2023 Road Trip – Northern Arizona National Parks

One benefit to being a senior (ahem, of which there are darn few!) is the ability to purchase a lifetime National Parks pass for a one-time fee of $80.

Let me tell you, it is worth it! 

Not only do we plan big trips to see a big park (such as the Grand Canyon) it also means we can stop off the beaten path wherever we see a National Parks sign and do mini explorations.

Guaranteed are clean bathrooms and nice picnic areas.

Flagstaff Area National Parks

Our August 2023 road trip started bright and early on Tuesday morning.  By the time we got out of road construction traffic, topped off the gas and got out of the larger cities, we were ready for a little break and (to be honest) an early lunch.

Not at all a planned, stop we spied a sign for Flagstaff National Parks – the Sunset Crater Volcano entrance – and decided to pull over to see if they had a nice quiet place for lunch.

What a great find!  It is a park that charges a fee, but we showed our pass and a driver’s license and in we were.

Clean restrooms with running water (remote locations don’t always have running water).  A lovely mountain location with cool air, delicious pine smells and a beautiful picnic area to spread our feast.

Now, if you’ve been on some of my previous road trips you know that we frequently dine off Big Red’s tailgate.  And that is fine too.  But when we’re living large and feeling high class, this is what we do.

After a quick lunch break, we switched drivers and headed farther north.

Driving through Navajo Nation in Northern Arizona and through the Four Corners area is a long, long drive.  The scenery changes from completely stark, to otherworldly alien, to high desert and then to lovely scrubby alpine.

Every hour or so on the highway will be a convenience store, a gas station and fast food.  Some towns even have grocery stores and hotels.

But this time.  No, we didn’t stop in one of those places.  We took a nine-mile detour and were treated to a breath-taking location.

Navajo National Monument

Nine miles of a very good, paved road took us to the visitor center of Navajo National Monument.  As far as I could tell, this is a no-fee park because we were not asked to provide our card.

A short .75 mile hike on a paved path took us to an overlook of ancient pueblo dwellings.  Along the way native plants were marked with little signs about how their properties have been used along the way.  Such as yucca used for soap.

I’m not sure the elevation there, but the way back up the hill had me huffing and puffing.

Wrap Up

We continue our climb north and to elevations in excess of 10,000 feet so I know my lungs will be reminding me of their existence this week.

Thank you for taking this trip with us and God bless for a wonderful weekend.