Grand Canyon: South Rim

I started the day by birding a bit around Maswik. After a while, I decided to head toward Flagstaff. As I neared the San Francisco Peaks, I noticed a sign for the Kendrick Park Watchable Wildlife Trail. Of course I stopped. Bird activity was fairly low, but not zero. As far as birds were concerned, the best part was on the extension outside the cow fence. I also found one more mammal, a single Pronghorn.

After reaching Flagstaff, I drove along historic Route 66 to US-89, where I headed back north to visit Sunset Crater and Wupatki National Monuments, which took most of the afternoon (I walked every trail and stopped at every viewpoint). Coming from the south, there's a toll booth for both monuments. The Sunset Crater Visitor's Center was just past it.

I didn't know much about Sunset Crater, so I found the visitor's center useful. Sunset Crater is the cone of a volcano that suddenly appeared in the mid-11th century, just as the Parícutin volcano in Mexico appeared in a cornfield in 1943. Unlike Parícutin, we don't have a precise date for Sunset Crater, but it likely appeared between 1040 and 1070. Some of the pueblo peoples have stories concerning it that seem to have been handed down from the time of the event itself.

There are two trails at Sunset Crater. The Lennox Crater trail is a 1-mile round-trip to the top of Lenox Crater (about 300 feet up). The trail is covered with loose volcanic sand, so it takes more effort to climb that you might think. Coming back down was a different story. You slide down a bit with each step, and this speeds up the descent considerably.

The Lava Flow Trail is an interpretive trail through the lava flow itself. I found it quite interesting, especially after having visited Mt. St. Helens a few years ago. One thing that was interesting is how much bare ground there is. The dryness here makes recovery very slow.

Further along the road, there's a scenic overlook of the Painted Desert. You can see the black lands of the volcano, the desert, and the Vermilion Cliffs in the distance.

Wupatki National Monument is the other end of the loop. There are many ruins there. If you look around a bit, you'll notice that there are a lot more ruins than the ones you stop at. These ruins are somewhat intermediate in structure between the Anasazi and Sinagua ruins I've seen elsewhere.

So far, I have found 147 bird species and 16 mammal species during the trip.

Little America Hotel, Flagstaff, AZ