Arizona - 2006 (Westbound)

Updated: 11/30/08


Petrified Forest National Park in the Painted Desert

Sedona - Oak Creek Canyon

Sedona and Red Rock Loop Road

Montezuma Castle National Monument

Williams, AZ Area

On the road . . .


Petrified Forest National Park in the Painted Desert


This was the first attraction we visited in Arizona. It was a beautiful beginning. We have seen the name presented in a couple ways - the Painted Desert has to be included in this way.  You drive through the Painted Desert for quite a while coming in from the North before getting to the Petrified Forest.



v a p inn 021.JPG (37828 bytes)One of the first things you see is the Painted Desert Inn - a National Historic Landmark. Because at the time the inn was built petrified wood was plentiful, the building was built using petrified wood and other native stone. The Inn was registered with the land office in 1924. Known as the Stone Tree House, it operated as a tourist attraction. During the 1930's it was redesigned and redecorated by the Civil Conservation Corp.

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The Inn was repaired and reopened in 1976 as the Petrified Forest National Park Bicentennial Travel Center. It is open year-round and serves as a museum and information center.



The following are samples of the Painted Desert views.


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v a rabbitt 033.JPG (88932 bytes)Someplace in the Painted Desert, this rabbit ran across our path and hid - he thought. Fred walked around to make this photograph and the rabbit never moved. He was 'invisible'






Doesn't this look like eyebrows. Maybe the 'mountain' is watching the travelers as they drive by. 


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v a rt 66 car 077.JPG (50101 bytes)On an open stretch of road, we came across a commemorative spot where it crossed Old Route 66. 






v a foundations 113.JPG (44147 bytes)Halfway through the Painted Desert and the Petrified forest is the Puerco Pueblo. A 100-room pueblo build about 1250AD that may have housed nearly 1,200 people.






While the foundations were interesting, a more interesting feature of this pueblo was the petroglyphs.


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The petrified wood is protected now. Signs are visible, it is mentioned on the welcome center video and you are reminded at the gate.  They impress upon you what will happen to you if you are caught with one splinter of petrified wood. It wasn't going to be fun.


Mary Lou is standing in front of this petrified log. This is where we started seeing petrified wood.


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First lets say, it really isn't a forest. There are no trees reaching to the sky. The brilliantly colored trees are laying all over the ground, many are in fragments. Some not fully expose . . . yet.


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225 million years ago the trees were buried under volcanic ash sediments rich in silica. Silica replaced the wood until the logs were literally turned into stone. Iron oxide and other minerals stained the silica to produce rainbow colors.


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v a wood log 409.JPG (57163 bytes)This log looked almost intact. Most petrified wood was in large pieces but not long logs. When Fred looked up from the viewfinder, a Park Ranger was parked on the shoulder of the road making sure he took nothing but photographs. When Fred walked back to the truck, the ranger drove off.





v a wood 280.JPG (35498 bytes)The Blue Mesa Trail provides an opportunity to hike along a trail with many opportunities to pick up petrified wood. A couple returning from their hike remarked how they had to resist temptation. They thought about the random searches of persons and vehicle and thought it wiser not to succumb to temptation - maybe, it was the image of the father in the video being handcuffed in front of his family.

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We spent about four hours in the Petrified Forest National Monument and Painted Desert. If you are of the proper age, be sure and purchase a Golden Age Passport. With card, admissions are generally free, usage fees are generally half price in national monuments and national parks.


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Sedona - Oak Creek Canyon


South of Flagstaff, headed for Sedona on Highway 89A is Oak Creek Canyon. These photographs are made from the area of the visitors information center. 


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r a oc climbers 022.JPG (74959 bytes)We will help you find the climbers on this cliff.







The Native American are permitted to sell crafts.


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r a oc 031.JPG (73964 bytes)r a oc road 059.JPG (49699 bytes) Oak Creek Canyon which offers many views of the canyon and rock formations - a nice ride. From one overlook in the visitor information center, you could see five levels of road. In the photograph, you see the three at the right. The two farther down at the left do not show. 



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There is no admission fee for driving through the Oak Creek Canyon. You can stop to take photographs, that was okay also. But, if you parked to hike or use the recreational area, you had to pay a fee.  


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Sedona and Red Rock Loop Road



u a sedona 175.JPG (32701 bytes)Sedona is located in a beautiful setting. You will note the orange cone. One thing you have to deal with when you travel in the off season is construction. The cities that are tourist destinations have to take advantage of the remaining good construction weather and fewer people.

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u a sedona rest 186.JPG (41450 bytes)In Sedona, we had lunch in the Cowboy Club. They had great hamburgers, buffalo burgers and other items on their menu. It was a noisy place but very attractive with good service.






u a sedona girl full 190.JPG (46416 bytes)Mary Lou had seen the ice cream store next door to the restaurant. However, we were too full to participate. 






