A February 2003 trip
to Flagstaff by Taylor252
Quote: This is the second part of our trip to Flagstaff. There is so much to do in the area. Things like pre-colonial Indian ruins, specialized train rides, natural wonders like the Painted Desert, a volcano, a mining ghost town, Frontier Fort, the Red Rock formations, etc. I'll look at several more sights in this journal.
Hotel | "Fairfield Sedona"
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on September 1, 2003
Wyndham Sedona Vacation Resort
1500 Kestrel Circle
Sedona, Arizona 86336
Attraction | "Petrified Forest and Painted Desert"
One of the highlights of our trip to Flagstaff was the two-hour drive to visit the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert. We headed west and got off I-40 onto U.S. 180. Our first great experience of the day was a stop in Holbrook at the Holbrook Flea Market. This is actually one shop that has a tremendous amount of petrified wood for sale out front! Private land owners collect it from their property and bring it in to sell. This is all perfectly legal. The illegal action is taking even a small rock off the grounds of the National Park. THAT IS STRICTLY FORBIDDEN! Anyway, this fantastic shop was run by a great fellow named Chuck Tabor and I invite you to look at the entry about that shopping experience in this journal.
At the entrance of the park, we began our self-guided tour. (Pamphlet available at the gate.) We saw amazing long logs made of rainbow colored rock. We learned about the fossils they find on a continual basis and we learned about the geological processes that brought these amazing logs of wood back to the surface. I have done an entire journal "Petrified Forest-Shadows from a Time Long Past" which contains significantly more information than I can include here.
Among the other things you will see here are pre-colonial Indian sites and petroglyphs. When you move to the north you'll see the magnificent Painted Desert! Brilliant bands of red, white, black and other colors make this one of the most beautiful places on earth!
All the brochures I read suggest 2-3 hours for the visit. That seems a bit rushed. If you stop at all 18 sites within the Park you will spend closer to 5-6 hours. There is really a lot to do and learn. In Feb. the Park opens at 8am and closes at 5pm. June-Aug. -- 6am-7pm Sept and May -- 7am-6pm. There is a 17 minute film in the Painted Desert Visitor's center that explains how wood in petrified. At the south gate shop, Crystal Forest Museum and Gift Shop, (928-524-3500) there is free overnight camping and free electricity with the purchase of $50 of merchandise. The cost for the park is $10 per car and $5 per persons on bus, bicycle, or foot. You simply can't be disappointed by this park, so send me an email after you visit and tell me what you liked the most!
Petrified Forest National Park
Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona 86028
Jerome is an old mining town that, along with its rich copper deposits, apparently has ghosts! We didn't see any, but we were assured by the publicity that they are there. In 1876 three prospectors staked a claim on this mountain and then sold out to some investors who in 1883 formed the Verde Valley Copper Co. Eugene Jerome was their principle money man who lent the town its name. (In an ironic, cross-the-Atlantic twist, his cousin Jenny Jerome married Randolph Churchill who then became the parents of Winston Churchill!) A few years went by rather unsuccessfully until William A. Clark entered the picture. He purchased the struggling mine, bullied through a narrow gauge railroad to get the ore to market (that is now the Verde Valley Wilderness Train), and made the mine successful. In 1912 James S. Douglas purchased the rights to additional land on the mountain and that was the beginning of the Little Daisy Mine, the 2nd successful operation in Jerome. Now the town began to grow and the trappings of civilization such as churches and brick homes were added. The growth continued to a peak in 1929 and then the general decline of the economy negatively impacted Jerome. In 1935 Phelps Dodge took over all the mining operations in Jerome but eventually gave up trying to make it profitable and in 1953 the mines were closed. The mine at its peak was the largest copper mine in the world.
The Douglas mansion now houses the visitor center and museum. They have great displays of Arizona tectonics, geology (AZ has one of the widest variety of precious and semi-precious stones in the U.S.) and mining operations. They also talk at length about the mining profession, its dangers (for the miners) and rewards (for the owners)! A 12 minute movie traces the history of Jerome which still boasts about 200 residents and talks about the ghosts of miners killed in accidents at the mine. Outside there is a great display of ore carts, horse drawn carriages and an old mining tower that's off to the right. If you turn towards the Verde Valley, there are beautiful views and a picnic area for those so inclined. We purchased some beautiful rock specimens in the gift shop and then took a picture of our friend beneath the Jerome city limit sign. You see, his name is Jerome also! The park is open 8-5 daily; entrance fee is $5 for adults over 17 and for further information call 928-634-5381 or go to the website: www.pr.state.az.us.
My navigator was startled at the turn, (it wasn't on his map) and I think he wondered about my judgment, but we weren't on the lot a minute before a friendly fellow named Chuck Tabor (the owner) came out to greet us. "Can I help you folks?" The next 30 minutes or so was spent searching for just the right piece . . . or pieces as it was to turn out, because the price was amazingly good! We didn't really know how good until we went by other stores and saw their signs, and then finally got to a souvenir place on the grounds of the Petrified Forest. The Holbrook Flea Market had prices that were 50-80% cheaper than others we saw! We had picked out so much that there was no way we'd get it back on the airplane. "I'll ship it home for you," says Chuck. And that's exactly what he did.
Once we went inside his shop to pay the bill we discovered there were more interesting things for sale. Some of Chuck's friends who are Native American (mostly Navajo, some Hopi) do beautiful hand crafted and signed Kachina figures, Etched Pottery, and jewelry. And to my amazement and delight, he had some pottery shards and a few dinosaur bones! In this part of AZ bits of broken pottery and small bones are literally everywhere. Selling these small bits that come to Chuck on consignment from homeowners who find them on their private property is not a problem. While we looked at stuff in the shop, Chuck and a couple of his friends who were there shared several stories about living in this part of AZ. One fellow said he owned about 70 acres and he could go out just about any day and find pottery shards on his property. "Oh really!" "Yeah, I've got some for sale here and I'll make you a great price." We looked at them . . . wanted them . . . and bought them for a great price!
The shop may not be the classiest place to look at, but it's run by very classy and caring people. They made us feel at home, gave us great prices and treated us like we had been friends for a long time. I hope anyone going to see the Petrified Forest will stop by and tell Chuck "hi" from Taylor 252.
You begin in Flagstaff picking up Hwy 89A. 89A is a designated U.S. Scenic Byway and it is very deserving of the title. You drive for a bit and then the tight cornered switchbacks begin. A very serious recommendation for this portion of the trip is no snow and ice! You descend from over 7000 feet to something like 3800 ft. pretty quickly. The switchbacks are at the closed end of Oak Creek Canyon and as you descend, you begin to see towering canyon walls on either side. When you get to the bottom, Oak Creek runs along side the road and there are forests of conifers on both sides. A short distance along the bottom of the valley brought us to a roadside shop of card tables set up by Native Americans. They were selling handcrafted silver, turquoise, onyx, and amethyst jewelry. We stopped and after a 20 minute selection process, purchased a signed Navajo-crafted silver and amethyst necklace. My salespersons told me they set up here often, so for a great purchase, watch for their stands. They will be on the right side of the road several miles after the switchbacks stop.
As you continue on 89A, it will take you into the Red Rock area and eventually into Sedona. You will not be able to keep from stopping to take pictures! The iron rich Red Rock Mts. are beautiful. Then of course, there is Sedona, land of crafters, artists, new age healers and apparently several spiritual vortexes. We did a bit a shopping, took a lot of pictures and were on our way again.
As you continue south on 89A you will enter the Verde Valley and eventually come upon Tuzigoot National Monument. This is the ruins of a Sinagua Indian village built from 1125 A.D.-1400 A.D. It is one of the best preserved sites for this pre-colonial Native American group.
Moving a bit further south on 89A brings you to the cutoff to visit Jerome, AZ, an old mining ghost town. It's high up on the mountain so it will be roughly 10 degrees cooler in Jerome than the floor of the Verde Valley. When at the Douglas House which serves as the visitors center, be sure and take a picture of the Verde Valley and beyond from the cliff edge.
From Jerome, you head back north on 89A to Hwy 279, go east to I-17 and go north on the interstate. Get off at the sign for Montezuma's Castle. This National Monument got its inappropriate name from early explorers who came upon the magnificent cliff dwelling high rise and figured it must have been made by Montezuma of Mexican fame. It was not. It is also a Sinagua site and dates between 1100 and 1400 A.D.
After visiting this cliff dwelling go back to I-17. You can stop at the Indian Casino right at the entrance to the interstate or continue north back to Flagstaff. It will be about a 40 minute drive back to the only RCI resort in Flagstaff, Fairfield Flagstaff. It's a great day and a great trip.
St. Louis, Missouri