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Painted Desert, AZ

493 26 2
Guide 26 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Northeast > Hotevilla
4.2 of 5 by 6
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Distance Round Trip 0 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,950 feet
Backpack Yes
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
11  2018-01-27
Devil's Playground - PeFo
2  2016-10-06 RickVincent
19  2011-05-01 klodhopper73
9  2010-09-23 SkyIslander18
17  2010-07-25 Kenny
42  2010-06-30 PaleoRob
11  2010-06-17 PaleoRob
25  2010-04-03 pickelltree
Page 1,  2,  3,  4
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
Associated Areas
list map done
Hopi Reservation
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Reservation Hopi
Preferred   Apr, May, Sep, Oct → Early
Seasons   ALL
Sun  6:08am - 6:28pm
1 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Beyond anything Grand
by HAZ_Hikebot

Likely In-Season!
The Painted Desert is a large swath of Arizona sweeping from Tuba City to Holbrook. Due to the virtually trail-less land it's unlikely many would hike the same route or even want to. Please use this page to post various photos, triplogs and routes.

From Wikipedia: Painted Desert is the name for a broad area of colorful badlands located in Northern Arizona in the United States. The desert stretches from the Grand Canyon National Park into the Petrified Forest National Park and runs roughly astride and just north of the Little Colorado and the Puerco Rivers. The area within the Petrified Forest National Wilderness is also known as the Painted Desert Wilderness. Much of the Painted Desert region is located within the Navajo Nation. The region is also home to a number of county parks such as the Little Painted Desert County Park found just north of Winslow. The Navajo and the Hopi people have lived in the region for at least one thousand years, however the modern name for the desert comes from the Spaniards who named it "el Desierto Pintado" due to its brightly colored landscape[citation needed].

The desert comprises stratified layers of mineral and decayed organic matter. Many hardened dunes can be found. These hardened dunes are visually distinct due to the bands of grays, reds, oranges and yellows which are then shaped by natural wind and rain patterns. The area is noted to be especially beautiful at sunset and sunrise when the land appears to glow in hues of violet, blue, red and gold. Other key features include the many mesas and buttes that rise sharply from the desert floor. Sparse desert flora and fauna can also be found.

In the southern portions of the desert the remains of a Triassic Era coniferous forest have fossilized over millions of years. Wind, water and soil erosion continue to change the face of the landscape by shifting sediment and exposing layers of the Chinle Formation. An assortment of fossilized prehistoric plants and animals are found in the region, as well as dinosaur tracks and the evidence of early human habitation.

Much of the region is accessible only by foot or unpaved road though major highways and paved roads cut across the area. Depending on use, location and duration of stay, travelers might be required to purchase permits from the appropriate authorities. The towns of Cameron and Tuba City, both within the Navajo Nation, are two major settlements. One interesting side note about Tuba City and Cameron is that parking lots and yards are often covered by bright red dust that is blown in from the surrounding lands by dust storms. Currently coal and petroleum mining operations are active in the region and red clay is retrieved from the desert by locals. This clay is then used to produce handmade pottery to be sold at roadside stands and souvenir shops.

Check out the Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2018-07-14 HAZ_Hikebot
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Painted Desert
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    The last stop on my trip through the Perfified Forest. Parked at the Painted Desert Inn and was greeted at the door by a sign that read "Sorry, Inn closed today due to water problems". Really wanted to see the inside but insted just walked around the Inn and out to the lookout points for awhile. The Painted Desert looked awesome from the points! After getting my pics, I drove back down the long park road to the entrance and back to Eager. Another great annual trip to the PF and I'll be back again next year!
    Painted Desert
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    The trip was about a month in the prep stage, but prep might not be the best word. The plan was to head out to Ward Terrace to see crazy shit - dinosaur tracks, wild arches, and ruins. The thing was that I'd never done much exploration in the southern section, which was our goal. I'd hiked around a fair bit further north, though, so I wanted to see some more. I explained to the crew the situation, and brought in an old Arizona Highways that highlighted the area. Good enough - we were on for the 30th.
    If you have ever hiked with me, you know that planning can be awesome and terrible at the same time. I scouted the road, at least in places, a few weeks ahead of time. I looked at overhead imagery to generally plot out a route. It wasn't until the night before, however, that I figured I should print out a topo map. Since I don't own the apparently awesome National Geographic TOPO program, I resorted to printing out several small TrailDEX maps and taping them together. Not the most field-worthy of maps, but I was primarily concerned with driving navigation. I could use my ancient GPS to get back to the truck if needed. Why I didn't think of maps before, I have no idea, but I stayed up far to late doing laundry and printing maps (no maps and no socks?). I finally sacked out around 11:30-11:45.
    So the crew showed up at my place at 4am; my coworker Curtis and our friend Marques's friend Matt, whom I hadn't met before. He was dating another one of my friends though, and seemed cool. No Marques though. A call came in on Curtis's phone - Marques is stuck up in LeChee. no worries. We hop in my rig and head over to LeChee and Marques loads his gear up. It is then down to Maverik for gas and on the highway, heading south by 4:30.
    The drive to the Wupatki turnoff was generally long and uneventful. Curtis slept while Marques, Matt, and myself joked around in general. Turning off the Wukoki road on to the Black Falls Crossing road, however, is when everyone started to get into the mood. We crossed the bone-dry LCR; everyone seemed to be pretty amazed that there was no water at all in the riverbed. I was happy. The trip would have been a bit more difficult otherwise.
    We made good time to the top of Goat Hill, where we released the soda and took in the incredible view up and down the Red Rock Cliffs, out to the Hopi Buttes, and the San Francisco Volcanic Field. After stretching the legs and consulting the maps we began our first serious navigation on the reservation backroads - a place known only as Pottery Hill.
    It became obvious very quickly that Matt had no idea how to read a topo map. He had us going north over ridges while we continued east into wash bottoms. I had marked useful items on my map, such as "house" and "houses" (who's position I had transferred from the overheads) which we constantly were referring to. We found the wash we wanted to, but didn't recognize it. We had to turn around and find the road that led north towards "house", "houses", and eventually a lake. A lake? Yeah, a lake. More on this later.
    Rolling down the right road, finally, we were struck by the comparison that Marques pointed out: "Have you ever seen The Hills Have Eyes?" Passing "house", and especially after passing "houses" the comment seemed especially apt.
    We found a parking spot off the road and out of the sand. Pottery Hill house have been just to the east, so after we loaded our gear onto our backs we hit the "trail" - sand dunes, shale slopes, and limestone ridges. We crested a low mesa and saw, to our surprise, that there was no pottery. None. Nada. All that we could see was a ruined camp trailer - like someone had driven it off the edge of the cliff. Matt took a seat on a chair that somehow survived the carnage. We were somewhat stumped until Marques came up with the idea of using his Blackberry to get on GoogleMaps. I felt like we were cheating, but since my GPS doesn't have any decent maps on it, and we'd left my homemade topo in the truck (too fragile to put in a pack) we decide to use it. Once we finally get signal, we see a distinctive bend in the wash I recalled from looking at the overheads. We need to head further east.
    Despite the feeling of cheating, I am glad we were able to figure it out. Pottery Hill was pretty dang interesting. There was a mound where a prehistoric building had once stood. It had probably been 2 or three stories tall during its heyday, because even now it was a good 20 feet tall. There were other, isolated, structures in the immediate vicinity - probably part of the same complex. Pottery was everywhere. Curtis found parts of about 7 or 8 broken metates and a couple of manos. We dropped into a "slot" formed by arroyo downcutting, then made our way back to the truck.
