State Route 12 in Utah

Read the whole article for a nice summary of things to see and do in this area of southeastern Utah. mjh

Utah in the raw
Drive State Route 12 to see West’s famed untamed beauty
By Bob Downing
Beacon Journal staff writer

ESCALANTE, UTAH – State Route 12 in Utah is an awesome and very scenic road.

It twists. It turns. It curves. It climbs. It drops through the geological playground that dominates Garfield and Wayne counties on the Colorado Plateau in southern Utah.

The road offers new vistas guaranteed to take your breath away at every turn in Utah’s red-rock, high-country desert and beyond.

It runs past slickrock canyons, cliffs, Ponderosa pine and aspen forests, alpine lakes, national parks, state parks, a national monument, a national recreation area and small farming communities.

Route 12 is the main artery through one of the most rugged and isolated areas of the West. It was one of the last explored frontiers in the lower 48 states.

The route offers camping, hiking, trout fishing, mountain biking, hunting, cross-country skiing, horseback riding and riding all-terrain vehicles.

There are elk herds, strange geological formations, petrified forests and Anasazi Indians ruins/museum on the semicircular route, which ranges from 4,000 to 9,200 feet in elevation.

State Route 12 is a national Scenic Byway, one of 125 in the United States. It is also an All-American Highway, one of only 20 so designated by the Federal Highway Administration. … [read it all]


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Which are the Four Corners states?

Map of the Four Corners StatesQ: Which are the Four Corners states?

Clockwise from the southeast, they are New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado. Where these 4 states touch is, surely coincidentally, also not far from the center of the Anasazi world and Aztlan. The region is spectacularly beautiful. mjh

Q: Where is the Four Corners Monument?

Where the 4 states meet. Seriously, it is off of US 160 on part of the Navajo Reservation (Dinetah).

Many people delight in straddling the divisions between the states. I don’t recommend it as your destination in the area, but if you happen to pass it on the way to more interesting places, you may enjoy it (I didn’t). Close by are Hovenweep and Navajo National Monument, among many others. mjh

Four Corners National Monument


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Celebrating 100 Years of Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde Museum Association – Schedule – Schedule – Home


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Anasazi in the End | News | Digging Deep
On Mesa Verde’s hundredth birthday, there’s still a lot of dirt behind the “Mystery of the Anasazi.” By Joel Warner

There’s not much new in this article but it is a good summary of recent conclusions regarding what may have happened among Ancestral Puebloans (aka Anasazi) before they moved on to become Puebloans. mjh


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Chaco from Grants, New Mexico in a Day

Hi! I really enjoyed your sites. Could you comment on the relative insanity of driving from Grants (early), up the South route (Seven Lakes/ rt. 14) into Chaco (still open?), spending some time in Chaco, and leaving via the north road and staying at either the Post B&B or a little motel in Cuba. I’ll have an SUV. Thanks for any input and enjoy your travels. M.


I’m assuming Seven Lakes Rd is the old original South Road (aka 57); I drove it about a month ago and it was OK though rugged.

I think you can get in from Grants and out in a day and enjoy seeing the ruins. Look on the map for a route from Grants via Milan (may be 53/506) — that’s the most direct way up from Grants and a nice route. When you hit BIA/Navajo 9, turn left/west for about 10 miles or so to hit the south road.

I don’t know anything useful about the Post B&B. As for Cuba, you’d think there’d be some motels or B&B’s there, but I can’t remember ever noticing any.

Assuming you’re returning to Abq, you could start your trip up 550/44 via Cuba and go beyond Chaco to Aztec — various hotels & B&B’s there. Then you could see Aztec Ruins and Salmon Ruins. From Aztec you could go to Chaco via the north road and *out* via the south and down to Grants for the next night.

Not that I mean to rewrite your plans for you. mjh


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Chaco Canyon Service — Sierra Club Outing

Sierra Club Outings | Chaco Canyon Service, New Mexico | 06321A
June 24-July 1, 2006

I’m one of the co-leaders for a Sierra Club Service Trip which is in Chaco Canyon every year doing revegetation, building sun shades, taking out barbed wire fences, making and installing signs, repairing fences, harvesting seeds, planting trailhead markers, and being general dog’s bodies for the Park Service. We stay in the ‘VIP’ campground.

If any of your readers wants a different kind of experience I’d encourage them to contact the Sierra Club Outings section and sign up for a week of hard but very satisfying work in Chaco Canyon. Thanks, Al Webster

[mjh: only 2 spaces left out of 16.]


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Navajo in Canyon de Chelly, Arizona

A Navajo Tale: Canyon de Chelly is home to stone-age history By LAURIE KAVENAUGH – Style Editor

The Thunderbird Lodge is the only motel within Canyon de Chelly National Monument. Navajo people own and operate the Thunderbird, its cafeteria and gift shop. The quaint adobe buildings spread out at the mouth of the canyon among cottonwoods planted in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The complex sits just about where the first trading post was established in the 1880s. It was followed by a succession of trading post operators until the government hired a custodian in 1903 to keep an eye on the cliff dwellings down in the canyon.

By the end of the 19th century, tourists were paying to visit the dozens of cliff-house ruins left behind by the Anasazi, a Navajo word for “ancient enemies.” In the 20th century, archaeologists found evidence the canyon was probably a technology center for weaving. Today, the Navajo and the National Park Service work together to maintain the canyon. …

Canyon de Chelly is one of the few Anasazi sites in the Southwest that is still lived in by the Navajo. Although the Navajo arrived fairly late on the scene — sometime in the mid-to-late 1700s — they have had a rough time holding onto what they consider an ancestral home.


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Paving Part of The North Road

We’re planning a trip to Chaco and Canyon de Chelly, hopefully a side trip to Crownpoint this coming October. Heard that the first few miles into Chaco were being improved? What did you find? — GB


The north road from US 550 (formerly NM 44) around mile marker 112 is paved for about the first five miles (as 7900). That stretch dips and turns more than the rest of the road; the pavement is badly patched and potholed as I write this. When the road turns towards Chaco as 7950, the next 16 miles or so have been unpaved until right about now. At this time, the county is getting ready to pave one end for about 3 miles. I assume that will be done by the time you visit in October (good time of year, though it will be cold at night). I’ve heard the rest is less certain. At this time, expect a stretch of about 13 miles to still be dirt — dusty and washboardy, for sure, but not a problem for most cars unless it rains or snows around the time you drive.

peace, mjh

PS: There is some controversy over this paving; I have mixed feelings but mostly appreciate that Chaco isn’t easy to get to — it’s a sojourn; at least, the hard-core folks will still have the Old South Road to thrill us. If you feel strongly about this, or want learn more about why some people do, see

ABQjournal: County Paving the Way to Chaco By Leslie Linthicum, Journal Staff Writer [Wednesday, August 3, 2005]

Tucked into a massive transportation bill that cleared Congress last week and is headed to the president’s desk is $800,000 that will settle once and for all a popular New Mexico campfire debate:

Should the road to Chaco Canyon be paved or not?

The road money is set aside to put chip seal— a cheaper-than-asphalt paving option— on the 16 miles of dirt road that lead to Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

If you’ve ever visited the spectacular Anasazi ruins at Chaco Canyon, you know the road and probably either love it or hate it. …

Each year about 80,000 people make their way to the park to walk where pre-Puebloan Indians walked hundreds of years before. …

With federal funds on the way, the county will then begin to tackle the remaining 13 miles next year, according to San Juan County Public Works Administrator Dave Keck.

“If we get the green light from everybody,” Keck said, “we’ll begin to pave (the remaining stretch) next spring.”


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Test your knowledge of Mesa Verde – LIFESTYLES

1. Mesa Verde National Park was established in 1906. When were the ruins “discovered”? a) 1874 b) 1888 c) 1892

2. The Cliff Palace is the largest of the cliff dwellings. How big is it? a) as large as a city block b) as long as a football field c) about the size of a school gymnasium

3. About how many archaeological sites have been found in the park? a) 74 b) 649 c) 4,000

4. The park encompasses some 57,000 acres of federally owned land. What size is that in relation to Rocky Mountain National Park? a) one-fifth b) one-third c) two-thirds

5. Ancestral puebloans occupied the Mesa Verde area for about 750 years, from roughly 600 A.D. to 1300 A.D. Why did they leave? a) drought b) war c) religious reasons d) possibly all of the above

6. Square Tower House was originally named a) Peabody House b) Wetherill Manor c) Chapin Chapel

7. The first white man to enter a cliff dwelling was a) a rancher b) a prospector c) a photographer

8. The largest structures were typically built in rock alcoves facing a) north, thus providing shade b) south and east, to capture the sun’s warmth in winter c) west, to gain the maximum amount of daylight

9. The earliest inhabitants of the Mesa Verde region are known to have been excellent a) basketmakers b) potters c) masons d) all of the above

10. Mesa Verde gets about a half-million visitors per year. How popular is it compared with Rocky Mountain National Park? a) much less popular b) somewhat more popular c) just about as popular

ANSWERS: Continue reading


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Links to other museums in the Four Corners states

From the Fort Lewis College Center of Southwest Studies (in Durango, CO):

Links to other museums in the Four Corners states


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Lecture: “Pottery Mound: A Pueblo IV Village in Central New Mexico”

University of New Mexico
Maxwell Museum of Anthropology

Wednesday, March 22, 6:30 pm free

Lecture: “Pottery Mound: A Pueblo IV Village in Central New Mexico.” David Phillips, Curator of Archeology at the Maxwell Museum will describe the Pottery Mound site and current attempts to build on original research. For many years the late Frank Hibben worked at Pottery Mound, uncovering a late prehistoric village with a stunning variety of kiva murals.

Part of the People of the Southwest Lecture Series.

[mjh: Thanks to JimB.]


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ANWR Presentation — Thursday March 16th at 7:00 pm

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Presentation
By Stephen Capra, Christianne Hinks and Chuck Houston

Thursday March 16th at 7:00 pm

Come hear personal stories about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and learn about the latest developments in the fight to save this pristine area. The presentation will include recent images from backpacking trips to the refuge and graphic images from the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Come early to enjoy a drink and shop for art at the Wildlands Art! Exhibit and sale benefiting the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. Doors will open at 6:30pm.

Albuquerque Arts Alliance Gallery is in the Courtyard Shopping Center at San Mateo and Lomas. Call 505-843-8696 for more information.


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Antiquities Act Centennial

Antiquities Act Centennial by Mark Rose, executive and online editor of ARCHAEOLOGY

An online guide to the ground-breaking 1906 act and the celebration of its 100th anniversary

National Park Service has added a “feature” called “Antiquities Act 1906-2006” to its already extensive archaeology program website. Far more than a feature, this is a mini-gateway to the Antiquities Act and the National Monuments that presidents have created using it.

The site has a clean, simple design with clear navigation. Its homepage features photographs of Montezuma’s Castle [AZ], Devils Tower [WY], the Petrified Forest [AZ], and El Morro [NM] –the first four National Monuments created, all in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt. Inside, in five main sections–“About the Antiquities Act,” “Maps, Facts & Figures,” “Monument Profiles,” “Centennial Activities,” and “Continuing Conservation and Preservation”–you’ll find new material, as well links leading to existing NPS website resources and a select number of external sites. …

“Antiquities Act 1906-2006” is well designed, and its content, often available at multiple levels of detail, should appeal to broad range of people. It is well worth a look if you are interested in the history of archaeology in the United States and perhaps for your vacation planning, too. And while there, you might click on the “sitemap.” It brings up a directory of the entire NPS archaeology program website, with features such as “Ancient Architects of the Mississippi” and “The Robinson House,” teacher resources, a children’s section, online exhibits, volunteer opportunities, and frequently asked questions. There is much to explore on this site.


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Canyon de Chelly, Arizona

The canyon of many spirits by Mary Kirk-Anderson

First occupied by humans thousands of years ago, Canyon de Chelly is one of the longest continuously inhabited landscapes in North America…

Canyon de Chelly’s sheer walls, spectacular rock monoliths and fascinating connection with the native communities who have called it home, create a sense of a living place with more than simple geography to recommend it.

De Chelly (pronounced de Shay, from a corruption of tsegi, or rock canyon, the Navajo name for the area) is in Arizona’s north- eastern corner, in the Four Corners region, and lies within the great lands of the Navajo Nation. In 1931 it became a National Monument site and it is unique among National Park Service units in that it remains home to the canyon community and the NPS works in partnership with the Navajo Nation to manage the park resources. It is essentially private land. With the exception of one walking trail, the only way to enter the canyon is with a Navajo guide.

Made up of several gorges, the canyon is one of the longest continuously inhabited landscapes in North America, first occupied by the ancestral puebloans about 2000 years ago. Today, the steep walls preserve in remarkable condition easily viewed ancient ruins and rock paintings from as far back as the 12th century, tracing occupation of the canyon by the ancient Anasazi people, the Hopi tribe and latterly the Navajo, who arrived in the 1700s. …

Canyon de Chelly is about 115km north of the I40 Interstate between Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Flagstaff, Arizona. …

Two excellent rim drives, north and south, offer a series of spectacular overlooks.

Canyon De Chelly National Monument (National Park Service)


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