Arizona Strip 2013

Summers almost over! Kids are back in school. Vacationers are home and the roads and parks are nearly empty. Time to take a short road trip to the Arizona Strip and see if I can figure out my new camera with it's 366 pages of instructions.

The Arizona Strip is not a familiar term for many, even in Arizona, though it does contain a number  of interesting sites and geographies. It basically runs along the northern part of Arizona from New Mexico to Nevada with Utah as a border. The Strip is over five million acres and the area is remote and isolated. Much of the Navaho and Hopi reservations lie within this strip. 

No freeways or interstates, just back roads. Not much of an itinerary either.

Up thru Holbrook, Bidahochi, over thru Greasewood, past Canyon de Chilly, left at Many Farms, then stay north of Black Mesa on BIA 59 to Kayenta and a few miles later to Monument Valley. There were a few spots left at Goulding's Campground. Little did I realize how popular the Arizona Strip is in the fall months. We had taken our Roadtrek and by accident,met nearly 20 other Raodtrekkers from all parts of the country who had met  in Monument Valley for the start of a three week trip together. In addition, there were youngsters and oldsters from Germany, Brazil, Holland, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada  etc. All hiking, biking, camping and traveling throughout northern Arizona.


Outside Many Farms

Outside Many Farms, AZ


Monument Valley

Monument Valley


Monument Valley


Monument Valley


Monument Valley


Monument Valley


Monument Valley


After a night of intermittent rain, Navajo National Monument would be the next stop. Northern Arizona is having its best monsoon season in years, slow steady rains nearly everyday for almost two months. None of the big gully washers that do so much damage. 


Navajo National Monument

Hogan


Navajo National Monument


Navajo National Monument


Navajo National Monument

The Puebloans built Tsegi villages in the natural sandstone alcoves of the canyons. The Navajo called these ancient people the "Anasazii". They lived here from about 1250 AD to 1300

Navajo National Monument


After a couple of hours of hiking the trail, watching a native Navajo weaving a rug and visiting their heritage center, it was time to head  along scenic rt. 98 to Page and Lake Powell. If you have not been along rt 98, it is a sixty five mile drive of sheer beauty. With nothing but enormous  thunderstorms marching along the horizon, Page promised to be wet. Thanks to my Senior Parks Pass, entrance to Lake Powell was free. The five mile drive to the campground produced some of the heaviest rain I've seen in a long time. Torrents of muddy water were coming off the hillsides and flooding the road. I came to find out later, that the road was closed just after we entered. Sorry, no photos. White knuckles on steering wheel!


Lake Powell. Dark skies. Low clouds.


Lake Powell


Lake Powell


Lake Powell

Boat ramp


Lake Powell


Lake Powell


Lake Powell


A short dive from Lake Powell is Horsehoe Bend which is a 180º bend in the Colorado River and photographed about a zillion times. It's about a mile and a half walk and the number of nationalities we passed were numerous. We spoke to two sweet ladies, one from Australia, one from New Zealand, traveling together for six weeks, camping from a small rental car with sleeping bags and coolers and having a grand time! 


Horseshoe Bend

Horse Shoe Bend


Horseshoe Bend


From Horse Shoe Bend, there was a detour to Kabab as rt89 was still closed just north of  Bitter Springs (you would think that ADOT could fix the road buckles in nine months). From Kaibab, t was a short travel to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. 

Jacob Lake Campground was empty. It as forty five miles to the North Rim Campground. Half way there at Demotte CG there are a few spaces left, but after a phone call, there are two spaces left at North Rim CG. This GC is booked a year in advance!  

For those not familiar with Roadtreks - we pull in, we open the wine and that's it. The RT has showers, toilet, stove, sink, refrigerator and queen size bed. A little comfortable at 22", but easy to maneuver .

There was light rain, fog and clouds at the Rim, which made it eerie walking along the narrow path and looking down into fog, but it made for great photography.


Grand Canyon North Rim


Grand Canyon North Rim

Path along North Rim


Grand Canyon North Rim

Nothing but fog.

Grand Canyon North Rim

Etheral. Almost better than seeing the bottom

Grand Canyon North Rim


I ran across a young guy on a fully packed bicycle the next morning and asked where he was heading. "Anywhere but here. Probably Sedona". I felt sorry for him to come all the way from British Columbia to see the North Rim and have it vanish in fog and clouds. But that is the way of travel…

We followed rt 89A along the Vermillion Cliffs 


Vermillion Cliffs


Vermillion Cliffs


and then into Marble Canyon


Marble Canyon


Marble Canyon


From Marble Canyon, we headed to Tuba City and then across the Indian Reservation along the First, Second, Third and Forth Mesas and back into Show Low.

We stopped in Tuba City for gas and lunch. An elderly couple was parked next to us with map in hand. I asked if I could help with directions. She said they were thinking about heading back to Georgia because all the scenery out here was just "blah". I wished them safe travels.

It was a four day, 1,000 mile through some of the best country Arizona has to offer. I may have been born back east among the woods, the lakes, the lush and the green but the stark landscapes  of the southwest deserts are now my home.