Featured

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

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  • Website link: Palo Duro Canyon State Park
  • Cost: $8.00 per day per adult – free for children 12 and under
  • Tent and RV camping, cabins – various fees
  • Hiking on trails and backcountry, biking, backpacking, seasonal horseback riding stable or bring your own horse – equestrian campground available
  • Visitor center/museum
  • Nature interpretive center
  • Trading post with gasoline, fast food, groceries
  • Large group/event pavillions
  • Summer musical “Texas” in the amphitheater and catered dinner available
  • Wildlife watching/birding
  • Additional accommodations/restaurants in Canyon, Texas and Amarillo, Texas (see our Amarillo post)
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View from the CCC Overlook near the visitor center. One of the red “Spanish Skirts” is seen at the center of the photo.

Our favorite place to camp, Palo Duro Canyon State Park is the crown jewel of the Texas park system. That’s our opinion, anyway. The canyon is not only breathtakingly beautiful, it is the second largest canyon in the US. The name Palo Duro comes from the Spanish phrase meaning “hard wood”. The park is located about 30 minutes south and east of Amarillo, Texas. IMG_5244 (1)The sun was in the right place at the right time for this shot. That usually doesn’t happen for us – we just got lucky this time. No filters. Look at those spectacular colors!

Highlights…

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Can you see him? Well camouflaged, he blends in with his surroundings. The Longhorn Pasture is next to the park entrance.
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El Coronado Lodge. Built in the mid-1930s by the CCC, the lodge now serves as the visitor center and museum. Three CCC-built cabins on the rim of the canyon, just west of the visitor center, can accommodate four people each and can be reserved through the Texas State Parks website.
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This fireplace is all that remains of the CCC camp recreation hall which served as a place for the men to socialize and relax after a hard day’s work.

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The summer musical “Texas” has been performed at the Pioneer Amphitheatre since 1966! The production features outstanding music, singing, dancing, and special effects, all while telling the story of ranching in the Texas Panhandle in the late 1800s. “Texas” is a treat for the entire family. Tickets can be ordered online.

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The cave is a popular destination for those who are brave enough to climb the rocks up to it.

Hiking Palo Duro…

Lighthouse Trail, the most popular hike in the park, is just under six miles round trip, and it’s our favorite! Below are some scenes from Lighthouse Trail.

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Interesting geology
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The Lighthouse
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Capital Peak from Lighthouse Trail. We love the hoodoo at the far left side of the picture.
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Rojo Grande Trail – moderate, although we thought it was easy. About 2.5 miles round trip.
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Kiowa Trail. Easy, peaceful, pretty. About 1.4 miles one way.

Palo Duro has many miles of trails with varying levels of difficulty. Some trails are multi-use, some are for hiking only, and some are for biking only. Mountain biking is very popular in this park. Check the website for all trail details.

Wildlife…

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These deer were about 50 feet from our campsite.
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Looking for love in all the wrong places. Apparently he was hoping for a date, but she totally ignored him.
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Roadrunner

Campgrounds and cabins…

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One of the campsites at the picturesque Mesquite campground.
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Sagebrush campground. This is our favorite campground, and it is within walking distance of the Pioneer Amphitheatre. (How about those dumpsters?) Okay, ignore the much-appreciated dumpsters and check out the gorgeous scenery!
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Cow Camp Cabins. Yep, you guessed it…these were built by the CCC, too.

Palo Duro Canyon has several campgrounds for tent and RV camping, day use areas, and an equestrian campground. This park is also pet friendly, but pets must be kept on a leash and are not allowed in the park buildings. See the website for details and reservation information.

Cool stuff nearby…

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West Texas A&M University wind turbine. It is the tallest (653.5 feet from the ground to the tip of its most upright blade) wind turbine in the US. Located east of Canyon, Texas, south of Texas Highway 217 off of Osage Road. It’s hard to miss this behemoth on the way to the park!

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Charles A. Smith sculpture about a half mile west of the park entrance. These arrows mark trails all over West Texas.
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Tex Randall – 1400 N 3rd Avenue, Canyon, Texas.

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Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum – 2401 4th Avenue, Canyon Texas. This is one of the best museums we have visited. Exhibits include Texas oil production, ranching, art, and paleontology, just to name a few. A visit to this museum is well worth the time and entry fee.
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T-Anchor Ranch Headquarters at Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum. Its Texas Historical Commission marker is below.

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Parting shots…

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Another pretty scene in the park.
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Old barn, silos, and attached living quarters (?) found on FM 1541 east of the city of Canyon.
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Randall County Courthouse – centerpiece of the delightful town square in Canyon, Texas
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Meandering river – Prairie Dog Town Fork Red River – on an overcast day in the park
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Another amorous Tom

Well, that covers our overview of Palo Duro Canyon State Park, folks. Please join us next time for another great road trip, and become a follower so you never miss a post!

