Slide Rock, Meteor Crater, Petrified Rocks

Trip Start May 26, 2005
Trip End Jun 07, 2005

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Flag of United States  , Arizona
Thursday, June 2, 2005

Sounds like a "rocky" day to us!

We're checking out of our "Roost" and north, stopping on the way at Slide Rock, one of our favorite hang outs. This is another of those rock formations that you have to love. It's an old fashioned swimming pool, with a twist.

Most of the surface is smooth rock, which you can "slide down" a thirty foot slide thru the water. There are also shallow areas for the little kiddos.  And a lot of colors of rock.  It's run by the Park service  so you pay $10 a carload to get in. Parking is a major problem. Get there early, cause you are parking on the road.  And you could be walking down that road a long distance if you don't get there early. This is not the place for your designer swim suit. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen a swim suit here. The smart dress code is your oldest cut offs and tshirts.

 Some of the rocks aren't that smooth, so your clothes can get a little beat up, but it is SO worth it.  The water temperature is chilly - about 55 degrees, so don't think this is a layout in the pool type day. It's brisk but fun.

Since we were heading north we decided to pull in and play in the water and on the rocks for a couple minutes. Then up the curvey winding road north to Flagstaff. If you are prone to motion sickness, or don't like "tight" curves, this is not the road for you. Go south and grab the interstate. If you like adventure and some great scenery, take 89A. It's a steep mountain road as you get closer to Flagstaff. Takes about 45 minutes for the 20 mile trip.

If you can, go slow as you approach the "mountain". You'll see the trucks and cars coming down the steep incline and curves. There is usually an Indian craftsmarket at the top of the mountain. We stopped here to browse around and look at the views.

Then on to Meteor Crater, about 20 miles west of Winslow.  Thinking that this was just a big  hole in the ground, I was shocked by the modern visitors center. We paid our $15 per person and signed up for the tour to get to the crater, which is a short walk on the rim- about 1/4 or 1/3 of a mile in each direction.

We went out to the observation areas which had the crater views until our tour time. Then we got to walk with the ranger to a rim section of the crater. Our guide was entergetic and loved his job. He talked about the impact, Which made our tour almost perfect. 

This hole was the first to be identified as an impact crater. It was formed between 20,000 to 50,000 years ago when  a small asteroid about 80 feet in diameter impacted the Earth and formed the crater.  It's the best preserved crater on Earth and measures 4,100 feet in diameter, and it's 470 feet deep. This impact displaced 300 to 400 million tons of rock. Those facts give you the "wow" of the crater.

Another wow at the end of the tour is the opportunity to walk out on a ledge over the crater for a photo oppurtinity. We're the first in line of course.  The only problem is the ranger doesn't want you close to the edge of the rock, so I'm pouting a little.

After the tour and a huge thank you to the ranger, we head down to the Subway to grab a sandwich, and something very cold to drink. The heat out on the crater had us sweating big time. A last photo stop at the "picture frame" in the visitors center. This has the view of Humphrey's Peak, the higest elvevation in Arizona 12,663 feet. And suprisingly, snow is still on the mountain peak.

Now it's on to check into our hotel. There are a few standard hotels to choose from in Holbrook. We did the Day's Inn. Nice, clean and comfortable. They have a pool, but didn't get the chance to use it.

After check in we had the choice of just relaxing or doing something. Petrified forest was it. So back in the car and a twenty minute ride to the "rocks." The National Park visitor center is small, but has some self guided tour information. Behind the visitor center is a trail with of course... petrified logs. 

We walked it and took some photos. What amazed me was the variety of colors in the logs, the size of some of the logs, and the ability to sit on and touch them. I thought this would be more of a "hands off" type exhibit. What we did learn is that anyone picking up a piece of these rocks would be fined a minimum $275. I guess the bigger the "rock" the more you will pay. We did see some pieces on the ground during our walks, but felt it best to leave them where they were. 

 We found a pull off area at Blue Mesa. It's a walk down a hillside, but the rock formation are unbelievable. Petrified wood logs seem as if they were scattered by a giant above the Mesa. Don't rush thru here. It's a magical place. We stopped at a "rock" store.These stores seem to line the road, and you wonder how much petrified rock is still out there. Picked up some small pieces, not cheap for some old wood.

Back to the hotel to chill down then a walk  across the street to Jerry's to eat. This is a hustling restaurant. Get there early, cause the specials are gone fast. I was suprised by the quanity and quality, and the low price for being in a tourist destination. Tonight we are hitting the bed early. It's a long day tomorrow.    
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