The Southwest trip was ending and we drove the old Apache Trail (Hwy 188) to visit the Tonto National Monument. Here they have two cliff dwellings (one was closed) of the Salado people that lived in the Tonto Basin roughly 700 years ago. To get to the dwelling there is a steep path with switchbacks to get up the cliff. As I stood along the mouth of the entrance looking over the basin, I could only image how the people traveled throughout the area without modern conveniences.
Spent part of a day at Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park in Arizona last March.
The rains had chased out of our intended destination, lava tubes near Flagstaff. We went for the next best option on the road to Phoenix – Sunset Crater Volcano National Park. Hard to believe that there was an active volcano just about thousand years ago in Northern Arizona.
During this trip I wanted to find some dinosaur tracks. I searched the internet for secret locations and imagined a long hike out in the middle of no where and then stumbling on a great find. It was towards the end of our trip and I was running out of opportunities. Then just outside Tube City, AZ there was a road sign, “Dinosaur Tracks 1 Mile Ahead”. We had time to kill and said “why not?!?” and pulled into the makeshift parking lot. The “tour” was by donation and Jennifer our guide told us that this land was Navajo lands and in their stories, no one came out there because of the ‘bones’. It was only a short time ago when they realized that the bones where dinosaur fossils. She grabbed a bottle of water (to highlight the tracks) and it was maybe 20 – 25 feet from the parking lot and you could see all the tracks.
Last day in Monument Valley and we took a guided tour of Mystery Valley.
We had arrived late to Monument Valley Tribal Park but in time to catch the setting sun illuminating the mesas and give the sandstone some added pop. The week before we arrived, the valley had 16″ of snow. While most of it had melted, there was still some areas with snow on it and it added some interesting contrast to the photos.
Thirty species are found in the Southwest, but the one most often seen is Aphonopelma chalcodes, commonly known as the desert tarantula. The tawny females have a leg span of about 5 inches. Males are slightly smaller, darker and more slender, and are often seen trudging determinedly across the desert on summer evenings.