    The plan then was to head north, past Lake To Kla Da Aakee and gain access to the upper section of the Adeii Eechii Cliffs and do some awesome badlands hiking. We found the lake/pond, which none of the Anglos in the car could pronounce correctly, but were disappointed that it was bone dry. We joked around about it - two water tanks gave their name to Two Barrel Beach, and a broad sand dune we dubbed "the launch ramp". We also found a corn field out there! Remarkable. Past the lake, I had marked on my makeshift topo a section of road with the words "possibly bad" - this was the last mile or so that would take us up to the cliffs. Well we quickly found out that the possibility was a reality - sand filled the road. We gave it a good go for another quarter mile, but when we reached a section of hardpan with no tracks, and a sand dune in front of us where the road should have been we got out and scouted. Marques ran along the roadway, while I climbed the dune to the east to see if I could get a better vantage point. The outlook was disappointing. The dune field stretched out to the north, and the road trace was being covered by vegetation. Damn! we turned the rig around and started heading south again. Passing the lake, Marques remarked that it was kind of embarrassing to be relying on his Blackberry, to which I replied that he could just tell his friends that the dumb white guys needed an Indian guide, and he could leave out the Blackberry part. Curtis did one better and said, "Maybe his Indian name should be Blackberry." This would be a constant source of amusement for the rest of the trip - Chief Blackberry.
    We got back on the ridge by "houses" and Marques/Chief Blackberry was able to get a signal and download a map. A new plan came up. Head back for Route 7830, drive east, and then take Route 7820 north, towards the badlands. It should be doable, we all agreed, and twenty minutes later we were rolling north along our new route - which also happened to be much better maintained than 7830. Marques and Curtis told us about how this route is a major drug smuggling route on the Rez. I commented that I would not like to be a cop on this beat; too easy to get shot without anyone knowing what ever happened. Approaching Dinnebito Wash, the Red Rock Cliffs began to rise on either side of the road, more distant to the west, only a quarter mile away to the east. They looked like melting red spires, or dripping mud. Someone remarked that it would be neat to go explore them. "What's stopping us?" I asked, and the crew agreed - time to explore some canyons. I found a decent place to pull over and we shouldered our gear again.
    The way towards the cliffs was over a series of dunes, but the going was not difficult, and as we approached the mouth of our chosen canyon it became more and more interesting to us. A slot canyon opened up to the north, and we vowed to check it out - but our objective first. We paused at the mouth to observe some striped boulders and some of the insane rock formations. Then we entered the mouth of the beast.
    A change of just a couple yards made such a huge impression. The walls towered above, almost (but not quite) slotty. Sculpted spires and hoodoos dominated the skyline. We saw a hanging canyon, which I wanted to get into. We thought that the canyon would end as it made a left, but to our surprise there was a chockstone and then another bend to the right. I made up the north wall for a bit to shoot some pics ands the other three nimbly went up over or around the massive stone. I too bypassed the stone, but we were somewhat saddened to see that the right hand turn housed a pourover that likely went nowhere - we could see the cliffs towering behind it. Curtis remarked that it was always sad to have to turn around, that there was a sense of paradise almost achieved, just waiting for us - perfect springs with lush vegetation. To this image Marques added the Jagermeister girls.
    We decided to try for the hanging canyon. Marques and Matt tried to follow a ledge over to its mouth, but almost got cliffed out instead. If they weren't bold, it would have been difficult for them to get back down. I, meanwhile, followed a sand slide up to a low pourover beneath the hanging canyon. As Marques and Matt ascended to my level, I began climbing. I got to the lip of the hanging canyon, standing on slippery slickrock, and peered in. Another basically dead end. It was possible the canyon continued around a bend, but certainly not very far. I was facing a low lip with a fragile foothold, so I decided to back off.
    Getting down was slightly more tricky than I had imagined. The slickrock lived up to its name, and in places was covered with fine sand. I almost got cliffed out. If Marques hadn't begun following my footsteps up, it would have been very difficult to get back down. He provided a spot/step, and once over a little ridge I was home free. We all skied down the sand slope and found ourselves in one piece at the bottom of the canyon.
