“Just find a place to make your stand and take it easy.”—good advice from the Eagles. As we rolled down Route 66 and through the state of Arizona, we made the mandatory stop in Winslow. Two bonus things to visit were La Posada Hotel, a Spanish style architectural gem, and Meteor Crater site near Canyon Diablo.
We left Tucson and headed to Camp Verde. The road took us by Sunset Point Scenic Overlook on I-17, with a beautiful and lush green vista. There’s something so soothing about green grass and rolling hills….
We could already feel the good energy of the area, which also welcomed us at Verde Ranch RV Resort in Camp Verde. I was impressed by the resort’s stylish club house and amenities. Nestled in the peaceful Verde Valley, the campground was a perfect base for us to explore several main attractions, among which: Red Rock State Park, Sedona, Flagstaff, Winslow, Meteor Crater, Petrified Forest National Park/Painted Desert, Montezuma Castle, Tuzigot National Monument, Jerome, and of course Grand Canyon National Park.
We started with a quick reconnaissance trip to Red Rock State Park and Sedona, then took our time exploring Winslow and nearby attractions.
Take It easy, take it easy Don't let the sound of your own wheels Drive you crazy Lighten up while you still can Don't even try to understand Just find a place to make your stand And take it easy Well, I'm a standing on a corner In Winslow, Arizona And such a fine sight to see
Not far from the famed corner, La Posada Hotel in Winslow is a beautiful piece of architecture and a testament of time. It was a big deal when it was built in the 1920s as the first of its kind in the area, bringing sophistication to the railroad town and the Southwest. The hotel was just the first of a series of such fine establishments along the Santa Fe Railway. The designer was a talented woman named Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter and the vision for the hotel belonged to Fred Harvey, a famed entrepreneur. The hotel almost disappeared, victim of the 30s depression and closed down after 27 years of operation. In the mid-90s, a dedicated team of three locals rescued it, bringing it back to life and glory. Read more about the hotel’s history here. Part of the hotel is now a dedicated art gallery and the gift shop offers a good collection of antique and contemporary goodies.
Our next stop was another amazing site: Meteor Crater. This is an interesting place to visit for adults and children alike! Over 50,000 years ago a huge iron-nickel meteorite, approximately 150 feet wide and weighing several hundred thousand tons, impacted an area approx. 37 miles east of Flagstaff and 18 miles west of Winslow, Arizona, with a force 150 times greater than an atomic bomb. The impact caused devastation for miles and left a giant bowl-shaped scar—Meteor Crater—which measures 550 feet deep and almost a mile wide.
It’s hard to assess the crater’s size. Luckily, one can peer through one of the telescopes mounted on an outdoors observation deck and see several objects placed at the bottom of the crater for good measure. I couldn’t even notice with my naked eye the shape of a 6 ft tall astronaut cutout next to a flag! Pretty amazing stuff!
The crater was used as training grounds for Moon landing by the three Apollo 11 astronauts—Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins—and the Apollo 11 capsule is on display at the crater’s visitor center.
We spent so much time learning all about the crater that we barely made it into Painted Desert/Petrified Forest National Park just in time for a quick look. The through road was closed, so our initial plan to drive across the park took a hit. We took a few photos, then headed back to camp, accompanied by a spectacular sunset. Incidentally, Arizona is proud home to more certified dark sky places than anywhere else in the world! (of which we only witnessed a tiny glimpse and took not-so-great photos). I think that exploring Arizona’s dark skies must be a dedicated trip sometime soon….
There is so much to see and do in Arizona: natural wonders, history, ski resorts, dark skies, and beautiful art. Mind blown.
Our next stop brought about even more sense of wonder: THE Grand Canyon.