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  1. #1

    Default Western National Parks & More - Fall 2015

    I just got back from a 36 day trip through the west, visiting over 20 National Park sites and
    National Historic Trails, plus a variety of other activities. We traveled through Arizona, Utah,
    Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Colorado. In the past I have posted Field
    Trip Reports in real-time. For this trip I decided to wait until I returned, as I knew many places
    we camped would have none, or limited, cell phone and internet connection. I'll be posting daily,
    with a few gaps.
    Some of our usual activities I will preview here so you can have some background information.
    Passport Stamps - as we travel through NPS sites we collected a small, round, dated stamp that
    is issued to the sites by Eastern National. A club we belong to, National Park Travelers Club,
    maintains a database with the location of the stamps. My husband, is a self-described fanatic,
    as well others in the club who want to collect all of the stamps possible. Some of the sites have
    bonus stamps which can be very attractive.
    Letterboxing - a fun, treasuring hunting hobby which started in England in the late 1800s. Today
    2 websites provide access to clues; Atlas Quest and LBNA. It is similar to
    geocaching, but involves exchanging hand-carved stamps between your personal stamp and
    the stamp you find in the box.
    Junior/Senior Ranger programs - I complete these programs as I travel.I have a blog titled,
    'Junior Ranger-Senior Friendly'
    Quest Scouts - recently I have been participating in a new online adult-oriented scout-style
    program. It has been a lot of fun, and works well while traveling or staying at home.
    Instagram - As part of recording my Quest Scout activities and posting pictures, as part of the
    NPS Centennial celebration, to Find Your Park I have an account - SrJrRanger
    As in the past I'll include pictures along the way and list some of the wildlife we see during the
    day. As the trip progress feel free to comment or question, either in the forum or by private
    message. I hope some of the information will entertain and also inform you for your own travels.
    So here goes. . .
    Last edited by Tom_H007; 06-09-2023 at 12:36 AM. Reason: edited letterboxing link text

  2. #2

    Default North to Coolness!

    Sunday, August 23, 2015
    Start: Tucson, AZ
    End: Kaibab Lake Campground (USFS), near Williams, AZ

    Looking forward to the start of this trip - North to cool weather! It was reaching 102* as we left
    Phoenix. Just north of Phoenix we made a quick stop at the Road Runner Saloon in New River
    for a set of smashed pennies, the machine had been broken on previous stops, finally
    successful in getting a set. We wanted to end the day near Williams, AZ along I-40 so we left
    I-17 and headed towards Prescott on AZ 69, but took a shortcut over to 89A and then up AZ 89
    north, through Chino Valley to I-40 at Ash Fork and back east a short distance to Williams. This
    was a nice route, better than I-17 to Flagstaff and then back to Williams. Just outside of Prescott
    we drove for a short while in a good downpour, refreshing.

    Once in Williams we drove out to Bearizona to get a set of smashed pennies. Even at 4 PM
    there was a line of cars waiting to get in. The penny machine was inside this wildlife park,
    however, a very kind attendant allowed us to drive in and get the pennies. She took my
    husband's drivers license to hold while we were there. The gift shop was in the walking area of
    the park, with smaller animals to be viewed. We just went in and got the pennies and left.
    A short distance down AZ 64, which heads to Grand Canyon National Park, is a nice US Forest
    Service campground, Kaibab Lake. It had been full over the weekend, but had spaces available on a Sunday
    After setting up the campsite, for us that means putting out our chairs, as we sleep in our
    modified Chevy Cargo Van, we drove back into Williams. We enjoyed dinner and a tasty Black
    Iron IPA at Grand Canyon Brewery. Their service area is small, but they are the 3rd largest
    brewer in Arizona, in bottling and distributing. Their food comes from the Rt. 66 Cruiser's Cafe,
    adjacent to the property. While in town we found 2 letterboxes.
    Kaibab Lake

    Grand Canyon Brewery

    Back at camp a couple of hummingbirds had found our feeder, they were already fighting over it.
    Just as we sat down to enjoy the cool evening air, a pair of Javelinas walked through the
    campground. We were very surprised, they are considered a desert animal, not a pig, but a
    peccary. Seeing them at 6,800 ft was a surprise.
    Javelina in campground

    Wildlife Sightings
    Spiny Lizard
    Abert's Squirrel

    Anna's Hummingbird
    Common Raven
    Turkey Vulture
    House Sparrow
    Steller's Jay
    Last edited by Pmount; 09-29-2015 at 12:49 PM. Reason: pictures did not load

