The Grand Canyon was amazing and definitely a highlight of our trip. The national park in and of itself was spectacular, but a few magical things happened to us that made it even more special. First of all, we met some great folks at the campground on the north rim. Secondly, we met another fabulous couple who offered us a job working at their North Rim Country Store. We were pretty much on a high before we even entered the canyon! The next day we drove into the park and simply fell in love. While we did drive around the rim and hike down into the canyon (which was amazing!), we honestly could have just sat and looked at the rocks and the depth of the canyon all day. The colors of the rocks changed significantly with the ever changing direction of the sun. Stunning! Lastly, despite not having made a reservation months in advance, we were able to secure a camp site for the night. Lucky us! The beautiful sunset was over the top, we slept like kings and we savored viewing the changing rocks in the beautiful morning light.
Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
We experienced the Vermilion Cliffs on a hot, sunny October day. The sky was bright blue, the rocks stunning layers of red and orange. Lees Ferry is where the Grand Canyon starts and the Colorado River plays in the curve of the rocks. We took a dip in the river and had a picnic on the bank.
Sedona / Oak Creek Canyon
We spent a few days exploring Sedona and the Oak Creek Canyon. Surrounded by red rocks as far as the eye can see, the area is simply gorgeous. The night we camped in the canyon it rained (it was the only rain we had for three weeks) and the sound of raindrops on Moby’s roof lulled us to sleep. In the morning we drove into Flagstaff and ate like royalty at MartAnne’s Burrito Palace. What a treat!
You know, just standing on a corner…
Petrified National Forest
Fossil logs and a native grassland ecosystem made for a very unusual landscape. We ended up camping in a parking lot right outside the national forest with about five other rigs. Two of the “RVs” looked like they’d already been there for a looong time and I don’t think they were in a hurry to go anywhere soon. Besides being free (always a bonus!), the sunset was amazing and we got to drive through the park again in the morning en route to Canyon de Chelly.
Located in northeast Arizona within the boundaries of the Navajo Nation, this national park is unique in that Navajo families are actually living and working in the canyon. While the geography is impressive I can’t imagine how challenging it must be to farm at the base of the massive canyon. Driving through the reservation was eye-opening and depressing because signs of poverty were evident at every turn. The photography exhibit in the visitor’s center chronicling the history of the Nation was a beautiful tribute to the Navajo people.
We had such an incredible time experiencing 13 national parks / monuments over the course of three weeks. If you could visit any national park, where would you go?