Another hot, dry day in the desert (big surprise!). We headed out of Taos and started west. Today was to be a big travel day, but along the way we saw a variety of sights which made the drive more enjoyable. First, the highway heads over the southern end of the San Juan mountains. This is quintessential Rocky Mountain territory, with big trees, lakes, meadows, and winding highways. There was even some snow still in the woods as we approached the pass at 10,500′ elevation.
Beyond that we drove through vast valleys with rushing rivers, deep, rocky gorges, desert mesas, and by towering, eroded cliffs with hoodoos standing like pillars right beside the road. We drove into Arizona and into the town of Tuba City. This is where we camped years ago when visiting the Grand Canyon. That time, it was a hot, dusty trailer park with no shade. Luckily, our accommodations this go-round are much nicer!
Past Tuba City, it’s a short but much-anticipated drive up the mesa to the Grand Canyon, Lower down, this is very much desert land, with red-rock cliffs and strange formations right up beside the road. As you reach the National Park, the land flattens and the trees take over – you wouldn’t suspect what was right around the bend. (And what you apparently have to pay $25 to see anymore – sheesh!). Pulling in to the second overlook, Tasha got her first look at the Grand Canyon itself, and of course was at a loss for words. This was my second time there but it’s just as grand as ever. It’s something you have to see to believe – no pictures, paintings, or words can do it justice.
After the drive, we were eager to get into our hotel and get some rest. It was another 23 miles through the park to the Holiday Inn we found to be the last place with a room available when we were making reservations. A dip in the pool and soak in the hot tub and we hit the sack to get ready for more exploration the next day.
After popping up bright and early at 5:30 am local time (really only 8:30 back east!), we grabbed some breakfast and headed back into the park to do some hiking. We did about 3 miles of the Rim Trail, gaping at each overlook and snapping tons of pictures, before the weather became wicked hot. We’re back in the hotel now waiting for it to cool down a bit, to catch the sunset over the Canyon. More pics to come. Next stops: Hurricane, Utah, home of Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks.