Road Trip: Canyon de Chelly

We’re not sure there are enough pretty words in the English language to describe Canyon de Chelly (pronounced Canyon d’Shay). However, stunning, beautiful, and breathtaking immediately come to mind. As a national monument and also part of the Navajo Nation, its history is just as inspiring as its beauty. Enjoy the journey.

Where is it?

Canyon de Chelly is near Chinle, Arizona, which is located in the northeastern corner of the state.

  • Admission to the national monument is free.
  • Tours of the canyon floor require fees and are not booked through the park. Click here for a list of approved tour operators.
  • Call the Navajo Parks and Recreation Department at 928-674-2106 for campground and backcountry camping information.

Access the national monument’s website here.

Rain, Rain Go Away

We arrived at Canyon de Chelly with a reservation at the Thunderbird Lodge, a tour that had been booked through said lodge, and an 82% chance of rain. If it rained, we weren’t sure the tour would go on. It was too early to check in to our room, so we made ourselves a picnic lunch and ate on the patio in front of the office under darkening skies.

Thunderbird Lodge. We loved this hotel!

As luck would have it, it started raining about five minutes before our tour was to depart. Our guide, Fernando, insisted that the tour was a go, so we boarded an interesting open top vehicle for what was sure to be a rain-soaked adventure.

Fernando and the truck. Thunderbird Lodge guides conduct their tours in Pinzgauer troop transport vehicles that were built in Austria in the 1970s.

Fortunately, the heavens smiled down on us, and the rain stopped as soon as we grabbed our complimentary bottled water and snack from the office. Off we went, along with five other people, into a (normally) dry wash that had turned into a river along the canyon floor.

Thankfully the water wasn’t deep, but Fernando said in 40 years of living and working in the canyon he hadn’t seen so much water in the wash. Not knowing the difference, we thought the watery wash just added to the adventure.

Canyon de Chelly – The Floor

Access to the canyon floor is only permitted with a Navajo guide or a park ranger. (There is one self-guided trail that leads to a small portion of the canyon floor, but it was closed when we were there.) Besides Thunderbird Lodge, which we highly recommend, there are several other tour companies with various tour packages. Ours was a four-hour tour and we thought it was perfect for viewing the spectacular scenery and learning the canyon’s history.

This shot shows a great example of desert varnish: the drippy striations on the canyon walls where minerals have leached out and stained the rock.

Canyon de Chelly is still occupied by Navajo families who have farmed and raised livestock there for generations, though today most of them only live in the canyon seasonally.

Mostly made up of De Chelly sandstone, the canyon walls vary in height from 30 feet to 1,000 feet. All of them are spectacular.

Things Best Seen from the Canyon Floor

The National Park Service maintains a scenic drive with overlooks along the rim of the canyon. However, here is what visitors will miss by not touring the floor: closer looks at Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings! Our tour took us to seven ruins, and each one was mind boggling, especially because some of them are located so high above the canyon floor. We’ve highlighted a few of them below.

First Ruin – that’s really the name.

There are approximately 2,500 ancient dwellings in Canyon de Chelly and adjoining Canyon de Muerto. Built between 1500 BC and 1350 AD, the dwellings have survived because they’re under overhangs or in cave-like formations in the rock.

Junction Ruin, so named because it is near the junction of Canyon de Chelly and Canyon de Muerto.
Ledge Ruin because it’s on a ledge, and that ledge is in a natural amphitheater.
Antelope House was built on the ground and was once covered in white plaster.

We saved our favorite, White House Ruin, for last. Building began at this site around 1050 AD. Over the next two centuries, more rooms were added resulting in 80 rooms and four kivas at its height. White House was originally covered in white plaster.

White House Ruin and its rock art.

Ancient Rock Art

Canyon de Chelly’s amazing rock art cannot be seen from the rims. Yet another reason a tour of the canyon floor should be included on every itinerary. Below are a few of the many pictographs and petroglyphs that we saw on our tour.

Pictographs (painted on the rock)

Antelope or deer, people – perhaps a family, and a hill or rainbow.
Cow, antelope, horses, flowing water, and perhaps an astrological symbol.
This spectacular pictograph panel depicts the arrival of Spanish explorers, including a priest.

Petroglyphs (chiseled into the rock)

This probably depicts a deer hunt on horseback.
Horses, maybe and and a figure eight which possibly has an astrological meaning.
Possible depictions of snakes and other unknown images.

Canyon de Chelly – The Rim

There are three overlooks along North Rim Drive and six overlooks along South Rim Drive. Allow a few hours to enjoy all of the overlooks when visiting the park. 

Recent rains filled the wash and enhanced the “green”.
Views from the top are just as stunning as they are from the floor.
Spider Rock (center) is probably the most recognizable feature of Canyon de Chelly and rises 1,000 feet from the canyon floor.

Tragic Navajo History

Our post would not be complete without mentioning the 1863 – 1864 attacks led by Col. Kit Carson on the Navajo people who lived in and around Canyon de Chelly. In an effort to open up the western part of the country for settlement, the government decided the way to control Native Americans was to move them to encampments.

Traditional Navajo hogan (dwelling – pronounced hoe-gone) in Canyon de Chelly.

However, the Navajo, after hearing about the raid, fled to the top of a butte called Fortress Rock.

Fortress Rock – a sacred place for today’s Navajo people.

The people watched from atop Fortress Rock while Carson and his men destroyed their homes and orchards, killed their sheep, and stole their horses. Once captured, the Navajo were deemed prisoners of war and forced to walk 300 miles to Fort Sumner, New Mexico – a journey that is now known as the Long Walk.

This shot shows a ladder (the two wooden poles on the right) used by the Navajo people who fled to the top of Fortress Rock.

Many Navajo people died during the Long Walk. Those who survived the trek were confined in a prison camp called Bosque Redondo. Living conditions at Bosque Redondo were horrific, and many people died of disease and malnourishment while imprisoned there. The hardships continued for four long years until a treaty was signed. Finally, the people were allowed to return to their homelands.

Thank you so much for joining us on our tour of Canyon de Chelly! Our closing shot is of a rainstorm at sunset.

Canyon de Chelly

For more national monument inspiration, check out these other great destinations:

Safe travels, y’all!

Mike and Kellye

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.



San Xavier del Bac Mission

We have visited a lot of beautiful missions as well as ruins of missions, but none of them compared to San Xavier del Bac (pronounced: san ha-vee-air dell bock). Known as the White Dove of the Desert, San Xavier is located on the Tohono O’odham (pronounced ah-dum, similar to autumn) San Xavier Indian Reservation. Today San Xavier maintains its original purpose as a parish church and school and is a National Historic Landmark.

San Xavier del Bac

Where is it?

The mission is located at 1950 San Xavier Road, Tucson, Arizona in the village of Wa:k, which is part of the Tohono O’odham Reservation. The site features:

  • Mission church
  • Gift shop
  • Museum (currently closed)
  • Guided and self-guided tours
  • Grotto Hill – adjacent to the church
  • Free admission

Click here for a short essay about San Xavier’s history.

Grotto Hill, which is not part of the mission, sits adjacent to the church and features a replica of the grotto at Lourdes.

San Xavier del Bac Mission

Jesuit priest Father Eusebio Kino, who was the founder of twenty-four missions in the southwestern US, Mexico, and Baja California, founded San Xavier in 1692. In 1783, the Franciscan mission priest Fr. Juan Bautista Velderrain obtained a loan from a Sonoran rancher to build the church we see today. Spanish architect Ignacio Gaona utilized O’odham workers for the actual labor. Construction materials include fired brick, lime mortar, and masonry vaults for the roof. The church was completed in 1797 and is considered one of the most outstanding examples of Spanish Colonial architecture in the US.

This is an undated photo of San Xavier del Bac. Note the residences that surround the church. Photo credit: Library of Congress.

Throughout the years, San Xavier has undergone many repairs and restorations beginning with an earthquake in 1887 that collapsed one of the mortuary chapel walls and damaged the church. Additional restorations have been done periodically when the mission has had the funds to do them, and conservation efforts continue today. Even so, we don’t think the building has changed much according to the old photos.

Circa 1887 – probably after the earthquake damaged the mortuary chapel and church. Photo credit: Library of Congress.

Trivia: Wa:k means Bac in the O’odham language. Bac means where the water comes from beneath the sand.

The Church

San Xavier del Bac altar

Unfortunately, the stunning sanctuary was undergoing repairs during our visit and was full of scaffolding, so we only got a few good pictures. There were also worshipers in the church at the time, and we didn’t want to disturb them. Nevertheless, we were drawn to the elaborate altar with its colorful details and beautifully carved santos portraying Catholic saints. Scalloped shell motifs can be seen inside and outside the church and were used to honor the pilgrimages of Santiago, also known as Saint James the Greater, the patron saint of Spain.

The Last Supper mural on the wall of the sanctuary. The walls of the sanctuary feature many frescoes.
Apse frescoes and windows.

The Mortuary Chapel

Mortuary Chapel

We have seen mortuary chapels at other missions. They are used similarly to a funeral home where people go to mourn the dead before burial. San Xavier’s mortuary chapel is a place for people to light candles. A lighted candle is a prayer offering, a symbol of one’s devotion to Jesus, Mary, or one of the saints.

A glimpse inside the mortuary chapel.
From the courtyard between the church and the mortuary chapel.

The Facade

San Xavier’s facade is certainly attention grabbing because it welcomes visitors directly into the church. Although, if we had not followed along with a volunteer tour guide, we wouldn’t have noticed the interesting details. Details of the facade include depictions of the crops that the O’odham people grew, such as squash, grapes, watermelons, wheat, beans and corn. These plants are easily seen in the top section. Also in the top section are male and female lions. Note that they do not look like African lions, but they look like the puma or mountain lions that the O’odham people would have been familiar with. Interestingly, the lions are said to represent the king and queen of Spain because Arizona was still part of Spain when San Xavier was built. Perhaps the most intriguing parts of the top portion are the curlicues on either side of the facade.

Top and middle sections of the facade

Look closely at the tops of the curlicues. On the left-hand side is a mouse and on the right-hand side is a cat. The belief is that if the cat ever catches the mouse, it will be the end of the world. A large scallop shell sits prominently between the statues of two saints, while two additional saints are featured on the bottom section. Some of the original paint can still be seen on the saints and on some of the embellishments.

Detail of Santa Barbara. Note the original paint colors on her clothes and the embellishments.

We found the Baroque details, especially the curtains, quite interesting because those wouldn’t have been seen anywhere in the area at that time. Of course, architect Ignacio Gaona would have seen these adornments throughout Spain or other parts of Europe and most likely brought the ideas to San Xavier.

Unfinished Business

Even after two centuries and several renovations, portions of San Xavier are still unfinished. For example, the east tower doesn’t have a dome to match the west tower. The east tower has gone through recent structural repairs, however, causing its new paint to appear stark against the rest of the building.

There are several theories about the unfinished church that give pause for thought. One theory, and probably the most likely, is that the church ran out of money. Another a popular belief is that construction was halted after a worker fell to his death from the east tower. Further theories suggest that an unfinished building wouldn’t be taxed. Perhaps no one will ever know why the church has remained unfinished for so long, but we believe it is perfect just the way it is.

Sanctuary ceiling – unfinished details.


The historic photo below shows the Tumacacori santos in San Xavier’s baptistry.

Tumacacori santos

When the residents of Tumacacori left in 1848, they took the santos from their church to their new home at San Xavier. Today the santos are back home in the museum at Tumacacori National Historical Park. One of Tumacacori’s santos, however, does remain at San Xavier and is sometimes mistaken by visitors as a mummy. Originally the saint was a carved depiction of the crucified Christ, though now encased in glass, the reclining figure has been redesignated as Saint Frances Xavier who was the first Jesuit missionary. The statue remains in the west transept of the church.

We are closing the post with one last shot of the church’s west tower.

Thank you for joining us on our trip to San Xavier del Bac!

Looking for more road trip inspiration? Check out these other amazing destinations:

San Antonio Missions

Catoctin Mountain Park and National Shrine Grotto  

Antietam National Battlefield


Safe travels, y’all!

Mike and Kellye

Altar photo credit: Geremia, Wikimedia Commons. Apse photo credit: Nicholas Hartmann, Wikimedia Commons. 

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.



Tumacacori National Historical Park

Where is Tumacacori National Historical Park?

Tumacacori (pronounced tooma-cockery) is located in Tumacacori, Arizona. The park site is approximately 50 miles south of Tucson and 20 miles north of the Mexican border town of Nogales on Interstate 19.

Tumacacori’s visitor center has our vote for one of the prettiest visitor centers we’ve seen, and it is a designated National Historic Landmark.

The park features:

  • Visitor center with gift shop and bookstore
  • Park film
  • Guided tours – check with the park for times
  • Self-guided tours
  • Ruins of two additional mission sites – available for 4-hour guided tours only
  • Hiking
  • Picnic tables
  • Special events and demonstrations – check with the park for times and dates
  • Museum
  • Admission fees apply for entry

Access the park’s website here.

Visitor center courtyard and garden, constructed in 1939.

Why is Tumacacori significant?

As with all of the southwestern US missions, Tumacacori’s lands were once the home of Native American people. Southern Arizona was the homeland of the O’odham (pronounced ah-dum, similar to autumn) who were hunters, gatherers, and farmers. Padre Eusebio Kimo, a Jesuit priest, founded the first area mission in 1691 along the Santa Cruz River south of the current park site. He named the new mission San Cayatano de Tumacacori. Shortly thereafter, Padre Kimo founded a second mission, San Angeles de Guevavi, about 15 miles upriver from the first Tumacacori. Another Jesuit priest founded the area’s third mission, San Cayatano de Calabazas. Tumacacori National Historical Park protects the ruins of the three missions and is located on the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail.

San Jose de Tumacacori Church

In 1751, more than 100 people, including two priests, were killed when O’odham rebels staged a rebellion. The fear of additional raids caused many of the mission’s residents to leave. Therefore, in order to make a better home for the mission’s residents, Padre Kimo’s first Arizona mission was relocated to what is now the park site and renamed San Jose de Tumacacori.

Mission San Jose de Tumacacori church

Mission San Jose Tumacacori’s second church was never fully completed, although it was dedicated in 1822 and used until Tumacacori was abandoned in 1848.

Ruins include the footings of the original Jesuit church and part of the convento (the priests’ living quarters).

In 1767, the Spanish governor ordered all Jesuit priests out of his domains and into exile. He then sent Franciscan priests to replace them. Therefore, it was under the direction of Franciscan priest Fray Gutierrez that construction began on Tumacacori’s three-story church in 1800. 

A view of the nave from the front doors.

Still partially covered in their original lime plaster, the thick adobe walls continue to stand strong. A baptistry was to the right of the front doors, and above it on the second story was the choir preparation room. The choir loft was once above the front doors, and the sacristy (priest’s office) was to the right of the sanctuary. Worshipers stood or knelt during mass as there were no pews in the church.

The sanctuary.

Shadows of picture frames and other embellishments that once adorned the church are still visible. Some original paint and stenciling can still be seen as well.

East view showing the church’s white dome and the white barrel-vaulted ceiling of the sacristy.

The Bell Tower

Scalloped niches were used to hold statues of saints.

Tumacacori church’s three-story bell tower begins at ground level with the baptistry, the second level choir preparation room, and the third level arched tower. Originally each arch held a bell, and the bells were rung several times a day for various reasons. Nobody knows what happened to the original bells, but they were likely taken by vandals and melted down for other uses. Constructed of fired bricks, the tower was to have originally been covered in white plaster, but that was never done. It is uncertain whether the tower was to have had a white dome to match the church. Interestingly, the adobe walls of the baptistry and choir preparation room are nine feet thick in order to hold the weight of the bell tower.

San Jose de Tumacacori Cemetery

Most missions had a church cemetery, and Tumacacori was no different. White walls surrounded the little cemetery which is located behind the church. Nooks that would have held the 14 Stations of the Cross are still visible in the thick wall. There are some graves in the Tumacacori cemetery, although none of them are original to the functioning mission. Sadly, the cemetery’s original graves were desecrated by vandals and grave robbers after the mission was abandoned. Then adding insult to injury, the cemetery was used for a time as a cattle corral.

Mortuary chapel

The round building above sits in the middle of the cemetery and is the unfinished mortuary chapel, which when completed was to have had a white domed roof. Mortuary chapels were used to hold vigils for the dead before they were buried.

This view shows the mortuary chapel with the church in the background.

Years later, people in the surrounding community began burying their dead in the cemetery. The last burial, an infant, took place in 1916.

The Museum

Set up in time-line style, the outstanding museum covers the history of the area beginning in prehistoric times and continues through the abandonment of Tumacacori. The museum features, artifacts, dioramas, exhibits, and art, all depicting life around and at Tumacacori.

This display shows how the O’odham people lived before the Spanish missionaries arrived.

The priests that administered the area missions kept immaculate records of marriages, births, deaths, baptisms, and other pertinent information about the people who lived there. Today the park has a free online database of the records for anyone who wants to search them by family name. Learn more about the database, Mission 2000, here.

Handwritten records were kept by the priests.
A depiction of farming at the mission.

Residents of Tumacacori grew squash, corn, beans and other crops. Orchards were also planted, and crops were irrigated using a water diversion system called an acequia. The six wooden santos (saints) that once stood in Tumacacori’s church now reside behind glass in the park’s museum. We apologize for the glare.

Melhok Ki

Melhok ki

This melhok ki, which means ocotillo house in the O’odham language, is an example of a traditional O’odham dwelling. Melhok ki walls and roofs were constructed using the cane-like branches of the ocotillo. Sometimes mesquite branches and other woody plants found in the desert were used as well. Then once the framework was complete, the structure would be covered in mud inside and out. Some of the mission residents would have lived in traditional homes like this one while others lived in more modern adobe dwellings near the church.

Goodbye Tumacacori

This artist’s depiction shows what Tumacacori might have looked like with the completed church.

With the hardships of the Mexican-American war, increasing Apache raids, and harsh weather conditions, the last residents took their santos and left Tumacacori in 1848. Their destination was another mission that was located about 25 miles to the northwest. Sadly, the church and other buildings of Tumacacori fell victim to vandals and into disrepair. Then after 60 years of deterioration, President Theodore Roosevelt protected the site by establishing Tumacacori National Monument in 1908. When the site was redesignated as a National Historical Park in 1990, the Calabazas and Guevavi ruins came under the park’s care.


Thank you for joining us at Tumacacori!

You might also enjoy these other national park sites:

Pecos National Historical Park

New Castle, Delaware and First State National Historical Park

Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park

Safe travels, y’all!

Mike and Kellye

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.



Bisbee, Arizona

Middle of nowhere?

While driving to Bisbee, we found ourselves out in the middle of nowhere again. Well, a middle of nowhere that afforded us a view of the most spectacular rainbow cloud and a cute javelina that was nosing around on the side of the road – definitely our kind of place! We were also surrounded by mountains, some just distant silhouettes as the sun began to sink behind them. Then, as the chill of dusk settled over us, we found ourselves in Bisbee, queen of the copper camps.

As if the surrounding mineral rich, copper-colored hills weren’t enough, indications that Bisbee was an old mining town were all around us. The skeletal remains of a concentrator that once processed millions of tons of ore kept a lonely vigil along the side of the road. A headframe (a mine elevator, of sorts) across the road stood watch over a once bustling mine. We couldn’t wait to dig into Bisbee, but sightseeing would have to wait until the next day.

Where is Bisbee?

Bisbee is 12 miles north of the border with Mexico, off of Highway 80 in the southeastern corner of Arizona. The closest large city is Tucson which is 97 miles northwest.

Arizona Map - Cities and Roads - GIS Geography
Arizona map courtesy of GIS Geography.

Click here for an interesting short history of Bisbee.

