Monday, May 06, 2013
May 1 - Chaco Canyon to Canyon De Chelley
Up early with a beautiful sunrise though it was a bit nippy. A large group of tenters were next to us and they were huddled around a brisk fire. After talking with the MT couple last night we decided to go the southern road out of Chaco National Monument. Oh so much better with some washboard but about 10% of the northern route in. It was not a bad drive at all other than the one large rock in the center of the road which we scrapped over. No known damage. It is a pretty ride with some homes along the way but so very isolated. You also have to be careful of free range cattle on the road.
From Chaco Canyon Road we took 57 to Crownpoint and then to Coyote Canyon. This is some wide open country and at points I swore I could see the curvature of the earth.
We joined 491/666 at Yah-Ta-Hey and then to 264 west. We stopped at the Hubbell Trading Post National Monument and enjoyed the creaky floors, old style of goods for sale and the Indian jewelry. A lot of the excellent jewelers are men and they always wear pieces they have made. From here we went Route 191 to Chinle, AZ. The NPS has a good visitor center for Canyon de Chelley and we listened to a talk about the early cliff dwellers and the continued use of the canyon floor for agriculture. There are awesome views along the canyon rim road with many overlooks. Each place had RV slots lined out so easy to park. We are early on our travels and have yet to see a lot of people or have problems getting into parking areas or camping places. We stopped at every view point and walked the trails. The exception was the White House Ruin Trail as it was a two and a half mile round trip. The distance wasn't the determining factor but the fact that coming back up was over 700 feet to climb. Our sea level lungs don't do well at elevation.
The best views of geology for us was at the last outlook. You walk about a half mile along the rim of the canyon over huge fields of flat rock. It is so amazing to see these individual rock spires, all of which used to be sea bed.
Tonight we are camped in a Navajo campground in Chinle. $10 put us among tall cottonwood trees, dry camping and the trees are loud as the wind is high. There are three of the smallest popup TCs I've ever seen. They are travelling together in trucks that have almost monster tires.
Not sure which direction we are going tomorrow. It's a bit early to hit WY and MT but UT is calling.