These horses greeted you as you entered one group of shops.


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Several movies were make in Sedona. This sculpture and several plaques documented the movies and the stars. 


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After a little window shopping we continued our ride South.  A real estate office parking lot was a nice location to make a couple photographs.


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A short distance down the road, Fred spotted a sign that said, Red Rock Loop Road. When he saw the second sign, we turned left to check it out. It was primarily an asphalt road - this is a guess, about one of the five miles was dirt.


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s a rrlr rocks 253.JPG (47508 bytes)Just below this location was a community of homes with fantastic views. We assume the residents along the dirt section of the road are trying to limit the number of tourist drive-bys.

There was no fee for this beautiful ride as it is just a local road.




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Montezuma Castle National Monument



Montezuma Castle is celebrating their centennial this year. The photographs below show the castle in 1906 and 2006. The odd name came from a mistaken belief that the cliff-dwelling was a castle Aztec refugees had built for their emperor. We now know that Montezuma never strayed this far north from his home in Mexico, but the name has stuck. 


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w a castle side.JPG (62998 bytes)Approaching Montezuma Castle on the pathway gives you a striking view. Sinagua farmers built this five-story 20 room dwelling early in the 12th century. It stands on a cliff recess about 100 feet above the valley.


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w a model of is.JPG (40826 bytes)A scale model provided a look at what the inside dwelling looked like.






w a foundations.JPG (51464 bytes)A short distance west is the remains of a once six-story apartment with about 45 rooms; it is badly deteriorated. This dwelling was build against the base of the cliff.






Caves in the mountain were also  inhabited or used as storage locations.


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w a river.JPG (32411 bytes)Most settlements are dependent on a water source. Beaver Creek near the dwellings provided the vital water supply for people, stock and agriculture. 





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Williams, AZ Area



Shootout at the train depot


We spent two nights in a campground in Williams, AZ. That gave us time for some chores and still had time to checkout the area a little. We had read that there was going to be a 'shootout' before the train left the depot for the Grand Canyon. We set our alarm so we didn't miss this local event. 


The Grand Canyon Railroad has daily round trips to the Grand Canyon from Williams. The Williams Depot is buzzing with activity each morning. 



p a gcrr shoot110.JPG (44260 bytes)After reporting in, the passengers could have their photograph made in front of this train.







p a gcrr shoot033.JPG (38334 bytes)We found the set for the shootout at the far end of the railroad station platform. The p a gcrr shoot036.JPG (80316 bytes)cowboys warmed up the crowd before the Sheriff showed up.

Bleachers were set up so the spectators could easily see the town street where the shootout would occur. Mary Lou thinks it was a  gimmick - get the people there early to insure they are ready for the train to leave. It worked!





p a gcrr shoot025.JPG (41638 bytes)The drama once again, showed that good wins over evil. The Sheriff shot the horse thieves. 

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p a gcrr shoot091.JPG (71480 bytes)The railcars were moved to the track behind the bleachers. As soon as the drama was over, everyone headed for the train.






p a gcrr shoot104.JPG (37163 bytes)Several of these benches made from train wheels were placed on the platform.






The shootout was a fun event. the admission was free, it was only a mile from our campground and we had nothing pressing to do at 9:30 in the morning. During the peak tourist season, the town also has a western gun fight on Main Street (Historic Route 66) every evening.


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Sycamore Canyon


The people at the NPS Visitor Information Center said there was not much to do in the fall of the year. We asked about any scenic rides. She asked what type of vehicle we were driving. She got a map showing several places we could visit. We choose to visit Sycamore Canyon. It was a 18 mile ride on mostly maintained dirt roads. The map said a passenger car could travel the roads if they were dry.



Just outside town, we found this lake. Most of the water used for recreation in the area is of a manmade variety.


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o a syc pt 020.JPG (63416 bytes)The road deteriorated as we proceeded. Eventually, we found cattle in the road. A few of the cattle decided to keep their eye on us. 

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A couple just walked away.

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o a syc pt corr 040.JPG (34230 bytes)We finally arrived at Sycamore Point, overlooking Sycamore Canyon. It was slow going for a while. The red rock is said to be in the same mountain range as those in Sedona. Sycamore Canyon is the second largest canyon in Arizona.

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It is a very pretty canyon with the appearance of a small amount red rock. The NPS person said to take chicken and potato salad  - it would have been a nice place for a picnic. We stayed only fifteen minutes due to approaching darkness.


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Our ride on the 36 mile round trip was not too bad. Fortunately, the road was dry. The signage was very good the entire route. We enjoyed our ride but would make sure that your approximately three hour ride ends in daylight.



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On the road . . .


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