Featured

Yellowstone National Park – Part Three

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Yellowstone Lake

→Note: this is the third post in a multi-part series covering Yellowstone National Park. Our journey originates in West Yellowstone, Montana.

Yellowstone National Park website link: Yellowstone National Park

Destinations: West Thumb Geyser Basin and Mud Volcano Area

From West Yellowstone, drive the 14 miles to Madison Junction. Here you can go north/northeast around the top of the lower loop or you can go south/southeast around the bottom of the lower loop. Either way, the drive from Madison Junction to West Thumb Geyser Basin is approximately 36 miles. We recommend the south route.

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Fishing Cone Geyser sits in the water at the edge of the lake

West Thumb Geyser Basin lies on the shore of beautiful Yellowstone Lake. The largest high elevation alpine lake in the lower 48 states, Yellowstone Lake boasts a large population of cutthroat trout that thrive in the average 41 degree temperature of the water.

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Another view of tranquil Yellowstone Lake

First stop: West Thumb Geyser Basin

Stop by the Grant Village Visitor Center, then take the short hike on the West Thumb Geyser Basin Trail (boardwalk). Afterward, drive north to Fishing Bridge (fishing from the bridge is no longer allowed) to watch the cutthroat trout in one of their favorite spawning places.

Below are some of our favorite shots along the West Thumb Geyser Basin Trail.

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Abyss Pool
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Black Pool
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Ribbons of colorful bacteria (thermophiles) seem to ooze out of Black Pool
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Bluebell Pool

Now, we are off to our next stop: Mud Volcano.

From West Thumb, drive north approximately 21 miles to Fishing Bridge, then continue north approximately 6 miles to Mud Volcano.

Second stop: Mud Volcano Area

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Boiling, steaming, mud

Take the short boardwalk trail to see Mud Volcano and its neighbor, Dragon’s Mouth Spring.

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Another look at mud volcano
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Up close and personal with Dragon’s Mouth Spring

Dragon’s Mouth Spring was one of the highlights of our trip, but the steam, which emitted with a thunderous roar, had an extra potent sulfurous odor.

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Thermophile colonies make their home on grasses near Dragon’s Mouth Spring

Thank you so much for joining us as we travel through Yellowstone! We hope you will return to our site next week for another great Yellowstone post. We are closing this post with a couple of shots of Hayden Valley.

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Hayden Valley is the place to be early in the morning for animal sightings. We saw a lot of bison here and we also saw a grizzly bear. Unfortunately we didn’t get a picture of the bear, but we were able to watch it through binoculars as it ran across a meadow.
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The Yellowstone River meanders through Hayden Valley. We found this to be one of the most tranquil and uncrowded places in the park.

Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Yellowstone National Park – Part Two

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Porcelain Basin

→Note: this is the second post in a multi-part series covering Yellowstone National Park. Our journey originates in West Yellowstone, Montana.

Yellowstone National Park website link: Yellowstone National Park

Destinations: Norris Area and Canyon Village Area

First Stop: Norris Area

From the west park entrance, drive 14 miles east to Madison Junction. At Madison Junction, continue east/northeast past Gibbon Falls, then north past Artist Paintpots to Norris. It is approximately 14 miles from Madison Junction to Norris.

Norris Geyser Basin, the hottest thermal area of Yellowstone National Park, is home to the elusive Steamboat Geyser which is the tallest geyser in the world. Steamboat Geyser has erupted recently, but sometimes remains dormant for years.

Take the three-quarter mile Porcelain Basin Trail (boardwalk) to see geysers, fumaroles, hot springs, steam vents, boiling water, and bubbling mud pots. Below are some of our favorite pictures from Porcelain Basin.

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Certain bacteria thrive in the boiling hot waters of Yellowstone National Park. These brilliant green thermophiles make an artistic display.
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Holy smokes!
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Steam vents and pristine water

The Norris area is also home to The Norris Geyser Basin Museum. The structure has a breezeway that straddles the path leading to the Porcelain Basin Terrace Overlook. Construction on the building began in 1929, and the museum is now a National Historic Landmark. This is a can’t-miss feature of the area.

