Around the World... One Journey at a Time. Around the World... One Journey at a Time.

Route 66: Day 11

by Kathy 15. March 2010 20:30

<< Day 10: The Wonders of the Navajo Nation | Day 12: I Can See Time! >>


Dinosaur Tracks in the Desert


Genevieve and Sebastian couldn’t wait to get outside and explore our campground area this morning.

All bundled up:

The campground at Canyon de Chelly National Monument was practically empty, so the children had plenty of room to roam.

They came running back to the RV, excited about their “best discovery.”

“Mom, Come and see! Come and see!”

They led the way to a rock, which provided a platform for their “treasure”:

(Drum roll, please.) It was a severed animal arm, looking quite fresh, complete with protruding bones:

It was quite a find, indeed. (We left it there.)

While Canyon de Chelly was beautiful, we hadn’t expected it to be quite so cold when planning this trip. We had hiked several miles yesterday, and the kids had been super-troopers. Sebastian, however, had complained that his nose was frozen during the last mile of hiking.

Instead of hiring a guide this morning and doing more hiking through the canyon (or taking a jeep tour), we decided to continue our westward drive and stay overnight in a hotel on the rim at Grand Canyon National Park. Two summers ago, we had stayed at the park in one of the campgrounds, which are set pretty far back from the rim. This time we were going to splurge—I thought that it would be incredible to wake up and have the amazing canyon view right outside our window. With fingers crossed, we telephoned one of the Grand Canyon hotels; we were ecstatic to hear that there was a room available for us! (I doubt that our spontaneity would have been rewarded during the summer months.)

On our way out of Canyon de Chelly, we stopped at the visitor’s center.  Ranger Nora checked over Genevieve and Sebastian's Junior Ranger booklets and presented them with badges.

We left knowing that we would be back to explore Canyon de Chelly on another trip.

We chose a westward route that would take us through the Hopi reservation, which is located in the middle of Navajo Nation Land. First, we had to backtrack south before we turned west.

Leaving Chinle, we saw this brick hogan:

To our east was the mountain range that we would be crossing:

Some houses we passed:

The landscape:

The outer top of this formation had a huge vertical crack, and I wondered how many hundreds or thousands of years would pass before that large chunk of rock on the end would come crashing down.

As we climbed into the mountains, we looked back at the wide desert valley:

These rocks had been carved and placed “just so” by the erosive forces of water and wind:

We dropped down into the next valley, where the Hopi reservation was located (along three mesas). The colors of the homes in Keams Canyon blended in with the landscape:

Cows were grazing by the roadside:

In the distance, we could see a large sports field with stadium bleachers.

As we got closer, we realized it was part of the Hopi junior/high school, which looked like it had been built recently.

The snow-covered top of Humphrey’s peak hovered over the land.

At 12,637 feet in elevation, the extinct volcano is the highest point in Arizona.

This line of rocks by the roadside had been stabilized by a set of stone walls.

A view back into the valley as we climbed the Second Mesa:

On top of the mesa were a number of homes, as well as Hopi art galleries and jewelry shops.

The Second Mesa was also the location of the Hopi Cultural Center, with a museum, hotel and restaurant.

The road sometimes resembled a roller coaster:

Landscape views:

A few homes:

On top of another mesa were a group of houses and other structures that looked uninhabited. One building had “Coal Mine Mesa” painted over the doorway:

I later learned that Coal Mine Mesa was a Navajo town that was vacated in the 1990’s when the border of the Hopi reservation was redrawn to encompass this area.

The road stretched across the desert:

The Navajo town of Tuba was ahead.

The road leading up to Tuba, however, was being repaired.

We detoured along a narrow dirt road that wound behind the town, past beautiful rock formations and some small homes:

These knobby rocks looked like vertebrae:

This hill reminded me of a big layer cake:

Back on the main road, I looked at my map and noticed a small symbol labeled as “Dinosaur Tracks” nearby. Up ahead, there was a large sign with an arrow—we needed to turn here to see the tracks.

We headed toward a small group of vehicles and some wooden booths with vendors selling jewelry and other items.

A blue and yellow sign next to an empty dirt lot indicated “Dinosaur Track Parking,” so we parked there. We got out of the RV and looked around. There were no other signs, and we weren’t sure where to go.

I walked over to one of the vendors and asked where we should go to see the dinosaur tracks, and she said that she would show us. She later explained that the vendors took turns being “guides” to people who stopped.

Our guide was a soft-spoken Navajo woman who showed us a variety of tracks that were imprinted on the sandstone. She said that a man who studies dinosaurs had told her that the tracks were from a Dilophosaurus. To make the tracks more visible, she poured water into some of them.

Genevieve and Sebastian compared their own hands and feet to the size of the prints:

Some of the tracks were huge:

Our guide also showed us an unusual shape that looked skeletal:

She said that ten years ago, a man who studies dinosaurs was convinced that dinosaur bones were buried somewhere in this area; however, the Navajo Nation refused to give him permission to dig into the earth.

She also stated that large sections of dinosaur prints have been stolen in the past by people who come at night.  The Navajo police now regularly patrol the area after dark to prevent future thefts.

There was a big circular shape that she said was “dinosaur poop” (fossilized).

And some small round shapes that our guide said were dinosaur eggs.

A bird flew overhead.

As she showed us the dinosaur prints and other things, our guide talked a little about her life. She had grown up next to the hills behind us, and she used to graze her sheep here when she was a girl. She had told her grandmother about finding some tracks in the stone, but her grandmother had told her, "Don't go there!" The sheep, however, had continued to come here anyway, and she had followed them. She said that no one had been interested in the tracks until the 1960’s. Then scientists and other visitors had come to study and view the prints.

After our tour, she brought us over to her display of jewelry and indicated with a wave of her hand that we should look at her items. I must admit that Ben and I had an awkward moment here. We didn’t want to buy anything; her jewelry was very nice, but we had already purchased two pieces of jewelry yesterday from a Navajo woman at Canyon de Chelly. We also wanted to give the woman some cash for guiding us, but we only had $6 between us. We gave her what little we had and thanked her profusely.

We were soon rambling down the road again. We were fascinated with all of the different types of land formations around us.

A lone cow:

Some houses:

We headed west on Highway 69. On our right was the deep and meandering Little Colorado River Gorge.

The road ahead:

We entered Grand Canyon National Park from the east side. The road through the park had been plowed but was still a bit icy in patches.

From the road, we caught brief views of the Grand Canyon on our right:

Before checking into our hotel, we stopped by the visitor’s center so that Genevieve and Sebastian could pick up Junior Ranger booklets. We hadn’t known about the program during our visit two years ago, and the children wanted to earn a badge for the Grand Canyon park.

There was an exhibit showing a big slice of the canyon, with the names of all of the layers of different colored stone and earth.

A large raven was in the parking lot:

We found our room in the Thunderbird Lodge. We were on the ground floor, with a view of the upper portion of the north rim wall. Here is Genevieve, in front of our hotel, catching the last rays of sunshine:

Another view of the canyon:

We ate dinner tonight at a restaurant called the "Arizona Room" in the Bright Angel Lodge—our first meal outside of the RV in eleven days. (It was delicious.)

Genevieve and Sebastian worked on their Junior Ranger activities before bed.

The Grand Canyon truly is a special place, and we were all looking forward to experiencing more of the magic here tomorrow.


<< Day 10: The Wonders of the Navajo Nation | Day 12: I Can See Time! >>

Back to Index Page

Back to Home Page


Route 66

Comments (3) -

3/16/2010 7:41:08 AM #


umm, at least they didn't bring their prized find back to you.  how intuitive of them to know to bring you to it...even if that doesn't guarantee that they didn't initially pick it up and and check it out.  ahh, kids.  did you get the same feeling as me when i went to the grand canyon - lots and lots of "tragic beauty" in the just felt so desolate and raw.  and as much as i enjoyed visiting, i just kept trying to imagine living there and i couldn't.  of course, i have days where i look around and wonder how i'm living where i'm living.

oh, just a heads up...i'm stowing away on the next trip.  me and the kids and maybe nick...we'll sleep on top of the won't even know we're there.  tee-hee.  okay, gotta run.  thanks for the update.  bb

becky United States | Reply

3/16/2010 11:48:37 AM #


Hi, Becky!  Yes, the kids were thrilled about finding that animal leg.  I'm betting that they probably touched it.  I did make them wash their hands thoroughly when they came back in. Smile

I just love the desert and all of the rock layers that are revealed in the canyons and hills.  It is a very peaceful scene, to me.  Ben and I are both drawn back to the desert again and again.  The wide open spaces, and the colors, are so amazing.

We'll make sure to check the top of the RV before heading out on our next trip!

Kathy United States | Reply

4/15/2015 8:26:32 PM #

Stephen Smith

Thanks for sharing your adventure! I live in Arizona, but you hit a couple of spots I haven't been to yet! Happy trails!! Regards, Stephen Smith, Cottonwood, Az.

Stephen Smith United States | Reply

Add comment

  Country flag

  • Comment
  • Preview

Map of Our Journeys

(click the map to enlarge)
Our travel map

Places We’ve Been, w/Quick Links

   Bumthang Valley
   Gom Kora
   Paro Valley
   Punakha Dzong
   Sangdrup Jongkhar
   Wangdi Phrodrang

   Janko Marca
   La Paz
   Laguna Colorada
   Laguna Verde
   Salar de Coipasa
   Salar de Uyuni
   San Pablo
   Santa Rosa
   Sud Lipez
   World’s Most Dangerous Road

   Banff National Park
   Battle Hill Nat'l Hist. Site
   Boya Lake Prov. Park, BC
   Burns Lake Bike Park
   Canyon Sainte-Anne
   Dawson Creek
   Eastern Townships
   Fort Nelson
   Jasper National Park
   Kluane Lake, YK
   'Ksan Historical Village
   Lake Louise
   Liard Hot Springs
   Niagara Falls
   Quebec City
   Thousand Islands
   Vancouver Island
   Watson Lake

   Forbidden City
   Great Wall at Mutianyu
   Hong Kong
   Summer Palace
   Terracotta Warriors
   Tiananmen Square
   Yungang Caves

Costa Rica
   Arenal Volcano
   Finca Corsicana
   Hanging Bridges
   Manuel Antonio
   Poas Volcano
   Proyecto Asis
   Sky Trek Zip Lining
   Venado Caves


   Amazon Rainforest
   Chaquiñan Bicycle Trail
   La Mitad del Mundo
   Napo Wildlife Center
   Papallacta Hot Springs
   Proyecto DCR
   Yasuní National Park


   Baja California
   Frida Kahlo Museum
   Hierve el Agua
   Marietas Islands
   Mexico City
   Monte Alban
   Oaxaca City
   Puerto Angel
   Puerto Escondido
   Puerto Vallarta
   San Agustin
   San Martin Tilcajete
   Santa Fe de la Laguna
   Santa María el Tule
   Studio of Jacobo Angeles
   Teotitlán del Valle

   Dead Vlei
   Elondo Village
   Etosha Nat'l Park
   Hippo Pools Camp
   Hoba Meteorite
   Khowarib Camp
   Moose McGregor's Bakery
   Mowani Camp
   Ngepi Camp
   Nkasa Lupala
   n'Kwzi Camp
   River Dance Lodge
   Seisriem Camp
   Treesleeper Camp

   Cañón del Pato
   Cerro de Pasco
   La Oroya
   Machu Picchu
   Nuevo Jaén
   Tingo Maria
   Yungay Memorial


South Africa

   Rock of Gibraltar
   Santillana del Mar

United States National Parks
   Arches National Park, UT
   Badlands National Park, SD
   Bandelier National Monument, NM
   Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
   Cahokia Mounds (UNESCO site), IL
   Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
   Canyon de Chelly Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Cape Hatteras National Shoreline, NC
   Capitol Reef National Park, UT
   Civil Rights Memorial, AL
   Death Valley National Park, CA
   Denali National Park, AK
   Devil’s Tower National Monument, WY
   El Morro National Monument, NM
   Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.
   Glacier National Park, MT
   Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
   Grand Tetons National Park, WY
   Great Basin National Park, NV
   Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI
   Joshua Tree National Park, CA
   Kaloko-Honokohau Nat'l Hist. Park, HI
   Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, NM
   King's Canyon National Park, CA
   Martin Luther King Jr. Nat'l Hist. Site, GA
   Mesa Verde National Park, CO
   Montezuma's Castle Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Monticello, VA
   Mount Rushmore National Memorial, SD
   Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
   Olympic National Park, WA
   Petrified Wood National Park, AZ
   Pinnacles National Monument, CA
   Pu'uhonua o Honaunau Nat'l Hist Pk, HI
   Pu'ukohola Heiau Nat'l Historic Site, HI
   San Antonio Missions Nat'l Hist. Park, TX
   Tuzigoot National Monument, AZ
   Walnut Canyon National Monument, AZ
   Washington Monument
   White Sands National Monument, NM
   Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, AK
   Wright Brothers National Memorial in NC
   Yellowstone National Park, WY
   Yosemite National Park, CA

United States, Cities and Places
   The Alamo, TX
   Alaska Wildlife Conservation Cntr.
   Alpine Loop in CO
   Anchorage, AK
   Antares Junction, AZ
   Arctic Circle, AK
   Barrel Oak Winery in VA
   Biloxi, MS
   Bottle Tree Farm in CA
   Calico Ghost Town, CA
   Canfield Mountain Trail System, ID
   Cape St. Vincent, NY
   Carson City, NV
   Carter Caves State Park in KY
   Chappie-Shasta OHV Area, CA
   Child's Glacier, AK
   Circle B Chuckwagon Show in SD
   City Museum in MO
   Cody, WY
   Corn Palace in SD
   Crazy Horse Memorial in SD
   Custer State Park, SD
   Dalton Highway, AK
   Dinosaur Tracks in AZ
   Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC
   Dry Falls (Sun Lakes-Dry Falls), WA
   Fairbanks, AK
   Front Royal, VA
   Gallup, NM
   Goffs, CA
   Grand Canyon Caves, AZ
   Grand Canyon Skywalk, AZ
   Grave Digger Monster Truck in NC
   Great Salt Lake, UT
   Hackberry General Store in AZ
   Hannibal, MO
   Hatteras Island, NC
   Hawaii (Big Island)
   Hickison Petroglyphs, NV
   Holbrook, AZ
   Hole in the Rock, UT
   Homer, AK
   Honey Island Swamp Tour in LA
   Hoover Dam, NV
   Hyder, AK
   Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co. in AZ
   John’s Peak OHV Area, OR
   Kailua-Kona, HI
   Keepers of the Wild Nature Park in AZ
   Kennecott, AK
   Kennecott Copper Mine in UT
   Kingman, AZ
   Lake Havasu, AZ
   Lake Tahoe, NV
   Las Vegas, NV (winter 2010)
   Little Brown Church in IA
   London Bridge in AZ
   Loneliest Road in America, Hwy. 50, NV
   Los Angeles, CA
   Lost Colony Show on Roanoke Isl., NC
   Lowe’s Speedway in NC
   Mardi Gras World in LA
   Mark Twain Museum in MO
   Meteor Crater, AZ
   Million Dollar Highway, CO
   Minnesota Zoo
   Mitchell, SD
   Moab, UT
   Moab, UT (dirt biking)
   Montgomery, AL
   Montpelier, ID
   Navajo Nation, AZ
   Needles, CA
   Nevada Beach, NV
   Newberry Springs, CA
   New River Gorge, WV
   New Orleans, LA
   Niagara Falls 
   North Pole, AK
   Oatman, AZ
   Old Faithful Geyser in WY
   Omak Stampede, WA
   Painted Desert, AZ
   Park City, UT (summer)
   Plymouth, NC
   Portage Valley, AK
   Portland, OR
   Prospect OHV Trail System, OR
   Resaca, GA
   Riverside State Park, WA
   Rock City in TN
   Rosa Parks Library and Museum in AL
   Roswell, NM
   Russian River, AK
   Salt Lake City, UT
   San Antonio, TX
   San Diego, CA
   San Juan Islands, WA
   San Francisco, CA
   Santa Catalina Island, CA
   Seattle, WA
   Sedona, AZ
   Shoe Tree in CA
   Shoe Tree in NV
   Silverton, CO
   Sonora, TX
   St. Louis, MO
   St. Paul, MN
   Talkeetna, AK
   Telluride, CO
   Route 66
   Twin Knobs Recreation Area in KY
   Virginia Beach, VA
   Washington D.C.
   Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park in IL
   Williamsburg, VA
   Winom Frazier OHV Area, OR
   Winslow, AZ
   Zion National Park, UT

Planning Our Adventures

For us, each journey begins with the initial heart pangs to venture to a certain part of the world. Then the ideas start coming together . . . ahh, the possibilities . . . and the dream evolves gradually into an actual plan. But, oh, the joy of the dream!  Click here to learn more about how we plan and prepare for our journeys.

Where Are We Now?

Click here to discover where we are now, as well as our uncoming travel plans.

Words for the Heart

“. . . and then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Anais Nin