Do you know the way to Santa Fe?

April 07, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

This blog covers our 588-mile journey from the Paiute Reservation in Northern Arizona all the way to our final "primary" destination, Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

 

Vermillion Cliffs AZVermillion Cliffs AZComing out of the Kaibab National Forest on Highway 89A to the Vermillion Cliffs in Arizona.

 

Our final leg of our Winter 21 journey took us out of Pipe Spring National Historic Site to Hwy 89A at Fredonia, AZ for some views through the Kaibab National Forest. Pretty.  Lots of trees and windy roads with scenic pullouts. It was what was on the other side of the National Forest that caught most of our attention. 

 

Vermillion CliffsVermillion CliffsVermillion Cliffs

 

The Vermilion Cliffs National Monument preserves a remote and unspoiled 280,000-acre area of diverse landscapes.  While we had no plans on doing any 5-day hikes, we did enjoy taking this scenic highway all the way to Marble Canyon.  See more about Vermilion Cliffs via the BLM website here

 

On the road into Lee's FerryLee's Ferry Area"Balanced Rock" On the road into Lee's Ferry is a favorite of many for "selfies". Photo by Kathy Wieser-Alexander.

 

Speaking of Marble Canyon.  Here are some of our views after turning off the highway to visit Lees Ferry. 
 

Lees Ferry AreaLees Ferry AreaCathedral Wash Trailhead On the road into Lee's Ferry.
 

Colorado River at Lee's FerryColorado River at Lee's FerryColorado River at Lee's Ferry

 

Lees Ferry, located on the Colorado River in Coconino County, Arizona, is a historic site located within the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. It is named for Mormon Leader John D. Lee, who set up ferry service for Mormon settlers heading south to Arizona.
 

Glen Canyon, AZ - Lee's Ferry, 1913Glen Canyon, AZ - Lee's Ferry, 1913Lee's Ferry across the Colorado River, Glen Canyon, Arizona, 1913. Vintage photo restored by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

 

The Mormon Church provided the lumber and manpower to build the first real ferryboat at Lees Ferry, the Colorado, first launched on January 11, 1873. It was the first of many boats that would ply the treacherous and fluctuating river at this point.

 

Glen Canyon, AZ - Lees Ferry BuildingGlen Canyon, AZ - Lees Ferry BuildingPhoto by the National Park Service.

 

The Lees Ferry Junction and Park Entrance are in Marble Canyon, just west of Navajo Bridge Interpretive Center. A paved road leads five miles to the Ferry area, where available services include a National Park Service campground, dump station, and public launch ramp. 

Learn more about the history of this Glen Canyon historic attraction in our article here.

 

Also See: 

Mormons in the American West

John Doyle Lee – Leader of the Mountain Meadows Massacre
 

 

Navajo Bridge, Glen CanyonNavajo Bridge, Glen CanyonNavajo Bridge, Glen Canyon

 

Just a few feet from the turn-off to Lees Ferry is the Navajo Bridge Interpretive Center. 

 

Navajo Bridge, Glen CanyonNavajo BridgeNavajo Bridge, Glen Canyon

 

The original bridge (on the left in the picture above) was built in 1928, and when it opened on January 12, 1929, it was the only bridge across the Colorado River for some 600 miles, making it a vital link in the first direct highway route between Arizona and Utah.


Navajo Bridge, AZ - Spanning Colorado RiverGlen Canyon, AZ - Navajo BridgeNavajo Bridge spanning the Colorado River in Coconino County Arizona by Brian Grogan, 1993.

 

The historic bridge was constructed as two cantilevered arch halves, each extending 308 feet over the gorge. The flagstaff side of the arch was erected first, taking two months to complete. The Fredonia side was finished two and a half months later, with the arch being closed on September 12, 1928. At the time of its construction, it was the highest steel arch bridge in the world, at 467 feet above the river.  It was only 18 feet wide. The total cost of construction was $390 Thousand. 

 

Navajo Bridge, Glen CanyonNavajo Bridge, Glen CanyonNavajo Bridge, Glen Canyon

 

However, the bridge was never intended to carry the larger, heavier traffic of today. So in the early 1990s, the Arizona Department of Transportation decided to build a second bridge (pictured above) for modern transportation needs "that was sensitive to the environment and compatible with the historic bridge." Construction techniques used on the original in 1928 were also used for the new bridge, which was completed on October 14, 1994. This time, the roadway's width would be 44 feet, and total construction cost would be almost $15 million. Bridge Engineer Jerry A. Cannon is quoted as saying "The major challenges for the second bridge were environmental concerns and coordination with government agencies that didn't exist when the first bridge was built."

