7/5 Thursday

We checked out of the motel in Durango and headed downtown to look around the shops. Around 11:30, we left Durango and headed to Albuquerque. We stopped at a Subway for lunch along the way.

We arrived in Albuquerque around 3:30 and headed for the Sandia Mountain Tram. At 2.5 miles, it is the longest aerial tram in the world. It lifts travelers over 4000 feet into the air to Sandia Peak to a total height of around 10,400 feet.

Unfortunately, is was shut down due to bad weather. So we decided to try it later after a trip to the Petroglyphs National Monument.

After a short visit with the petroglyphs, we checked in to our motel, and headed back to the tram since the weather was looking better. This time, it was running, so we caught a 5:45 ride up the mountain.

After a brief look around, we went on a hike to the north along the crest trail. We stopped at the Kiwanis house for some pictures. This is a stone room build by the CCC in the 1920’s as a rest stop for hikers. After that we continued north to the next scenic overlook. Then we headed back south to find some supper. The total hike was about 4 miles.

When we returned to the tram area, we made a reservation for the High Finance Restaurant that is connected to the tram landing. We had to wait about 20 minutes for a table. The service was very slow, but with views like that from the
top of the mountain, who cares. The food was good, but perhaps a little overpriced.

After a good meal we headed to the tram stop. So had a lot of other people, so we had to wait about 45 minutes to catch the last tram down the mountain.

We got back to the motel about 11:15 p.m. after a great evening.

7/4 Wednesday

After breakfast at the motel, we headed north on the San Juan Skyway toward Silverton. We stopped at the trailhead for the Pass Creek Trail to Engineer Mountain just past the ??? Rest Stop.

We had read that this was a great summer hike bacause it leads to a meadow that has a lot of flowers in bloom in July and August. The trail started at about 11,000 feet. We began at 10:45 a.m. After 2.5 miles, at about 12,000 feet, we came to what the locals call “the big rock.” We at our packed lunch there. There were some light sprinkles and some lightning on the other side of Engineer Mountain, so we watched the weather very closely. After things cleared up a bit, we continued up the mountain to the first major landing after the big rock. The trail was steep at that point, and there was also a lot of snow/slush to make things more difficult. The weather was still looking iffey, so we turned back at that point.

The meadow was spectacular with the flowers, and the view from the meadow and further up the mountain was also great. It was really a good hike. We went about 6 miles roundtrip and up about 1500 feet.

After the hike, we continued north through Silverton and up to Ouray. The skyway going into Ouray is really spectacular. We stopped in Ouray for a snack, and returned to Durango around 6:00 p.m.

We cleaned up from the hike, and headed to downtown for supper and fireworks. We ate at the Tanqueria right on Main Avenue. It was a very festive place with good service and good food. After that, we shopped at the few shops that were open on the holiday, and headed to the area to view the fireworks.

The fireworks lasted about 35 minutes. It was a pretty good show.

Then we returned to the motel around 10:00 p.m.

7/3 Tuesday

We checkout out of our Cortez, Co motel and headed to Mesa Verde NP early in order to be at the Visitors’ Center by 8:00 a.m. when they opened. We got tickets for the tours at Balcony Place and Cliff Palace. After viewing the intro movie at the Museum, we did Balcony Place at 9:00. Then we visited several of the self guided sites on Chapin Mesa. We had a picnic lunch near the Museum and continued from there to visit more of the sites.

The heat was extreme, and we were running out of motiviation to continue visiting sites, so we went back to the museum to look at the exhibits and the Spruce Tree House until our 4:00 p.m. tour of Cliff Palace.

After the Cliff Palace tour, we headed to Durango. We checked in to our motel, then went to the downtown section for supper. We ate at Steamboats Brewery and returned to the motel.

7/2 Monday

We went on a 3.5 hour tour of Monument Valley beginning at 9:00 a.m. In addition to the main monuments, the tour also visited several restricted areas farther into the Navajo reservation.

Being in Monument Valley in person is quite different than seeing the buttes and mesas in a TV commercial or an old western movie. The feeling created by the size and stature of the monuments is quite humbling.  After the tour, we headed to Four Corners via Kayenta, where we ate lunch at Golden Sands Cafe. Once at the Four Corners Monument, we did the usual tourist thing where someone stands in all four states simultaneously while another takes a picture. We also visited several of the Navajo merchants that surround the monument. So we got to shop in four states, also.

We arrived in Cortez, CO, around 4:30. After checking in at the motel, we went the vistors’ center for information. In addition to information about Mesa Verde NP, they pointed us to the Cortez Cultural Center for some night activities.

So, after supper at the Dry Dock, we headed there. There was an hour-long program of Navajo dance, followed by an hour-long talk by one of the surviving Navajo code talkers from World War II. Both programs were very interesting.

7/1 Sunday

After checking out of the motel, we went to the Vistor’s Center at Capitol Reef National Park. Capitol Reef is the least visited national park in Utah. We decided to do the most popular trail in the park, the Hickman Bridge Trail, which was 2 miles round trip. After that, we did the scenic drive of the park which was cool. Then we looked at some petroglyphs in the rocks.

We got lunch in Hanksville at Blondies. We got gas at a gas station there too. The gas station was built into a rock. Then we went to Natural Bridge National Monument. It had 3 natural bridges in it. We hiked down to 2 of them and saw the 3rd one from the overlook. The trails were neat and different.  One had a ladder on it made from tree limbs.
We continued our trip to Monument Valley. We checked in and ate super at the restaurant in our motel. We both got Navajo tacos. Dad ate just about all of his but I didn’t eat all of mine. We watched an introduction movie to Monument Valley. It wasn’t really that good. It was mostly pics but not alot of words. I was expecting more information from it.

After that we drove around to watch the sunset and take pics. Then back to the motel.

6/30 Saturday

We went on a one-hour scenic rim tour on horseback at 9:00 a.m.. The stable was right across the street from Ruby’s Inn, so that was convenient. It was an easy ride, but served as a good introduction to riding for Teagan, and a refresher for Richard (who hadn’t been on a horse in about 50 years).

We checked out of the motel around 11:00 and headed to Escalante to stop at the Visitor’s Center for the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument (GSENM). We got some hiking information from the center. Then we ate lunch at a diner in Escalante.

Next we went to Devil’s Garden. It is located 15 miles along a dirt/gravel road out of Escalante. It had lots hoodoos that we could hike to and explore.

We returned to Scenic Byway 12 and headed to Calf Creek Falls Trail. The trail was 3 miles each way to a 100+ foot waterfall. The trail went through a beautiful canyon carved out by the creek. The trail was very sandy, so he hiking was difficult. We started the hike at 3:15 p.m. It took us 90 minutes to get to the fall. It was cooler when we returned, which took us 70 minutes.

Next, we went to Boulder and took Burr Trail Road into GSENM. After 11 miles, there was a slot canyon we explored. Then we returned to Boulder for supper at Boulder Mesa Cafe.

After supper, we continued along Highway 12 until we got to Torrey, where we spent the night.