Travels in Northern Arizona
While my daughter was here, we spent a lot of time traveling around Northern Arizona and taking in the sights. One of those was a stop at Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon Dam. Driving across the dry desert and then spotting the turquoise and aqua water of Lake Powell nestled in the landscape is a view that takes the breath away.
The scope of Lake Powell is hard to take in as to my knowledge, there is no way to see it in it's entirety except from space. It winds in and out of red rock canyons creating a coastline that is hundreds of miles long.
The Glen Canyon Dam is an amazing sight to see. It's curving walls cut into the canyon walls in a way that adds strength to the Dam. It boggles the mind to think about how many gallons of water this dam holds in place. It is also a source of hydro electric power to much of the southwest.
Below the dam, the river runs clear and the deepest blue green shade you ever saw in nature. Prior to the dam being built, the river would have run red or brown due to all the desert sediments in the water. Now, this section of the river runs clear and doesn't pick up sediment until Lee's Ferry where the Pariah River runs into it.
Jessie and I made a stop at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. From the meadow on the west side, this view of the San Francisco Peaks provides a glimpse of the extent of fire scared hillsides, signs of devastation from the Shultz Fire back in June.
Here a view of Sunset Crater Volcano and another smaller cinder cone. On the south side of the cones, the black cinders heat up preventing much vegetation from taking root. The cinders also drain away any rain that falls, so it may be centuries before plant life begins to take hold.
The road through Sunset Crater leads on into Wupatki National Monument. Here, the ruins of thousand year old pueblos dot the landscape. The three story tower of Wukoki Pueblo rides a sandstone outcropping like a ship in the desert. It's intriguing to think about what life must have been like in this land of little water.
As always, I am intrigued by the small things of the desert like this plant with it's tiny flowers hanging below sparsely leaved branches.
At the Wupatki Visitor Center, there is a demonstration garden filled with amaranth, corn and sunflowers as the original inhabitants might have grown.
Driving across the rising plateau to the south rim of the Grand Canyon, the sheer cliffs of the Little Colorado River Gorge cut across in a serpentine pattern. The light and shadows of the lowering sun accent the edges and make one realize what a chasm this is in the surrounding land. For me, the narrow and vertical nature of this gorge is more spectacular than the grandiose erosion of the Grand Canyon.
At the Desert Tower overlook, a modern day Hopi artist painted images on the tower walls. This view is on the ceiling of the lower floor and always intrigues me. Such a pleasant face, though I must plead ignorance as to it's meaning.
We enjoyed watching the sunset from the south rim of the Grand Canyon. It's at this time of day that the layers and depth of the canyon become most apparent.
The colors of sunset burst into vivid shades of gold and purple right as the sun sets over the canyon walls.
I must admit that I would have enjoyed this view much more if it weren't for the fools climbing over the guard rails to perch out on the edge of the rocks. But it was the mother with two tiny children in hand walking out to stand on the edge of an overhang, well past the guard railing that will remain imprinted on my mind on this trip! They apparently don't hear the stories that we do in Flagstaff of people falling 75 feet or more, ending up with life changing injuries or dying from said injuries. A stumble or gust of wind can irrevocably alter the situation out on the unstable rocks of the canyon rim. No view or photograph is worth that risk in my mind.