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The Beauty of Northern Arizona

Updated on June 24, 2013

Places Famous and Obscure in Northern Arizona

If I had the money, I'd rent a small place in Flagstaff and live there several months. There is so much beauty in northern Arizona, and this would give me leisurely access to all of it. Although I never had a lot of time in one place, most people don't ever get to visit these places at all, and for this reason, I share my photographs, so people can enjoy what I have seen.

Northern Arizona has many, many scenic places. My favorite is Antelope Canyon, but there are many others:

Grand Canyon

Monument Valley - yes, that is mostly in northern Arizona, though it is accessed from Utah

Painted Desert

Petrified Forest

Sunset Crater

and some lesser known places I will share.

When I find the photos, I will also show you Meteor Crater, Jerome, Montezuma's Castle, Montezuma's Well, and Tuzigoot Ruins. As you can see, I have spent many days in the area, and have much to share.

For the purpose of this lens, I will consider Prescott to be in the center of Arizona, so all the scenic places will be in Prescott or north of Prescott, as well as a few places slightly south. In addition to scenic places, I will show a few other features.

I hope you enjoy your visit!

All photos are mine. This peak is on the route to Monument Valley.

Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon located on the Dineh reservation near Page, Arizona. A slot canyon is a canyon which is so narrow that most of the time, sunlight does not directly penetrate into the canyon. The only time sunlight touches the floor of Antelope Canyon is in summer, an hour either side of midday.

To get to upper Antelope Canyon, you must have a tour guide. My favorite tour guide is Charly Moore. He is one of the nicest people I have ever met. He will definitely treat you right. He also owns and runs the Thunderbird Gallery in Page.

The Dineh themselves manage lower Antelope Canyon. You pay a fee, and they allow you to proceed on your own, though they will provide a guide.

Notice how sun and shadow produce different colors on the reddish rocks of the canyon.

Lower Antelope Canyon

This is the only photo in this lens from Lower Antelope Canyon. All the rest are from Upper Antelope Canyon. This photo is located close to some stairs that climb several stories worth, to help a person climb out of the canyon on the downriver side.

Upper Antelope Canyon

This is close to the entrance. A scene like this is one reason some people consider the canyon to resemble a cathedral. I concur.

Canyon with Ray

The sun has penetrated to the floor of the canyon. It was windy and dusty that day, which really brings out the rays.

Antelope Canyon Rays

These are the sort of rays that people are really trying to see and capture. This was a real blessing!

You can see more about Antelope Canyon here: Antelope Canyon - Abstract Landscapes.

Grand Staircase - Escalante

This relatively newly minted national area is mostly in Utah, but the entrance is on the Arizona side of the border. This tree is close to the border, so I will show it to you here. The rest of the photos I am sharing are in this lens: Scenery in Utah.

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It draws visitors from all over the world. Two groups in particular are especially prone to visit: Germans and Japanese. At this location and others in Arizona, I have heard each of their languages spoken. Sometimes I have fun saying something to someone in his own language. It always evokes surprise. :)

This collection includes both shots from the south rim, and aerial shots. Unfortunately, the day I took some of these pictures, it was hazy from a nearby forest fire, so the colors are not as brilliant as I hoped.

Grand Canyon Photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Aerial view.Another aerial view.The final aerial view. The colors amazed me.This plaque is near the entrance of a round building built centuries ago, which has been renovated into a visitor's center with outlooks. I love this plaque!I'm a sucker for gnarly trees.
Aerial view.
Aerial view.
Another aerial view.
Another aerial view.
The final aerial view. The colors amazed me.
The final aerial view. The colors amazed me.
This plaque is near the entrance of a round building built centuries ago, which has been renovated into a visitor's center with outlooks. I love this plaque!
This plaque is near the entrance of a round building built centuries ago, which has been renovated into a visitor's center with outlooks. I love this plaque!
I'm a sucker for gnarly trees.
I'm a sucker for gnarly trees.

Glen Canyon

Like the Grand Canyon, at the bottom of the canyon is the Colorado River.

To get to Glen Canyon, take US 89 south from Page or north from Flagstaff (in this case, you will pass the road to Grand Canyon first) and turn north on 89a. The road will head north for awhile, and then will make a sharp turn to the left. This is by Lee's Ferry, which is a place that is not at all obvious. Look for a road that turns off to the right. You will see a sign. Take this road. You can drive back into the canyon until you reach the river. There is recreation there, and a nice beach. Some people do river rafting in the river there.

