South Rim

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  • Acoma Pueblo Reservation
  • The Catwalk National Recreation Trail
  • McDonald Observatory
  • Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
  • 1 State Park
                - Davis Mountains SP
  • 3 National Parks
                - Carlsbad Caverns NP
                - Petrified Forest NP
                - Grand Canyon NP
  • 4 National Monuments
                - White Sands NM
                - Gila Cliff Dwellings NM
                - Natural Bridges NM
                - Canyon de Chelly NM
  • 6 National Forests:
                - Lincoln NF
                - Gila NF
                - Apache-Sitgreaves NF
                - Coconino NF
                - Kaibab NF
                - Cibola NF
  • 17 days
  • 500 photos
  • 3,800 miles!

Here are some of the places we visited

If you don't have time for the slide show, I also have 17 panoramic shots of some of the locations we visited on this trip.

All photos ©2006 Egídio Leitão

Carlsbad NP01. Carlsbad Caverns National Park
(23 photos - 2 min.)

We spent 4 hours inside the cave and were amazed at the 8-acre Big Room. On the way back to the hotel, we wanted to visit Sitting Bull Falls, but that section of the Lincoln NF surrounding the park was closed because of the high danger of forest fires. If you would like to see Sitting Bull Falls, you can check out my photos when I was there in 2004.

White Sands NM02. White Sands National Monument
(18 photos - 2 min.)

We entered the Lincoln NF just outside of Cloudcroft, NM.  After a quick stop in there, we began the descent to Alamogordo. We were stunned with the view of Alamogordo and White Sands: 275 square miles of snow-white dunes rising up to 60 feet above the Tularosa Basis floor.

Gila Cliff03. Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument
(40 photos - 3 min.)

Forty-five miles up the Gila Mountains and we reached our destination, the Gila Cliff Dwellings NM. A two-hour guided tour to the dwellings was very informative. The original dwellings had approximately 40 rooms and were built during the late 13th century by people of the Mogollon culture. On the way down to Pinos Altos, we saw the beginning of a small forest fire here.

Pinos Altos04. Pinos Altos
(8 photos - 1 min.)

Recommended by the ranger at Gila Cliff, we stopped in this small town. The Buckhorn Saloon had good food and a very friendly atmosphere. Next door to the Saloon, there is the opera house.

Cat Walk05. The Cat Walk
(24 photos - 2 min.)

Yet another park ranger recommendation, the Cat Walk National Recreation Trail is a beautiful and easy hike right in the Gila National Forest. The trail passes through the steep walls of Whitewater Canyon. A large portion of the trail consists of a metal suspension bridge used by hikers..

Mogollon06. Mogollon
(17 photos - 2 min.)

This mining ghost town was a real trip. The place felt like a cemetery until we ran into one peculiar resident who proceeded to tell us the history and stories about the town. However, the road that led to the town was the thrilling part. At times only one lane and with hairpin curves and no guard, the road was dangerous.

Petrified Forest NP07. Petrified Forest National Park
(58 photos - 4 min.)

After a beautiful drive through the Apache-Sitgreaves NF, we got to Petrified Forest NP and Painted Desert. This is a gorgeous place. Make sure you do include a sunset drive through the park, too. The colors are unreal. We also hiked down the bottom of the canyon, saw Blue Mesa and Newspaper Rock with its countless petroglyphs.

Grand Canyon NP08. Grand Canyon National Park
(40 photos - 3 min.)

No words can ever describe the majestic beauty of the Grand Canyon. It is truly impressive! The day we visited the South Rim, the wind was so strong that flights around the Canyon were cancelled. The sunset tour we did was memorable.

Kaibab NF09. Kaibab National Forest
(9 photos - 1 min.)

This was the first leg of our Sunset Deluxe Combo Jeep Tour at the Grand Canyon. We were able to hike a small section of this forest and see some cliff dwellings with pictographs and petroglyphs up and close.

Monument Valley10. Monument Valley
(17 photos - 2 min.)

How many times have you seen this view? It is magical. As we approached this area, lots of rock formations began to fill the skyline. We finally came to our main stop along the highway: Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, with its famous view of the Mittens and Merrick Butte. 

Mexican Hat11. Mexican Hat and Bluff, UT
(13 photos - 1 min.)

There really isn't much in these cities, but the rock formations and scenery are beautiful. The Twin Rocks Café was a favorite spot of ours. Hummingbirds provided some of the enjoyment.

San Juan River12. San Juan River Rafting
(55 photos - 4 min.)

This was our relaxation time: 8 hours floating on the San Juan River and seeing more cliff dwellings, petroglyphs and pictographs. Rafting was smooth (3-4 rapids only) and the stops were great. One fun thing was watching a flock of ducks taking the rapids in front of us.

Nautral Bridges NM13. Natural Bridges National Monument
(42 photos - 3 min.)

Not very far from Bluff, UT, Natural Bridges is a great place to visit. The three natural rock bridges -- Sipapu, Kachina and Owachomo -- were carved by the river are within easy access by car or on foot. The road we took to get to the park was a bit dangerous. We went up to Mooki Dugway at 6,243 ft, and most of the drive was along a very narrow road with 3 miles being one lane and gravel.

Canyon de Chelly NM14. Canyon de Chelly National Monument
(22 photos - 2 min.)

Yet another canyon and cliff dwellings with stunning views. Spider Rock is one of those famous formations seen in some movies. This national monument shows five periods of Native American culture in its 83,849 acres.

Acoma Pueblo15. Acoma Pueblo
(23 photos - 2 min.)

Also known as Sky City, this pueblo is one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the U.S. dating back to 1150 A.D. On top of a mesa, some 14 families still live in houses without electricity, sewage or running water. From there one can see Enchanted Mesa, which legend says used to be the ancestral settlement for Acoma.

Santa Fe16. Santa Fe
(33 photos - 3 min.)

Another long stop to see the city and visit with our old friends, Kurt and Val. Besides the traditional adobe houses, Santa Fe surprised us with its high cost of living and nice shops and galleries. Oh, here is where I spent my 50th birthday. See me blowing a candle at a cabaret bar that evening -- not a very good shot, I might add.

O'Keefe Country17. Georgia O'Keeffe Country
(14 photos - 1 min.)

This is one area that O'Keeffe used to describe as the place where she got her colors and inspiration. In fact, that afternoon, when we visited her museum in Santa Fe, we saw some paintings of this area. Just outside Abiquiu, Ghost Ranch used to be O'Keeffe's summer house.

Sandia Peak18. Sandia Peak Tramway
(10 photos - 1 min.)

High above Albuquerque, the Sandia Peak offers great views and cooler weather. The 2.7-mile tramway is one of the world's longest. The peak rises 10,378 feet.

Davis Mtns19. Davis Mountains, Indian Lodge and McDonald Observatory
(58 photos - 3 min.)

On the way back into Texas, we stopped Davis Mountains State Park to relax a couple of days, see the Indian Lodge, MCDonald Observatory and Marfa lights.

Still want more??? I know I should have posted all 800+ photos I took! Check out the 17 panoramic shots.

©2006 Egídio Leitão