In Arizona, the Navajo National Monument offers 13th century pueblo ruins; the visitors center exhibits Anasazi Indian artifacts, holds slide and film programs and operates summer campfire programs. Camping and picnicking are permitted April to October. Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park offers horseback riding and four-wheel drive trips, as well as self-guided tours through Mystery Valley where isolated monoliths of red sandstone tower as high as 1,000 feet.
Take a ride on Colorado's Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, a coal-burning, locomotive-drawn train in continuous use since 1882. From Durango, ride up to Silverton where you can enjoy lunch, a walking tour of historic Silverton and a visit to local shops. The Sunnyside Mill & Mine, the first silver mine here, is still preserved. Want a little more adventure? Join a group of hearty adventurers for a Colorado River big water trip thru Cataract Canyon and Canyonlands National park.
The Anasazi Indians lived in ancient cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park, near Cortez, Colorado. Open year-round, the park has interpretive activities, the Chapin Mesa Museum, historical exhibits and campfire programs. You will find camping, lodging and guided or self-guided tours.
The Chaco Culture National Historical Park back, in northwestern New Mexico, has 13 preserved pueblos and several thousand smaller sites of the Chaco Anasazi dated between AD 900 and 1150. Self-guiding trails explore some of the ruins; the visitors' center provides information, displays artifacts and presents short films. Northeast of the park, the town of Farmington, NM offers an outdoor musical drama, "Anasazi, the Ancient Ones," performed in a natural sandstone amphitheater on Wednesday and Saturday evenings in the summer. An optional Southwestern-styte dinner is served before each performance.
Rodeos, Farmington Trade Days, Freedom Days, the Connie Mack World Series and the San Juan Country Fair all take place here and the Totah Festival is held on Labor Day weekend. The Farmington Museum houses local-interest exhibits and includes a child's experience center.
Arches National Park, 5 miles northwest of Moab, Utah boasts the largest number of natural stone arches in the country. Redrock canyons, spires, fins and balancing rocks ensure a photographer's bliss; campfire talks, guided trips and hiking information are available at the visitors center. In Moab, sign up for a backcountry Mountain Desert Bike Tour. Pick a day-tour of 30 miles or more and transportation, meals and first aid will be provided. Several multi-day tours are offered, along with combination mountain-biking / white-water-rafting trips. Most equipment can be rented or purchased.
Each of the four states connected at the Four Corners area has myriad attractions for those traveling through. From ancient ruins to big city lights, from camping to five-star hotels, from campfire burgers to steak and lobster; you're guaranteed to find your favorite place!
Chamber of Commerce - 928 E Main St - PO Box 968 - Cortez CO 81321 - 303.565.3414
The Betatakin ruins may be seen across a canyon, on a self-guided, one-mile round-trip tour. A more strenuous hike of 21/2 miles, with a ranger-guide, is limited to 20 people per day. The altitude, heat and steep grade make good physical conditioning a necessity. Again, you need to carry an adequate supply of water.
A third ruin is the Inscription House, however this has been closed for its own protection.
Our visit was more enjoyable because we camped at one of the 30-odd campsites. We were exhausted from the hiking and the heat, so it was nice not to have to get right into the car and drive. There is no charge for camping and campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Please note that vehicles are limited to 25' in length. There are no gas or grocery services available in the park; with the nearest being about 10 miles away. We thoroughly enjoyed the campfire programs and stayed two nights, where we were taken back in history to the Anasazi way of life.
The possession of alcoholic beverages is illegal, seat and helmet laws are enforced and you are cautioned not to leave the main road while on Indian reservations. Please note that the Navajo Reservation is also the only area in Arizona to observe daylight saving time.
Navajoland Tourism Office - PO Box 663 - Window Rock AZ 86515 - 602.871.6659 Navajo National Monument - HC71 Box 3 - Tonalea AZ 86044 - 602.672.2366
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park - PO Box 93 - Monument Valley UT 84536 - 801.727.3287
Arizona Office of Tourism 1100 West Washington - Phoenix AZ 85007 - Voice: 602.542.8687 FAX: 602.542.4068
An avid coal-train lover, Fred Dorst, of Richmond, Virginia has come out to ride the train three times. Dorst recommends the ride for young and old alike. "I came out here as a single man and now am bringing my children to see this part of the country's past. These trains are like people; they have a personality of their own." You may opt for a seat in the open section of the train or the covered section; either way you'll see plenty as the train wheels rumble beneath your feet. The natural beauty of the wilderness provides an endless succession of photo opportunities.
The town of Silverton is delightful. There are over 50 gift shops, restaurants and hotels and opportunities to hike, fish, camp and explore in jeeps. The wooden buildings are smaller in scale than those we're used to, while a walk on wooden sidewalks reminds you of how well those who built this old mining town used the materials at hand. A sense of intimacy between the buildings and the land exists. We lunched at a restaurant owned by the descendants of immigrants from Russia. Their family has been here since the early silver mining days. On an open patio, we enjoyed authentic Russian dishes while watching hummingbirds feed along the bushes.
There are many festivals and celebrations in Silverton including a Fourth of July parade and the Kendall Mountain Run later in July. The town hosts the Great Western Rocky Mountain Brass Band Festival in August, and an antique car show. There's a classic quilt show and a Labor Day Hang-Gliding Meet in September. There's even a Yule Log Celebration come December.
Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad - 479 Main Avenue - Durango CO 81301 - 303.247.2733
NOTE: Allow 8 hours minimum. Departures begin about 7:30 am. Make reservations 4 to 6 weeks in advance. Adult Fare $42.70; children (5-11 yrs) $21.45
Silverton Chamber of Commerce - 414 Greene St PO Box 565 - Silverton CO 81433 - 303.387-5654 or 800.752.4494
There is ample time for swimming, while exciting campfire talks and tales abound, particularly about the rapids at Cataract Canyon. The ride downstream, through canyons and the kind of beauty only nature can create, is filled with exciting views and sights. Tents, camping equipment, food and extremely knowledgeable and friendly guides are all provided. The raw excitement of the white water rapids must be experienced to be understood.
After our skilled guides brought us back to land at Lake Powell, we flew back to Grand Junction in a small chartered plane. From land, water and the air, if you are a white water enthusiast, this is an adventure you must experience!
Adventure Bound Inc - 2392 H Road - Grand Junction CO 81505 - 800.423.4668
Sedona Bed and Breakfasts
Spruce Tree House is a short drive from the center to Chapin Mesa. Sheltered in a stoney ledge, this group of cube-shaped houses were fashioned from sandstone blocks and had rectangular windows. A KIVA reconstruction represents the round, underground religious and ceremonial room of the Anasazi. A ladder allows access to a room through a large, square opening in the roof. A fire pit is in the middle of the floor. To the side, is a SIPAPU, a symbolic doorway to the underworld in ceremonial use during pre-Columbian times.
I recommend you arrive early; we arrived at 8:00 am and by the time we left Spruce Tree House 2 hours later, it was filled with tourists. The rangers give great, informative guided tours but, with the arrival of the teeming masses, it gets harder to understand what they're saying.
Cliff Palace is the largest of the cliff dwellings with 217 rooms and 23 kivas. It was a small city. Toeholds were pointed out by park rangers; amazingly, ancient toe impressions are still visible. Of course, there's no touching allowed. The Anasazi used these toe-holes to climb vertical stone walls of incredible heights. From Cliff Palace, you can take Ruins Road to view six centuries of Anasazi culture. Their first dwellings were small pithouses, partly above, and partly below ground. From there, they went in two directions: kivas totally below ground and pueblos, stone houses, above ground.
Balcony House has only one way in: a 32 foot ladder. Take my advice and leave most of your camera gear with the ranger at the bottom of the ladder. A tunnel connects two edifices and you have to crawl through. You leave the other side by using enlarged toe-holds and grasping a chain, (very tightly, I might add), to get down.
Mesa Verde has two impenetrable secrets: Why did the Anasazi move from the mesa top to the gorge walls around 1200 A.D. and why did they abandon the area altogether less than 100 years later? While uncertain, two theories are colder climate and pressure from enemies. We'll probably never know.
You can camp in the park at Morefield Campground ($8-$15.50); you can reserve a room at the Far View Lodge ($77-$94). Or you can stay in nearby Durango or Cortez. Wherever you sleep, do plan for two or three days to get the full impact of this disappeared civilization; it is fascinating.
Mesa Verde National Park - Mesa Verde CO 81330 - 970.529.4475
Durango Chamber of Commerce PO Box 2587RW - Durango CO 81301 - 800.525.8855
NOTE: Park Entry Fee $5.00; park tours (from information Center in the park) $1.00 Per person
ARA Far View Lodge - Mesa Verde National Park Box 277 - Mancos CO 81328 - 970.529.4421
Park Information - (505) 988-6727 or (505) 988-6716; New Mexico Tourism - PO Box 20003 - Santa Fe NM 87503 - 505.827.7336 800.545.2040
Chamber of Commerce - 203 W Main St - Farmington NM 87401 - 505.325.0279 800.448.1240
Visitor's Bureau - 203 W Main Suite 401 - Farmington NM 87401 - 505.326.3842 800.242.4282
Arches National Park - Box 907 - Moab UT 84532 - 801.259.8161
Moab Grand County Travel Council - PO Box AA93 - Moab UT 84532 - 800.635.6622
Also offered are 2 day / 1 night, to 5 day / 4 night trips, combining camping and riding. The ultimate adventure here, mountain bike riding combined with white water rafting, is also available. Equipment can be rented or you can bring your own bike; parts are available and there are maps if you want to do it on your own. Long-term parking is available. Whatever your preference, You will know you've been there. It's a wonderful adventure vacation!