 


A Dam Many Don't Want

 

Glen Canyon, AZ - Dam at Page, AZGlen Canyon, AZ - Dam at Page, AZThe Glen Canyon Dam just outside of Page, Az creates Lake Powell. Photo by Dave Alexander, 2021.

 

Arizona Highway 89A meets up with 89 at Bitter Springs, where we headed back north to Page, AZ, which is home to Glen Canyon Dam. Constructed from 1956 to 1966, the dam forms Lake Powell, one of the largest man-made reservoirs in the U.S. It's named for Glen Canyon, which is mostly filled with its capacity of 27 million acre-feet of Colorado River water. 

 

Glen Canyon Dam - Lake PowellGlen Canyon Dam - Lake PowellLake Powell on the other side of Glen Canyon Dam. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander, 2021.

 

Lake Powell, named for explorer John Wesley Powell, was created to help serve the rapid population growth in the Colorado River Basin. However, the creation of the Dam and Lake Powell have been questioned by some who criticize the large evaporation losses and their impact on the ecology of the Grand Canyon, which lies downstream. The lake became a catalyst for the modern environmental movement, with groups continuing to advocate for the removal of Glen Canyon Dam to this day. Water managers and utilities argue the fact that the dam is a major source of renewable energy and vital defense against severe drought in the Lower Colorado Basin. Glen Canyon Dam was one of the last of its size to be built in the U.S. 

 

Glen Canyon Dam - Lake PowellGlen Canyon Dam - Lake PowellLake Powell on the other side of Glen Canyon Dam just outside of Page, AZ. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

 

Speaking of drought, we found Lake Powell to be very similar to the current climate at Lake Mead, with levels way down at the moment. However, the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, including Lake Powell, continues to draw millions of tourists each year. It encompasses over 1.25 million acres that include Lees Ferry, Horseshoe Bend, Rainbow Bridge, and much more. See the National Park Service's website here for more information

 

A Spectacular Drive

 

Monument Valley AreaOwl RockOwl Rock in the Monument Valley area.

 

Although we were just passing through along Hwy 163,  Monument Valley provided some incredible views of a spectacular landscape. 

 

Monument Valley, AZ/UTMonument Valley, AZ/UTMonument Valley, AZ/UT

 

Monument Valley, spanning the border of Utah and Arizona, is a Navajo Nation Tribal Park. While the park was closed due to the pandemic, we still had plenty of sights to see along the highway. Some of the most photographed and majestic points on earth can be found here, with sandstone towers up to 1,000 feet tall. 
 

Monument Valley, AZ/UTMonument Valley, AZ/UTMonument Valley, AZ/UT

 

It's a rugged beauty that we hope is on your bucket list. See this 2005 article from Melody Moser for a feeling of waking up to this incredible beauty

Also, See our Article "The Navajo Nation."

For more information and the current visitor status of Monument Valley Tribal Park, see their website here

 

 

Bluff Fort, Bluff UTBluff Fort, Bluff UTBluff Fort, Bluff UT

 

Continuing on Hwy 163, then US 191, we came to Bluff, UT, home of the recreated Bluff Fort. 

 

Bluff Fort, Bluff UTBluff Fort, Bluff UTBluff Fort, Bluff UT
This was a pleasant stop, one great for the family or those interested in Pioneer life for Mormons who established the original Fort back in 1881. 

 

Bluff Fort, Bluff UTBluff Fort, Bluff UTBluff Fort, Bluff UT

 

The Fort didn't last long and was abandoned in 1883, however, Bluff Fort Historic Site preserves the history of an interesting time along the Hole-in-the-Rock Trail, an arduous journey for pioneers that extended 260 miles. See Bluff Utah's website for more information and include this as a stop if you are journeying to or from Monument Valley. 

 

Welcome to New Mexico (via Utah, Arizona, & Colorado all at once)

 

Aztec Ruins National Monument, NMAztec Ruins National Monument, NMAztec Ruins National Monument, NM

 

Traveling out of Bluff on UT Hwy 162, crossing into Colorado on Hwy 41, then down Highway 160 back into Arizona, and Highway 64 into New Mexico, you pass right by Four Corners Monument, another Navajo Nation Monument.  We wanted to go stand in all 4 states at the same time, but again, the Navajo sites are closed to the public due to the pandemic.  For information about the one place in the US where you can stand in four states at once, see the Navajo Nation Parks website here

That's alright though, as we pushed on past Farmington, taking NM Hwy 516 to Aztec, the site of the Aztec Ruins National Monument. 

