Having crossed our snow-dusted 3,022-foot Snoqualmie Pass in Washington on a gray Thanksgiving morning, we were delighted to find elevations further south, like the Le Fevre Overlook at 6,700-feet, to be shirt-sleeve warm and sunny.
In keeping with our travel style, we followed a road less traveled on this segment of our trip. It was Highway 89A, from St. George, Utah a route that wound its way through northern Arizona (instead of southern Utah) through the rather sparsely- forested Kaibab National Forest.
We had no expectations – no ‘must see’ places – for the day, only a plan to reach Prescott, Arizona before sunset. And it is those kind of days, we’ve found with travel, when the magic happens.
A roadside overlook just outside this forested land is where we had our introduction to the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, a mind-boggling vast area of some 293,000 acres of plateaus, canyons and cliffs. Two Native American ladies were some distance away quietly setting up tables to sell artwork and jewelry. The silence, the absolute silence and the view. . .I still struggle to find the words to describe that moment and its magic:
For miles the roadway cut through that ‘valley floor’ itself an elevation of 5,000 feet, with those cinnabar cliffs towering from 3,100 – 6,500-feet above us.
We were the only travelers on this stretch of road for some time and could only imagine what it had been like for Sharlot Hall (1870-1943), a journalist, poet and the Historian of the Arizona Territory as she traveled this same area by horse-drawn wagons some hundred years ago.
The Vermilion Cliffs are an outdoor enthusiasts playground – hiking trails abound. Next time, we’ll allow ourselves some time to stop and explore the area. We passed two character-looking mom-and-pop places that offered overnight accommodations: Lee’s Ferry Lodge and Marble Canyon Lodge.
If You Go:
The Vermilion Cliffs are bounded on the east by Glen Canyon National Recreation area, on the west by Kaibab National Forest, to the north by the Utah border and to the south, 89A (389 if coming from Fredonia).
Services are limited between St. George, Utah and Fredonia, Arizona; the bookend cities of this loop. However, there’s is a service station and convenience store at Pipe Springs, about 15 miles west of Fredonia.
The Paiute Indians have opened a museum across the road from the service station at Pipe Springs National Monument. Allow some time to visit it, the historic fort and cabins.
You can learn more about the woman I mentioned at the Sharlot Hall Museum, 415 W. Gurley, Prescott, AZ. (In 1927 she signed a contract to house her collection of history and memorabilia in the building that had in 1864 been the Governor’s Mansion.)
That’s it for today’s Travel Photo Thursday. Be sure to visit Budget Travelers Sandbox for more photos.
And for those who missed the first two segments of High Plains Drifter’s Winter Road trip, you might be interested in:
* A Thanksgiving Jackpot
* A Long Lonesome Road: To Stop or Not
Hope you’ll come back Saturday when I’ll tell you what “P.C.” means in Arizona!