  3. #3

    Default Williams to Flagstaff

    Start: Williams, AZ
    End: Bonito Campground (USFS), N of Flagstaff

    Enjoyed a relaxed morning in camp, mostly bird watching. Perfect temperature AM temperature
    to enjoy the critters.
    Abert's Squirrel

    Back in Willaims we stopped at the Visitor center, right across the tracks from the Grand Canyon
    Railroad Depot. They have a passport stamp for Grand Canyon National Park, and nice
    displays about the area. Before leaving town we stopped at Open Country Cowboy for smashed
    pennies, this shop had custom made leather goods and hand-crafted jewelry. It was not your
    typical souvenir shop with a penny machine. While there the owner told us about another
    machine in town, which had not been listed on the website. This turned out to be a Western
    Town, named Wild West Junction, with outdoor seating for the restaurant and saloon,and other
    curio shops. Besides the penny machine there was an intriguing coin-operated curiosity. I've
    not seen this before, anyone?

    Wild West Junction - Williams, AZ

    Step Inside

    We continued over to Flagstaff on I-40. While in town we found a letterbox and had lunch at
    Lumberyard Brewing Company. Afterwards we drove out to Walnut Canyon National Monument.
    After getting the passport stamp and token we walked along the Rim Trail. On the way back we
    noticed a set of ruins below the main trail, down in the canyon.
    Walnut Canyon Ruins
    Below rim

    Above rim

    We ended the day at Bonito Campground, north of Flagstaff, off US 89 and right across from the
    Sunset Crater National Monument. This is one of our favorite campgrounds, very quiet with
    spacious sites and good birding.

    Passport Stamps
    Grand Canyon National Park - Grand Canyon, AZ
    Walnut Canyon National Monument - Flagstaff, AZ

    Wildlife Sightings
    Abert's Squirrel

    Brown Creeper
    Hepatic Tanager
    Dark-eyed Junco
    American Robin
    Steller's Jay
    Common Raven
    Broad-Tailed Hummingbird
    Mountain Bluebird
    Western Bluebird
    White-breasted Nuthatch
    Hairy Woodpecker
    Common Yellowthroat
    Common Poorwill

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Javelinas!

    Wow, great capture of the two Javelinas! Nice report and photos thus far.
    I just got back from a 36 day trip through the west, visiting over 20 National Park sites and
    National Historic Trails, plus a variety of other activities.
    This is going to make the rest of us jealous!


  5. #5

    Default Javelinas moving north

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sedenquist View Post
    Wow, great capture of the two Javelinas!
    While on this trip we learned that the javelina have migrated north, even as far as the Grand Canyon.
    Last edited by Tom_H007; 06-22-2023 at 12:50 AM. Reason: replaced Grand Canyon link

  6. #6

    Default Sunset Crater & Wupatki NM loop

    Tuesday, August 25
    99th Anniversary of National Park Service

    Start & End: Bonito Campground

    San Francisco Peaks

    When staying at this campground I usually start my morning with a walk to the entrance of the
    campground for a view of the San Francisco Peaks - always beautiful.
    After a leisurely morning in camp we spent today exploring Sunset Crater Volcano National
    Monument and Wupatki National Monument, the road to both begins right at the campground.
    Today was the 99th birthday of the National Park Service. As part of their year-long celebration
    leading up to the Centennial, next August, they have launched the #FindYourPark campaign. I
    have been posting to Instagram as Srjrranger for this celebration, and other activities. The road between the 2 sites can be driven as a loop, starting off either end of US 89, north of Flagstaff or south of Cameron. It is a great side trip on your way to or from the Grand Canyon. Today, we returned along the road, as we were spending another night at Bonito.

    While traveling the road between the two sites we found several letterboxes, including a couple of
    webboxes within the monuments. Letterboxes are not allowed within park sites, so my husband has created "boxes" that use interpretive signs, instead of planting traditional letterboxes. Once at home a coded URL gives you a picture from the location as your "stamp". It was
    a relaxing day, enjoying cool weather!

    Sunset Crater lava

    Wupatki Ruins & passport stamping

    We came back to camp and continued to enjoy the Hummer Wars at the feeder. Seemed to be
    3 Broad-tailed females who were actively guarding the feeder. We had a vocal Abert's Squirrel
    that was upset with us, it appears when we returned we had put our chairs next to a tree it was
    up in, and couldn't figure out how to get down. After quite awhile and a lot of chewing out, it finally figured out an exit. By
    early evening a steady, light rain settled in and continued for most of the night.

    Abert's Squirrel

    Passport Stamps
    Sunset Crater Volcano NM- Flagstaff, AZ
    Wupaki NM - Flagstaff, AZ

    Wildlife Sightings
    Abert's Squirrel
    Rock Squirrel
    Spiny Lizard

    Common Raven
    Mountain Chickadee
    Hairy Woodpecker
    Broad-tailed Hummingbird
    Mountain Bluebird
    White-breasted Nuthatch
    Steller's Jay
    Western Bluebird
    Greater Roadrunner
    Last edited by Pmount; 10-01-2015 at 07:53 AM. Reason: wording

  7. #7

    Default North to Grand Canyon National Park

    Wednesday, August 26
    Start: Bonito Campground, N of Flagstaff
    End: Mather Campground (NPS), Grand Canyon National Park

    Another beautiful morning in camp and picture of San Francisco Peaks.
    San Francisco Peaks

    And another squirrel picture, showing the rust-colored back of Abert's Squirrels

    After enjoying coffee and tea in camp we headed into Flagstaff for breakfast and gas before
    heading north to Grand Canyon National Park. We had planned to hike at Red Mountain, along
    US 180, about 30 miles north of Flagstaff. When we arrived it was raining and the clouds were
    ominous, so we continued on our way. Thunderstorms were predicted for today in Flagstaff and
    at the Grand Canyon. We stopped in Valle and Tusysan for letterboxes and smashed pennies.
    Once at the canyon we had lunch at our reserved campsite. Yes, even in late August and middle
    of the week, the sign 'Campground Full' greeted us. All schools in Arizona and most of the west
    now start in early August, some even in late July. This allows for a Fall Break in early October, a
    much better time of year to enjoy Western travel.

    After lunch we rook the shuttle bus to the main visitor center, Yavavpai Point and into the main
    village area. While at Yavapai Point I attended a Ranger Program titled 'Geology Glimpses',
    beautiful setting along the rim. I picked up the South Rim Junior Ranger booklet, which I
    was able to complete by the end of the next day. I have now completed the North and South Rim
    and the Phantom Ranch Junior Ranger programs. I tried to pick up the booklet for Indian Gardens,
    but they were out of them. I'll be hiking through there at the end of November on my way to Phantom
    Ranch for another 3 night stay.

    Yavapai Point Ranger Program

    Across the Canyon, down to Phantom Ranch & Bright Angel Creek

    We strolled along the rim between Verkamp's Visitor Center and Kolb Studio before heading into
    Maswik Lodge to enjoy an early dinner at the Pizza Pub. Back to camp for a quiet evening, even
    with a full campground.

    Rainbow- ending the day

    Passport Stamps
    Albright Training Center - Grand Canyon, AZ
    Grand Canyon National Park
    - Visitor Center Plaza
    - Yavapai Geology Museum
    - Verkamp's Visitor Center
    - Kolb Studio
    Bonus Stamps
    Albright Training Center
    NPS Arrowhead
    Canyon View Information Plaza - Grand Canyon
    Yavapai Observation Station - Grand Canyon
    Verkamp's Visitor Center - Grand Canyon
    Historic Kolb Studio - Grand Canyon South Rim

    Wildlife Sightings
    Abert's Squirrel
    Rock Squirrel
    Tarantula Hawk (insect)

    Broad-tailed Hummingbird
    Steller's Jay
    Common Raven
    Northern Flicker
    Turkey Vulture
    Western Scrub Jay
    White-breasted Nuthatch
    Mountain Chickadee

  8. #8

    Default Grand Canyon National Park

    Thursday, August 27, 2015
    Start & End: Mather Campground, Grand Canyon National Park

    Spending a full day in Grand Canyon, South Rim. Took the Village Shuttle bus to the transfer
    point for the Hermit's Rest shuttle. By 10 AM the crowds were gathering, we had to wait for
    another bus after one bus arrived and filled. It was worth the wait to be able to get a seat, our
    plan was to ride all the way to the end at Hermit's Rest. This unique building was built by Mary
    Jane Elizabeth Colter, architect for the Santa Fe Railroad in the early 1900s. Her southwest
    inspired buildings are throughout the area. They have a unique stamp in the bookstore,
    Airmailed by Raven from Hermit's Rest.

    Hermit's Rest

    Once back in the village we indulged in ice cream at the Bright Angel Lodge. Back to the visitor
    center for me to receive my Junior Ranger - South Rim badge. For $2 I purchased the appropriate patch, Scorpion - ages 11 and up. We enjoyed a late lunch at camp, then showers near the entrance to the campground, $2 for 8 minutes, and plenty of hot water. During this
    afternoon period Elk were lounging throughout the campground.

    Elk - Mather Campground

    After relaxing at camp we checked out the new Tavern at Yavapai Lodge. A better selection of
    beers, wine and full bar, plus a good pub menu. We enjoyed a pint of Lumberyard IPA (Flagstaff)
    and a very large order of Nachos with plenty of meat and other fixings!

    Tavern at Yavavpai -Nachos

    After stuffing ourselves on Nachos we walked along the rim as the evening light settled into the
    canyon. We also explored the Pioneer Cemetery near Park Headquarters. This stroll is highly
    recommended; the information on the headstones is varied and interesting.

    Grand Canyon

    Wildlife Sightings
    Rock Squirrel
    Mule Deer

    Western Bluebird
    Mountain Chickadee
    White-breasted Nuthatch
    Northern Flicker
    Common Raven
    Turkey Vulture
    Steller's Jay
    Pinon Jay
    Yellow-rumped Warbler
    Dark-eyed Junco
    Western Scrub Jay

  9. #9

    Default North to Utah

    Friday, August 28
    Start: Mather Campground, Grand Canyon National Park
    End: Duck Creek Campground (USFS), Duck Creek, UT

    Today was a travel day, leaving the Grand Canyon and heading north into Utah. We had
    planned to have breakfast at the Yavavpai Lodge cafeteria, a previous favorite place for
    breakfast. However, they have 'upgraded' their menu and out priced our taste. We went across
    the parking lot to the General Store and got breakfast in the Deli. The egg, sausage and cheese
    on bagel was big and tasty. 2 bagel sandwiches and 2 hot beverages came to $13.46. Along the
    East Rim Drive we stopped at the Tusayan Museum and enjoyed the short walk through the
    ruins and then stopped at Desert Tower. In Cameron we stopped at the Trading Post to look around and pick up ice before heading off US 89 to US 89A and Marble Canyon. The Cameron Trading Post has remodeled, the restaurant entrance is back on the right now. We stopped at the Interpretive Center by the bridge for passport stamps and postcards. While there we fixed a picnic lunch, a bit warm - upper 90s.

    From there we drove up to the Kaibab Plateau and a quick stop at Jacob Lake Inn for bakery
    goods. Their power was out, but they were still selling! Yum, I enjoyed a German Chocolate
    cookie and my husband had a Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookie. I also picked up a larger
    cinnamon roll to share in the morning and 2 Chocolate Parfait cookies for tomorrow.

    US 89, north of Kanab, UT

    We drove into Fredonia and a stop at the Red Pueblo Museum for the Old Spanish NHT stamp,
    a small museum on the AZ-UT border. In Kanab we stopped at the BLM Visitor Center, then got
    gas and groceries before heading up US 89 and UT 14 to Duck Creek. The air was cool, still no

    This red squirrel stole the apple off our table and ran up a tree with it!

    Passport Stamps
    Grand Canyon National Park
    -Tusayan Ruins
    -Desert View Watchtower
    Glen Canyon NRA - Marble Canyon, AZ
    Vermillion Cliffs NM - Marble Canyon, AZ
    Old Spanish NHT - Red Pueblo Museum, AZ
    Old Spanish NHT - Kanab, UT
    Tusayan Museum - Grand Canyon South Rim
    Desert View Bookstore - Grand Canyon South Rim
    Kaibab Plateau Visitor Center - Kaibab National Forest - Jacob Lake, AZ
    Vermillion Cliffs National Monument - changeable date

    Wildlife Sightings
    Rock Squirrel
    Red Squirrel
    Mule Deer & fawn

    Turkey Vulture
    Common Raven
    Mountain Chickadee
    Last edited by Tom_H007; 01-15-2024 at 11:50 PM. Reason: updated Jacob Lake Inn link

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Apple thief

    Loved the photo of the apple-thief. Enjoying the report!


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