Family & Fun · Nature · Trips and Vacations

Spectacular Sights of the Southwest

Hoover Dam

We made the drive from southern CA to Las Vegas/Boulder City area Friday morning, August 2nd to see the Hoover Dam.  It was a bit tricky finding a parking space with our 36’ motorhome; we had to park a good distance away from the visitor’s center where the observation deck was.  We deliberated a few minutes over whether or not to make the long walk down to get a closer look at the dam (we had seen it from the road on the way to find parking).  Logan especially wanted to go, saying repeatedly that he wanted to find out how it was made and how it worked.  So we decided to go for it.  I answered the girls’ questions of why do we have to go by saying we were doing this for the boys.

Here’s a picture of the distance we had to walk – around a hairpin curve, down two flights of stairs, through a couple of parking lots, across the dam, and up the sidewalk to the visitor’s center you can see in the distance on the left edge of the picture.   It was 101* with a HOT wind blowing.  It felt like someone turned a blow dryer on us, but we survived the 15-20 minute walk, marching single file behind Daddy all the way.

We had to purchase tickets in order to go out to the observation deck as well as the museum/information area.  The museum was very informative;  more than just “the boys” learned something.  There were interactive areas for the kids to see how dams and hydro-electricity work.  Logan loved it.

The land around the dam was indeed a wasteland – nothing but mountains of rock,  glaring sun, and hot wind.

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Grand Canyon

Friday night after seeing Hoover Dam, we drove as far as Williams, AZ (about 1 hr. south of the Canyon) for the night.  We stayed at a great little RV park, called Railside RV Ranch.  I would highly recommend it — the staff were super helpful and friendly, and they even had a free continental breakfast, complete with a waffle maker to make your own waffles.  The kids got a huge kick out of the free breakfast, it being at a campground and all. 🙂

Saturday, August 3rd turned out to be a beautiful day — bright and clear, and not too hot — in the 80s — just perfect for touring the Grand Canyon.   We started our tour at the Imax theater located just before the entrance to the South Rim.  We were glad we took that in;  gave us a chance to ‘see’ the sights inside the Canyon that we wouldn’t be able to see from the rim.

The park was pretty crowded since it was Saturday.  We thought we’d drive our rig around and pull of at the various overlooks for views whenever we wanted to, but after trying in vain to find a parking spot at the first overlook, we decided to use the free shuttle to bus us around from point to point.  We found parking at the Market Plaza, and caught the shuttle from there.  The kids were thrilled;  riding a bus was a novelty to them.

I’m the only one in our family who had seen the Grand Canyon before, so I knew what to expect.  Even so, I couldn’t help gasping in awe as we walked up to the rim at our first stop. Grand Canyon, Cliff Dwellings, Arches 001 (1280x947)   Each view was a bit different, but after a while the kids had enough.  To them it all started to look the same.  Someday, I’d love to go back and take a ride to the bottom.  There’s something about those deep silent walls, that great yawning expanse that beckons one to come further in, to see what’s around the next corner.  Someday, maybe.  But this was not the day — not with 5 kids, the youngest being 3 1/2 years and begging to be carried constantly!

Our last stop was at a look-out tower toward the east end of the South Rim drive as we were heading out of the park.  The kids perked up a bit at this stop.  They thought the tower was pretty cool, and the view after we’d climbed the stairs 70 feet to the top was spectacular!

Mesa Verde (Cliff Dwellers)

We drove northeast Saturday from the Grand Canyon on Rte. 160, right through Four Corners, the place where Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah meet.  Unfortunately the monument that marks the official spot was closed when we drove past right at dark.  We were a bit disappointed not to “experience” it, but oh well, at least we drove through the Four Corners. We camped at Cortez, the town right before Mesa Verde in the southwestern corner of Colorado.

The next morning (Sunday, August 4th) we drove to the park.  We found out at the visitor’s center that we’d have to drive an hour inside the park to reach the cliff dwelling that was the most accessible, i.e. one that a family of seven with a three-year-old, traveling in a motor home could get to. 🙂  We drove to the Spruce Tree House, the third largest cliff dwelling in the park, and the best preserved.

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The kids enjoyed this stop.  Allison especially was intrigued by the archeology of it.  She was the one who stood the longest by the display cases of artifacts found in the cliff dwellings when we toured the museum afterwards.

It really was an interesting sight.  We all were definitely glad we took it in.

Arches National Park

Sunday afternoon we crossed the border into Utah and drove to Arches National Park.  As we got closer to the park, we started seeing unique and amazing rock formations. Once inside the park, the formations became even more amazing. The kids loved this stop as well.  They had great fun finding “pictures” in the rocks.  This first one was called Balanced Rock.  You can see why!

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We thought this looked like the three wise men.

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Can you see the man with the spiky hair-do up in the left hand corner?

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We called this one Nebuchadnezzar.

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We walked up to the Double Arch, a massive arch in a wall of rock that actually includes three openings, a circle at the top, and an arch in front and back.  The rocks seemed to grow larger and larger as we walked up to them.  Once inside the arch way, we felt pretty small.

We wanted to see the Delicate Arch, an arch familiar to us because it’s the desktop picture on our laptop!  We decided not to take time to hike the mile trail to actually get inside it, so it looked pretty small from where we could see it.

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We certainly enjoyed our tour of the Southwest, brief though it was. Oh, and I really do need to post this picture — proof that I actually dared to drive our big rig on the way to Arches!

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2 thoughts on “Spectacular Sights of the Southwest

  1. Spectacular sights for sure, but also spectacular photography. Wow! what lifetime memories for the children–and you two!

  2. You sure took in a lot. We have been to all of these places, and enjoyed them immensely. When we visited Hoover Dam we had the same experience of having to walk a distance because we too had a “rig” a big van towing a pop-up camper.

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