#TravelingTalleys visit the Four Corners and Monument Valley #TalleyYourAdventure #FourCorners #MonumentValley #NavajoNation

Only a few hours from Page is an area in the Colorado Plateau region where the boundaries of four states meet and are marked ironically with the title Four Corners Monument. Clinton and I have visited this area two times to date – once in 2011 when we were working in Bullfrog, and in 2019 working here in Page. What a journey it has been! The Four Corners is mainly a tourist destination to mark the southwestern corner of Colorado, the southeastern corner of Utah, northeastern corner of Arizona, and the northwestern corner of New Mexico. Most of the region belongs to Native American nations such as Navajo Nation, but also including Hopi, Ute, and Zuni. Depending on the time of year, it is either $5 or $10 per person to enter Four Corners and be aware that the road is basically a dirt road, including the parking lot. They do a good job of keeping it maintained but there aren’t any markings on the dirt so be aware of vehicles around you. The actual “four corners” is a circle with a X in the middle marking each state. Four platforms (one in each state!) allow someone to take a picture from above to get each state and the person in the shot. Be aware: There will probably be a line but it may not be too bad. We’ve gone in the off season and during the busy season and each time we rarely waited longer than 5 minutes. Maybe we were lucky, but we also don’t deal with people who cut the line. Mostly we like the amazing fry bread you can purchase from the vendors who are only a few yards away from the “four corners” (they make it with honey, sugar, or cinnamon – YUM!) and the jewelry vendors. Usually I buy something handmade and enjoy some fry bread before hitting the road again. Take the diversion if you are in the area. It’s a nice place to visit and have a snack!

Driving further into Navajo Nation you’ll eventually stumble upon Monument Valley – though you should probably just add it to your bucket list now! From Page it is about three hours away by car and is an amazing drive. It doesn’t matter if you are trying to time it for sunrise, sunset, or middle of the day. We’ve driven it through different times of the year and day and it is breathtaking each time. First you start to see the monuments in the distance. As you get closer and closer the definition starts to show and you see the individual monuments for all their glory. Visiting the monument will put you back $20 for a vehicle with four people ($6 each additional passenger) but I think it’s worth the money. The first time we visited we don’t remember having the ability to drive the loop through the monuments, but the last time we actually went through the loop and got closer to the monuments than we did before! There is a visitor center with a restaurant and gift shop, plus a lovely viewpoint to see the monuments. The loop is a bit rough, at least for us in our Honda Accord, so be aware of what is going on and the time of year. I’m not sure what type of situation you’d be in if it was during monsoon season. Each time we visited it was no big deal and we always had a good time at the visitor center. It didn’t seem to change much between 2011 and 2018 but nonetheless it was a spectacular view. If you don’t want to actually visit the visitor center you can take 163 from Page to Mexican Hat and drive right by the monuments and still get an amazing view. There are tons of visitors regardless of your decision so be patient and watch for those who might not understand American rules of the road. Share the road as well! Hitchhiking is common as is randomly pulling over to take a picture of the view…even if there isn’t a pull off. Don’t tailgate and follow the speed limit. During dusk, be aware that people might be walking in the road and they might not have anything on to indicate it. We’ve never had a problem but we focus as a team when we drive through the area near and at night because of the normal “tourist” pattern we’ve discovered through our travels this past year. 🙂 

#TalleyYourMiles Hiking @Toadstool Hoodoos in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument

In 2019 Clinton and I set a goal of 219 miles hiked in a year, under the “campaign” slogan of #TalleyYourMiles. To encourage you to #GetOutdoors I’ll highlight a few of our favorite hikes and hope you’ll go out yourself and find your own connection to these amazing public lands!One of our favorite spots is a unique, easy hike in Utah called the Toadstool Hoodoos. It is over 1.5 miles out and back to a beautiful opening with many hoodoos dotting the landscape. We’ve only begun to explore the area though as there are infinite possibilities when viewing the landscape and exploring. The hike starts right off US 89 between Big Water and Kanab Utah. A parking lot right at the trail head along with a wayside gives you plenty of information and a safe place to start hiking, even with a group or dogs. Make sure to keep the doggies on the leash! We brought both of our dogs and they loved it. There are usually plenty of people hiking the trail so if you want to be alone schedule your time for winter – we’ve even encountered people in the middle of the night. Not that this is a bad thing! But this hike is pretty easy, and when combined with the beauty and uniqueness everyone is able to view this incredible landscape. If you planned to come out and take professional looking pictures be aware that people will be in the way, and will not understand flashlight rules in the dark. 🙂

Hoodoos, also called a pedestal rock, is not necessarily in the same family as a balanced rock. A balanced rock is a naturally occurring geological formation resting on other rocks, bedrock, or glacial till. Because no single definition exists the term balanced rock has been applied to many formations of rock features, one being the pedestal rock. The pedestal rock is a single continuous rock form with a small base leading up to a larger crown, looking much like a mushroom. How did the rock get this way you ask? Wind, moisture, and the combination of chemical weathering (don’t think for a second that chemicals in the air don’t affect our lovely rock structures!) easily help erode these sand structures. 

The hike itself only takes about an hour and the elevation is minimal. Starting at the trailhead, you head straight back through walls of white sandstone before the area opens into a large flat plane…except for the amazing hoodoos that seem to be hidden everywhere! A large impressive set meets you after about a mile, but keep walking back and around to see the many different views from different angles. Each glance will bring you a whole new perspective! The area is immense and if you walk back further you’ll get away from the possible crowds and have a few hoodoos all to yourself!

When traveling through the west make sure to take your time when traveling from point to point. You don’t want to drive by a quick hike that will leave you with amazing, lasting memories! This hike may have only added a few miles to our #TalleyYourMiles adventures, but it is one of our favorites. Keep here to read more amazing hikes and places to visit while driving across the country!

#BacktoBasics: Re-visiting Washington State for vacation + meet up with #TravelingFriends = #FindYourPark @Olympic National Park <3

Clinton and I always enjoy when we can go back to our home states and meet up with family and friends. We enjoy our time immensely when our family and friends are willing to #TalleyYourAdventure with us. We were able to travel back to Washington State where Clinton is from, but this time visit Seattle as a launching point for Olympic National Park
Our Washintonian friend Erika is pretty cool – she’s willing to drive from (basically) Spokane to Seattle just to pick us up and drive with us to Olympic National Park. Before we left, we secured an Airbnb in Port Angeles. Since Erika provided the ride, we provided the lodging; and since we were on vacation we made sure to spoil ourselves a bit! We rented a great little house with a steam shower and dry sauna for the one night we stayed and it was absolutely worth it! Take your time searching for a location to stay. Much like any expensive city that is not the easiest to get to, there may be areas of town that aren’t the best or are overly expensive but there is always a gem to be found! It took us a few days to find this place and once it opened we jumped on it. We’ve, for the most part, had good luck with Airbnb and definitely recommend it as a means for travel or visiting an area to see if you want to move to the area.

The first night of our trip we arrived in the afternoon, checked into the hotel in Seattle, and took to the streets. I’ve stayed in Seattle before, both for work and travel, and so has Clinton so we knew our basic way around the city. Eating salmon or clam chowder, easily finding an amazing sushi place, and excellent coffee – all staples of Seattle! We’ve been to the touristy places before such as the Space Needle, this time we were entirely focused on Olympic National Park. We had a long weekend (4 days) with two half travel days and didn’t want to miss any opportunities for adventures! Erika planned to meet us early the next day and we scheduled to be on the ferry across the Puget Sound to Bremerton so we weren’t spending most of our time in the car. It was a great trip – we love when we are on the water! Like I’ve stated before, the #TravelingTalleys are big supporters of public and alternative forms of transportation when possible. Our ferry trip was only an hour, but we were able to load the vehicle on the ferry and walk around and see downtown Seattle disappear as we headed away from the city.

Once we arrived on the other side and disembarked via vehicle, we drove towards Olympic National Park. The park is huge – almost 1 million acres of land – and is spread out from the coastline facing Seattle on the east to the west coast facing the Pacific Ocean. Traveling from one side to the other requires more than just the 1.5 day experience we had planned so we condensed our visit to one specific coastal location and a visitor center. Our beach goal was Ruby Beach, heading down 101 from Port Angeles and taking the northerly route on the way back through 113. We visited the visitor center in Port Angeles and in Hurricane Ridge. Erika was game for driving instead of trying to do hikes (April wasn’t the warmest time to visit Washington, even if Olympic is part rain forest!) which is a recommended way of visiting the park if you don’t have a lot of time or come off season and the weather doesn’t cooperate as much.

Olympic National Park actually has four different regions: the Pacific coastline, alpine area, temperate rain forest, and the drier forests on the east side. The park also hosts three distinct ecosystems: sub-alpine forest, temperate forest, and the Pacific coast. Don’t forget the wildflower meadow! While we were too early for a wildflower display the changes in the ecosystems was evident even with just a drive from Port Angeles to Ruby Beach. It is a long drive though, so if you don’t want to travel there and back in a day make sure to try and find lodging closer to Ruby Beach, such as Forks, so that you can stay the night closer to that area and make your way back the next day. Olympic National Park was originally designated Mount Olympus National Monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1938 and in 1988 Congress designated 95% of the park as the Olympic Wilderness. This is evident immediately when viewing a map because a visitor can’t really drive right up to the mountains like in many other parks, but there are many opportunities to hike.While we were visiting our destination was the sandy beach of Ruby Beach. Different than the beaches I was use to growing up in Florida, Ruby Beach had rougher, rockier sand and large outcroppings of rock structures to play on while the tide came in. Thick groves of trees were adjacent to the sand, which made walking to the beach even more fun since it was through part of the forest. There is massive amounts of driftwood on the beaches and in the surf, so be careful, but definitely take the time to get out of the car and view the beauty of the Pacific Ocean! It was cold but that didn’t stop us from climbing on the solid looking driftwood and the rocks near the surf while we watched the tide come in slowly. 

While we didn’t have the time to visit the mountains, that didn’t mean we didn’t try to stop whenever we could for a photo op or just to view. The Olympic Mountains include the 7,965 ft Mount Olympus, the greatest glaciation mountain of any non-volcanic peak in the contiguous United States (outside the North Cascades). Several glaciers dot the Olympic Mountains including the Hoh Glacier, which is over 3 miles in length. We also didn’t have the time for a hike through the temperate rainforest, but we did drive through part of it and enjoy the view as much as possible. With an annual precipitation of 150 inches and including the Hoh Rainforest and Quinault Rainforest, this area is one of the wettest areas in the continental United States. Beautiful SItka Spruce, Western Hemlock, and Coast Douglas-fir surround most of your drive to Ruby Beach. Between the sights and smells, the trip was absolutely a perfect reunion with Erika!

On our way back to Seattle we were able to reconnect with part of Clinton’s family, including his Uncle and Aunt (hello if you are reading!). Friends, family, and a new national park? What a great trip for the #TravelingTalleys! Even if you only have four or five days a quick trip to another region of the world is doable for any type of traveler. Just do your research, make sensible decisions rooted in reality, and ALWAYS tell someone your game plan. We had so much fun visiting Washington and hope this post encourages you to #GetOutdoors and #FindYourPark, wherever you live!

%d bloggers like this: