Pam and I have been busy this Spring with house related issues which made this road trip a much-needed break. Earlier in the year we had planned two separate trips with four other folks, but ended up combining the trips into one, making it more enjoyable.
We headed out of town with our new travel partners, Clark and Jill, and their Sprinter RV. Given our late start, or it could have been good planning, we ended up at THAT Brewery in Pine for a nice dinner. We then headed up on top of the Rim and camped for the night at Clint’s Wells CG. We’ve driven by the place many times, but never camped there. The four of us had the place to ourselves for the night. Being a weeknight and a little chilly at that altitude, there wasn’t any traffic on Lake Mary Road, which made the evening nice and quiet for us.
We broke camp the next morning and drove by the most water we’ve ever seen in Mormon Lake. It was a good snow year for northern AZ resulting in a very green forest and an abundance of wildflowers around the state. We blew through Flagstaff heading north to the Utah state line. Our stop for the day and rendezvous point with our other two travelers, Kathy and Kirk, was Stateline CG.
The area around there is very picturesque in a high desert kind of way.
The campground gets its name because it is literally right on the state line between Utah and Arizona.
While the campground sits in Utah, it is the starting or ending point of the Arizona Trail, an 800-mile trail that stretches from the Huachuca Mountains in southern Arizona on the Mexico border to the Buckskin Mountains and Stateline CG at the border of Utah.
We hiked a short stretch of the Trail, only about 797 miles left to complete the trail, and talked to “The Warden” at the trailhead logbook on our way back into the campground. He was a retired Alaska Fish and Game guy who had just recently completed the entire trail in 60 days. He showed us in the logbook the other hikers he met along the way and their trail names like “Drugstore”. He told us that the North Rim of the Grand Canyon was still under 5 feet of snow when he reached it a week before, about 100 miles south of the where we were.
Kirk and Kathy had back-country permits to hike and stay a night in Paria Canyon. We enjoyed a nice campfire dinner and the next morning Kirk and Kathy headed to the trailhead for their backpack adventure while Clark and Jill joined us for a day of exploration.
Just south of Stateline CG are “The Maze” petroglyphs, which we had not seen on any of our previous visits. The hike took us through a beautiful sage-filled valley – best smell ever – dotted with wildflowers.
We climbed a ridge to the petroglyphs, just on the other side of the geological wonder “The Wave”. The petroglyphs were amazing and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen a Maze petroglyph. The number of drawings would indicate that this was a well-traveled route and folks would leave their clan marking to show they had passed through here. Not sure what the square maze near the top of the picture represented.
We then drove back towards Utah and stopped at the Wire Pass trailhead. Wire Pass and Buckskin are two trailheads along the road that lead into slot canyons that join into Paria Canyon.
The rock formations in this area are very colorful and unique.
We hiked into the slot canyon of Wire Pass until we hit the confluence with Buckskin. There was a little bit of water and some mud, but overall a good hike. Someone had built and installed a wooden ladder at the 10-foot rock ledge in the Wire Pass slot canyon, making the hike much easier.
The rock changes color during the hike and the sky was a gorgeous color of blue; the slice of it you could see.
The plan was to meet back up with Kirk and Kathy the next day and head east across northern Arizona. We stopped at the White House trailhead BLM office, filled our water tanks and got a recommendation on a new place to camp along Cottonwood Canyon Road in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
We wanted to take Clark and Jill to “The Squeeze” and hike the Cottonwood Canyon Narrows, but a recent rockslide had blocked the road heading north. That will have to be a future trip.
Cottonwood Canyon Road was covered in wildflowers as we made our way towards our campsite for the night.
The dispersed campsite was near Lower Hackberry Canyon trailhead. The nearby white rock erosion created a white sand beach site for our camp spot.
We hiked along the rocks above our newfound campsite. The view was spectacular due to the colors and the 45-degree tilted earth formations that make up this valley.
The ridgeline we were on was beautiful, but the jump to the next spire was just a little further than either of us could make – lol.
We had another great campfire dinner, and passed the evening playing Bananagrams, a game Clark and Jill introduced to us a few years back. We carry a couple of dictionaries in the Roamer because in these remote areas there is no Internet and disputes in Bananagrams and Scrabble need to be resolved the old fashion way – lol.
The next morning we started towards Navajo National Monument, but stopped on the way to hike to some Toadstool Hoodoos.
The colors of the land against the sky in this area of the country is so vibrant that you just stop and say, “wow”.
We then headed East to continue this adventure, with a destination of Navajo National Monument for the night.