Thursday, July 24, 2008

Lee's Ferry, Monument Valley, Four Corners

Ned and Joe By the Mighty Colorado

We broke camp and started for Mesa Verde National Park. Though we had late start I wasn’t that worried about getting a campsite because Mesa Verde has over 400 sites and rarely fills half of them.

As we left the Grand Canyon the landscape quickly changed from the forested plateau of the Kaibab National Forest to the red rocks of the Vermillion Cliffs. Our first stop was Lee’s Ferry, AZ just passed Marble Canyon. In the 1870's the Mormon Church needed a route to Arizona. Lee’s Ferry was the main crossing of the Colorado River in this part of the country until Navajo Bridge was built in 1928. There are still the remains of the cable supports for the ferry and some buildings that housed a gold mining operation.

Now it is where a lot of rafting tours of the Colorado River begin. We walked along the river and then went down to a beach. We waded in a little bit but the water was very cold.

In Page, AZ we had a quick lunch and stopped at the overlook for the Glen Canyon Dam which backs up the Colorado River to form Lake Powell.

Now we headed into the Navajo Indian Reservation and into Monument Valley. Monument Valley with its eroded spires and projections is truly a marvel to see. Even after "more red rocks," as Ned put it, the landscape of Monument Valley is spectacular enough to warrant the drive. After turning onto US 163 North out of Kayenta we were soon in the midst of the monuments evoking visions of the old west formed by the movies of my youth. John Ford filmed some of his classic movies here like Stagecoach and The Searchers.

Leaving Monument Valley we drove passed Mexican Hat and the rock formation that gave it its name and then stopped at Four Corners. Four Corners is the only spot in the US where four states meet. In one spot you can stand in Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. It was crowded and all around the marker were temporary shops selling food and hand crafted goods. We were only there 10 minutes but I could have left earlier.

On the drive to Mesa Verde it started to cloud over and then rain. When we arrived in Cortez, NM, about ten miles from the park, it was raining steadily. I thought about getting a hotel but the rain stopped so we went to the park.

The boys picked our campsite. It was down a little hill and almost invisible in the midst of Gamble Oaks. We set up the tent and then purchased our tickets for the cliff dwelling tours. Afterward we went to a campground ranger program on the night sky. Still overcast from the rain it turned into a question and answer session about the park and the cliff dwellings.

Rafters Getting Ready for the Journey Downriver

The Remains of Lee's Fort

The Glen Canyon Dam

The Road to Monument Valley

Monument Valley

The Road West

I'm in Colorado! I'm in New Mexico! No, I'm in Arizona or is it Utah?

DeMotte Campground, AZ to Mesa Verde National Park, CO, 405 miles 7 hrs 48 min

No comments: