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USA 2007
Adventures in Arizona and New Mexico
Week 1 Week 2 Week 3

Saturday, 19th May, a.m. sunny, p.m. cloudy with local thunderstorms,
approx. 24 °C

Shiprock - Canyon del Muerto - Hope Arch - Canyon de Chelly
Accommodation: Holiday Inn, Chinle
Miles driven: 214

Back onto the road at 9 a.m. We passed by Shiprock, a volcanic core, and caught a glimpse of Royal Arch in the distance from Cove. Via Lukachukai Pass and Tsaile we reached the North Rim of Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Canyon del Muerto, shortly after 12 p.m. By now storm clouds had appeared. We had a look at Mummy Cave from the viewpoint. At 1:45 p.m. we arrived in Chinle, back in Arizona, but still at New Mexico time because they have daylight savings time in the Navajo reservation. There are only three hotels in Chinle and we had booked the Holiday Inn ($89 + Tax). Our room wasn't ready yet, so we went for some lunch first.

Then we drove to Hope Arch which is only accessible via 8 miles of dirt roads.  We were back at the hotel at 4 p.m., dumped our luggage, then set of for the Canyon de Chelly's south rim. Unfortunately it was still overcast. The south rim road is 37 miles (return) with 7 viewpoints. We reached Spider Rock at 5:30 p.m. This would have been a perfect late afternoon location in the sunshine. Finally we wanted to hike down into the canyon via the White House Trail. This were 2.5 miles (return), 500 ft. down into the canyon. We started off with dark clouds over our heads, but when we reached the canyon floor, the sky suddenly turned blue again!We were back at the car after a bit more than an hour.

The hotel restaurant was full at 8 p.m. so we had to wait a bit to be seated. I had a Navajo Sandwich and Volker the Steak Salad.

Sunday, 20th May, partly cloudy with local thunderstorms, 28 °C
Window Rock - Painted Desert/Petrified Forest
Accommodation: Super 8, Holbrook
Miles driven: 202

We left at 8:45 a.m. and drove south. Our first stop was at the Hubbell Trading Post. Here we saw a snake crossing the road! It must have been a Gopher Snake or Bull Snake (not poisonous).

Next we drove to Window Rock. This is also the capital of the Navajo Nation. Now it was time to change the clocks to Arizona time and we gained an hour.

Around 11 a.m. Arizona time we reached Petrified Forest National Park and the sun came out. We stopped at the Painted Desert viewpoints, then we did a backcountry hike to the Onyx Bridge, a fossilized tree trunk that spans across a wash. This took about two hours.

By now the sky had turned black in the distance. We were driving south with the thunderstorm in our back. We stopped at Newspaper Rock and the Tepees and did the 1.6 km long Blue Mesa Loop Trail as well as the 1 km long Crystal Forest Loop. Our final stop was at the Giant Logs. We left the park at 5 p.m.

30 minutes later we arrived in Holbrook which still has some Route 66 charm. Here we had booked the Super 8 ($50 + Tax) north of the railway line. We went to an Italian restaurant for dinner.

Monday, 21th May, sunny, 20 °C
Grand Falls of the Little Colorado - Flagstaff - Sunset Crater/Wupatki NM
Accommodation: Sugar Loaf Lodge, Sedona
Miles driven: 249

Finally we had a beautiful sunny day again, but it was very windy and cool. We left at 8:15 a.m. We drove towards Leupp and onto a dirt road to the Grand Falls of the Little Colorado. However, the falls can only be seen after snowmelt or a heavy rain. We saw some volcanic cones on the way to Flagstaff.

Flagstaff has a nice historic center and the trains pass through the town making an incredible noise sounding their whistles! At 1:15 p.m. we continued on our way to Sunset Crater und Wupatki National Monument. We did the Lenox Crater Trail which leads up a volcanic cone and the Lava Flow Trail. Then we had a look at Wukoki Pueblo, Wupatki Pueblo and Citadel Pueblo.

At 4:45 p.m. we left the park and drove through the Oak Creek Canyon to Sedona. We got there at 6:30 p.m. and saw the red rocks in the area bathed in beautiful evening sunlight. For four nights we had booked a room at the Sugar Loaf Lodge in West Sedona ($60 + Tax), which is very moderately priced for pricy Sedona, but the reviews were good and it fulfilled our needs. We had dinner at Casa Bonita - good Mexican food!

Tuesday, 22nd May, partly cloudy, 27 °C
West Fork of Oak Creek - Jerome
Accommodation: Sugar Loaf Lodge, Sedona
Miles driven: 89

We got something for breakfast from a nearby bakery. As we had the National Parks Pass we didn't have to buy the Red Rocks Pass. There are 200 miles of hiking trails around Sedona (Hiking Map). For today we had decided on the West Fork of Oak Creek Trail. This was an $8 fee for the parking area. The mostly level trail is 6.5 miles return. At the end there is a subway-like passage. After 3.5 hours we were back at the car. It was 12:45 p.m. and we returned to the motel.

We spent some time at the pool and spa and left again at 3 p.m. to visit the ghost town Jerome. Then we drove the Red Rocks Loop (7 miles). We had dinner at the Oak Creek Brewery & Grill in Tlaquepaque, an arts and crafts village in Mexican-style.

Wednesday, 23rd May, a.m. partly cloudy, p.m. sunny, 27 °C
Schnebly Hill Road - Boynton Canyon - Honanki Ruins - Red Rock Crossing/Crescent Moon
Accommodation: Sugar Loaf Lodge, Sedona
Miles driven: 59

We left at 9 a.m. and drove up the Schnebly Hill Road which is a 12 miles dirt road in rather bad condition leading to Interstate 17. We turned back to Sedona when we reached the viewing point at half the distance. This road is also used extensively by jeep tours from Sedona. Next we drove to the trailhead of the Boynton Canyon Trail. This was a hike of 5 miles (return) for which we needed about 3 hours. We were back at 3 p.m.

Then we drove the Boynton Pass Road to the turn off to Palatki Ruins and Loy Butte. To the Honanki Ruins it was 4.5 miles along a rocky dirt road. We visited the ruins and even saw a Kokopelli painted on the wall!

At the end of the day we drove to Red Rock Crossing at the Crescent Moon Recreation Area ($8 fee). The Red Rock Flats are the classic photo location for the Cathedral Butte at sunset. We had dinner at Olde Sedona with live music.

Thursday, 24th May, sunny, 30 °C
Vultee Arch - Devil's Bridge - Red Rock Crossing/Village of Oak Creek
Accommodation: Sugar Loaf Lodge, Sedona
Miles driven: 51

The first hike of this beautiful morning was the 1-mile long Devil’s Bridge Trail leading to a natural bridge. Continuing for 5 miles along the rocky Vultee Arch Road we arrived at the parking area for the Vultee Arch Trail. We started off around 11 a.m. This trail was 3 miles return.

Back at the motel we spent some time at the pool. In the afternoon we drove to Oak Creek Village and found a way to Red Rock Crossing from the south, an even better photo location and no fees! Then we drove to the Chapel of the Holy Cross, built into the rock. The location offers a great view of Courthouse Butte and Bell Rock. Finally we drove up to the viewpoint at the Airport Mesa which is a great sunset location.

Friday, 25th May, sunny, 36 °C
V-Bar-V Petroglyph Site - Montezuma Castle - Scottsdale
Accommodation: Best Western Papago Inn, Scottsdale
Miles driven: approx. 140

We left Sedona at 9:30 a.m. We visited V-Bar-V Petroglyph Site which is only open Fridays to Mondays. Our next stop was Montezuma Well, a large sinkhole, water source for the Sinagua Indians, then Montezuma Castle, a pueblo ruin built high into the cliffs. Around 2 p.m. we reached our hotel in Scottsdale, Phoenix, Best Western Papago Inn & Resort ($60 + Tax AAA Rate). The hotel has a nice courtyard and pool. We did some shopping at Scottsdale Fashion Square and visited Old Town Scottsdale.

Saturday, 26th May
Return flight

We had to get up at 4:15 a.m. At this time of day there was hardly any traffic. We returned the car and queued at check-in. The queue at the security check was really long. Probably due to Memorial Day weekend. Our flight departed as scheduled at 7:15 a.m. We changed flights in Atlanta and landed at 7:30 a.m. the next morning in Düsseldorf. Two hours later we were back home.

2nd week

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