The Inn at Castle Rock

Our hotel, The Inn at Castle Rock, was our first stop when we arrived in Bisbee. We knew very little about the hotel but booked it because they had one room available for a reasonable price and their ratings were decent.

The Inn at Castle Rock, Bisbee

Upon check in, the desk clerk gave us a quick tour and then showed us to our room called “Crying Shame”. While the inn wasn’t our usual type of accommodation, it had some great qualities such as a wonderful owner and staff, a free help-yourself-to-whatever’s-there breakfast, and it was clean. Built in 1877, it turns out that the inn has quite a history. They even claim to have a ghost or two lurking around but, disappointingly, we didn’t encounter any. Read a short history and see a few old photos of The Inn at Castle Rock here.

Our funky “Paris” themed room was nothing fancy, but it was comfortable and clean.
The historic spring fed well in the inn’s lobby – once the main water source for the original town of Bisbee.

At night, the inn shines the Bat Signal on Castle Rock which is across the street. Did we mention that the inn is kind of funky? We’ve stayed in historic hotels before, but this one has to be the most offbeat. For anyone looking for a totally out of the ordinary place to stay, we would recommend it.

Holy holograms Batman it’s the Bat Signal on Castle Rock!

With our luggage dropped off in the room, we were ready to eat, so it was off to downtown Bisbee to seek sustenance.

A Quiet Evening in Bisbee

Downtown Bisbee, 8:30 pm. Not much happening here.

We arrived at the restaurant that had been recommended by the inn, and that’s where it was happening, at least on that evening. The restaurant, Bisbee’s Table, which is located in the old mercantile building and shares its space with a bookstore and a bodega, must be a popular place for travelers and locals alike.

We had a short wait before the hostess led us to our table. Once we were served our tasty food, we could see why the place was so busy. Then it was back to the inn for some sleep so we could be up and at ’em early for a morning of sightseeing.

Outside Bisbee’s Table

After a good night’s sleep and a breakfast of oatmeal, bagels, and bananas, we were ready to do some exploring. Our first stop was the Lavender Pit.

The Big Hole

Bisbee’s “big hole” consists of three open pit mines that were once owned and operated by the Phelps Dodge Corporation. They are the Lavender Mine, the Sacramento Hill Mine, and the Holbrook Mine. Another Phelps Dodge operation was the Queen Mine which sits adjacent to the Lavender Pit and at one time was the highest producing copper mine in Arizona. The historic Queen Mine, Bisbee’s main tourist attraction, can be toured today by those who don’t mind venturing underground into a mine shaft. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to take the tour, so maybe another trip to Bisbee will end up on our agenda at some point.

Lavender Pit

The city of Bisbee has created a nice scenic overlook area at the Lavender Pit. We spent about 45 minutes there, taking pictures and viewing the “big hole”. Mining began at the Lavender Pit in 1950 and continued until the mine was closed in 1974. The pit is 4,000 feet wide, 5,000 feet long, 850 feet deep and covers 300 acres. It produced over 600,000 tons of copper during its 24 years in operation.

Headframe on the edge of the Lavender Pit. Headframes are elevators that lowered men and equipment into mine shafts.

Other byproducts of the Lavender Pit included Bisbee Blue turquoise, azurite, and malachite. We would love to get our hands on some of these…um, gems.

This display in the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum shows the different minerals found in the local mines. Azurite is the azure blue, the dark green is the malachite, and the turquoise is…well, turquoise.

And speaking of the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum, that was our next stop.

Bisbee’s Smithsonian Affiliate Museum

Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum sits right in the middle of town and is a “shouldn’t miss” for any visitor. Covering the history of Bisbee and its mining heritage, the museum appropriately occupies the building that once housed the Phelps Dodge Corporation’s general offices. The building was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1983. While we photographed a lot of the museum’s displays, it was the historic photos that grabbed our attention the most.

Bisbee’s Brewery Gulch, early 1900s.

The scenes above and below reflect a very different Bisbee than what we see today. Of course, mining was the top priority in Bisbee, so civic responsibilities and city beautification wasn’t really on anybody’s mind until the early 1900s.

Bisbee on the rise

While mine workers came to Bisbee from all over the world beginning in the early 1880s, men with families began arriving in the early 1900s. The city was incorporated in 1902, and it was then that the town began taking on a modern city feel. Public sanitation, clean water, and fire protection were highly important to the newly incorporated city, so work to implement those necessary services began. During that time, suburbs also began springing up. One suburb, Warren, which is now part of Bisbee, has one of the oldest baseball parks in the US. Another suburb was Lowell. In 1908, Bisbee even began operation of its first cable cars that ran to Warren and back. As a city on the rise, the population had grown to 25,000 by 1910. In 1917, the first open pit mine was established in an effort to supply the high demands for copper during WWI. However, by 1974, the Phelps Dodge Corporation had ceased production of the pit mines. Underground operations were closed in 1975 causing many of Bisbee’s residents to leave to find work elsewhere. Today Bisbee is the home of about 4,000 residents.

A glimpse of Bisbee today.

Lowell, Arizona

Lowell, Arizona, a suburb of Bisbee, was a small mining town in its own right before the Phelps Dodge Corporation began the Lavender Pit mining operation. Though once excavations of the huge open pit mine began, Lowell was, quite frankly, in the way. Phelps Dodge gave Lowell’s residents the option of selling their homes to the company for market value or having them moved to other locations. Today, all that remains of Lowell is Erie Street, which sits adjacent to the Lavender Pit, and is a quarter mile long time capsule.

The buildings and the vehicles allow visitors to step back in time.
Does this bring back memories for anyone? It did for us, though we barely remembered this kind of service station.
Some of Lowell’s old buildings house current businesses, like Old Lady Pickers antique store.

We spent an hour walking both sides of the street in Lowell. It’s a definite not-to-miss attraction when visiting Bisbee.

Supporting the Arts in Bisbee

Okay, this might be a thing everywhere else, but it was the first time we had ever seen one. It is called a C.I.G. Art Miniatures Museum, and basically it’s a refurbished cigarette machine that now dispenses miniature artworks. Examples of the type of art you might get are displayed, though what you receive is a total surprise. Each one costs $20.00 USD and fits in a cigarette box type of container. Most of the proceeds of the sales go to the artists with a portion going to the Bisbee Arts Commission.

We call this little painting “Grasshopper on a Stick”.

If everyone else has already seen these vending machines, we may just be behind the times. Or maybe we just need to get out more. (Yes, please!) Anyway, we thought it made a cute souvenir and it was a small contribution to support a good cause.

We hope you enjoyed this visit to Bisbee. Thanks so much for joining us!

Looking for more road trip inspiration? Check out these great destinations:

Safe travels, y’all!

Mike and Kellye

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.



Fort Bowie National Historic Site

We struck out early on the day we visited Fort Bowie (pronounced boo-e) knowing we had a full day and a lot of hiking ahead of us. However, due to our newly acquired talent for completely disregarding road signs, we made a turn instead of going straight to reach the trail that leads to the fort. We ended up on a dirt road that had road graders actually blading the road in front of us! Nevertheless, we thought we were on the right road and kept going. The nice road grader guys even pulled over and let us pass. Undoubtedly, they were rolling their eyes as we went by. Anyway, after a lot of bumping, slipping, and sliding on the dirt road, we found a sign that said, “Fort Bowie” and a paved road leading up a hill.

As it turns out, we ended up at the park’s ranger station and tiny handicapped parking area. Although we didn’t realize our mistake until much later. So rather than hiking into the park, we just had to climb a small hill and then walk about 500 yards to the visitor center. 

So where is it exactly?

Fort Bowie, the trailhead rather, is 13 miles south of Bowie, Arizona on Apache Pass Road. Bowie is a small town located 23 miles east of Willcox, Arizona on Interstate 10. Note to visitors: Once you’re on Apache Pass Road, there are no turns before you reach the trailhead. The last mile of the road is unpaved.

The skeletal remains of some of Fort Bowie’s crumbling buildings.

The park features:

  • Visitor center with exhibits, bookstore and gift shop
  • Hiking
  • Bird and wildlife watching
  • Picnic tables at the trailhead and visitor center
  • Some ranger led tours – check with the park for details
  • Free admission

The park’s website can be accessed here.

Fort Bowie’s visitor center

Why is Fort Bowie significant?

The first Fort Bowie was built in 1862, by 1,500 Union troops composed of California volunteers who had traveled over 900 miles to the site. Their intended job was to help drive Confederate forces out of New Mexico Territory which included Arizona at the time. However, before they arrived a battle ensued in 1861 which led to the actual establishment of the fort. It was called the Bascom Affair. Things got out of hand when the great chief Cochise and his band of Chiricahua Apache were falsely accused of kidnapping a local rancher’s son. Read about it here.

Then in 1862, another clash between the hostile Chiricahua and Union troops resulted in the deaths of 10 Apache and two soldiers. This battle is known as the Battle of Apache Pass. The fight was over control of Apache Spring, a water source that was vital to both sides. 

In 1868, the second Fort Bowie, was constructed for use a military base of operations against hostile Chiricahua Apache. By 1872, most of the Apache bands had been captured and relocated to reservations. However, one group of Apache led by Geronimo kept escaping reservations and remained elusive for 10 years. While they continued to raid and pillage in the US and across the border in Mexico, soldiers along with specifically chosen Apache scouts actively sought to capture them. Once Geronimo surrendered in 1886, the group was brought to Fort Bowie before being exiled to Florida.

Fort Bowie in 1894

Fort Bowie

As always, our first stop was the visitor center to get suggestions on how best to see the fort. The volunteer ranger’s first answer was to climb the hill behind the visitor center to see the site from above. Um, next suggestion please…

Cavalry barracks ruins, built in 1870.

Then the volunteer, who had to be at least 10 years older than we are, said, “Oh, it’s only a quarter mile and a three-hundred-foot [or whatever] elevation gain.” We stood there looking between each other and the volunteer. Finally, deciding if she can do it, we can do it. So off we went through the ocotillos and agaves to prove ourselves. It turned out that the short hike was well worth the effort!

Pretty scenery from the top of the hill.
A view of Fort Bowie from above.

After the hill climb, we spent an hour and a half walking the Ruins Trail through the fort. Though when looking at ruins it is hard to imagine what they once looked like. Fortunately, the National Park Service has placed information boards at the ruins of each building which give the history and in some instances a picture of what it once looked like.

Fancy Fort Bowie

Below are a couple of old photos from the second Fort Bowie’s heyday.

From right to left: Officers Quarters, Tailor Shop, and a glimpse of the Cavalry Barracks on the far left, as they looked in 1884. Note the fancy streetlight.

Remarkably, Fort Bowie had an ice machine that was run by a steam engine. Imagine what a treat having iced drinks would’ve been during the hot summer months. The ice also provided a way to keep food cool and was even used to make ice cream. Even more remarkable, to us anyway, was that several of Fort Bowie’s buildings, as well as living quarters had indoor flushing toilets. Such luxury for an isolated outpost during that era!

Middle far right: Mess Hall. Center top: Two-story Commanding Officer’s Quarters. The infantry barracks were located behind the mess hall and are not pictured.

At its height, Fort Bowie also had a hospital, a school, and a tailor shop for the purpose of keeping the men’s uniforms properly fitted. According to the park’s information, the tailor was an enlisted man who was able to charge the soldiers for his services. Other necessary structures included a guard house, corrals, and a trader’s post (general mercantile, formerly known as a sutler’s store). There was even a tennis court!

These crumbling rocks are  the remains of the once elegant Commanding Officer’s Quarters.

Ending the Conflicts

When Geronimo escaped his last reservation in 1885, he along with about 50 other Apache followers fled to Mexico. There they raided villages and pillaged for economic rewards, including horses. They often crossed the border back into New Mexico Territory to do the same. Officials in Washington put pressure on the commander of the Department of Arizona, (a department of the US Army at the time) to bring the Chiricahua conflicts to an end. With all of the other Chiricahua Apache people having been exiled to Florida, Geronimo and his band of followers were the last hold outs.

Geronimo | Library of Congress
Library of Congress image of Geronimo in 1886.

Geronimo surrendered on September 4, 1886, near Fort Bowie and he and his band, which had dwindled, became prisoners of war. While being held at Fort Bowie, they prepared to board wagon trains for the long journey to Florida where they would live in exile along with the rest of their people. Geronimo would eventually end up at Fort Sill, Oklahoma where he lived as a prisoner of war for the last 15 years of his life. He died there in 1909 at the age of 79.

Geronimo (third from right with hands on hips) and his people as prisoners at Fort Bowie.

The Chiricahua conflicts ended with Geronimo’s capture in 1886, and Fort Bowie had served its purpose. On October 17, 1894, the remaining men 118 men of the 2nd Cavalry, along with nine women and two children, left Fort Bowie for their new post at Fort Logan, Colorado.

Visiting Fort Bowie

Our number one piece of advice for visitors is to take the trail from the trailhead to the visitor center. We missed some interesting parts of the park because of our dumb mistake. In addition to what we’ve covered here, the fort’s cemetery, the ruins of the Chiricahua Apache Indian Agency building, the site of the Battle of Apache Pass, Apache Spring, and the ruins of the Buttlerfield Overland Mail Stage Station are located on the trail.

Fort Bowie became a designated National Historic Landmark in 1960. Today Fort Bowie’s ghosts of military personnel and Native Americans alike live among the ruins of the once grand post. We can honor their memory by learning their history. After all, those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it. According to the National Park Service, the fort will never be rebuilt, but it will be preserved and protected.

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit Fort Bowie with us!

You may also enjoy these other great national park sites:

Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
Devils Tower Road Trip: Things to Do

Travel safely, y’all!

Mike and Kellye

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.





A Road Trip in Ruins

Some of you might be wondering why we haven’t posted in a while. Well, it’s because we’ve been on the road. Now that we’re home, we look forward to sharing our latest adventures with you, so stay tuned. In the meantime, here’s a short synopsis of some of what we encountered on our latest winter road trip.

New Mexico

This is what the central part of eastern New Mexico looks like. The only wildlife you might see when traveling this road is a pronghorn or two and possibly a hawk. Mainly it’s wild grasses and cactus for what seems like endless miles and hours. We were glad to finally see mountains (and even a little snow) when we got to central New Mexico.

Our trek covered some fun cities and national parks in central and southwestern New Mexico and southern Arizona. The trip was fun and uneventful except for some weather issues. On day two we were met with 70 mile per hour winds near Las Cruces, New Mexico. Not only were we plagued with zero visibility in the blowing dust, but a tractor-trailer rig blew over in front of us and blocked the interstate. Fortunately, the driver was only slightly injured but had to be pulled out of the cab through the broken windshield. We didn’t get any photos because it was just too terrifying trying to help the driver and worrying if drivers behind us were going to see that traffic was stopped.

Blowing dust on I-25 near Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Our planned hike in the mountains at Las Cruces was out of the question, so we spent a couple of hours eating lunch in a Subway sandwich shop and watching the awnings over their windows blow away. Luckily, our hotel let us check in early enabling us a place to get out of the wind.


Day three was perfectly gorgeous: a bit chilly but with just a slight breeze. As we drove toward our first stop of the day in Arizona, we began to see some snow-capped peaks. But when we crossed the border, Arizona greeted us with gorgeous desert peaks, all topped with glistening snow. It was a scene that we would see throughout our trip, but it got even better.

Snowcapped mountains in southern Arizona.

Our first destination of the day was in those mountains, but not at a high elevation, so the weather was perfect for hiking and perusing the park site. We were blessed with perfect hiking and sightseeing weather for the next few days until we woke up to the scene below on day six. Our itinerary called for a morning of hiking in a national park, so we went prepared to be cold and muddy.

View from our hotel room on Day Six. It was amusing to see palm trees and snow in the same shot.

As luck would have it, the skies cleared, and we were able to enjoy the park as planned. While driving northward toward our next stop, we saw even more frosted peaks with fresh snow. 

Then we saw this:

There were nine of them, but we couldn’t get them all in one shot.

One day we went from this cold and wet mountainous landscape…

We have high praises for snowplow operators!

…to this dry and windy desert landscape, all in the matter of a few hours.


In all, we traveled through three desert ecosystems with each one being unique in its climate, flora, and fauna. We also saw some breathtaking mountain scenery along with a few lonely backroads. Where Arizona meets Mexico, we saw the border wall and talked to a park ranger who regularly shares her lunches with hungry immigrants who have crossed said wall.

This is a spectacular cloud rainbow that we saw while we were on a backroad in Arizona. It’s fuzzy because we took it with a fully zoomed cell phone through the windshield while looking directly into the sun and driving down the highway!

It was an amazing road trip covering just under 2,400 miles. With that said, you might be wondering about the title of this post. No, it wasn’t a ruined road trip at all, even though we had to change the itinerary a couple of times due to snow. For now, let’s just say we learned a lot of history, visited some nice towns and cities, and did a lot of walking, hiking, and eating. We’re excited to be back in the blogosphere and cannot wait to share our latest destinations with you!

Mike and Kellye






Things to do in Sedona, Arizona

Sedona 2007 051 Nestled in the heart of the American Southwest, Sedona, Arizona is truly one of the prettiest cities we have visited. Life in red rock country seems to move at a slower pace, and the city offers great places to relax, shop, view spectacular scenery, and eat. Sedona is a dark sky community which means there is an ordinance against light pollution. On clear summer nights, the Milky Way can be seen arching across the sky from horizon to horizon! By day, the red rock scenery is enchanting, and to make it even better the city averages 278 days of sunshine per year. Sedona is a great year-round destination, but we particularly like to visit during the early fall. Sedona is:

  • An ideal place for a couple’s getaway, girl’s trip, or bachelor/bachelorette weekends.
  • Perfect for a long weekend or extended stay.
  • A hub for several national parks and other attractions.

This 117-mile airport-to-destination road trip starts from the closest major airport located in Phoenix, Arizona. Phoenix has a large selection of hotels, resorts, RV resorts and campsite options for overnight stays. Attractions in Phoenix include: a zoo, an aquarium, water parks, museums, hiking trails, and golf courses. Click here for more information about accommodations and attractions: Visit Phoenix. Sedona 2007 055

Getting to Sedona

From Phoenix, take I-17 north. Drive time: 2 hours.

Bonus stop: Montezuma Castle National Monument. See an ancient apartment complex tucked high into the side of a cliff. Then drive 5 miles north to see Montezuma Well, a sinkhole fed by natural springs and also surrounded by ancient cliff dwellings. A 7-day pass is $10.00 for adults (which also allows entry to Tuzigoot National Monument) and children 15 and under are admitted free. For additional information, here is a link to the National Park Service website: Montezuma Castle National Monument.

Montezuma´s castle in Arizona
Montezuma Castle. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Continue on I-17 north to Highway 179 north to Sedona. Note: Highway 179 is Red Rock Scenic Byway, a designated All-American Road, which takes travelers through some of the most picturesque scenery in the country.

Destination: Sedona, Arizona

Sedona 2007 129 The town of Sedona grew up from farm settlements along Oak Creek when the first homesteaders arrived during the mid-1800s. Near the turn of the century, a man by the name of T.C. Schnebly arrived and made his home where the ever-popular Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village sits today. In 1902 the industrious Mr. Schnebly applied for the first post office in the area, and it is his wife, Sedona, for whom the city is named.


While we can’t list or recommend the numerous hotel options in Sedona, we can say that accommodations in Sedona will cost anywhere from $170.00 per night to over $500.00 per night. From basic rooms at Hampton Inn or Holiday Inn Express to championship golf resorts and luxurious spas, Sedona has an accommodation for almost everyone’s preference and budget.