    Our next destination was the slot canyon we'd seen on the hike in. We crossed a couple of dry washes and came to a ridge, which we thought would carry us into the slot's mouth. Wrong. A narrow canyon yawned in front of us. Matt was already at the bottom, so he began ascending the sheer cliff opposite us - fortunately made of shale and not sandstone. Marques skidded down an overly steep slope on our side, and then began mimicking Matt's climb. Curtis and myself descended through a short slot section to the bottom. Curtis took another way up, while I followed Matt's route. We soon found that the slot had an overhanging mouth, about 8 feet above our level. Marques began scouting out a route on the east side, while I went up to the west side. It looked promising until I reached an overhanging band that prevented further progress. Meanwhile Marques had worked his way just to the side of the canyon, but a small ridge stopped him. Instead of giving up, he pulled a bold (foolish?) maneuver where he swung around on one foot and leaped. he grabbed the ledge and basically hauled himself forward into the canyon. He was in! Considering our remote location, the short length of the canyon, and the lack of a casually easy way into the canyon, we were all pretty sure that no other person had been in the slot before. I was ready to try to get in myself, but Marques said that the canyon didn't continue beyond what we could see. I was satisfied with my perch then. After some more fancy footwork Marques was back out of the canyon. I scrambled back down as well. Matt and Marques headed back down the way they'd come up, while I wanted to see the canyon Curtis had ascended. I'm glad I did!
    When I got into the slot and began chimneying down, I noticed Curtis was hunched over something. "Dude, its that bird we were hearing earlier!" I came down as fast as practicable, and squatted in the sand beside Curtis. Sure enough, there was a fledgling Kestrel (I misidentified it as a Peregrine Falcon on the trip - it wasn't until posting pics here on HAZ I found out what it was), laying belly up in the bright sun. Bummer! He didn't appear to be doing good (considering he was on his back) but nothing appeared broken. We could hear his mom every once in a while, so we rolled him over with a stick to the shade of a rock where he wouldn't be baking. An immediate difference! As soon as he touched that cool ground, he began screaming for his mom and trying to claw us with his feet! Awesome! And a few moments later he got to his feet and walked a little further under the rock, away from our prying eyes. I think that we helped him out, by getting him to shade, and he'll (she'll?) do fine in the future.
    Back at the truck we again headed north, crossing Dinnebito Wash. The road rose up the Adeii Eechii Cliffs, and we spotted Rock Head with its attendant badlands. Unfortunately the storm that had been brewing over the peaks all day was moving in our direction and we still had a long way to go to get to pavement. We sadly had to bypass a hike to Rock Head. Next time! Crossing over the Sand Spring Hills, though, we did have time to stop at one lonely windmill with a giant dead Cottonwood and about a dozen ravens. I climbed the windmill tower, but all I could see in every direction was more sand hills. Curtis and Marques both remarked that this was the middle of nowhere, even for the Rez. I was inclined to agree - but then again, they'd never been to Pueblo Pintado. Being from the Rez, however, they did speak with an air of authority.
    We passed Gold Springs, which I remarked seemed neither golden nor had any growth to suggest a spring. Matt suggested that the entire area was like gold to the residents. We found the idea laughable. We hit the highway at Coalmine Canyon, and we talked about going to Coalmine Canyon itself to hike and take in the view. Again we decided against it - instead we headed off towards Tuba City.
    Tuba City was just as bleak and depressing as always. The Hopi side, however, had opened a brand new, shiny, hotel. Marques wanted to stop there, but not that day, so we headed down towards Moenkopi Wash and 89. As we headed down the slope I said, "Hey, you all want to go get lied to at the dinosaur track site?"
    "Hell yeah!" came the response from Marques, who thought it was a great idea. Matt had never been, so the plan was sealed. We pulled off and as soon as the "guide" saw another sucker heading in, he waved us all in. I think he was a bit surprised to see two Navajos get out of the truck, because he didn't quote us a price as others have done in the past. He started out strong, showing us a trackway and saying it had been made in a mudflat probably by Dilophosaurus, a meat eater with two crests on its head. It went downhill from there though. He identified Dilophosaurus as a raptor, and then showed us a collection of random marks that someone had scratched around, calling it a "T. rex". Someone had also scratched T-REX into the rock nearby. He took us to another even larger but equally fake "track", part being raised, part being sunken. He showed us a "triceratops" which he outlined with water. I could not believe he was really doing so - drawing in parts because the random lumps looked vaguely like a skeleton. It was terrible! There was the usual "Dilophosaurus skeleton" and "raptor claw", and another new wrinkle - a "skull" - made of a lump of rock with a hole in it.
    We got back to the truck and both Marques and Curtis expressed their displeasure at the site being ran that way. The land belongs to the Navajo Nation, not the people living at Moenave. The locals are making money off of land they do not have a right to (unless they have the grazing leases there), and the tribe is not only not getting anything for it, but it is casting them in a bad light. We tried to shake off the feeling, but couldn't. Instead we headed for Cameron for Navajo Tacos, then back to Page. 300 miles of driving, mostly before noon, to see sights few others have. An awesome trip - I need to get back out there, and especially hit the badlands around Rock Head. I think I'll wait until the weather cools off some though!
    Painted Desert
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Checked out pretty much all tourist areas on the north and central parts of the park. These include:

    • Tawa & Kachina points: 1.3 mi.
    • Puerco Pueblo: 0.5 mi.
    • Newspaper Rock: 0.1 mi.
    • Blue Mesa: 1.0 mi.
    • Agate Bridge: 0.2 mi.
    • Jasper Forest: 0.1 mi.
    • Crystal Forest: 0.3 mi. (didn't finish trail)

    Blue Mesa was a particularly interesting hike, as it takes you down into the area to hike a short loop.

    Hope to finish the sites on the south end sometime down the road...
    Painted Desert
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Hike out to an area near FlatTops to camp overnight and explore the area. Incredible collection of pottery sherds were seen - many different styles in a sibgle location. Left wondering what brought them all together in a single area - perhaps an ancient trading post or potters market ? Also had the opportunity to see some great examples of petroglyphs. Threating rainclouds made us cut short the exploration and head to the ashphalt back to our vehicles. Rob provided some great insight into what and why ....a fun weekend.
    Painted Desert
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    The Third Semi-annual Painted Painted Desert Rendezvous
    What a trip! I joined the group late at the southern Visitor's Center - I had gotten away from Page about 15 minutes late, and took a shortcut through Hopi that added 30 minutes to my drive time. Ugh. But I pulled up into the parking lot and everyone was there - Randal ready to shake my hand, Ambika and Jason gearing up and Eric nearby. Good to see everyone there and not too pissed about my delay. Without further delay it's into the VC to get our permit and then we're on the road to the trailhead. Unloading and reloading gear in the parking area under the wary gaze of passing tourists in rental RVs and Uhauls towing boats, and then we're on our way towards our dayhike destination - Mountain Lion Mesa.

    Following some vague directions and slightly better map information, we headed towards MLM via possibly the most convoluted route possible. No matter, the name of the game is exploration. Down caliche slopes, across sandy badlands, past eroding fossil logs and dessicated dung, onward over hills and wash bottoms. Detour at a prominent butte to scout for 'glyphs; success. Eric's first glyphs, and they're not half-bad either - snake, lizards, and a woman on a nicely varnished south-facing slope. A little bit of a scramble to get up to them, but that's the Painted Desert for you. Scrounging around on top yields more clues about the ancients; scraper, more 'glyphs, and a commanding view.

    Back down the steepest possible route. No broken ankles/tibiae/fibulae/femora. I'll call that good enough. Back to the wash bottom, back to the trek. Past the Gateway to Mordor, and up yet another nameless caliche draw onto the sandy mesa. Randal spots a "fossilized" mushroom. Mushrooms? Out here? Soon others are located - apparently not as uncommon as I thought. We cross a drainage basin where all different colors of pebbles have collected, the water leaching through the sand, leaving the rocks it carried behind. No two alike, save in size. Almost uniformly the size of your thumbnail.

    The sandy mesa top stretches on forever until we reach the End of the World, sandstone caprock giving way to thin air. Another maze of dry stream courses, and in the distance a low boulder-studded ridge. "My gut tells me that's the place," I announce, pointing to the line of rock across the basin. "And what does your head say?" Randall asks. I shrug and reply, "I can only say that it looks similar to pictures I've seen. But my gut says this is the place."

    Indeed it is. The low outcropping is covered with rock art, and the southern edge is also speckled with potsherds. The designs increase in numbers and complexity as we continue along the escarpment, each causing a cry of excitement from our party members. "Wow! Look at that!" "Wild!" "Intense!" The walkabout reaches a peak at the Starvation Man boulder. Overseen by the Megaface perched on the cliff, the room-sized boulder at the base of the cliff is entirely covered with all kinds of 'glyphs, from abstract lines to detailed figures like the skeletal Ogre Kachina, Rabbit Kokopelli, and the Hand Stick. Amazing designs and so much packed into one small space. Lots of time spent poking around this area, especially as the light gets "nice" as the afternoon progresses. Then its back along the opposite face of the mesa, spotting a mountain lion 'glyph. Very appropriate. Then its back down to the vehicles by a different route, intersecting the road just before our vehicles. Drinks and snacks, and we bid adieu to Randal and Eric. Ambika, Jason, and myself make a quick bathroom break at the Visitor's Center, and we're back on the trail, this time with our overnight gear on our backs, just as the sun begins setting. More of the same up-and-down from the morning, except this time with decreasing light. Down around the point, skirting mesas, buttes, and arroyos alike, we arrive in the idylic basin that the 2nd SAPDR first located last fall. With light from the 3/4 moon we set up camp and sat down to dinner; lasagna all around. The temperature began to drop rapidly, and not long after dinner is finished we retire to our tents under a cloudless, starry sky.

    We wake to a cloudy sky with building winds. From a nearby pass I can see clouds to the southwest moving in rapidly, some trailing rain. And the Chinle is no fun to hike in if it's raining. After a brief breakfast we pack up our gear. The plan - head to Pottery Hill, do a little scouting, and loop back to the road.

    The drainage on the side of Pottery Hill whets whistles, sherds of corrugated, black-on-white, black-on-red, and even polychromes laying about. And the size and frequency increases the closer we get to the hill. Huge sherds, larger than my palm, bits of mano. Then we come to crowning piece - Mike's Ladle, the ladle that Mike found the previous year is still there, still in the same spot.

    We take the hillside up and poke around the other side of Pottery Hill - more sherds, more flakes, more manos, more 'glyphs. Amazing. We head along the side of the mesa and drop into another drainage. More 'glyphs, including a life-sized man, possibly relieving himself. Unique. Then it's back to the road, then Holbrook for lunch at the excellent Maestra's. Nix the Chavez Pass Pueblo plan for today, and we go our separate ways. I'm already looking forward to the spring and the 4th Semi-Annual Painted Desert Rendezvous!
    Painted Desert
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Painted Desert Rendezvous 2008

    Eric (aka Erock)
    Ambika (aka desertgirl)
    Jason (aka ???)
    Rob (aka PageRob)
    6.34 miles in ~ 6 hrs
    1 mile of Rainbow Forest Loop waiting for Rob


    Finally hit the road Friday evening by 7pm to meet my daughter in Flagstaff for a late dinner at Oregano's and delivery of a requisite "care package" from home. Arrived at the Wigwam Motel base camp in Holbrook after midnight and just had to check out all the Route 66 memorabilia and 50's kitsch before hitting the sack.

    SIDE NOTE: Know there's some controversy about this motel's "recommendation", but for $50 a night and half the price of the local Holiday Inn Express, it's clean, it's functional, there's heat, and the showers work. In a world dominated by corporate cookie-cutter McDonald's, Starbucks, et al, I know I'll always appreciate an original...

    After a hearty breakfast at Joe and Aggie's Café, made my way to the PEFO South Visitor's Center to meet up with Eric (aka Erock), Ambika (aka desertgirl), Jason (aka ???), and Rob (PageRob). With Rainbow Forest Unit permits in hand, we parked are vehicles at mile marker 24 in the Flattops and began our trek to Mountain Lion Mesa.

