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Four Corners trip “plan”

We’ve been pondering the choices ahead, and have made some decisions. Mostly, we’ve decided that the opportunity to go explore a bunch of the country’s best national parks in late August and September is too much to miss. The Four Corners region is one of the most densely packed areas of national parks, and some of the most famous and beautiful ones are here.   We don’t know when we’ll get this chance again.

If we head straight back to home base, we’ll have about 850 miles to drive and we’d see maybe three or four great spots along the way. But if we take a convoluted route of about 1,500 miles through southern Colorado, Utah, and northern Arizona, things get considerably more interesting. We will get to visit:

  • Great Sand Dunes National Monument and Preserve
  • Mesa Verde National Park
  • Hovenweep National Monument
  • Yucca House National Monument
  • Natural Bridges National Monument
  • Canyonlands National Park
  • Capitol Reef National Park
  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Grand Canyon National Park (north rim) (Not shown on route map)
  • some of Monument Valley
  • Navajo National Monument
  • Canyon de Chelly National Monument
  • Petrified Forest National Park (previously visited)
  • the White Mountains of northern Arizona

The added mileage will cost about $300 in fuel. We’ll also spend about $400 in additional campground fees. For that we’ll get four or five weeks of travel through 11 national parks. That’s a heck of deal for $700. Since we are spreading the cost out over a month, we can afford it more easily.   It’s about $20 per day.

The real consideration is keeping up with work. The western national parks are generally out of range of cellular Internet and voice. A few campgrounds have wi-fi (which we know from past experience is unreliable), and a few spots can be reached from towns with cell phone service like Cortez CO. We’re going to have to juggle work and play carefully.

The idea is one we’ve used all along. When things are quiet, we scoot into a national park and drop off the network for a few days. Then, we drive to the nearest place where I can get online and Eleanor can catch up on groceries, laundry, etc., and settle in for a few days of work and homeschooling. Three or four days later, we move on to the next remote park and repeat. The challenge in the four corners region especially is that there’s a lot more “remote” territory than anything else.

It’s also much more expensive to park in a wi-fi enabled campground than in the national park campgrounds we favor, usually by a factor of two. Since we are trying to compensate for higher fuel prices, we’ve been tending to free and cheap campsites more than usual. The work periods will drive up our expenses. That’s a good motivator for me to get the jobs done as quickly as possible. Efficiency pays when you’re working and full-timing.

With all these competing factors, we can’t say we have a firm plan, only a route and a set of guidelines. So we can’t make reservations. We’ll just have to wing it, as usual. Sounds like fun to me.

7 Responses to “Four Corners trip “plan””

  1. Mike Young Says:

    Rich,

    On our way home last month we took that road from Show Low to Globe. Wow!! I hadn’t realized that it would involve descending and ascending into the Salt River Gorge. I don’t know what the elevation change was, but the old Dodge struggled at 20 mph going uphill in 100+ degree weather. Obviously, we made it. Rosemary loved the view and hoped we could do it again someday. That’s easy for the passenger to say, but I’ll find other ways to and from Show Low when towing the Airstream. By the way, we were traveling very, very light–no fluids, minimal supplies, etc.–because the next stop was home.

  2. Mike Young Says:

    By the way, Meteor Crater, a private park midway between Flagstaff and Winslow, is excellent. Very educational; superb exhibits. Campground right off I-40. Surprisingly good lunch menu at the restored train station/hotel, La Posada, in Winslow, too. It’s just down the street from “Standing on a Corner.”

  3. Mike Young Says:

    I see that you plan to be on Alt-89 but didn’t mention Vermillion Cliffs as a stop. Apparently, only a few people a day are allowed to hike in, but it’s another must-see destination. We’ll be looking for your pictures of the red (vermillion) rocks.

  4. mike&tracy Says:

    While you are Colorado Springs, there is the John May Museum…S on 115, just past the base., on your right…note the huge bug on the hill…..it’s a really impressive collection of insects from all over the world…if memory serves me right : ) the display runs about 30,000, but the entire collection is over 100,000…they have an RV Park adjacent…Golden Eagle Ranch(we haven’t stayed there).
    The Royal Gorge is nice(Canyon City), and Canyon City has an old prison museum worth the stop…The town is also where you can catc h the Royal Gorge Train…stop me!!!there’s a LOT to see…
    mike&tracy

  5. Zach Woods Says:

    Hello Rich, Eleanor, & Emma –

    If you have time for Wupatki, you will enjoy seeing the geo-thermal heating system that was part of the original owners sustainable design . . .

    Zach

  6. Terry & Greg Says:

    You are making a SoUT/NoAZ trip we are looking to take in the not-too-far future…maybe next year. Take notes! When you hit the White Mountains/Show Area and want to hunker down for few days in a beutiful place with good connectivity, try one of our favorite state parks…Fool Hollow Lake State Park barely west of Show Low just off 260 going. See our travel log for more details than you will ever need. Full hookups (unusual for state parks), $25/night…and we had great Alltel broadband and cell there. We’re planning an October trip to Fool Hollow for a week, maybe longer. The drive between Show Low and Globe through the Salt River Canyon is “interesting” for sure, but we’ve made it many times with no problems…’course, we’re only towing a Bambi! Travel safe! We’ll be trackin’ you!

  7. Judy Hazen Says:

    Am enjoying your travels! We just returned home to Texas from visiting most of the NPs and Monuments on your list, some of them for the 2nd & 3rd times. Wonderful country! If Emma is still into dinosaurs, there is a small BLM visitors center on RT 89 about 8 mi north of the Glen Canyon dam out of Page, AZ.(it is actually in Utah) We just happened upon it and talked to the man who had discovered a (yet unnamed) therozinosaur – feathered dinos. All the surrounding gray ugly “piles” of rocks in that area are apparently rich in dinos waiting to be discovered. Got so absorbed about this mystery dino, we had to visit the actual dinosaur (bones) in Museum of North Arizona in Flagstaff later on our trip.
    BTW- Wahweap Campground (Page) provides a sweeping view of Lake Powell and a good base to explore the area, boat tours, slot canyon hikes, etc. Definitely need reservations in advance.

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