Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hit the Road for Northern Arizona

The Grand Canyon, colorful cliffs and birthday wishes



The angle of light at sunrise and sunset brings out colors in the Grand Canyon that are washed out by harsh noon lighting.

 

Everybody loves a birthday party, and there’s a big one this year: The National Park Service turns 100. And who gets the gifts? We do – America’s national parks, monuments, historic sites, all the 400-plus units of the NPS are a treasure protected for us and for our children. So my husband Jack and I decided to open as many presents as we could. We found plenty in northern Arizona.

 

Petrified Forest National Park is bisected by I-40, popularly known as Route 66 – although it’s simply close to, not exactly on, the original highway. North of the highway, the park is characterized not by petrified wood but by the Painted Desert, part of a large swath of landscape that covers many square miles of the Four Corners area where Arizona abuts Utah, Colorado and New Mexico.

South of I-40 was where we started seeing the petrified pieces of what once were giant trees. More than 200 million years old, these trees were once standing tall in a tropical rainforest. Over eons, fallen trees were acted on by changing rivers and deposited sediment. Water and minerals soaked into the wood fiber, replacing it with mineral deposits – literally turning the wood to stone. Erosion worked to uncover the petrified trees; more erosion removed soil from beneath sections, causing them to fracture into chunks that look as though they have been cut by a saw. The pieces now are basically quartz – but traces of other minerals have created beautiful colors.

A number of overlooks on the route south provide good photo ops, with Agate Bridge a particular favorite. Here a 110-foot log fell, and erosion dug a ravine beneath it. In 1917, park workers built a concrete support bridge to keep the log from fracturing.

The Crystal Forest stop features a three-quarter-mile-long trail past pieces noted for particularly striking colors. Be sure to stop at the Rainbow Forest Museum for information on the geology and paleontology in the park. Walk the Giant Logs Trail behind the museum – a short trail with hills and stairs that’s not wheelchair-accessible, but filled with cool sights. A section of the trail is actually part of an ancient riverbed, and on the platform at the top you can see “Old Faithful” – not the geyser, a massive piece of a giant tree weighing approximately 44 tons.

The name “Painted Desert” is said to have originated with Coronado’s 1540 expedition to find the Seven Cities of Cibola.


Rejoining I-40, we made a quick stop just east of Flagstaff at Walnut Canyon National Monument. The deep canyon here is noteworthy for its biodiversity, which made it an appealing home for ancient Native people. Most importantly, it had water in a dry land.

There are two trails in the park, the Rim Trail and the Island Trail. We chose the Rim Trail because of time … and the 240 steps involved on the Island Trail. The Rim Trail gives you great canyon views and a long-distance view of pueblos dating back to the 1200s. The Island Trail (closed during the month of May this year) actually goes down into the canyon and the pueblos.

Our ultimate destination was the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, but we had a couple more surprises on our route. As we headed north, almost to the Utah border, the scenery became increasingly stunning, thanks to towering red rocks. Each turn of the road elicited another “Wow!” We later discovered this was Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, an area with no visitor center or obvious amenities – just spectacular scenery.

Crossing over the Colorado River, we detoured to the Navajo Bridge Interpretive Center (closed in winter) where we discovered we were in the very tip of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. When the Navajo Bridge was completed in 1929, it was the only bridge across the Colorado River for 600 miles and would become part of the first direct highway between Arizona and Utah.

We walked out onto the old bridge for a great view of the new bridge to the south. The green Colorado was 467 feet below, and above, we spotted a California condor. Once native to the area, they were virtually unseen for decades. Thanks to a 1996 recovery program, the population has grown from six to approximately 76.

Just beyond the bridges, we took another road leading to Lees Ferry. No ferry now, but you’ll find a nice picnic pavilion and a launch area. This is where many Grand Canyon raft trips begin. And while the center is closed in winter, the spot is fine for wading on a warm day.

From the old Navajo Bridge, visitors get a good view of the new bridge, the Vermilion Cliffs and the Colorado River below.


Jack and I had visited the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in spring 2013. The North Rim, at a higher elevation, is only open from mid-May until mid-October. But now it was September – the perfect time to go. The aspens were just turning gold, and most summer visitors had gone home.

The views are just as wonderful, but the facilities are much smaller. With one main lodge, cabins and motel-like accommodations, reservations fill fast even at the end of the season. Reservations for the following season open in October.

Activities include hiking, ranger activities, trail rides and photography, and from June 1 through mid-September cookouts feature cowboy fare and entertainment. The Grand Canyon Lodge has spacious verandas for great views, and the main dining room is ideal for watching the sun go down.

This is the year to get out and go celebrate the saving of America’s most significant sites. A special birthday program is Every Kid in a Park, giving every fourth-grader in the nation a free park pass (parents are included) for the rest of their fourth-grade school year and the summer months. Don’t pass up the chance to sing “Happy Birthday” to the National Park Service.


► Find More

Arizona tourism information |  visitarizona.com

Grand Canyon Lodge | grandcanyonforever.com

Fourth-grade pass |  everykidinapark.gov

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »You Might Like

The Festival of the Arts’ Legacy

Arts Council OKC director Peter Dolese retraces the origins and expansion of the week-long celebration of creativity that is the Festival of the Arts.

The Natural Touch for Self-Care

Natural products from lotions to fragrances in conscientious self-care that are perfect for a season of renewal.

An Oklahoma Story in Stone

Nearly 150 years after Sophia Pitchlynn died in what was then Indian Territory, her gravestone still stands silent vigil in Garland Cemetery.

Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

April 2019

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Celebrate Easter with a trip to Andy Alligator’s Fun Park! On Saturday and Sunday, get $5 off an All-Day Pass with our Eggcellent Easter Special. All-Day Passes include Go-Karts,...

Cost: $23.95

Where:
Andy Alligator's Fun Park & Water Park
3300 Market Pl
Norman, OK  73072
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

The OSU Symphony Orchestra will conclude the 2018-19 season with Schubert's monumental and majestic Symphony No. 9 in C ("The Great"). The concert opens with The European Anthem,...

Cost: General Admission: $10; Students & Seniors: $7

Where:
Oklahoma State University Department of Music
132 Seretean Ctr
Stillwater, OK  74078
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma State University Department of Music
Telephone: 405.744.6133
Contact Name: Dr. Thomas Dickey
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Potbelly Sandwich Shop is giving back to the local neighborhood with Feed Your Smile, a fundraiser supporting Concordia Life Care Community.  Show this flyer on your smartphone or...

Cost: Free

Where:
Potbelly Sandwich Shop
8500 N Rockwell Ave
OKC, OK  73132
View map »


Sponsor: Potbelly Sandwich Shop
Telephone: 405-792-5112
Contact Name: Katy Fabrie
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

RexFest will feature an interactive art exhibit called a luminarium created by Architects of Air. From April 25-28, visitors can walk through the inflatable sculpture, which disperses light and...

Cost: $8 for kids; $10 for adults; $30 for families of four

Where:
Together Square
400 W Sheridan Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Delta Dental

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

RexFest will feature an interactive art exhibit called a luminarium created by Architects of Air. From April 25-28, visitors can walk through the inflatable sculpture, which disperses light and...

Cost: $8 for kids; $10 for adults; $30 for families of four

Where:
Together Square
400 W Sheridan Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Delta Dental

More information

"Deliberately silencing the internal chatter and not overthinking. Conscious, but not over-trying. With this approach, things just seem to happen—it’s where all the substance is...

Cost: Free

Where:
Individual Artists of Oklahoma
706 W. Sheridan Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Individual Artists of Oklahoma
Telephone: 405.412.2541
Contact Name: David Smith

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

A Sporting Chance will host the 25th annual Track and Field Meet at Branson Junior High in Branson, Missouri. A Sporting Chance provides year-round sports and recreation programs designed for those...

Where:
Branson Junior High
263 Buccaneer Boulevard
Branson, MO  65616
View map »


Sponsor: A Sporting Chance
Telephone: 404-314-2188
Contact Name: Hannah Schachinger

More information

Shop over 200 vendors at this indoor event with everything from vintage furniture, retro and mid-century decor to handmade goods, antiques, industrial finds and architectural salvage!

Cost: $5 at the door, 13 and under free

Where:
Heritage Place
2829 S. MacArthur
Oklahoma City, OK  73128
View map »


Sponsor: Junk Hippy
Contact Name: Kristen Grandi
Website »

More information

This one-day festival is rooted in the printing of large-scale woodblocks carved by local Oklahoma artists. We bring in a 5-ton steamroller and print pre-carved blocks throughout the day on Tyvek...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Contact Name: Evan
Website »

More information

The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

RexFest will feature an interactive art exhibit called a luminarium created by Architects of Air. From April 25-28, visitors can walk through the inflatable sculpture, which disperses light and...

Cost: $8 for kids; $10 for adults; $30 for families of four

Where:
Together Square
400 W Sheridan Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Delta Dental

More information

Andy Alligator's is celebrating teachers! On Saturday and Sunday, teachers with a valid ID will receive a FREE All-Day Pass and $5 off for each family member! An All-Day Pass includes...

Cost: Teachers receive a FREE All-Day Pass; family members get $5 off

Where:
Andy Alligator's Fun Park & Water Park
3300 Market Pl
Norman, OK  73072
View map »

More information

America’s largest interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel. At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: $59.95

Where:
The Skirvin Hilton
1 Park Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: The Dinner Detective
Telephone: 866.496.0535
Website »

More information

Get a sample of the nightlife of Spain at Tulsa Botanic Garden's "Viva La Vida." The Garden is bringing star chef Jamie Bissonnette (Toro restaurants in Boston, NYC, Bangkok and...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Dr
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson
Website »

More information

2nd annual gathering of "The Big Lebowksi" fans at The Dude Abides OKC All Oklahoma City Urban Achievers, Abiders and Coen Brothers fans are invited to join us at Fassler Hall OKC and...

Cost: Free, contests have entry fee

Where:
Fassler Hall
421 NW 10th
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: Revolve Productions
Telephone: 405.810.6977
Contact Name: Tobi Coleman
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags