Thursday, May 25, 2017

Flagstaff to Navajo Country


We spent a pleasant four nights in the Coconino National Forest about 20 miles south of Flagstaff, joining  friends Jeanne and dog Sierra, Laurelee and dog Libby, Barbara and dog Katie, and their friend John. Jeanne and John had a great site right on a small lake and we all managed to fit in around them. It’s a popular dispersed camping area and was very quiet during the week but there were way too many ATVs going by our road on the weekend.


Our buddies Sierra and Libby.


Ladies only happy hour with Laurelee, Jeanne, and Barbara. All three dogs were there but Katie on the right is the only one visible. They were busy chewing on bones.


We took several walks on the forest roads and I did a bike ride. Lots of roads and the Arizona Trail go off for miles in all directions, with occasional views of the San Francisco Peaks.



We were parked on the other side of Pickett Lake, which we were told dries up in the summer.


One morning Laurelee and Libby joined us for a hike on the Sandys Canyon trail off Lake Mary Road. It started off with a glimpse down into the volcanic rock of Sandys Canyon.


A climbing area called The Pit is accessed from another trail.


After the trail drops down into Walnut Canyon the walking is easy.



There are signs for Fisher Point overlook in 1.1 miles, which we thought was the way we wanted to go, but it was a steep climb and Libby was getting tired so we turned back after a half mile.


Went back down to the canyon floor to have lunch in the cave below Fisher Point. We ended up hiking almost 7 miles, a good day on the trails.




Another day we went to town to check out the big sale at REI, and get a few groceries at Sprouts. Jim ended up buying hiking boots and a pair of more casual shoes to replace the ones he’s been wearing that were falling apart. They really had a good sale going on.

We were hungry after shopping so we went to the historic downtown area and had a black bean veggie burger at Altitudes Bar and Grill., next to the train station/visitor center. It was half price burger day, but you had to also get a drink to get the half price, so we each had a beer, an ale and and IPA that were both good. Then we walked the streets, where Jim had to check in all the outdoor shops to be sure he didn’t find any better deal on shoes, which he didn’t.

Yesterday we moved on about 160 miles northeast to Navajo National Monument. We did an overnight here once before and it’s a great free place to stop, as long as you are not in a big rig. The sign says 28’ length limit and there are only a few sites long enough for our 30’. Luckily there weren’t many people here when we arrived so we ended up in the same site we were in before. It’s wide enough to park the car next to the rig.


Last evening we hiked a couple of the trails, first the paved trail to the Betatakin cliff dwelling overlook.





Then the Aspen trail, which drops 300’ in 0.4 miles to overlook an ancient aspen forest.





It’s a beautiful park, and when we were here in June 2015 it was really hot so we opted not to do a guided hike to the ruins. Thought this would be a good opportunity since it’s cooler, but they don’t start doing tours until Memorial Day so we’re a few days too early. Maybe next time…


Today we’re heading to Dolores, CO where we have reservations for the holiday weekend. Unfortunately our streak of things going wrong has not ended, as the last few times we’ve driven the Lazy Daze, air from the dash vents quits blowing and only comes out the defrost vents while accelerating up a hill. We have two friends (who are nowhere nearby) who had a similar issue with theirs and both were able to fix it themselves with a little help from the internet. We plan to take a look at it this weekend to see if we can figure it out before searching for a mechanic.


  1. Wow, your new park is gorgeous! It was so good seeing you both again. Happy travels! :)

    1. It was good seeing you, too! Enjoy your summer!

  2. You two find some beautiful spots to camp. Glad you have a res for the holiday weekend and hope you find a fix for the RV.

    1. Although we would rather not have to make reservations, sometimes it's just a lot less stressful.
      Our camera started working again today so maybe we'll be able to fix the motorhome!

  3. We only spent an overnight in Flagstaff. Would like to visit that area for a few days and experience the beauty of the area.
    Navajo National Monument is gorgeous. I love that hike. The mountains are beautiful.

    1. We liked Flagstaff after spending about 6 weeks in the area in 2013. Don't think we could handle the winters, though.

  4. Looks like some mighty fine hikes and beautiful scenery!

    Someone told us that Chocolate Milk Falls is a neat hike near Flagstaff in the spring when the falls are going off...for future reference.

    1. Yes, we know of Chocolate Falls (actually called Great Falls), but the water is usually only flowing in March, maybe April, and we've never been here at that time of year. We've seen some good photos of the falls and it looks spectacular. They are taller than Niagara Falls!

  5. Pick us up a pie from Dolores Market if you are passing near lovely Ouray!!!!

    1. We might just do that! Still working on a route when we leave here but will let you know.

  6. Great site by the lake with your friends. Glad everyone could fit:) Too bad about weekends! Darn those working people...haha! At least we are on the better end of things now...five days off and two on!!

    I looked at Navajo NM when I was discovering all the ruins for our 25 filler days in northern AZ and NM. I so wanted to do the guided the hike to Betatakin. I had read about its discovery and the Keel ruin in one of my southwest books. I was disappointed to see the tours started so late. Betatakin is huge with 100's of rooms. Oh, well, as you said, another year! Looks like a lovely area.

    We are entering the season of "need reservations" or more careful planning.

    1. I was very disappointed when we got there and the tours hadn't started yet.
      Guess there just aren't enough visitors to make it worthwhile, or more likely not enough staff.

  7. We loved staying at Navajo National Monument -- I think you're the only other people we know who have stayed there! We lucked out and were there for a guided tour, even though it was October and the tours were supposedly over for the season. It was memorable, led by a Navajo guide who grew up playing in the canyon. Your photos, as always, are beautiful!

    1. How fortunate you were to get a tour! We really like that park. It's off the beaten track enough that not many people seem to know about it.

  8. We would love to do a tour at the Navajo NM. Flagstaff is an area we would love to spend more time in. Hope you get out from underneath that black cloud soon. Enough with the maintenance issues!