Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument
Trip Start Aug 12, 2013
46Trip End Oct 02, 2013
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I researched Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument, my destination today, last night. I found out that you can only visit the quarries on a ranger-led tour, which is by reservation only. I called first thing in the morning and made a reservation for 2:00.
I drove to the Visitor Center and found it closed. The ranger was still out on his 10:00 tour. It's not a particularly popular place. The ranger soon arrived. I went in and watched their movie and looked at their displays.
Then I chatted with the ranger. He got out some flint and started giving me a demonstration of how flint knapping is done. Two other groups came to the Visitor Center during this time. One had kids and didn't think they'd enjoy the tour. The other group of two had one with knee problems but the other was signed up for the tour.
At 2:00 we drove three miles to the base of the hill by the flint quarries. The three of us slowly walked up the hill. There are a number of pavilions built along the trail. We stopped at each one and the ranger would talk a while. Flint was quarried here by the Native Americans for thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans in the area. The dolomite at the tops of the cliffs in this area has turned to flint in many places. There are literally thousands of small holes, all dug with crude wooden and stone tools, in the hills in this area.
We eventually reached the top and saw our first flint quarry. It wasn't much to look at. It was a circular, slight depression around eight feet in diameter. Over the years the hole, which had probably been four or five feet deep at one time, had slowly filled back in so the depression was around a foot deep at its deepest. We wandered by another equally unimpressive flint quarry and then headed back down.
Like Fort Union National Monument, the story of the place is more interesting than what you actually see. I found my visit interesting but I'm not sure I'd recommend Alibates Flint Quarries to many people.
I then drove to Oklahoma City, OK and got a room for the night.