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Published: March 17th 2020
We are starting our trek north! Saturday, March 14, 2020 we left Phoenix and moved up to Camp Verde only about 90 miles. This was a good location for us to see Sedona and take a day trip to see the meteor crater near Winslow, AZ.
The afternoon we arrived we visited Montezuma Castle National Monument. It is a 5 story 20 room cliff dwelling built between 1100-1300. It sits 100 feet above the Verde Valley floor which is just steps from the river and vast farming lands. Along the same cliff there are other rooms that were built into the recesses of the cliff wall. They used to give tours into the dwelling and were able to create a diagram to show what it looks like inside. I read they stopped tours in 1951 when I-17 was completed because they started having so many visitors the area was getting destroyed. The road driving into the visitor center goes through grasslands and once I saw the dwelling realized that this cliff is what those lands sit on! Incredible. The river was flowing pretty good after the rains we have had and the area was full of HUGE old sycamore trees.
They are gorgeous. Their barks is so smooth and almost white. Seeing this area was quite a treat for us. I had read about it but didn't really pay attention to exactly where it was. Once we arrived and I was looking over the maps for Sedona I saw that we were only 3 miles from the Castle. We are so happy we got to see it. To think 700-900 years ago people lived and thrived here and built that structure into the cliffside. Incredible!
Sunday, I was scheduled for a hot air balloon ride over Sedona but it was cancelled due to the recent heavy rains turning the launching area into a small lake. I was bummed because I thought this would be a beautiful place to do a ride. We still visited Sedona on Sunday. We started at the Red Rock Ranger Station which has a nice visitor center and the first views of the huge red rock formations in Sedona. One of the volunteers showed me where the trails were and made some suggestions to help us to see as much as we could for our 1 day here. We left with a good plan. However
the first 2 trailhead parking lots we pulled into were full! Fortunately our 3rd stop panned out! The Chapel of the Holy Cross. It is gorgeous! Built right into the hillside surrounded by red rock. We parked at the bottom of the hill and walked up the road to the Chapel. We sat inside for a bit and it was so peaceful. At the alter they have a Crucifix they call, "The living Christ crucified upon the Tree of Life." It's beautiful and with the valley below as the front is all windows. Outside there was a precious prayer garden under the shade of a short tree. There was a landing with some benches as well. You will also see in one of the pictures I took from there this incredible home that is just below where the chapel sits. That reminded me of the homes we saw when visiting the LA area!
From there we drove through the town to a drive called the Red Rock Loop. It also was pretty and we saw some more very nice homes built on the hills. We moved on from there to the Airport Road Vista that overlooks the ranges along
the west side of town. Again no places to park...Mike dropped me off so I could get some pictures. There was a paid parking lot there but we couldn't see paying $3 for 5 min. of picture taking. The trailhead parking lots also require a parking pass but our National Parks pass worked for those. I was amazed at the lack of parking for these areas and especially for mid-March, I guess I was really naive about when their busy season would be. I'm telling you for a while there we were feeling like it just wasn't our day!
We went into the old section of town next called "Uptown". We looked at a lot of shops and they had some unique and native products, lots of restaurants too. We couldn't pass up the homemade ice cream shop😊 I tried a sample of "prickly pear" it is a cactus. We have seen in our travels they make syrup out of it and juice but we hadn't tried it. I didn't like it at all. I didn't even finish the sample, you know the tiny spoon you get for sampling? Couldn't do it! It was really bitter tasting to me.
By late afternoon we tried again to get a parking spot to do a short hike and did find one at Bell Rock. There was a loop trail around it that we did after climbing up a ways on Bell Rock. We didn't make it up too many layers, some people got up pretty high. It required lots of scrambling and being unafraid of heights. It was a sunny day and felt like an early fall or late spring day in Maine. We both thought is was a beautiful amazing place. I felt so calm and peaceful looking at the scenery. Around every corner was another amazing view. If I ever make it back, I will try again to see it from the air.
Our last day in Camp Verde we took a longer day trip north to see the Meteor Crater. It is about 35 miles east of Flagstaff. The drive was amazing! I had NO IDEA how diverse the landscape is here in Arizona. In Camp Verde it is canyon and grass lands. Like the pictures from our train tour through Verde Canyon. Continuing north on I-17 it becomes grass ranching lands, then transitions into dense
Our hike around Bell
forest of tall pines. Once we headed east out of Flagstaff on I-40 it quickly became flat grass lands again. On the tour of the meteor crater we learned that area was once an inland sea. It is believed it stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Salt Lake at one time! Nature's Beauty, I'm telling you, it is beyond words. I try with the camera but that doesn't capture the true colors most of the time. Hopefully it does give you an idea of the vastness we see. I will take pictures from the road tomorrow when we head the same direction in the RV. The crater is further east than we will go tomorrow but we will pass by Flagstaff again on our way to Page, AZ up on the Utah border.
So back to the Meteor Crater. Another amazing sight. Mike had seen it on TV one time and had always said he'd like to see it if we were close by so we made it happen😊 The crater is said to have been formed 50,000 yrs. ago when a meteor landed. It is said the speed at impact was so fast it would
equate to getting on a plane in LA and landing in NY in 5 minutes! It is so big that you can fit 20 football fields in the bottom and provide stadium seating for 2 million people! It's depth matches the height of the Washington Monument. The meteor is formed of metals, iron and nickel. The impact sent fragments of meteorite for miles. The biggest piece was found just over 1 mile away.
I don't know enough about geology to follow all that we learned on our tour but the impact disrupted the rock of the area exposing many different types of rocks and was related to many fossils and other changes to the rock in the area. We were shown some of them that have been found. In the late 1800s the site was studied and believed to be a volcanic crater. In the early 1900s a mining engineer claimed the area and began mining in the bottom of the crater for iron believing it was it was formed by a meteor but never found the 'giant iron meteorite" he was looking for. His family still owns the property and they operate the museum and tours. They started
Views of the area
Around the Crater
because when Route 66 was built, people started driving across the plain to the crater and they would get stuck. The family built a road and then started charging to off set the cost of building the road. As more and more people came, erosion was occurring so to preserve the site, it developed into what is here today....It wasn't until the 1960s that the crater was scientifically determined to have been formed by a meteor and not volcanic. Geologists trained the astronauts here for their moon mission. They taught them how to obtain geological samplings to bring home. Another wonderful, natural wonder.
As I mentioned, tomorrow we head north again for Page, AZ. It is on the border with Utah. By the end of the week, we will be planted between Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. I can't wait!
Thanks for following along😊 I enjoy sharing with all of you😊
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