Supposedly, you can feel this energy.  We didn’t, but neither did we meditate or pray.  Sedona has a number of vortexes.

We backtracked to where we left the trail and continued our hike.  We went into a box canyon, and the views were stunning all along the way and to the end. There were a variety of wildflowers along the trail.  Near the end, we had to do some climbing and even though it was strenuous, it was not difficult.

As we were returning the way we came in, we heard a noise ahead of us and off to the side in the woods.  It sounded like a rock had fallen from above.  Then shortly after that, there was a loud snap, like a branch being broken.  Our first thought was BEAR!  Pam and I were getting nervous, but we continued on. Then we heard the noise again, and at last we discovered Mike, who was behind us all, was throwing rocks into the woods.  Good one Mike.



Bandelier National Monument

We arrived in Santa Fe Monday, where we will stay for four nights. After setting up camp, we went out for dinner at a great Mexican restaurant and then did a little shopping.  Tuesday morning, we decided to do a day trip to Bandelier National Monument, since the weather was going to be great and we don’t know how long that will last.

Bandelier National Monument consists of several thousand Pueblo dwellings and 23,000 acres of designated wilderness.  It was established as a national monument in 1916.  A massive fire in 2011 took a toll on Bandelier NM and then a flash flood in the same year did extensive damage as well.  It is still a beautiful place to visit and explore.

We hiked the Main Loop Trail which takes you to cliff dwellings.  It was 2 1/4 miles round trip.  The first stop was the Big Kiva and the nearby village of Tyuonyi.  Kivas are used for religious activities, education and decision making. The village was one to two stories high and contained about 400 rooms.  It housed about 100 people.

Next, we climbed stairs to reach the cliff dwellings.  The cave rooms, called cavates, were dug out of the cliff wall with stone tools.  The walls were plastered and painted and the ceilings were smoke-blackened to hardened it.  Some of the rooms had ladders you could climb and actually enter them.

There were a lot of wildflowers in bloom.  The ranger said they had a wet year, so they were really putting on a show.  Here are some of my favorite ones.

Most cave rooms had stone rooms built in front of them.  This one was reconstructed in 1920, although new archeological information suggests that it is not quite accurate.  The entrance was probably in the roof, not the front of the structure.

Above the dwellings there are many petroglyphs carved into the rock.  They depict dogs, horses, birds, lightning, etc.  Some have worn away almost completely, but there were some that still had a lot of detail to them.

We hiked along the river to get to Alcove House.  The damage from the flash flood in 2011 was very evident.  Alcove House is 140 feet above the canyon.  We climbed narrow staircases and four ladders to reach it.

We saw one squirrel on our hike.  He had bat like ears and a big bushy tail that was almost white.  I have never seen one like him.

We really enjoyed Bandelier NM.  After leaving we drove into Los Alamos for a very late lunch and then a long, scenic drive back to Santa Fe.