This is the land that Georgia O’Keeffe loved to paint. After spending 20 summers here, she moved to the tiny village of Abiquiu in 1949, where she lived until her death in 1986 at the age of 98. Her favorite subject was Pedernal, a nearby mesa about which she famously remarked, “It’s my private mountain. God told me that if I painted it often enough, I could have it.”
After a lovely sunrise, we spent a leisurely day kicking around Abiquiu, enjoying the landscape and art galleries
We got a recommendation to go to a tiny restaurant in El Rito for authentic New Mexican cuisine. The food was good, but the experience was even better! We were advised to be there early since seating is limited. The website and sign on the door said they opened at 11 a.m. A local said it’s really 11:30, but don’t expect them to open until 11:45, which was the case.
A trip to the Abiquiu Dam Visitors Center was interesting and informative. So far Abiquiu Lake has been able to avoid the Quagga Mussels, but Lake Mead has a real problem. These mussels can reproduce asexually, with over 1,000,000 offspring in a single season.
Once again we are staying at an Army Corps of Engineers campsite, which have never been a disappointment. For $6 a night (Sr. National Parks rate), we have a nice site, hot showers, water and dump facilities available, and a great view!
Lady Luck was with us as we arrived at the Bisti Badlands a day earlier than planned. Rain was in the forecast for later that night and the following day, so we set out on a hike despite an ominous cloud lurking in the west.
The clouds kept us cool as we wandered in this trailless wilderness of hauntingly beautiful mounds, rocks and hoodoos. The ground was almost sponge-like, making me think more than once about taking off my boots.
As promised, the rains came hard later that night, and continued this morning. We were grateful that our neighbors, who had pitched their tent on dry dirt, were able to break camp and get out of without getting stuck!
Despite the bus loads of tourists and commercialism that follows, Monument Valley in the Navajo Nation is still quite the place. We drove the 17 mile loop dirt road and were glad we were in the truck and not the Prius! We’re back in Goosenecks for the night where, despite the remoteness, we have great connectivity. Tomorrow it’s on to the Bisti Badlands of New Mexico.
We headed south and had Ollie set up at Goosenecks State Park by mid morning. We were going to Natural Bridges National Monument by way of a stretch of road called the Moki Dugway, and we knew we didn’t want to have Ollie in tow.
It was a beautiful drive, but they were serious when they said the speed limit is 5 MPH.
We toured the Natural Bridges (among the largest in the world), then spent the rest of the day at Edge of the Cedars State Park Museumthat tells the story of the Ancestral Puebloans who have populated this area since 1200 B.C.
Our camping spot is 1000 feet above the San Juan River, a prime example of an “entrenched river meander.” It forms several goosenecks as it flows for 6 miles while making its way only 1 1/2 miles closer to Lake Powell.
Tonight we enjoyed a quiet sunset over the distant Monument Valley (tomorrow’s destination), followed by a lovely show of stars amid the Milky Way.
For a place that wasn’t even on our radar, we found The Needles of Canyonlands hard to leave. We spent four days hiking the canyons and rock formations, and our evenings at Ranger talks and gazing skyward – all exceeded expectations. In the end, it was the need to restock our provisions and do our laundry that pushed us on to our next destination.
It’s hard to capture this place in photos, but these next two will give you a better perspective.
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The Needles of Canyonland wasn’t even on our “to-do” list, but Colorado friends Sue and Clint gave it such a high recommendation, we couldn’t resist. We lucked out and got the last campsite, and is it a winner – possibly our favorite campsite ever! A huge rock is our next door neighbor, and we’ve climbed it 3 times to get a 360 view of this beautiful park.
Before our hike this morning we spent an hour on the rock watching the sunrise.
We’re posting this from the Visitors’ Center, which closes in 2 minutes, so we’ll continue this post tomorrow.
We left Colorful Colorado and headed west to Utah, which is proving to be just as colorful, but in different ways. The drive on Highway 128 from Cisco to Moab was beautiful as we followed the Colorado River into town.
Names like Horsethief Campground and Dead Horse Point State Park make for interesting tales in this part of the country, and the sunsets can’t be beat!
Yesterday was cloudy and cool (70), perfect conditions for a 4-mile hike in Dead Horse Point State Park just west of Moab. The rim trail is 2000 feet above the canyon floor and overlooks an ox bow in the Colorado River far below.
Canyonlands Island in the Sky section is just down the road from Dead Horse, so after our hike, we drove to several of their scenic overlooks before the fierce canyon winds sent us back to the campsite.
Despite an overcast day, we were once again treated to a spectacular sunset.