 
Aztec Ruins National Monument, NM - 4Aztec Ruins National Monument, NM - 4Aztec Ruins National Monument, New Mexico by Dave Alexander.

 

Don't be misled by the name, the Aztecs didn't live here, instead, it was the Anasazi (Puebloans) who constructed the large planned community over 1,000 years ago. The ruins were named when 19th-century American settlers misattributed their construction to the Aztecs of Mexico. This extensive community likely served as a trade, ceremonial, and administrative center for many of the scattered communities associated with Chaco Canyon

 

Aztec Ruins National Monument, NM - Great Kiva InteriorAztec Ruins National Monument, NM - Great Kiva InteriorAztec Ruins National Monument, New Mexico by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

 

Part of the Chaco Culture National Historical Park World Heritage Site, the Aztec Ruins National Monument is the largest ancestral Pueblo in the Animas River Valley. The monument was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in October 1966.

Learn more in our Article "Aztec Ruins National Monument."

 

Also See: 

Chaco Canyon - Home of Ancestral Puebloans

Ancient Puebloans of the Southwest

Ancient Cities and Places of the Native Americans

 

 

Do you know the way to Santa Fe?

 

Santa Fe, NM - Fort Marcy SiteSanta Fe, NM - Fort Marcy SiteA view of Santa Fe from the site of Fort Marcy. Photo by Dave Alexander, 2021.

 

I know, I know... the song is about a California town with another name, but I've planted the earworm for ya. I shouldn't be the only one with Dionne Warwick stuck in my head. 

While we have been to Santa Fe before, we've never 'stayed' in Santa Fe, so on this journey, we wanted to have a more leisurely experience in exploring "The City Different". 
 

Santa Fe, NM - Oldest HouseSanta Fe, NM - Oldest HouseThis 800-year old Adobe house in Santa Fe, New Mexico is considered to be the oldest house in the United States. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

 

Established in 1610, Santa Fe, New Mexico is the third oldest city founded by European colonists in the United States. Only St. Augustine, Florida, founded in 1565, and Jamestown, Virginia are older. It is also the oldest capital city in the U.S, serving under five different governments; Spain, Tewa Puebloans, Mexico,  Confederate States of America, and the United States.

 

Santa Fe, NM - PlazaSanta Fe, NM - PlazaThe Santa Fe, New Mexico Palace on the Plaza by Henry Brown, 1885 Santa Fe, NM - Palace of GovernorsSanta Fe, NM - Palace of GovernorsSanta Fe, NM - Palace of Governors
Built upon the ruins of an abandoned Tanoan Indian village, Santa Fe was the capital of the “Kingdom of New Mexico,” which was claimed for Spain by Francisco Vasquez de Coronado in 1540. Its first governor, Don Pedro de Peralta, gave the city its full name, “La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís,” or “The Royal City of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi”.
 

The Palace of the Governors (in the two photos above) was built between 1610 and 1612 and is the country's oldest government building.

 

Santa Fe, NM - San Miguel Chapel 1873Santa Fe, NM - San Miguel Chapel 1873The San Miguel Mission, also known as San Miguel Chapel, is a Spanish colonial mission church in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Built between about 1610 and 1626, it is claimed to be the oldest church in the United States. Vintage photo taken in 1888. Vintage photo restored by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Santa Fe, NM - San Miguel Mission, 1888Santa Fe, NM - San Miguel Mission, 1888The San Miguel Mission in Santa Fe, New Mexico was damaged during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 but was rebuilt in 1710 following the Spanish reconquest and served for a time as a chapel for the Spanish soldiers. Vintage photo restored by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Santa Fe, NM - San Miguel ChurchSanta Fe, NM - San Miguel ChurchSanta Fe, NM - San Miguel Church

 

San Miguel Chapel in Santa Fe (in the three photos above) is the oldest church in the continental United States, constructed around 1610. 

 

Santa Fe, NM - Downtown Santa Fe TrailSanta Fe, NM - Downtown Santa Fe TrailAlong the Old Santa Fe Trail in Downtown Santa Fe. Photo by Dave Alexander.

 

Santa Fe remained Spain’s provincial seat until 1821 when Mexico won its independence from Spain and Santa Fe became the capital of the Mexican territory of Santa Fe de Nuevo México. At this time, the Spanish policy of closed empire ended, and American trappers and traders moved into the region. William Becknell soon opened the l,000-mile-long Santa Fe Trail, leaving from FranklinMissouri, with 21 men and a pack train of goods. Before long, Santa Fe would become the primary destination of hundreds of travelers seeking to trade with the city or move further west.

Begin your journey on the Santa Fe Trail, which is celebrating its 200th Anniversary, by visiting our extensive section of articles starting HERE



Santa Fe, NM - Fort Marcy, 1868Santa Fe, NM - Fort Marcy, 1868Fort Marcy in Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1868. Vintage photo restored by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Santa Fe, NM - Fort Marcy SiteSanta Fe, NM - Fort Marcy SiteFort Marcy Site today (2021)

 

On August 18, 1846, during the early period of the Mexican-American War, an American army general, Stephen Watts Kearny, took Santa Fe and raised the American flag over the Plaza. There, he built Fort Marcy to prevent an uprising by Santa Fe citizens, though it was never needed. Although the Fort is gone today, the site is Fort Marcy Ruins at Historic Fort Marcy Park, which is part of El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail, the “Royal Road of the Interior." It was the earliest Euro-American trade route in the United States.
 

Santa Fe, NM - Fort Marcy - Cross of the MartyrsSanta Fe, NM - Fort Marcy - Cross of the MartyrsThe Cross of the Martyrs, next too Fort Marcy Ruins, is a memorial to 21 Franciscan priests and friars killed during the 1680 Pueblo Revolt. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander, 2021.

Also here, you will find the Cross of the Martyrs, a memorial to 21 Franciscan priests and friars killed during the 1680 Pueblo Revolt. On August 10, 1680, an attack by the Taos, Picuri, and Tewa Indians in their respective pueblos, killed 21 of the province’s 40 Franciscans, and another 380 Spaniards, including men, women, and children. The Spaniards who were able to escape fled to Santa Fe and to the Isleta Pueblo, one of the few pueblos that did not participate in the rebellion.

Learn More, see our Related Articles:

Fort Marcy

Mexican-American War

Pueblo Revolt – Rising Up Against the Spaniards

 

Did you know America's Mother Road used to go through Santa Fe? 

 

Santa Fe, NM - LaFonda HotelSanta Fe, NM - LaFonda HotelThe La Fonda Hotel in downtown Santa Fe sits on a pre-1937 alignment of Route 66.

 

From 1926 when it was created, to 1937, Route 66 entered the state capital along College Street (now Old Santa Fe Trail), then turned west on Water Street at the rear of the La Fonda Hotel. It exited downtown Santa Fe along Galisteo Street and turned south upon connecting with Cerrillos Street. The primary significance of the pre-1937 alignment of Route 66 in New Mexico lies in how it reflects the early federal highway system’s use of already existing patterns of movement across the land. Historically, New Mexico’s primary orientation had been north and south with patterns determined by routes that followed the Rio Grande and Pecos Valleys, and that relied upon infrequent mountain passes for latitudinal movement. 

 

Santa Fe, NM - El Rey Inn SunsetSanta Fe, NM - El Rey Inn SunsetAt sunset the historic El Rey Inn on the pre 1937 alignment of Route 66 in Santa Fe, New Mexico is bathed in an inviting golden glow that soothes the soul. Photo by Jim Hinckley.

 

Due to political maneuverings of the New Mexico Governor in 1937, Route 66 was rerouted, bypassing Santa Fe and the Pecos River Valley. Having lost his re-election, Governor Hannett blamed the Santa Fe politicians for losing, and vowing to get even, he rerouted the highway in his last few months as governor.  So hastily was the road built, that it barreled through both public and private lands without the benefit of official right-of-ways.

 

Santa Fe, NM - StreetSanta Fe, NM - StreetPre-1937 Route 66 through downtown Santa Fe.

 

By the time the new governor was in place, a new highway connected Route 66 from Santa Rosa to Albuquerque, bypassing the capital city and its many businesses. The new route was more direct and reduced some of the more treacherous road conditions.

 

Much more in and Around Santa Fe

 

Chimayo, NM - El Santuario ShrineChimayo, NM - El Santuario ShrineChimayo, NM - El Santuario Shrine

 

While I've shown only a few things here about Santa Fe, there is much much more beyond Downtown.  In fact, day trips from Santa Fe will take you to many historic sites and places. One of those is the El Santuario de Chimayó, in Chimayo north of Santa Fe. 

 

Chimayo, NM - El Santuario Shrine Church InteriorChimayo, NM - El Santuario Shrine Church InteriorEl Santuario Shrine Church Interior
A National Historic Landmark, the church was built in 1816, replacing a small chapel that had been there since 1810.  The site is noted for its history as a contemporary pilgrimage site and sees around 300,000 visitors a year.  It has been called by some "the most important Catholic pilgrimage center in the U.S.

