I guess we better once again play catch up on the blog, I just haven’t been in the mod I guess the last few days.
Let’s see, our last update was about our visit to Sunset Crater and Wupatki National Monuments, which in my mind was the highlight of our visit to Flagstaff, but a very close second was our visit to Walnut Canyon National Monument which was established by President Woodrow Wilson on November 30, 1915, to preserve the ancient cliff dwellings in the area.
The first thing we did was tour the visitor center and watch a 20 min. film about the area.
Artifacts show that Archaic people, who traveled throughout the Southwest thousands of years ago, occupied the canyon at times and later came the first permanent inhabitants, who lived in the region from about A.D. 600 until 1400. Archeologists called these people “Sinagua” from the old Spanish name for the region, Sierra de Sin Agua, or “mountains without water.”
Scattered families farmed the canyon rims for centuries, growing small gardens of corn, squash, and beans. During the 1100s many moved into limestone alcoves below the canyon rim where they constructed cliff dwellings. The Walnut Canyon community thrived for another 150 years before the people moved on. And for what reason no one really knows but we figure it was because their primary source of water ran in a creek hundreds of feet below them and they got tired of going up and down that darn steep mountain LOL!! Hey, that could be it!!!
From the visitor center it’s a steep climb down, and back up, into the canyon but definitely worthwhile. I think they mentioned 240 steps but we didn’t really find it very tough.
There were a number of Cliff Dwellings that you could go into which sure gave a perspective of what it would have been like. And the walls are still charred with smoke from the fires, I couldn’t imagine what it would have been like living like that.
After walking the dwelling loop we walked a couple of the trails along the rim before jumping in the jeep and head out.
Another outing we enjoyed was a walking tour of the Historic Downtown area. We spent a couple hours walking around and had a nice lunch at the Collins Irish Pub & Grill.
Here is a link that tells a little history on the downtown area. http://www.flagstaffarizona.org/plan-your-trip/tours/historic-downtown/
After lunch we took a short drive up to the Arizona Snow Bowl just a few miles outside of town. The parking lot at the snow bowl was at 9500ft so the temps dropped a good chunk between Old Town and there. It wasn’t the nicest of days and I was in my normal shorts, tee-shirt and sandals and I’ll admit it was a little chilly.
We didn’t spend a lot of time up there, just walked out a short distance on a couple trails and then back, both saying we should revisit the following day and be more prepared for a short hike. But as luck would have it the skies stayed pretty cloudy with off and on rain the remaining time we were in the area so we didn’t go back up.
For you hard core hikers there is a trail that leads from the parking lot at the Snow Bowl called Humphrey’s Peak that might put you to the test in case you’re interested. It’s described as a long, steep 4.7 mile hike that will take you over rough and rocky terrain and has 3,333 feet of elevation gain to reach the summit. AND IT STARTS AT OVER 9000ft!!
It’s something Diane and I thought might be fun to hike for a little way with no intention of attempting to complete it. We know our limitations plus that much elevation gain on a 4.7 mile hike does not sound like fun to me LOL!!
It feels like we sort of rushed through our update on Flagstaff but we touched on the highlights. We will mention that we stayed at the J&H campground and they have more rules than probably anyplace we have ever stayed. It’s a non-smoking park which is fine by us but a person can’t even smoke in their own rig which we found odd and you can’t even use a ladder in the campground which is just going a bit far in my mind. Most of the sites are under tree’s that shed a bunch of small branches and I’m sure I’m like most and don’t want to pull in our slides with branches on the slide covers.
J&H is probably the nicest park in the area to tour from but with the rules plus the owners didn’t seem very personable and the place isn’t cheap so IF we ever ended up back in Flagstaff we would probably opt for a different spot. Just thought we would toss that out there.
But to be honest Flagstaff just didn’t do it for me enough to draw us back, a little too large, roads seemed almost confusing at times, camp ground a little overpriced, I don’t know, just not my cup of tea. I would have been happy spending 3 or 4 days to do what we did and then moving on. Should have spent more time in Page, less time in Flagstaff and then more time where we are now (Cottonwood) after leaving Flagstaff. Oh well LOL!!! We can’t always make the right decisions while traveling like we do.
Well I guess we let the cat out of the bag on where we are now LOL!!! Yup, Tuesday morning (10/20) we lifter our jacks and had another HUGE travel day of 75 miles and moved south to the Dead Horse State Park just outside of Cottonwood.
Monday night before leaving the thunder was so loud I thought the skies were literally ripping apart which allowed the rain to just pour out. We had some hail as well that got up out of bed a couple times.
Because we had such a short travel day I had full intentions of letting Diane sleep and to not be so stick on our normal 9am departure time that I like so well but after watching the radar app on my phone and seeing a pretty steady stream of bad weather headed our way I decided to just attempt to pick the least worst time to leave which just so happened to me 9am LOL!!!
But it did allow us to finish breaking camp and hook up the jeep while staying dry before the rain started again. We drove in rain about the entire drive and seemed to just miss a hail storm in one area because the hail was sill piled high along the roadway as we went through. And we were lucky enough that the rain stopped as we reached our destination and I was able to get us all set up just as the rain started again LOL!!! Not the best travel day we have had but we feel lucky just the same.
We pretty much kicked back inside out of the rain until about 3pm when the rain died down before jumping in the Jeep for our usual “get the lay of the land” drive.
We ended up in Old Town where we parked and walked the streets for a while checking out a couple spots that looked interesting to eat during our visit and stopped in at a visitor booth for some literature before jumping back in the jeep to continue our tour and eventually heading home for dinner.
The weather promises to get better each day we are here so we are looking forward to our time here. We plan to finish touring Cottonwood, taking a drive to Sedona and Jerome along with whatever else pops up. But I’ll say one thing, it feels really REALLY good to be sitting in a nice state park by a much smaller town once again. I’m already sorry that we only have 5 days to spend here and already know we will be back.