Meal options can range from inexpensive American fare such as burgers and brews at Oak Creek Brewery & Grill to high-end dining featuring prime meats and seafood at Rene. There is even a McDonalds which finally opened in Sedona after years of negotiation with the city over its famous golden arches. The city said the bright yellow sign did not meet its ordinance which keeps structures and signs from detracting from the natural beauty of the surroundings. Sedona won, and the McDonalds was constructed in a Southwestern motif with turquoise arches. We’ve been told it’s the only McDonalds in the world that doesn’t have golden arches on the building. And while we’re talking about places to eat, be sure to go to the Cowboy Club Grille & Spirits in uptown Sedona and order the cactus fries – you won’t be sorry!

Sedona has long been recognized for having mysterious cosmic forces that seem to emanate from the rocks. The forces are known as vortices. To quote Roger Naylor (RogerNaylor.com), vortices are “…swirling centers of energy that are conducive to healing, meditation and self-exploration. These are places where the earth seems especially alive with energy.” While some consider the entire area around Sedona a vortex, certain areas are said to have stronger powers than others. People often ask how many strong vortex sites there are, but the answer depends on who you ask. Some of the most popular higher energy areas are said to include Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, Airport Mesa, and Courthouse Butte. Visit Sedona and decide for yourself if the vortices really do exist.

Our Top 10 favorite things to do in Sedona:

Sedona 2007 067 1 – Hop on a trolley. Want to take a tour of the city and get some helpful information about the area? Sedona Trolley has you covered with 55-minute tours starting at $23.99 for adults and $15.99 for children 12 and under. Several tour options and times are available. Do this first for the best introduction to the city. Here is a link to the website: Sedona Trolley

2 – Shop. Tlaquepaque (Tuh-lockee-pockee) Arts & Shopping Village is a can’t-miss venue featuring shops, galleries, a chapel, and restaurants. The beautiful courtyard setting has an Old Mexico vibe with plenty of shade trees, colorful flowers, and a bubbling fountain. Visitors will want to spend a few hours strolling through the shops and galleries followed by a relaxing lunch or dinner on the patio at one of Tlaquepaque’s restaurants.

A glimpse inside the Tlaquepaque Chapel. Tlaquepaque is a popular wedding venue.

We recommend spending time in uptown (aka downtown) Sedona too. There are many stores and restaurants that offer a wide range of shopping and dining options. Word of caution: the Merry Christmas Sedona shop may be hazardous to your budget. With so many beautiful things to buy, it’s hard to choose just one – or ten! And don’t forget about the cactus fries and other great food at the Cowboy Club Grill & Spirits.

3 – Visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross. Inspired by the construction of the Empire State Building, Arizona sculptor and rancher, Marguerite Brunswig Staude, commissioned the construction of the Chapel of the Holy Cross. Initially, she sought to build the church in Budapest, Hungary in the 1930s, but with the outbreak of WWII the plans were scrapped. In the early 1950s Senator Barry Goldwater helped Staude get a special use permit to build the church on Coconino National Forest land. The gorgeous church was completed in 1956.

Chapel of the Holy Cross

4 – Enjoy the scenery at Red Rock State Park. If there really is something to that vortices thing in Sedona, then this place might just have it! We experienced peaceful calm – an almost spiritual feeling – at this park. Hike one or all of the trails or simply find solitude along the banks of Oak Creek. This park is also an excellent picnic destination.

Cathedral Rock as seen from Red Rock State Park

5 – Take a pink jeep tour.  The tour company, known for their signature pink vehicles, can arrange a variety of off-roading adventures, hiking tours, and trips to the Grand Canyon, among other exciting experiences. We highly recommend the 1-day, Grand Canyon tour to the south rim. Here is a link to their website: Pink Adventure Tours.

South Rim of the Grand Canyon

6 – Drive through Oak Creek Canyon. Embark on a scenic 14-mile drive on State Route 89A between Flagstaff and Sedona. This is a slow road because of the corkscrew twists and turns, but the scenery will take your breath away! While the northbound drive is beautiful, we recommend driving south from Flagstaff for the best views.

7 – Play at Slide Rock State Park. Visit this scenic park in Oak Creek Canyon featuring a natural rock water slide. Go to play in the water, go to hike, or go for the scenery in this historic park.

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Slide Rock State Park

8 – Gaze at the stars. There are several astronomy tours available in Sedona, and the state parks host them periodically too. Learn about the constellations and take a peek into outer space through their telescopes. We recommend Sedona Star Gazing – Evening Sky Tours. Here’s a link: Evening Sky Tours.

9 – Watch the sun set. We love a great sunset (or sunrise), and Airport Mesa is the place to be in Sedona just before the sun goes down. Here’s one we were lucky enough to capture. Sedona 2007 044

10 – Take a side trip to a national park:

  • Grand Canyon National Park is 2 hours north of Sedona via Flagstaff.
  • Petrified Forest National Park is 2.5 hours northeast of Sedona via Flagstaff.
  • Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, Page, Arizona and Lake Powell are 2.75 hours north of Sedona via US Highway 89.
  • Tuzigoot National Monument is 30 minutes southwest of Sedona.
  • Walnut Canyon National Monument is 45 minutes northeast of Sedona via Flagstaff.
  • Saguaro National Park is 3.5 hours southwest of Sedona via Phoenix and Tucson.

Now that we’ve given you our top 10, we should add that Sedona has so much more than what we’ve covered. There are numerous hiking trails for all levels of hikers, with Cathedral Rock Trail and Devil’s Bridge Trail being two of the favorites. Additionally, climbing and bouldering are popular in Sedona, and guided climbs can be arranged through several companies. ATV rentals and tours are available for those who want to have a little off-roading fun. There are several mountain biking trails as well as motorcycles to rent for wind-in-your-hair rides through the red rocks.

As you can see, Sedona has something to delight every visitor. While we can’t guarantee anything, we’re pretty sure you will love Sedona as much as we do!

*This is an update of an original post from September 22, 2018.

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Click to see more exciting Arizona destinations:

Grand Canyon National Park

Petrified Forest National Park

Monument Valley Tribal Park

Thank you for joining us for our recap of Sedona!

Mike and Kellye

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.



Wish We Were There Wednesday: Mountains

Grand Tetons, Grand Teton National Park

Today we’re running away to the mountains! Since our goal is to visit as many national parks as we can, most of our shots are of beautiful park mountains. There are a few that are not in parks because they were too pretty to leave out.  Enjoy!

Casa Grande in the rain – Chisos Mountains, Big Bend National Park

Big Sky Country

Bryce Canyon National Park

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Agathla Peak, Arizona

Zion National Park

Idaho Beauty

Yellowstone National Park

Death Valley National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Today’s featured image at the top of the page was taken at Yellowstone National Park.