Another can’t-miss feature of the Norris area is the Museum of the National Park Ranger. Originally the Norris Soldier Station, the building has seen many changes over the years, including a total rebuild using original materials and the original floor plan. Stop in to see the exhibits and watch a short film about the history of the National Park Service.

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Museum of the National Park Ranger

Travel tip: the steam emitted by Yellowstone’s geysers and vents smells like sulphur. This odor can linger on clothes and in hair.

Now on to the Canyon Village area of the park.

From Norris Junction go east 12 miles to Canyon Village.

Second stop: Canyon Village

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Coyote in a meadow between Norris and Canyon Village

Stop in at the Canyon Village Visitor Education Center. Several points along the road as well as trails offer exceptional views of the canyon and the upper and lower falls. Artists Point is a popular viewpoint. While listening to the roaring power of the falling water, hike (stairs) to the brink of Lower Falls and see them crash 309 feet down into the river canyon below. This area has several hiking trails. Check the website above for details.

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Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
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Lower Falls – taller than Niagara Falls!
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Near the brink of Lower Falls

Yellowstone – Part Two is a wrap! We are going to end this post with the grizzly bear sculpture in front of the Yellowstone History Museum in West Yellowstone, Montana. Come back next week for Part Three. We will be posting more exciting sections of Yellowstone National Park. Thank you for joining us!

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A visit to the Yellowstone History Museum in West Yellowstone is a great introduction to your trip to Yellowstone National Park. Be sure to watch the film about the 1988 forest fires.

Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Yellowstone National Park – Part One

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  • Website: Yellowstone National Park
  • Cost: $35.00 per car for a seven day pass
  • RV, tent, and backcountry camping
  • Lodges and restaurants in the park
  • Hiking, scenic drives, fishing, kayaking/canoeing, swimming, wildlife/bird watching, hydrothermal features, etc.
  • Snowmobiling, cross-country skiing in the winter, and less crowds
  • When to go: anytime. Most crowded during the summer months. We recommend September.

→Note: this is the first post in a multi-part series covering Yellowstone National Park. Our journey originates in West Yellowstone, Montana.

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Forest fire? Nope, just some early morning thermal activity.

Hands down, Yellowstone is our favorite national park. Although we haven’t visited all of them yet, we can’t imagine anything topping this gem. Every aspect of the park, from the flora and the fauna to the rivers and the waterfalls to the mountains and the unique thermal features, is breathtakingly beautiful. We visited Yellowstone in the early fall, but we would love to go back for every season.

Yellowstone is 320 miles from Salt Lake City, Utah, which has the closest major airport, so that is where we begin our trip. If time permits, we recommend spending a couple of days in Salt Lake City. Here’s a link: Salt Lake City

Getting there

From Salt Lake City, take I-15 north toward Ogden, Utah. Continue north toward Pocatello, Idaho. Stay on I-15 to Idaho Falls.

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Bonus stop: Idaho Falls, Idaho. We spent the first night of our trip in Idaho Falls. A walk along the river in the city’s greenbelt/riverwalk area was the perfect way to stretch our legs after a day of travel. The city offers several parks, museums, and shopping.

*Recommended hotel in Idaho Falls: Hampton Inn.

*Recommended restaurant in Idaho Falls: Sandpiper Restaurant, 750 Lindsay Blvd.

*There are many campgrounds and RV parks in and around Idaho Falls.

Drive time between Salt Lake City and Idaho Falls: 3 hours. (The scenery is gorgeous!)

From Idaho Falls, take US Highway 20 north toward Rexburg, Idaho. Continue north to West Yellowstone, Montana, which is the west entrance into the park. Drive time between Idaho Falls and West Yellowstone: 1.75 hours.

Travel tip: while driving north of Idaho Falls, look east to see the Grand Tetons on the horizon in Grand Teton National Park. There is a pull out along US Highway 20 with signs that tell about the mountains (how they got their name) and offers a good photo op. At Ashton, you will enter the beautiful Caribou-Targhee National Forest.

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*Recommended hotel in West Yellowstone: Kelly Inn – 104 S Canyon St., West Yellowstone, Montana – (800) 259-4672.

*There are many options for tent and RV camping in West Yellowstone as well as in the park.

Destination: Yellowstone National Park

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Yellowstone is huge! It takes a lot of driving and several days just to hit the highlights of the park.  However, the roads basically make an easily navigable figure eight shape (Upper Loop and Lower Loop), and with the help of the park map everything is easy to find.

Travel tip: each section of the park that we’re going to cover has either a Visitor Center and Museum, Visitor Education Center, or an Information Station. Take advantage of these excellent resources. The park rangers are extremely knowledgeable and helpful.

Now on to Madison. Since we stayed in West Yellowstone, we entered the west entrance of the park and drove 14 miles (about 30 minutes) to and through the Madison area of the park every day.  The scenery along the Madison River provided us something new each day, whether it was steam rising from the river due to the chilly morning air or animals starting their day in the meadows.

First stop: Madison Area

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Elk along the edge of the river
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Steam rising from the river

The route we’re taking in this post goes from the west park entrance to the Madison area and then north toward Norris Geyser Basin. It covers less than a quarter of the Lower Loop road which is 96 miles long.

Travel tip: traffic comes to a halt when animals are on the roadways. They have the right of way! Observe speed limits, and be prepared for delays when traveling through the park. Animals on the side of the road cause traffic jams, too, because everyone (including us) wants a picture. Remember that it is illegal to approach or feed the wildlife.

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This bad boy caused a very long traffic jam. We ate our picnic lunch in the car while we waited.
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Gibbon Falls from the scenic pull-out

Travel tip: Pull-outs for park features such as waterfalls and other points of interest can be very crowded with vehicles and pedestrians. Use caution when driving in and around these areas.

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Second stop: Artist Paintpots 

This area makes for a nice little hike and showcases some interesting features. Fumaroles (cracks or openings in the earth where a volcano let’s off steam and gasses), steamy water, and bubbling mud are some of the features that can be seen here.

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That’s going to do it for Yellowstone – Part One. Stop by next week for an exciting Part Two as we cover more of this extraordinary park. Thanks so much for traveling with us! We will close this post with a beautiful view of Mount Holmes.

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Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true products, vendors, and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own. Photo copyright infringement is not intended. Our written content and photos are copyrighted, and may not be published without our permission.

©2019

 

 

 

 

Featured

Quick Stops: fast, fascinating, fun, funky!

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Blazing Winter Sunset

If you follow our posts, you’re already familiar with Quick Stops. Quick Stops are designed to give a nod to locations to which we can’t devote an entire post. The destinations are completely random and totally fun.

Just get in the car and we will be on our way!

First Stop: By Bridge

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Where in the world is it?

By Bridge is located in Moab, Utah. It is a pedestrian bridge that spans the Colorado River.

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Looking upstream at the Colorado River from By Bridge

Second stop: Gruene, Texas

Jordan's 2007 pix 231Gruene (pronunced green), is home to the famous Gruene Hall. Built in 1878, this 6,000 square foot dance hall and saloon has hosted and launched the careers of a multitude of musicians. It is the oldest dance hall in Texas.

Where in the world is it?

Gruene is about an hour southwest of Austin, off of I-35. The town of Gruene was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. In 1979, the city of New Braunfels annexed Gruene which has become a popular tourist destination.

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Once the home of the son of the founder of Gruene, this beautiful building is now the Gruene Mansion Inn
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The Guadalupe River at Gruene, Texas

It’s a fact, Jack!

More than 50 movies have been filmed in and around Moab, including City Slickers II, Con Air, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Thelma and Louise to name a few. One movie, Michael, starring John Travolta, was filmed in Gruene. In the movie, John Travolta’s character, Michael, danced at Gruene Hall. Additionally, both towns sit on the banks of rivers that empty into gulfs. The Colorado River runs for 1,450 miles to its mouth at the Gulf of California, and the Guadalupe River runs 230 miles to its mouth at the Gulf of Mexico. And now you know…

That does it for this week. Thank you for joining us! Come back next week for another exciting post. You never know where we are going to take you! Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Quick Stops: fast, fascinating, fun, funky!

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Pelicans on a river

If you follow our posts, you’re already familiar with Quick Stops. Quick Stops are designed to give a nod to locations to which we can’t devote an entire post. The destinations are completely random and totally fun.

Just get in the car and we will be on our way!

First Stop: Hovenweep National Monument

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Where in the world is it?

Hovenweep straddles the state line between the southeastern corner of Utah and southwestern corner of Colorado. It abuts Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.

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Twin Towers

Hovenweep National Monument protects six ancient villages that are spread throughout the monument’s desolate terrain. Although the area was inhabited by ancient pueblo-dwelling farmers from about 500 AD, the park’s masonry buildings date from about 1200 to 1300 AD. Nobody knows exactly what the towers at Hovenweep were used for, but there are many theories, such as observatories, fortresses, storage structures, or religious buildings. It is estimated that 2,500 people once inhabited the area.

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Eroded Boulder

It is said that the Zuni, Pueblo, and Hopi tribes are descendants of the ancient Hovenweep Puebloans. Hovenweep is a Ute word that means “deserted valley”.

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Stronghold House

Second Stop: Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park

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Where in the world is it?

It is in North Platte, Nebraska.

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Buffalo Bill Cody was probably the first world-renowned super star. An epic showman, his traveling Wild West shows ran from 1883 to 1915 and drew thousands of spectators in the US and around the world. The show was so big that it took two trains of fifty cars each to transport the performers, animals, supplies, and props for the extravaganza. Scout’s Rest Ranch was his part-time home. His ranch near Cody, Wyoming was “home”.

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This is the ranch house. Scout’s Rest Ranch is on the National Register of Historic Places.

It’s a fact, Jack!

William Cody was nicknamed Buffalo Bill, probably because of the large number of buffalo he killed. As a young man, he had been employed by a railroad to hunt and kill buffalo in order to feed the men who were building the train tracks. Buffalo Bill was a friend of General George A. Custer. Custer led his cavalrymen into battle against an allied group of Native American tribes at The Battle of Little Bighorn aka The Great Sioux War of 1876, which took place in Montana. Contrary to popular belief, the celebrated Lakota Sioux chief, Sitting Bull, did not fight in the battle, though he had an earlier vision of his people winning the battle. Sitting Bull’s vision and encouragement helped to spur the Native American warriors into defeating Custer and his men. Years later, Sitting Bull was hired to be a performer in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. He was paid $50.00 per week to ride around the arena during the opening of each show. And now you know…

That does it for this week. Thank you for joining us! Be sure to come back next week for another exciting post. You never know where we are going to take you! Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye 

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

 

Featured

Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go to Petrified Forest National Park

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  • Website link: Petrified Forest National Park
  • Cost: $20.00 per car (one week pass)
  • Hiking, biking (on paved roads), backpacking, horseback riding, backcountry camping with permit
  • Scenic drive
  • Historic Landmarks
  • Museums
  • Picnic areas
  • Restaurant in the park
  • Accommodations and restaurants in Holbrook, Arizona (30 miles west on I-40 or US Highway 180). Check out the Wigwam Motel for some Route 66 nostalgia. Here’s a link: Wigwam Motel. RV campgrounds also available in Holbrook.
  • When to go: anytime, but note that summer temperatures can be very high.

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The Teepees

Petrified Forest National Park is 208 miles from Albuquerque, New Mexico, which has a major airport. This is our starting point, so gas up the car, drop the top, and turn on some golden oldies. We’re going to get some kicks on Route 66!

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From Albuquerque, take I-40 west toward Gallup, New Mexico via Grants. Cross the Arizona state line and continue on I-40 to Petrified Forest National Park. Drive time between Albuquerque and Petrified Forest: 3 hours.

*Recommended hotels in Albuquerque: Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express

Campgrounds and RV parks are also available in Albuquerque.

Bonus stop: El Malpais National Monument. Website link: El Malpais. Stop by the visitor center in Grants, New Mexico then head south on Highway 53 to the monument. Entrance is free. Drive time between Albuquerque and Grants: 1 hour. Drive time between Grants and El Malpais: 30 minutes.

Bonus stop: El Morro National Monument. Only 15 minutes from El Malpais on Highway 53. Entrance is free. Website link: El Morro.

*Recommended hotel in Grants: Holiday Inn Express

RV parks are also available in Grants.

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From El Morrow National Monument take Highway 53 west to Highway 602 north to Gallup, New Mexico. Drive time: 1 hour.

Continue west on I-40 to Petrified Forest National Park. Drive time between Gallup and Petrified Forest: 1 hour.

⇒Side Trip: Chaco Culture National Historic Park. Located 86 miles north of Grants via Highway 509. Cost: $25.00 per vehicle for a one week pass. Camping available, but no RV hook-ups. Closest hotels and restaurants are approximately 1.5 hours north of the park. Here’s the website link: Chaco Culture National Historic Park. Backtrack to Grants to resume your journey to Petrified Forest National Park. Drive time between Chaco Culure and Grants: 2 hours.

Destination: Petrified Forest National Park

This is a big park! The park road is 28 miles long and includes many pull outs and stops. Come for the scenery and the learning experience. (We also like the nostalgia of Route 66.) There are photo ops around every turn, and as you will see, the sights in the park are spectacular. Be sure to stop at the visitor centers, the Painted Desert Inn Museum, and the Rainbow Forest Museum. The park also features archaeological sites, including Puerco Pueblo, Newspaper Rock, and Agate House. Theodore Roosevelt did us all a favor when he made Petrified Forest a national monument in 1906. It became a national park 56 years later in 1962.

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Petrified Tree Trunk
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Wood turned to stone
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These logs appear to have been cut and purposely placed here by an ancient lumberjack.

Below are some up-close views of the beauty of the petrified wood. Just look at those colors!

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Where else can you see this?
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Or this?
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Painted Desert Vista
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Another view of Painted Desert
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Oh, the colors!

Much of the park can be seen from the car, but we highly recommend getting out, taking a hike on or off the trails (see website), and absorbing the sights, sounds, and smells this amazing place has to offer.

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⇒Side trip: Canyon de Chelly National Monument. Entrance is free. Website link: Canyon de Chelly.

Take I-40 east to Chambers, Arizona. At Chambers, take Highway 191 north toward Ganado, Arizona.

Bonus stopHubbell Trading Post National Historic Site. Website link: Hubbell Trading Post. Cost: $5.00 per person to tour the Hubbell Home. Kids 15 and under are admitted free.

Continue north to Chinle, Arizona and Canyon de Chelly National Monument. Drive time between Petrified Forest and Canyon de Chelly: 1.5 hours.

This concludes our trip to Petrified Forest National Park. Thank you for joining us, and we hope you enjoyed the journey. We would love to hear from you, so leave us a comment and tell us about your road trips. In closing, we are leaving you with one last photo because it reminds us of a vintage postcard that might have been found in a Route 66 curio shop back in the day!

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Hoodoos

Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

Featured

Quick Stops: fast, fascinating, fun, funky!

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Restaurant in Provincetown, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

If you follow our posts, you’re already familiar with Quick Stops. Quick Stops are designed to give a nod to locations to which we can’t devote an entire post. The destinations are completely random and totally fun.

Just get in the car and we’ll be on our way!

First Stop: Mexican Hat (Utah)

Where in the world is it?

It’s in southeastern Utah, and it really is a town. We heard that the town’s population is 31, but that might be a stretch. So why in the world would anyone name a town Mexican Hat? Well… ↓

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Surprise! It’s named after this rock formation near the town.

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This surreal mountain scene is also near Mexican Hat. Reminds us of Southwestern Native American pottery! Isn’t it amazing?

Second Stop: Idaho Falls (Idaho)

Where in the world is it?

The city of Idaho Falls, Idaho is in the southeastern portion of the state. The Snake River runs through the city and that’s what creates the “falls” of Idaho Falls.

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Below is a picture of the spire of the Latter Day Saints Temple in Idaho Falls all lit up at night. We think it’s an architectural work of art.

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It’s a fact, Jack!

Mexican Hat is located in the state of Utah, and so is the Great Salt Lake. Utah is derived from a Ute word meaning “people of the mountains”. No fish live in the Great Salt Lake. And now you know…

That does it for this week. Thank you for joining us! Come back next week for another exciting post. You never know where we are going to take you! If you like our Quick Stops posts, leave us a message and let us know we should keep doing them. If you don’t like them, tell us that, too. Until the next trip…

Travel save, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye 

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018