 

Chimayo, NM - El Santuario Shrine Church Interior - 3Chimayo, NM - El Santuario Shrine Church Interior - 3El Santuario Shrine

 

In 1929, members of the newly formed Spanish Colonial Arts Society bought the property and donated it to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.


 

Chimayo, NM - Gallery-CafeChimayo, NM - Gallery-CafeShops around the El Santuario de Chimayó

 

The Church lies in the Potrero plaza of Chimayó, which offers visitors shopping and dining.  Well worth our visit as there is a lot more here to see and learn, including legends of healing powers related to the shrine.  

There are also several Native American Pueblo's around Santa Fe that during 'normal times' would be worth your visit, although most of them were closed off during the pandemic. We would have loved to spend even more time in Santa Fe, in fact, I would suggest spending at least 5 days in the State Capital to explore everything the area has to offer.  I think the Official Santa Fe Travel Site says it best:

"Santa Fe, New Mexico is a city unlike any other, truly living up to its tagline, The City Different, at every turn. With legendary history and culture around every corner, an art scene that spans from traditional to contemporary, accommodations with a local feel yet world-class status, award-winning cuisine that’s as eclectic as it is sumptuous, and countless experiences to encounter, you’re sure to uncover something different about yourself when you visit."
 

Learn more about Santa Fe via our numerous related articles: 

Santa Fe, New Mexico – The City Different

The Santa Fe Trade, By Helen Haines, 1891

Mary Donoho – First Lady of the Santa Fe Trail

Doña Gertrudis Barceló – Gambling Queen of Santa Fe

Haunted Santa Fe

Haunted La Fonda Hotel

 

New Mexico History is Rich!  Start your exploration via our New Mexico Main Page HERE

Explore our New Mexico Photo Print Galleries HERE

 

Mora County, NM - Sangre de Cristo MountainsMora County, NM - Sangre de Cristo MountainsMora County, NM - Sangre de Cristo Mountains

The Land of Enchantment sent us off with a bit of snow in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains as we traveled through Mora and eventually out to Clayton New Mexico on the way home.  Since leaving Warsaw on February 4, we traveled 5,300 miles...each mile an adventure to remember.  If you are just reaching this blog, I suggest starting with Talimena Scenic Views, Day one of our Winter 21 journey.  


We're already planning our next trip for late summer, somewhere in the Eastern U.S. 

Cya on the road!

HearHereHearHereGet the HearHere App for iPhone

We're traveling with "HearHere" a travel audio app for your phone that shares the depth and diversity of stories - cultural, geographical, historical, and mythological - hidden along the roads of America. Legends of America is proud to partner with HearHere, with many of our stories being narrated and loaded up now. Go to their website here for more information

 

 

For RV'ers 

During this segment of our journey, we stayed at the following: 

Page Lake Powell Campground (Page, AZ)

Page RV ParkPage RV ParkNot so level spot at the Page & Lake Powell RV Park. This park is clean, well-kept, and close to many amenities. The staff was very friendly. However, like many other campgrounds, they list one of their amenities as wifi, of which we had NONE, even at 3 am. Worse, was the spot that they put us in was sloped and uneven.  There were plenty of other sites available that were level and closer to the office, where wifi is usually better. The noise on the neighboring highway is very loud, and making things worse, was a motorcycle and an ATV periodically zooming loudly through the campground. If we were to do it again, we would stay at Lake Powell, Lees Ferry, or even another town before we would stay here. Unfortunately, for travelers, this is the only campground in Page.


 

Moore's RV Park and Campground (Bloomfield, NM)

 

Really wish I could find the pictures from our visit here.  We only stayed a night, however, this was an "excellent" campground. Level spots, full hookups, a dual dog run (with grass), and very friendly staff. Would stay here again!

 

Trailer Ranch RV Resort (Santa Fe, NM)

 

TrailerRanch SantaFeTrailerRanch SantaFe

This is an adult-only RV Park, and 55+ community.  Excellent location within the Santa Fe area.  Off a major road, however, the noise wasn't bad, and it's surrounded by adobe walls. Very friendly staff and good wifi most of the time. Full hookups, laundry, etc.  A little pricy, but would stay here again. 


 

 

 

 

 


Comments

No comments posted.
Loading...
Subscribe
RSS
Archive
January February March April May (1) June July August September (1) October November December
January February (3) March (1) April May June July August September October November (1) December
January February March April May June July August (7) September (6) October November December
January (1) February (4) March (2) April May June July August September October (3) November December
January February March April May June (2) July (6) August (1) September October November (1) December
January (4) February (1) March April May June July August (1) September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August (1) September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February (7) March (3) April (1) May June July August September October November December