Sedona is magical while the Grand Canyon is majestic. Below is a picture of Thunder Mountain, also known as Capitol Butte or Grey Mountain, along with a shot taken in the early morning at the Grand Canyon. The mountain that dominates all of West Sedona, received it’s name from the many lightening strikes to hit it during storms, I was told by a locals. We had a spell binding trip by Road Scholar that was highly educational as well as candy for the eyes. The trip was well managed while providing stunning visual backdrops to savor for years to come. Sedona was named after Sedona Arabella Miller Schnebly, wife of Theodore Carlton Schnebly, the city’s first postmaster. Sedona’s thick layer of red to orange-colored sandstone formations are caused from oxidation of minerals, primarily iron in the rock.
The lecture on geology by the Grand Canyon geologist and Professor Emeritus of Geology at Northern Arizona University, Dr. Stanley Beus, was excellent and I left knowing a great deal more about how Sedona and the Grand Canyon was formed geologically. If you would like to see some truly outstanding photos of the Grand Canyon and a documented trek along the 750 mile length of the Colorado River, look up The Grand Canyon: Between River and Rim by Pete McBride and Kevin Fedarko. I saw him speak and give a presentation on his trip and I was awestruck. Afterwards, I wondered if passage and growth into the Grand Canyon should be severely constrained to preserve it as a natural wonder.
The formations around Sedona are awe inspiring.
Teapot rock is a pretty interesting formation from different vantage points.
The Chapel of the Holy Cross is a Roman Catholic chapel built into the buttes around Sedona. The chapel was inspired and commissioned by a local rancher and sculptor Marguerite Brunswig Staude. The chapel was built on Coconino National Forest land at a cost of $300,000 in 18 months in 1956.
Some of the interesting formation around the Chapel have been named “Madonna and Child” and “praying hands”.
Some of the rock formations I found very interesting.
You can’t miss the Bell Rock but the Courthouse was a little harder to find.
We took a trip to Montezuma Castle National Monument located in Camp Verde. This 5-story, 20-room cliff dwelling is situated 90 feet up a sheer limestone cliff above the flood plain of Beaver Creek in the Verde Valley. It is one of the best preserved cliff dwellings in North America, constructed approximately 600 years ago by the Sinagua Indians, a pre-Columbian culture closely related to the Hohokam. Wet Beaver Creek truly does have a unique ecosystem and it is a very pleasurable walk to see some of the unique fauna.
While both the Yavapai and Apache are distinct tribes, they were forced onto reservations together when gold and settlers moved into the Verde Valley by the US Government in 1871. The Exodus Monument depicts and old man carrying his disabled wife as they leave their homelands during the Exodus. Will we ever understand and take proper consideration of others and their traditions. History seems to constantly be ignored or forgotten in the quest for domination.
Next, we were taken on a Pink Jeep tour in the Coconino National Forest. These sturdy 4X4 jeeps, driven by experts in the terrain that we passed over, was a fun part of the trip where we were able to experience the geology and fauna close up. There was a shower along the way but it added to the experience as we were able to see how the showers passed through the arid region.
A white capped volcano in Arizona, who knew? As I discovered, there are 28 volcanoes in Arizona, four extinct volcanoes north of Flagstaff where these pictures was taken.
The Grand Canyon, it almost doesn’t look real.
We enter the Grand Canyon from the eastern side called Desert View. Desert View has Mary Colter’s Desert View Watchtower which was completed in 1932. Inside are a number of petroglyphs that are copies of rock art paintings from Abo, New Mexico which have since been destroyed. There is also a plaque commemorating TWA-United Airlines crash of 1956.
We got up at 6AM to go see the sunrise over the canyon. At 6:30AM the Grand Canyon is spectacular but be sure and wear a coat and gloves, my fingers were frozen in November.
Visiting the El Tovar Hotel and the Hopi House on the south rim, I would highly recommend. El Tovar Hotel was named after the Spanish explorer Pedro de Tovar who led the first expedition to the Hopi territory in 1540. At the time, El Tovar was one of the great hotels of the era, having electric lights, fresh water, fruit and vegetables for guests. It maintains a high standard to this day.
The Hopi House was also built in 1905 and designed by Mary Colter. Colter’s thoughts in the design was to make the Hopi House a place where Hopi people could inhabit while making and selling traditional native American goods.
On our way, we stopped at a motel along the old Route 66, now Interstate 41. Kind of a refurbished motel with a very different twist. Old cars and a variety of stuff out front. We were told that it was better then a newer hotel that was along the railroad tracks where the trains went through all evening. The beds were firm and it was quiet so it worked out. We got the Beatles room which was kind of a fun retro experience.
Our last day was a bumpy but enjoyable trip down Peach Springs Canyon in vans. We reached the bottom Grand Canyon and the Colorado River to finally arrive at the Granite Gorge. The views were spectacular as we descended into the valley. Some of us found out about cactus in a less then pleasant way but we all learned something about their prickly ways. We kept on the dirt road until we saw Diamond Head which meant that the Colorado River was very close. We spent a part of the day watching rafters going down the Colorado and prospectors panning for gold while enjoying the day. At the end, we took a group shot.