    Our group pours over the ledge and into a dry wash following a generally northerly path. We pass fanciful rock formations with a palette of colours worthy of the name "painted desert". As my GPS indicates we are approaching the 1 mile mark and we've yet to locate our first sherd or rock art example, Rob points out a small flattop mesa to our immediate east capped with flat rock and desert varnish. We scramble up the scree slopes to a promising group of boulders and voila - our first rock art examples of the day...

    We soon find other rock art examples and then an ancient cutting tool complete with hand grip and tell-tale worked edges. Rob gives us the historical low down on how we're following an ancient north-south trade route between the White Mountains and the LCR Salt Trail as well as an east-west trade route between the Rio Grande and LCR Salt Trail. We all speculate on the rock art meaning...

    We surf the scree down from the small flattop and into a large wash heading north towards Mountain Lion Mesa. Rob picks out some fossilized phytosaur vertebrae bones from the wash and shares with us the true paleontologist method for determining fossils from plain old rock - the lick test... If it sticks to your tongue, it's a fossil, if it doesn't, it's just a rock!

    At Mountain Lion Mesa archeology survey markers offer great clues to the location of the many rock art panels. We circle the mesa and make our way back to the PEFO roadway. Back at the vehicles snacks and beverages await us while the shadows grow long and an orange glowing sunset punctuates the end of the day.

    Thanks Rob for setting this up - looking forward to another one. Great time meeting Eric and Jason. Ambika - would like to do that Friends of Arizona Highways photo hike of Canyon de Chelly some time soon...

    PS. Rob, page 56 of "Tapamveni - Rock Art Galleries of Petrified Forest and Beyond" by McCreery and Malotki indicates;

    ...a multiroom site atop Mountain Lion Mesa...

    Painted Desert
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Coal Mine Canyon

    3 days
    9 hiking trails
    543 photos
    967.6 miles
    La Posada Hotel in Winslow AZ as base camp

    This was the number one reason for planning this multi-hike excursion into Navajo and Hopi lands. Ever since I saw the HAZ hike description and photos posted by Ben and Krey, I was hooked and knew I had to visit...

    I was concerned with finding the trail head since all references to Coal Mine Canyon site the lack of signage. Mile Marker 337 and 338 are quite visible and you can spot the distinctive windmill from Hwy 264. The dirt road was frozen and snow covered, but easily traversed by my F-150. Any thaw and I'm sure the resulting mucky-muck is impassable.

    When we arrived at the picnic tables with BBQ pits trail head, we were not alone. Another couple was just wrapping up a photo shoot and were ladden with equipment trekking back to their SUV.

    We explored the rim and followed a couple of paths down into the canyon. Lynn and I also checked out the mining remains along the north side of the rim.

    References to Coal Mine Canyon all make mention of the purported resident ghosts. The following quotes appeared in an Arizona Republic article by Sam Lowe on January 7th, 2007;

    But those who plan to spend the night should know about "the ghosts."

    Stories are told by Native Americans and others who claim that, on certain nights when the moonlight dances across the hoodoos, a white mist rises from the bottom of the canyon and forms the shape of a beautiful young woman.

    Some say the apparition is that of a Navajo woman who was walking along the rim with her husband and small child. The man and child stumbled and fell to their deaths. The grief-stricken wife went back to the spot every night for the rest of her life, and her ghost returns when the moon is full.

    Another legend tells of a different tragedy: A young man ventured into the canyon on the eve of his wedding. His bride-to-be followed but never found him. She continues her search as a milky apparition that walks along the canyon rim on moonlighted nights.

    The men who mine coal here also have reported strange happenings. They say they hear knocking sounds when they work at night, and if they look into the canyon, they see an aura, which means someone has just died.

    In her book Arizona Twilight Tales: Good Ghosts, Evil Spirits & Blue Ladies (Pruett Publishing Co., 2000, $16.95), Jane Eppinga writes that Hopis believe the figure is of a woman who became deranged more than 100 years ago and died when she fell into the canyon while trying to reach out to spirits. Her people buried her in the canyon, but on the fourth day after her death, she climbed out of her grave and now appears occasionally in the moonlight.