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

Mike and Kellye

Badwater Basin

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

Quick Stops: fast, fascinating, fun, funky!

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Vintage motel in Delta, Colorado

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: Cameron Trading Post

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Cameron Trading Post

Where in the world is it?

It is located in Cameron, Arizona, which is about 51 miles north of Flagstaff, at the intersection of US Highway 89 and Arizona Highway 64, and east of the Grand Canyon. The trading post was established in 1916 by two brothers named Hubert and C.D. Richardson.

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The Cameron Suspension Bridge

The Cameron Suspension Bridge, above, opened in 1911 and spans the Little Colorado River Gorge. This bridge allowed faster, safer travel to what is now the town of Cameron, Arizona. The Richardson brothers built Cameron Trading Post next to the bridge where it still sits and thrives today. No longer in use, the bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Little Colorado River Gorge west of Cameron, Arizona

Second Stop: Helena, Montana

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The Beautiful Montana Capitol
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Herd Bull Sculpture at the Montana Historical Society

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It’s a fact, Jack!

Arizona produces more than half of the copper in the US, making it the largest copper producing state. Montana is the fifth largest copper producing state in the US. At one time, the nation’s largest amount of copper was mined at Butte, Montana. One Montana resident, William A. Clark, became one of the wealthiest men in the US because of his copper mining interests, among other businesses, and was considered one of the three “Copper Kings” of Butte. His mansion there still stands today, although, it is now a bed and breakfast. Clarkdale, Arizona is four miles southwest of of the town of Jerome, Arizona. Jerome, a National Historic Landmark, is the home of the now-defunct United Verde Mine, once one of the largest copper producing mines in the US. United Verde Copper Company, which was owned by William A. Clark, developed the United Verde Mine. Clarkdale, Arizona is named for William A. Clark. And now you know…

That’s all for this post. Thank you for joining us on our Quick Stop tour of the Cameron Trading Post and Helena, Montana. We invite you to return to our site every week for another great adventure on the road. Until the next trip…

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

Mike and Kellye

Badwater Basin

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

Quick Stops: fast, fascinating, fun, funky!

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The road goes on forever and the party never ends. Robert Earl Keen

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: Turkey, Texas

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Where in the world is it?

Turkey is located in the Texas panhandle, about 103 miles southeast of Amarillo, at the intersection of Highway 86 and Highway 70.

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This restored vintage Phillips 66 cottage gas station sits right in the middle of town.

So what’s so special about this tiny town with its population of around 420 at last count? Well, it’s the home of Bob Wills, the King of Western Swing. The town hosts a Bob Wills Day festival every year on the last Saturday in April. There’s a museum dedicated to Mr. Wills in town, and a monument (pictured below) in the city park honoring him and his Texas Playboys band.

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This replica tour bus sits next to the old gas station

 Second stop: Dismal River

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Where in the world is it?

Dismal River is located in west-central Nebraska. This part of the river is located near the town of Thetford, off of US Highway 83.

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We didn’t think the river was dismal at all. Actually, it was a beautiful, welcome sight within the Nebraska sand hills. The river runs for only about 72 miles until it converges with the Middle Loup River, and its source is the Ogallala Aquifer.

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It’s a fact, Jack!

During the early 1950s, another western swing band, Ole Rasmussen and his Nebraska Cornhuskers, became popular recording artists on the Capitol Records label. Ole Rasmussen must have idolized Bob Wills because he styled his music as well as his band’s country chic look after Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys. Though one would think that Ole Rasmussen and his Nebraska Cornhuskers were from the state of Nebraska, they weren’t. They were from California. And now you know…

That’s all for this post. Thank you for joining us on our virtual tour of Turkey, Texas and the Dismal River. We invite you to return to our site every week for another great adventure on the road. Until the next trip…

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

Mike and Kellye 

Hot Air Balloon flight

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

Albany, Texas and the Fort Griffin Fandangle

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Shackelford County Courthouse, Albany, Texas, built in 1883.

We’re in love! Albany, Texas has captured our hearts. Not only is it a beautiful small town, it sits amid rolling hills covered in mesquite, pecan, and oak trees. The town is surrounded by ranch land, and the Clear Fork Brazos River flows nearby. Albany has a rich history, proven by its thirty-five historic landmark designations, as well as historic Fort Griffin fifteen miles north of town.

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This sunflower field near Albany just makes us happy!
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This classic sits across the street from the courthouse
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Historic buildings in downtown Albany
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Restored Gulf gas station

During the last two weekends in June, the town of Albany puts on the Fort Griffin Fandangle, which is the oldest running play in Texas. This year (2019) was the eighty-first production. People come from all over to see the townspeople tell the story of the settlement of the area. This wonderful show will delight the whole family, and we highly recommend going to see it!

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IMG_5474 Fort Griffin is home to the Official State of Texas Longhorn Herd, and a few of them star in the show! We had never seen a more well behaved bunch of cattle before. Plus, they’re just kinda awesome. For more information about Fort Griffin, please see our Abilene, Texas post. Here’s a link: Abilene, Texas

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Some of the Fandangle cast

Also during Fandangle, there are many events around town, including a catered barbecue dinner, tours of historic buildings and homes, and baby longhorns on display on the courthouse lawn.

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Precious!

We bet this calliope is something you haven’t ever seen, and if you have seen one, we bet it was a long time ago. We were enthralled. This one is about 76-years-old, and they play it for thirty minutes before each show. Beware it is loud, but so intriguing! Turn up your sound and check out the video.

 

While there is a hotel and RV park in Albany, there are also hotels and campgrounds in Abilene, 35 miles south. Since we love camping in our RV, we chose to stay at Fort Griffin. The campground is not only pretty, it has clean showers and bathrooms, a playground for the kids, and full hookups. We woke up to birds singing, longhorns mooing, and a couple of spectacular sunrises. In the evenings, cicadas, tree frogs, and crickets chirped, and the dark skies afforded breathtaking views of the stars. Frankly, it was hard to leave the place.

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Fort Griffin Sunday sunrise
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This guy was singing his little heart out next to our campsite. Isn’t he gorgeous?

We’re going to close this post with a couple of shots of the old Highway 183 truss bridge over the Clear Fork Brazos River near Fort Griffin.

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From the new Highway 183 bridge. Yes, we stand in the middle of highways to get the shot.
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Standing in the middle of the old Highway 183 while looking up. No traffic on this one though.

That’s a wrap, folks. Be sure to make plans to attend the Fort Griffin Fandangle in 2020. We hope you will return to our site for more great trip ideas, tips, and tricks, and if you’re already a follower, THANK YOU for your support of our site. We do this for you. If you’re not a follower, become one so you never miss a post. We would love to have you aboard on our journeys. Until the next time…

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

Abilene, Texas

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Abilene, Texas may now be known as the storybook capital of America, but the city is so much more. In 1881 when lots began being sold and cattlemen began shipping cattle on the Texas and Pacific Railway, a thriving city was born. Shortly thereafter, Abilene was named county seat of Taylor County, having won a vote to move it from Buffalo Gap. Today, Abilene is home to three universities, satellite campuses of a junior college and a technical college, as well as Dyess Air Force Base. Located 150 miles west of Fort Worth on I-20, Abilene is a can’t miss stop on a West Texas road trip. We highly recommend staying over for a day or two to experience this wonderful, historic city.

On the beaten path…

Frontier Texas!

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Located at 625 N 1st Street. This is a multimedia museum unlike any other we have ever seen, and we loved it. Go to learn about the history of West Texas from the people who settled the area. Exceptional western heritage exhibits, videos, and holograms. Yes, holograms, and they are amazing! Beautiful building, lovely grounds, and a nice gift shop, too. Open Monday – Saturday 9:00 – 6:00 and Sunday 1:00 – 5:00. Adults $10.00, Seniors/Military $7.00, Students/Teachers $6.00, Children (3-12) $5.00, Ages 2 and under are free.

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Flying Buffalo Herd at Frontier Texas

The Grace Museum

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The Grace Museum is an art and history museum that includes a hands-on children’s museum area. The building was originally the Hotel Grace, built in 1909. We happened to visit on a free admission day, but we would have gladly paid the $6.00 per adult fee for the art exhibits alone. Located at 102 Cypress Street, The Grace Museum is open 10:00 – 5:00 Tuesday – Saturday.

Storybook Sculptures

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The Lorax in Everman Park

Storybook sculptures can be found all over downtown Abilene. Dr. Seuss characters, among others, can be seen in Everman Park (across the street from The Grace Museum) and more at the Adamson-Spalding Storybook Garden (1008 N. 6th Street). Kids and adults of all ages will love these whimsical characters! Click here for a Storybook Adventure Guide: Abilene Storybook Adventure. While visiting downtown Abilene, be sure to check out the NCCIL (National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature) located at 102 Cedar Street for weekly children’s activities, an illustration gallery, and a children’s bookstore. The NCCIL (aka the nickel) is open 10:00 – 4:00 Tuesday – Saturday.

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Characters emerge straight out of the pages of a storybook! This fabulous sculpture in Everman Park is called “Childhood’s Great Adventure”

Abilene Zoological Park

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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

 

 

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