US Parks

Chaco Culture National Historic Park

Chaco Culture National Historic Park

At Chaco Canyon, many of the original “Vigas” are still embedded into the walls. These wooden features made up the floors of multi-story buildings as well as the foundations for the rooftops.

We’ve called them many names in the past. They were the Anasazi, the Ancient Puebloans, and today, at Chaco Canyon, they’re called “Chacoans,” or just “Chaco People.” The truth is, none of the names we’ve made up over the centuries really fits, and we have no idea what they called themselves.

What we do know is that Chaco Canyon was the cultural, political, and economic center of these ancient people from around 850 A.D. to 1250 A.D. It’s thought that thousands of people lived here while roads were built and maintained throughout their area of influence.

We visited Chaco Canyon recently and walked among the many ruins, enjoying the landscape and the isolation of this northern New Mexico National Historic Site. The closest town is Farmington, and getting to Chaco Canyon took a bit of determination. Starting from State Highway 505, we turned off on County Road 7950 and drove about five miles until the pavement ended. We then proceeded along a dirt road that was minimally maintained for another thirteen miles, then another five miles over a road that was not maintained at all. We made it okay, and so did lots of other folks. The one small campground was full.

There were two first-come, first-served campsites. All others were by reservation only. Part of the campground is currently closed because the nearby rock walls are tending to fall, making for a potentially hazardous tent site.

The main entrance to Chaco Culture National Historic Park is from Highway 505 and along County Road 7950, about 20 miles from the highway to the park. Much of the trek is unimproved dirt. And to be fair, when we visited the park, the trip in was at about 10 MPH and we encountered a grader working the shoulders. On the way out, the road was comfortable at its posted speed limit of 30 MPH. The grader had finished his work while we were there.

There are several hiking trails within the park, but for this trip, concentrated mostly on the various pueblos that were situated along the loop road from the visitor’s center. Below are a few images we made along our way; mostly from Pueblo Bonito. This massive pueblo was thought to house a thousand inhabitants, and it’s a truly believable number. we encountered a volunteer ranger at the site that was able to tell us a great deal about the structure and what we believe to be true about its history. If you visit, be sure to seek these folks out. they have a great deal of knowledge and are willing to share.

Here’s a brief overview of what we found on our last visit to Chaco Canyon (Chaco Culture National Historic Park).
Posted by Donald Fink and Bonnie Fink in Blog, The West, Travel, US Parks, 0 comments
Artist’s Paint Pots

Artist’s Paint Pots

Artist’s Paint Pots is an attraction in Yellowstone National Park. Located about three miles south of the Norris Geyser Basin along the Grand Loop Road, this is a collection of over 50 springs, geysers, vents, and mud pots.

As one of the “out-of-the-way” locations, this area seems to get a little less traffic than some of the more popular areas of the part, but if you happen by, it’s worth a stop.

The trail loop is about 1.2 miles in total with an 80 rise in elevation. We enjoyed this location early in the morning. The cold air made the steam rising from the various features more dramatic.

Posted by Donald Fink in Blog, US Parks, Video, 0 comments
Roadside View of Capitol Reef National Park: One Day at This Utah Attraction

Roadside View of Capitol Reef National Park: One Day at This Utah Attraction

Do you know where Capital Reef National Park is? We found it by chance more than two decades ago and we’ve been going back since then.

Capital Reef is a small National Park located in southern Utah. It’s in the neighborhood of the Grand Escalante National Recreation Area, Zion National Park, and Bryce Canyon National Park. The closest town is called Torrey. Not much there except a small grocery store and a handful of restaurants, cafes and hotels.

The area has grown significantly over the years, but we think it’s still one of the best kept secrets in southern Utah.

Here’s a video we made from a recent trip through Capitol Reef. We hesitate to say that it was our destination, but rather, it was a diversion as we traveled from one place to another. Next time we’ll want to spend more time and explore some of the backcountry.

We spent just a single day ambling around Capitol Reef National Park in southern Utah. Here’s what we found by observing from the roadside.

We spent about six weeks in this area a few years ago when we were RVing full time and came away with a few stories. Here are a few:

Capitol Reef National Park – Our introductory piece from a couple of years ago when we visited this the Park.

Capitol Reef national Park – Image gallery – Some of our first images from Capitol Reef National Park. They’re still relevant since nothing has changed over the years.

Capitol Reef – Waterpocket Fold – We dive into the fascinating geology of the area around Capitol Reef called The Waterpocket Fold. By visiting Capitol Reef national Park, it’s no mystery that the area has been very geologically active and this article explains a little about how it all took place.

Capital Reef National Park – Wayne Wonderland – Here we dive into a bit of the recent history of Wayne County and who the first Mormon settlers were.

Goblin Valley – Utah’s Weirdest Rocks – This should have been listed first. If you visit Capitol Reef National Park and you come from I-70, you pass by Goblin Valley State Park near Hanksville. This place has the weirdest rocks we’ve seen anywhere and it’s worth a visit, especially if it’s on your way.

Posted by Donald Fink and Bonnie Fink in Blog, Travel, US Parks, Video, 0 comments
Impressions of the Parks Near Moab

Impressions of the Parks Near Moab

If you like wide-open spaces—and who doesn’t these days—then one place that might be at the top of your list should be Moab, Utah. And we don’t mean the City of Moab—even though it’s a fine city—but the overwhelming number of national, state, and county parks in the immediate area.

To tell you about everything to see and do around Moab would take a sizable book. In fact, books are written pretty much everything you could think of to do in this American Southwest destination. From rock climbing to day hiking, mountain biking, four-wheeling, you name it, it’s here. There are tours if you want to be shown around, and there are rentals if you want to head out on your own. Many people bring their own equipment and head out to the backcountry.

Our quick little video here shows just a bit of only two parks in the Moab area: Arches National Park and Canyonlands. Both are easily accessible with any kind of vehicle and are an easy day trip from downtown Moab.

Canyonlands and Arches National Parks are two of our favorite places in the southwest. We’ve spent a great deal of time visiting these wonders over the years, and it seems as though it’s a new experience each time we come.

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Posted by Donald Fink and Bonnie Fink in Blog, The West, Travel, US Parks, 0 comments
Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park

Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park

One of our favorite spots in the U.S., or even the world for that matter, is Yellowstone National Park, in Wyoming and Montana. We travel there as often as we can and try to make it when we have the best chances of seeing animals.

While in Yellowstone, we have several spots we like to visit, but one of our favorite spots is the Lamar Valley, located in the northeastern part of the park. We almost always encounter animals along the road from Tower Junction and east until the highway starts its climb up and out of the valley. We usually encounter bears, pronghorn, many bison, and an occasional wolf (in the distance) or coyote.

This past summer’s trip was especially good for us so we put together a quick video of some of the animals and sights we found while driving the road in the Lamar Valley. Take a look:

The Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park is one of our favorite places for spotting wildlife. This picturesque highway between Tower Junction and the Park exit is home to a large variety of critters and with ample places to pull off the road for observing, it’s a great place to spend some time. Photos and videos by Don and Bonnie Fink.
Posted by Donald Fink and Bonnie Fink in Blog, Featured, The West, Travel, US Parks, 0 comments
Animal Watching Along the Madison River

Animal Watching Along the Madison River

In the fall, the animals in Yellowstone often congregate in lower areas where they can more easily navigate the winter snow and find food. This is especially true along the Madison River near Yellowstone’s western entrance. Elk often number in the hundreds here while they get on with the business of the fall rut and settle in for the coming winter.
Posted by Donald Fink and Bonnie Fink in Blog, Travel, US Parks, 0 comments
Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park

One of the least known national parks in southeast Utah, in our opinion, is Capital Reef National Park. Located along Utah Highway 24, north of Bryce Canyon and the Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument, this park could be the best example of exposed geology anywhere on the Colorado Plateau, short of an exhausting trip into the interior of the Grand Canyon.

We just visited Capital Reef National Park for a couple of days along with side trips into the Dixie National Forest, the Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument, and Bryce Canyon National Park. There’ll be more on these parks later.

The easiest way to get to Capital Reef National Park is to head out I-70 in Utah, east from I-15 or west from Grand Junction, Colorado. Follow signs to Hanksville and turn right at Hanksville. You can’t miss it.

While we were here, we stayed at the Capital Reef Resort, which is a hotel just outside the park, near the town of Torrey. Capital Reef Resort is worth mentioning on its own. It features the usual rooms with great views, but also has Tee Pees in case you want to sleep in a tent, and even covered wagons if you’re more in a western mood. There’s a restaurant, which is important around these parts, and horse and llama stables for western riding and guided hikes into the wilderness.

Here are a few of the images we have from our brief stay at Capital Reef. These are from the park itself. We’ll post others from our trips up into the Dixie National  Forest, the Escalante Grand Staircase, and Bryce Canyon as soon as time permits.

We wrote about Capital Reef and the area once before on a more extended visit. You can see some of the articles we posted here:

 

Posted by Donald Fink and Bonnie Fink in Blog, Travel, US Parks, 0 comments
Arches National Park

Arches National Park

We’ve apparently dodged the smoke in the west, or at least most of it for now. We arrived in Moab Utah a few days ago and discovered pristine blue skys with deep red rocks.

It’s an interesting story that the first time we went to Walt Disney World many years ago, we were amused with the ride Big Thunder Mountain. We were absolutely sure that Disney’s choice of color for the rocks on the ride, which is set in the American Southwest, must have taken a great deal of artistic interpretation. The rocks are so vivid and bright that we were sure nothing so red could exist for real in nature.

You can get to Arches National Park by heading south from I-70 to Moab in southeastern Utah. Moab is about 30 miles from I-70.

Then we came to Moab, with Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Deadhorse Point State Park, and more. Even the valley where Moab sits is surrounded by a deep red Entrada Sandstone.

We’re still working on our Arches photos, but we’ve put together a few that can be seen now. Have a look at some of our favorites here:

Posted by Donald Fink and Bonnie Fink in Blog, Travel, US Parks, 0 comments