Thanks so much for joining us on our mountain getaway. We hope you will return to our site again for more sights, scenery, trips, tricks, and tips. Be sure to sign up to be an e-mail follower so you never miss a post, and follow us on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Tell your friends! We want to be friends with them, too.

Happy hump day, everybody!

Badwater Basin

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.



Quick Stops: fast, fascinating, fun, funky!

Vintage motel in Delta, Colorado

If you follow our posts, you’re already familiar with Quick Stops. Quick Stops are designed to give a nod to locations to which we can’t devote an entire post. The destinations are completely random and totally fun.

Just get in the car and we will be on our way!

First Stop: Cameron Trading Post

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Cameron Trading Post

Where in the world is it?

It is located in Cameron, Arizona, which is about 51 miles north of Flagstaff, at the intersection of US Highway 89 and Arizona Highway 64, and east of the Grand Canyon. The trading post was established in 1916 by two brothers named Hubert and C.D. Richardson.

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The Cameron Suspension Bridge

The Cameron Suspension Bridge, above, opened in 1911 and spans the Little Colorado River Gorge. This bridge allowed faster, safer travel to what is now the town of Cameron, Arizona. The Richardson brothers built Cameron Trading Post next to the bridge where it still sits and thrives today. No longer in use, the bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Little Colorado River Gorge west of Cameron, Arizona

Second Stop: Helena, Montana

The Beautiful Montana Capitol

Herd Bull Sculpture at the Montana Historical Society


It’s a fact, Jack!

Arizona produces more than half of the copper in the US, making it the largest copper producing state. Montana is the fifth largest copper producing state in the US. At one time, the nation’s largest amount of copper was mined at Butte, Montana. One Montana resident, William A. Clark, became one of the wealthiest men in the US because of his copper mining interests, among other businesses, and was considered one of the three “Copper Kings” of Butte. His mansion there still stands today, although, it is now a bed and breakfast. Clarkdale, Arizona is four miles southwest of of the town of Jerome, Arizona. Jerome, a National Historic Landmark, is the home of the now-defunct United Verde Mine, once one of the largest copper producing mines in the US. United Verde Copper Company, which was owned by William A. Clark, developed the United Verde Mine. Clarkdale, Arizona is named for William A. Clark. And now you know…

That’s all for this post. Thank you for joining us on our Quick Stop tour of the Cameron Trading Post and Helena, Montana. We invite you to return to our site every week for another great adventure on the road. Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

Badwater Basin

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.





Petrified Forest National Park

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  • Website link: Petrified Forest National Park
  • Cost: $20.00 per car (one week pass)
  • Hiking, biking (on paved roads), backpacking, horseback riding, backcountry camping with permit
  • Scenic drive
  • Historic Landmarks
  • Museums
  • Picnic areas
  • Restaurant in the park
  • Accommodations and restaurants in Holbrook, Arizona (30 miles west on I-40 or US Highway 180). Check out the Wigwam Motel for some Route 66 nostalgia. Here’s a link: Wigwam Motel. RV campgrounds also available in Holbrook.
  • When to go: anytime, but note that summer temperatures can be very high.

Sedona 2007 086
The Teepees

Petrified Forest National Park is 208 miles from Albuquerque, New Mexico, which has a major airport. This is our starting point, so gas up the car, drop the top, and turn on some golden oldies. We’re going to get some kicks on Route 66!

Getting ThereSedona 2007 074

From Albuquerque, take I-40 west toward Gallup, New Mexico via Grants. Cross the Arizona state line and continue on I-40 to Petrified Forest National Park. Drive time between Albuquerque and Petrified Forest: 3 hours.

*Recommended hotels in Albuquerque: Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express

Campgrounds and RV parks are also available in Albuquerque.

Bonus stop: El Malpais National Monument. Website link: El Malpais. Stop by the visitor center in Grants, New Mexico then head south on Highway 53 to the monument. Entrance is free. Drive time between Albuquerque and Grants: 1 hour. Drive time between Grants and El Malpais: 30 minutes.

Bonus stop: El Morro National Monument. Only 15 minutes from El Malpais on Highway 53. Entrance is free. Website link: El Morro.

*Recommended hotel in Grants: Holiday Inn Express

RV parks are also available in Grants.

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From El Morrow National Monument take Highway 53 west to Highway 602 north to Gallup, New Mexico. Drive time: 1 hour.

Continue west on I-40 to Petrified Forest National Park. Drive time between Gallup and Petrified Forest: 1 hour.

⇒Side Trip: Chaco Culture National Historic Park. Located 86 miles north of Grants via Highway 509. Cost: $25.00 per vehicle for a one week pass. Camping available, but no RV hook-ups. Closest hotels and restaurants are approximately 1.5 hours north of the park. Here’s the website link: Chaco Culture National Historic Park. Backtrack to Grants to resume your journey to Petrified Forest National Park. Drive time between Chaco Culure and Grants: 2 hours.

Destination: Petrified Forest National Park

This is a big park! The park road is 28 miles long and includes many pull outs and stops. Come for the scenery and the learning experience. (We also like the nostalgia of Route 66.) There are photo ops around every turn, and as you will see, the sights in the park are spectacular. Be sure to stop at the visitor centers, the Painted Desert Inn Museum, and the Rainbow Forest Museum. The park also features archaeological sites, including Puerco Pueblo, Newspaper Rock, and Agate House. Theodore Roosevelt did us all a favor when he made Petrified Forest a national monument in 1906. It became a national park 56 years later in 1962.

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Petrified Tree Trunk

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Wood turned to stone

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These logs appear to have been cut and purposely placed here by an ancient lumberjack.

Below are some up-close views of the beauty of the petrified wood. Just look at those colors!

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Where else can you see this?

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Or this?

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Painted Desert Vista

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Another view of Painted Desert

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Oh, the colors!

Much of the park can be seen from the car, but we highly recommend getting out, taking a hike on or off the trails (see website), and absorbing the sights, sounds, and smells this amazing place has to offer.

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⇒Side trip: Canyon de Chelly National Monument. Entrance is free. Website link: Canyon de Chelly.

Take I-40 east to Chambers, Arizona. At Chambers, take Highway 191 north toward Ganado, Arizona.

Bonus stopHubbell Trading Post National Historic Site. Website link: Hubbell Trading Post. Cost: $5.00 per person to tour the Hubbell Home. Kids 15 and under are admitted free.

Continue north to Chinle, Arizona and Canyon de Chelly National Monument. Drive time between Petrified Forest and Canyon de Chelly: 1.5 hours.

This concludes our trip to Petrified Forest National Park. Thank you for joining us, and we hope you enjoyed the journey. We would love to hear from you, so leave us a comment and tell us about your road trips. In closing, we are leaving you with one last photo because it reminds us of a vintage postcard that might have been found in a Route 66 curio shop back in the day!

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Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye


As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.