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"The wish to travel seems to me characteristically human: the desire to move, to satisfy   
your curiosity or ease your fears, to change the circumstances of your life, to be a stranger,
to make a friend, to experience an exotic landscape, to risk the unknown."
~ Paul Theroux, The Tao of Travel: Enlightenments from Lives on the Road

Or for us this time, just the desire to find a warm place to spend the winter!

We are snowbirds, migrating south every winter in search of warmer climes just like many of our feathered friends. After three winters in southern Georgia and northern Florida we have decided to remain out West this winter and spend several months in Arizona and southern California again.

Jim and Casey pose by a towering saguaro cactus at High Desert Park in Black Canyon.

It was hard to leave Red Canyon and the amazing terrain in southern Utah today but the RV park we liked so much is closing because winter is nigh. It's already gotten down to freezing at night a few times at 7,000 feet elevation and the owners don't want to deal with frozen pipes. (Visiting RVers didn't seem to mind, though; the campground remained full this week.) 

We began our search for a place to spend the winter several months ago. We wanted an RV park in northern metro Phoenix so we could explore some places that are new to us in that area.

After a lot of online research and several phone calls we made reservations at Black Canyon Ranch RV Resort about 20 miles northwest of Phoenix for October, November, and December. If we decide to stay longer, we can.

Our rather tight spot at Black Canyon Ranch RV Resort

We didn't realize the Phoenix area would remain hot this late in the year so we've been delaying our arrival in Black Canyon as long as possible. It is still in the 90s F. but for various reasons we decided to come on down now rather than kill time along the way. At least we have AC.

This entry focuses on the scenic drive through southern Utah and northern Arizona from Red Canyon to Black Canyon City.


Route:  US 89 south to Flagstaff, AZ; I-40 a few miles west to I-17, then south to exit 244 (Old Black Canyon Rd.), a distance of 371 miles. (A variation is to take Alternate 89 from Kanab to a juncture with US 89 south of Page, AZ.)

Rain on US 89 south of Red Canyon;  yellow aspen leaves brighten the scene a bit.

Traffic and road conditions:  Traffic was lighter than expected to Kanab, UT, then increasingly heavy to Flagstaff on Sunday afternoon. There were periodic passing lanes on US 89 so no more than 3-4 vehicles at a time ever got stuck behind us.

I-17 south was very heavy with folks returning to metro Phoenix from their weekends at points north. I-17 is only two lanes each direction from Flagstaff to Black Canyon City, with a 75 MPH speed limit. It needs another lane and lower speed limit.


Above and below:  two more scenes along US 89 north of Kanab, UT

Road conditions were mostly good, although there were some wavy sections on US 89 from Page to Flagstaff. There are some long descents on US 89 south of Page and I-17 south of Flagstaff but no long ascents. This route is fine for big rigs.

We had rain off and on but none of it was as heavy as some of the storms in the distance on I-17 this afternoon in Arizona:



Note the shaft of light to the right.

It looked like we'd get drenched in that storm
but it moved off the freeway before we reached it.

It started raining lightly at Red Canyon just as we were pulling out in the morning. We even had some fat wet snowflakes in a couple places in AZ. Our highest point was about 7,200 feet. Most of the time the roads were dry, though, and visibility was always good.

We apparently lucked out with the rain we got, because we heard the next morning that there was high wind and large hail damage in the Phoenix valley and thousands of people without electric power.

Scenery:  The scenery was especially nice along US 89 through southern Utah from Kanab to Page, an area we haven't seen before -- lots of colorful mesas and canyons as we drove up and down through colorful national forest and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument lands:








Odd rock!

A few miles before we reached the Arizona border we drove through the southern part of Glen Canyon National Recreational Area and could see a bit of Lake Powell:


We stopped at the Glen Canyon Dam so we could join other visitors on the bridge across the deep canyon cut by the Colorado River:


The river runs through a very narrow strip of protective land that is part of Grand Canyon National Park up to Lake Powell. There is a visitor center at the dam but we didn't go into it.

Page is larger than I expected, and has a super-Walmart. About a dozen RVs were parked there when we went through about noon today. 

US 89 and 89A parallel the Colorado River for several miles south of Page. We were high above the canyon on US 89 at Antelope Pass (elevation 6,533 feet), then descended in a few miles through a large Navajo Indian Reservation to The Gap and Gray Mountain.






Narrow slot at Antelope Pass


View toward Colorado River gorge from overlook below Antelope Pass


We continued through the Coconino and Prescott National Forests on US 89 and I-17 the rest of the way to Black Canyon City.

With all the forests and mountains the scenery was also quite nice along I-17 as we headed toward another large storm in the distance (photos farther above).

Approaching Black Canyon

This is a popular area from Flagstaff to Phoenix that we've visited on day trips before, with interesting old mining towns like Jerome, red rock scenery around Sedona, and several historic Native American sites like Montezuma Castle and Tuzigoot National Monuments. There are also some new places we'd like to visit on this trip.

Next entrycamping and hiking in Black Canyon, AZ

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup

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2015 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil