We had a great time in Flagstaff sipping local beers, listening to live music, stopping by Louie L'Amour hangouts and sharing breakfast with fellow hostelers from around the world but there's more to do and see in this area and we're running out of time and easy weather. Lodging and food services are already closed on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and evening lows are below freezing.
Phase two of our adventure will be a road trip through southern Utah and northern Arizona. We're trading in our cycling cleats for hiking shoes, our bike bags for backpacks and our bicycles for an iridescent green Mazda 2 rental car that Sue has named, “Harvey the RV”. We will visit Sunset Crater National Monument and the adjacent Indian ruins, the North and South rims of the Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion National parks, volunteer at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab Utah … and if history repeats itself the best part of the whole trip will be the interesting people we meet along the way.
Here we go.
……Just north of Flagstaff lies the remains of a volcano 12,637 feet tall, Humphreys Peak, the highest peak in Arizona and an impressive back drop for downtown Flagstaff. If you look east from Humphreys Peak you'll see Sunset Crater National Monument with its distinctive red ash ring and black ash and lava rock base. Hiking over the sandy red and black cinders was fun as was taking pictures of the ash cones and nearby Indian ruins.
The San Francisco Peaks with Humphreys Peak second from the right.
In the dead of winter it's a cold and windy 44 mile snowmobile ride from the North Rim to the nearest plowed road and another 40 miles to the nearest small town. For safety reasons they have one snowmobile for daily use and another is kept gassed up and ready to go for emergencies. I've always admired maintenance men for the variety of skills they possess but the North Rim group elevate their skill set to near total self-sufficiency.
If you're lucky enough to visit the North Rim of the Grand Canyon don't hesitate to ask a ranger about the trees, trails and buffalo but you may also want to say thanks to the maintenance man for the cozy shelters, running water and electricity.