Walnut Canyon National Monument, Arizona

This was another cliff dwelling monument we visited near Flagstaff, and in contrast to Montezuma Castle, this one has far less dwelling, but a lot more hiking. The hikes are measured in miles instead of meters, and had some pretty significant stair climbing involved.

The cliff dwellings, on the other hand, were open for folks to walk around in, which means they are pretty badly degraded and not well preserved.

Overall, this is a cool place to visit if you have the National Park pass, and you feel like a bit longer of a hike.

Montezuma Castle National Monument

I mentioned in a couple other posts that we ended up in this part of Arizona by accident. This National Monument had not been on our list, but since we were nearby in Camp Verde, we decided to go check it out.

The monument itself is pretty neat. These cliff dwellings exist in a few different places in this area, but these are probable the best preserved that we saw.

There’s not a lot to do at this one, other than learn a bit about the history, and take a very short hike around the facilities, but of course it was totally worth the visit.

Montezuma Castle National Monument

Flagstaff, Arizona

Even after more than a week there, Flagstaff remains one of our favorite towns to spend time in. More than anywhere else in the country, we feel like these people are our people. And the town feels like our town.

Unfortunately, the surrounding Coconino National Forest lands were completely closed due to wildfires in the area. I had planed to spend a fair bit of time on these lands, so this was a huge shock and very disappointing. But luckily, the National Landmarks scattered around the city were still open. I’ll write about those in future posts.

Something extra special did happen while we were in Flagstaff, though. My parents came to visit while we were here! Most of the best moments of this part of the trip were spent just hanging out at the campsite, blowing bubbles, eating fancy foods, and playing laser tag with them.

Another interesting quirk of Flagstaff are the ghost towns just down I-40. We stopped at them for some photo shoots and to explore a bit.

In other news, my kids are getting so big that I fit in some of their clothes. So that’s happening.

Sedona, Arizona

We found ourselves in Sedona, unintentionally, because the nearby wildfires closed down the Cinder Hills in Coconino National Forest where we had intended to stay for a few days.

Because of this, all of the Flagstaff area campgrounds were completely full, and the closest availability was down near Sedona in Camp Verde. We’re not much for camping in Walmart parking lots, so we made the drive down.

There’s not much of a story here, since it was an unintended stop, but here are a few pictures from our short stay.

Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah

I’d like to start this post by saying that Dead Horse Point is so indistinguishable from the Grand Canyon that I have had serious trouble sorting the pictures now that I’m back at home. This place is absolutely spectacular, and it’s another example of an unscheduled stop that I really wish we had time to spend a whole day at.

We had just enough time to drive through the park and take some pictures before our guests had to get on the road back to California.

Monument Valley, Utah

You know the place. It’s the iconic landscape of the American Southwest. It’s where Forrest Gump stopped running.

We were only here for an overnight stop between Moab and Flagstaff, but we were graced with a herd of grazing sheep that wandered through our campsite, and shortly thereafter one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen – so I figured I’d share the pictures.

Goblin Valley State Park, Utah

Rylan learned, during our stop in Moab, not to play in the dirt at RV parks. He came down with a nasty stomach virus that kept him confined to the camper for several days.

To fill the void, the rest of us took an unscheduled trip to Goblin Valley State Park, and we were not disappointed. Other than the heat, this place was a wonderland of natural history and great hikes.

Arches National Park

We were unable to secure a reservation into Arches National Park, so we had to wait until after 6pm to get into the park. This meant we didn’t have much time to explore or do any long hikes. We did make it to the Delicate Arch trailhead and we were able able to see it from a distance, at least.

For sure, the arches are pretty cool. But even more beautiful was just the scenery inside the park. I’d love to spend some more time in the park during the off season sometime. The number of people in the park made it quite miserable.