    Eppinga also writes that Navajos bring their sick to Coal Mine Canyon because they believe that if the misty woman dances to the north, the sick person will be cured and good things will happen. But if she dances to the south, misfortune and death are likely to follow.

    So when you visit Coal Mine Canyon, enjoy the view and take lots of photos. But if you go at night, well . . .

    Ben mentions in the HAZ hike description additional Moenkopi Canyons - Coal, Ha-Ho-No-Geh, Bat, and Blue. If these additonal canyons have half the sights Coal Mine Canyon offered, I'm going to have to check them out! Think this may be a future combination hike/back-pack adventure I'll have to research...

    For the record, the 9 hiking trails include...

    1. Beale Wagon Road
    2. Homolovi (Sunset crossing)
    3. Onyx Bridge
    4. Rainbow Forest
    5. Painted Desert
    6. Hopi Three Mesas
    7. Coal Mine Canyon
    8. Rock Art Ranch
    9. Chevelon Canyon
    Painted Desert
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    Little Painted Desert County Park (aka Hwy 87 Painted Desert Rim Trail)

    3 days
    9 hiking trails
    543 photos
    967.6 miles
    La Posada Hotel in Winslow AZ as base camp

    A hiking sojourn on the way to Navajo and Hopi lands...

    This is a derelict stop located along an old alignment of Hwy 87 about 15 miles north of Winslow. Found an abandoned trail leading from the rim down to the desert floor complete with staircases (albeit some washed out). I'll post the GPS route

    Only thing stopping this hike from being a "5" are the ever present beer bottles!

    Picked up bits and pieces of information about a Painted Desert location called Dinosaur Canyon. I'm unaware at this time if this is connected to the Tuba City Dinosaur Tracks site Think this may be an excuse (I actually may have a dozen excuses) for a return visit to the region...
    Painted Desert
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    2nd Semi-Annual Painted Desert Rendezvous

    The 2nd Semi-Annual Painted Desert Rendezvous went off fabulously this weekend. Matt, Liz, Doug, Rhonda, Mike, and Wally, plus myself did an overnight backpack out in the Painted Desert. We were joined the first day by my friend Graci, a ranger at the Grand Canyon, and her friend Kara. We found tons and tons of amazing stuff all over the place, everywhere we looked. Started out kinda slow. Some sherds, a phytosaur tooth. Then Matt found the first petroglyph panel. That kicked it off. Then there was the snakeskin. Then the next petroglyph panel. Made it into a basin, dropped our packs, and began to explore. Climbed a mesa nearby, and found amazing things. Pottery by the bushel, pithouses, manos sitting in metates. Saw a small King Snake. Thought it was all very cool. Scrambled down, saw a few more glyphs, and then came on "Pottery Hill," possibly one of the coolest sites ever. Potsherds everywhere. Big sherds. And all decorated, or very tight corrugations. A few more manos and metates. Rims. More 'glyphs. Windy like crazy. Mike pulled off the find of the day with a 50% complete ladle. Handle was intact, bowl was about 25% there. Totally blew me away. Made our way down to camp. More 'glyphs.
    Woke up the next morning, and Mike, Wayne, and myself (later joined by Matt) returned to Pottery Hill, and then climbed a nearby peak. Doug, Rhonda, and Liz took off, to rendezvous later out in the desert. Went back to camp, saddled up, and headed back out into the moonscape. Wandered some more. Found some really strange agate ridges (not petrified logs), and then started making our way back to the trucks. Found some more glyphs. Another phytosaur tooth. Just before getting back to the vehicles, I came across a pot eroding out of the hillside. Next ridge over, we found parts of fossil pine cones. Awesome awesome trip. Can't wait for the 3rd Semi-Annual Trip next spring!

    Permit $$
    information is in description

    Map Drive
    Info is below 'Directions to trail'

    To hike
    Access varies and road conditions range from paved to strictly 4x4.
    3 pack - loud whistle
    safety first
    help comment issue

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