Glen Canyon Photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This is the beach near the Colorado River.Notice the rafters in the center of this photo.This scene occurs shortly after the turnoff.One area has some very large boulders.More large boulders.
This is the beach near the Colorado River.
This is the beach near the Colorado River.
Notice the rafters in the center of this photo.
Notice the rafters in the center of this photo.
This scene occurs shortly after the turnoff.
This scene occurs shortly after the turnoff.
One area has some very large boulders.
One area has some very large boulders.
More large boulders.
More large boulders.

Another Scene in Glen Canyon

This is close to the turnoff as well.

Glen Canyon with Prince's Plume

Wildflowers tend to appear, in northern Arizona, in August more so than in the spring. The bright yellow flowers in the foreground are Prince's Plume - Stanleya pinnata. This is my favorite shot from Glen Canyon.

Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe Bend is a bend in the Colorado River where it bends back on itself. It is north of the Glen Canyon area that I have just discussed, and just a little bit south of Page. On US89, it is easy to miss the turnoff on the right. There is a small dirt parking lot. The walk to the lookout is over some fairly deep loose sand, so it's not an easy walk, though the ground is almost entirely level. It's some fraction of a mile, but I can't tell you how much.

This and another such bend are famous sights for people familiar with Arizona and Utah. These gorges are fairly spectacular and very beautiful.

Photos of Horseshoe Bend

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Walking up to the lookout. The woman shows the vastness of the landscape.The bend. I put some rocks in the foreground. Most readily available images just show the bend, but I think this makes a more interesting compositionA closeup of some of the water.
Walking up to the lookout. The woman shows the vastness of the landscape.
Walking up to the lookout. The woman shows the vastness of the landscape.
The bend. I put some rocks in the foreground. Most readily available images just show the bend, but I think this makes a more interesting composition
The bend. I put some rocks in the foreground. Most readily available images just show the bend, but I think this makes a more interesting composition
A closeup of some of the water.
A closeup of some of the water.

Lockett Meadow

This is a small area in the San Francisco Peaks where there is a grassy meadow (green during the season), surrounded by pines and aspens. It is a peaceful place. To get to it, look for the road to Sunset Crater, and instead of going east, turn west at the very same spot. Then take a right turn at the T intersection.

When you are approaching the meadow, you can see east into the distance, and on a clear day, you can see the Painted Desert, which is about 50 miles away as the crow flies.

Fall Aspens

A scene looking across the meadow at the aspens on the San Francisco Peaks, all golden with fall colors.

Lockett Meadow Photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Summer view, with the pond in the foreground (only there when it has rained recently). See how green it is.After you start to drive the loop around the meadow, you find yourself among the aspens.More aspens.A fall scene with four horses and riders.
Summer view, with the pond in the foreground (only there when it has rained recently). See how green it is.
Summer view, with the pond in the foreground (only there when it has rained recently). See how green it is.
After you start to drive the loop around the meadow, you find yourself among the aspens.
After you start to drive the loop around the meadow, you find yourself among the aspens.
More aspens.
More aspens.
A fall scene with four horses and riders.
A fall scene with four horses and riders.

Do you like the landscapes of Arizona?

Do you like the landscapes of Arizona?

Monument Valley

Monument Valley is a very famous location with well known vistas. It is a tribal park, belonging to the Dineh (Navajo) Indians, and is located predominantly in Arizona, though access is from Utah.

Let's say you start out in Flagstaff. You will take US89 north (or if you are coming from Page, you take US89 south), and go east on US180 for most of the remaining distance. After that, it gets a bit complicated, so ask Google for help. Google also says US180 is temporarily closed. That is a shame, because any other route really goes around Robin Hood's barn for quite a distance.

But if you can figure out how to get there, it's well worth the trip. There is a single motel just south of the Utah border, though expect it to be expensive.

In addition to most people being familiar with some of the hoodoos in the park, many people are familiar with movies that have been made on location there. The most famous buttes are the two mittens. Those are visible just about immediately after you enter the last parking lot before driving the dirt road.

I chose to visit during Wet Summer, hoping to get some wonderful clouds. I got the clouds, all right, on the way. But by the time I got past the mittens, the sky was almost totally overcast. While this gives interesting photo opportunities, I didn't like it as well as I would have liked scattered clouds, blue sky, and more brilliant colors. Perhaps someday I can go back on a better day.

Monument Valley Photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Along the route. The clouds were perfect. Unfortunately, they didn't stay that way. As the day wore on, it became increasingly overcast and dark.Along the route.Heading northeast to Utah.Getting closeOne of the two mittens.Going around the loop...In no particular orderPart of an old tree.
Along the route. The clouds were perfect. Unfortunately, they didn't stay that way. As the day wore on, it became increasingly overcast and dark.
Along the route. The clouds were perfect. Unfortunately, they didn't stay that way. As the day wore on, it became increasingly overcast and dark.
Along the route.
Along the route.
Heading northeast to Utah.
Heading northeast to Utah.
Getting close
Getting close
One of the two mittens.
One of the two mittens.
Going around the loop...
Going around the loop...
In no particular order
In no particular order
Part of an old tree.
Part of an old tree.

A Final view in Monument Valley

I'd like to find out who has visited Arizona, and where they have been.

Where have you been in northern Arizona?

See results

Page, Arizona

and Lake Powell

Page is a small town, right next to Lake Powell. Tourism seems to be their major endeavor. Lake Powell is the second-largest man-made lake in the United States. When they first put in the dam to form the lake, there was a loud outcry about all the beautiful land that would be covered with water, including a number of slot canyons. However, it was done, and the place is just as beautiful, just in a different way.

At the time I was there, the water level was low. I also got some aerial views, which I share here.

Near Page, the Dineh are running a coal-fired power plant. They mine the coal in a nearby mountain and send it to the power plant by conveyor belt. The electricity is sent to California (probably Los Angeles). The plant's pollution control systems are so effective, the only thing the plant gives off is water vapor. Hey, it can be done!

Page and Lake Powell Photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size
It was "spring" when I was there in August. Notice the bright orange-red Desert Mallow in the foreground.Another view of "spring".Aerial view of Lake Powell. The white line along the edge shows that the water level was low.Another aerial view.
It was "spring" when I was there in August. Notice the bright orange-red Desert Mallow in the foreground.
It was "spring" when I was there in August. Notice the bright orange-red Desert Mallow in the foreground.
Another view of "spring".
Another view of "spring".
Aerial view of Lake Powell. The white line along the edge shows that the water level was low.
Aerial view of Lake Powell. The white line along the edge shows that the water level was low.
Another aerial view.
Another aerial view.

A Closeup of Desert Mallow - Page, Arizona

Sphaeralcea ambigua. Also known as Desert Globemallow and Sore Eye Mallow. If you get any of it in your eyes, it makes them sore.

Parker Canyon

There is a significant dam in Parker Canyon. After visiting this dam, I headed south, and saw this view.

The Painted Desert

The Painted Desert is located in eastern Arizona, not far from the Petrified Forest.

Painted Desert Photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A hint of the color to come.The hills are rich in iron oxide. That is what makes the red color. In other words, the hills are rusty!Areas like the Painted Desert are basically badlands. Nothing much grows; the land is barren and eroded.
A hint of the color to come.
A hint of the color to come.
The hills are rich in iron oxide. That is what makes the red color. In other words, the hills are rusty!
The hills are rich in iron oxide. That is what makes the red color. In other words, the hills are rusty!
Areas like the Painted Desert are basically badlands. Nothing much grows; the land is barren and eroded.
Areas like the Painted Desert are basically badlands. Nothing much grows; the land is barren and eroded.

Petrified Forest

Contrary to popular belief, trees can become petrified in just a few years. This happens when the trees are submerged quickly into some kind of hot mineral spring. Quick submersion is required because otherwise the wood would simply rot away.

An experiment was done in which a piece of log was suspended by rope in a mineral spring in Yellowstone. In just four years, the log was partly petrified, and the rope was completely petrified.

Closeup of a Petrified Log

Another Log

Petrified Forest Photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A mesa on the way to the Petrified Forest.Ruins near the Petrified ForestAn area showing scattered pieces of logs.Another view of scattered log pieces.And more log pieces.I think they got the whole tree here!Another log. You begin to see the brilliant colors.Closeup of the colors. They're gorgeous!Another group of hills with log pieces.This area is another badlands area.A final closeup of the colors in the logs.
A mesa on the way to the Petrified Forest.
A mesa on the way to the Petrified Forest.
Ruins near the Petrified Forest
Ruins near the Petrified Forest
An area showing scattered pieces of logs.
An area showing scattered pieces of logs.
Another view of scattered log pieces.
Another view of scattered log pieces.
And more log pieces.
And more log pieces.
I think they got the whole tree here!
I think they got the whole tree here!
Another log. You begin to see the brilliant colors.
Another log. You begin to see the brilliant colors.
Closeup of the colors. They're gorgeous!
Closeup of the colors. They're gorgeous!
Another group of hills with log pieces.
Another group of hills with log pieces.
This area is another badlands area.
This area is another badlands area.
A final closeup of the colors in the logs.
A final closeup of the colors in the logs.

Or you can wait to the very end, or leave comments both places.

Sunset Crater

This cinder cone was formed from a volcanic eruption that took place about a thousand years ago.

Near the crater are examples of several kinds of lava, including, in the Hawai'ian, A'a and Pahoehoe. A'a is rough, while Pahoehoe is smoother. Pahoehoe flowed more easily. Most of what I saw was A'a. Pahoehoe appears not to be as common.

There are ancient trees, which show the violent nature of the eruption; they are dead and twisted, and very appealing to me as a photographer.

I could have hiked to the top, but I wasn't in the mood. There was plenty to see where I was, and I did walk the loop.

Sunset Crater Photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Distant view of the cinder cone.Among several beautiful species of flowers I saw was this Pineywoods Geranium, Geranium caespitosum.This is Palmer's Penstemon, Penstemon palmeri. This is the first time I saw this species.Beyond the fence is a small plot of Common Mullein, Verbascum thapsus, which is a medicinal plant.This is part of a twisted, dead tree.Closeup of the cinders.There is still fire in the sky!
Distant view of the cinder cone.
Distant view of the cinder cone.
Among several beautiful species of flowers I saw was this Pineywoods Geranium, Geranium caespitosum.
Among several beautiful species of flowers I saw was this Pineywoods Geranium, Geranium caespitosum.
This is Palmer's Penstemon, Penstemon palmeri. This is the first time I saw this species.
This is Palmer's Penstemon, Penstemon palmeri. This is the first time I saw this species.
Beyond the fence is a small plot of Common Mullein, Verbascum thapsus, which is a medicinal plant.
Beyond the fence is a small plot of Common Mullein, Verbascum thapsus, which is a medicinal plant.
This is part of a twisted, dead tree.
This is part of a twisted, dead tree.
Closeup of the cinders.
Closeup of the cinders.
There is still fire in the sky!
There is still fire in the sky!

Another View of the Twisted Tree

A crevice in the Lava

Salt River Canyon and Tonto National Forest

This area is divided between the Apache Nation and the federal forests. Salt River Canyon reminds me of the Grand Canyon, though it is not as large. The sunset above the forest was beautiful that night.

Salt River Canyon Photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This is before you get to the canyon area.In no particular order. The clouds were nice that day, too. Most views are from a highway that drops down to a bridge, and runs along the edge of mountains, so you can see into the canyon.And here's that sunset!
This is before you get to the canyon area.
This is before you get to the canyon area.
In no particular order. The clouds were nice that day, too. Most views are from a highway that drops down to a bridge, and runs along the edge of mountains, so you can see into the canyon.
In no particular order. The clouds were nice that day, too. Most views are from a highway that drops down to a bridge, and runs along the edge of mountains, so you can see into the canyon.
And here's that sunset!
And here's that sunset!

San Francisco Peaks

These are the mountains near Flagstaff.

Parts of these burned years ago, and the hillsides are still barren of vegetation for the most part. When the fires come and burn all the plant life, then the soil is no longer held, and the monsoons that follow wash the soil down the mountainside. There is nothing left for plants to grow. In spite of this, there is still much beauty in the mountains.

San Francisco Peaks Photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This is a "spring" photo taken in August. At higher elevations, it doesn't get warm enough for spring flowers until summer, and rain from Wet Summer is needed before they will bloom. This is a field of Sunflowers.Fall aspens.More aspens. Going up the ski lift.Taking the ski lift from the top, you can see the aspens for miles. Unfortunately, extreme drought has killed many of the pine trees.
This is a "spring" photo taken in August. At higher elevations, it doesn't get warm enough for spring flowers until summer, and rain from Wet Summer is needed before they will bloom. This is a field of Sunflowers.
This is a "spring" photo taken in August. At higher elevations, it doesn't get warm enough for spring flowers until summer, and rain from Wet Summer is needed before they will bloom. This is a field of Sunflowers.
Fall aspens.
Fall aspens.
More aspens. Going up the ski lift.
More aspens. Going up the ski lift.
Taking the ski lift from the top, you can see the aspens for miles. Unfortunately, extreme drought has killed many of the pine trees.
Taking the ski lift from the top, you can see the aspens for miles. Unfortunately, extreme drought has killed many of the pine trees.

A Final View of Fall Aspens

Vermilion Cliffs

The Vermilion Cliffs is a huge area west of Page. It extends partly into Utah and covers a tremendous area. I have seen only parts of the outside cliffs. When you drive along the southern route to the west of Page in Utah, they go on for miles to the south of the road.

The pictures I am showing you here start where US89a branches off US89, and extends around again to the south until the road turns west.

Vermilion Cliffs Photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Coming down US89 before the turnoff on US89a.Soon after the turnoff onto US89A. The flowers are Desert Poppies.Road into the Dineh reservation."Beckon into Infinity". That's what I felt when I saw this. The Vermilion Cliffs are on the left.Desert Mallow as far as you can see.Vermilion Cliffs from a distanceBridges at Lee's Ferry. Postcards of these are usually symmetrical, so I took a different angle.This hogan is located near Lee's Ferry. It looks like it was built in modern times because of the straight beams in the doorway.Closeup of a particularly interesting view of the Vermilion Cliffs.
Coming down US89 before the turnoff on US89a.
Coming down US89 before the turnoff on US89a.
Soon after the turnoff onto US89A. The flowers are Desert Poppies.
Soon after the turnoff onto US89A. The flowers are Desert Poppies.
Road into the Dineh reservation.
Road into the Dineh reservation.
"Beckon into Infinity". That's what I felt when I saw this. The Vermilion Cliffs are on the left.
"Beckon into Infinity". That's what I felt when I saw this. The Vermilion Cliffs are on the left.
Desert Mallow as far as you can see.
Desert Mallow as far as you can see.
Vermilion Cliffs from a distance
Vermilion Cliffs from a distance
Bridges at Lee's Ferry. Postcards of these are usually symmetrical, so I took a different angle.
Bridges at Lee's Ferry. Postcards of these are usually symmetrical, so I took a different angle.
This hogan is located near Lee's Ferry. It looks like it was built in modern times because of the straight beams in the doorway.
This hogan is located near Lee's Ferry. It looks like it was built in modern times because of the straight beams in the doorway.
Closeup of a particularly interesting view of the Vermilion Cliffs.
Closeup of a particularly interesting view of the Vermilion Cliffs.

Waterhole Canyon

In another lens, I talk about the weekend we spent as guests of Charly Moore. Because my friend's car wouldn't run, we missed the chance to go to the Coyote Buttes, so Charly took us to this little known canyon on Dineh land. This is south of Page. I wouldn't be able to remember how to get there, since I wasn't driving.

Waterhole Canyon Photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size
If you are familiar with The Wave and the Coyote Buttes, you can probably see a resemblance to these cliffs.
If you are familiar with The Wave and the Coyote Buttes, you can probably see a resemblance to these cliffs.
If you are familiar with The Wave and the Coyote Buttes, you can probably see a resemblance to these cliffs.

Waterhole Canyon - Other views

Wupatki Ruins

The road that leads to Sunset Crater loops around and runs past these ruins. They are believed to have been built by the Sinagua or the Anasazi. "Sinagua" means "without water" in Spanish, and the people were so named because they managed to survive in extreme desert conditions without a significant supply of water.

Wupatki Ruins Photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size
There are several ruined structures in the area. Without trying to figure out which photo belongs to which one, since I don't remember, I'll just scramble them and show you them all.This Collared Lizard was sitting on a rock, and we saw him just as we were leaving. He didn't mind us at all, and I took almost an entire roll of film of him before I got tired. He was a real blessing to my girlfriend, who was going through some stufNot ruins, just boulders in the areaFoundation.View out the window.Another window view.
There are several ruined structures in the area. Without trying to figure out which photo belongs to which one, since I don't remember, I'll just scramble them and show you them all.
There are several ruined structures in the area. Without trying to figure out which photo belongs to which one, since I don't remember, I'll just scramble them and show you them all.
This Collared Lizard was sitting on a rock, and we saw him just as we were leaving. He didn't mind us at all, and I took almost an entire roll of film of him before I got tired. He was a real blessing to my girlfriend, who was going through some stuf
This Collared Lizard was sitting on a rock, and we saw him just as we were leaving. He didn't mind us at all, and I took almost an entire roll of film of him before I got tired. He was a real blessing to my girlfriend, who was going through some stuf
Not ruins, just boulders in the area
Not ruins, just boulders in the area
Foundation.
Foundation.
View out the window.
View out the window.
Another window view.
Another window view.

One More View of the Ruins

Thank You for Visiting

I hope you enjoyed it.

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