Outside the Park, Grand Canyon National Park
After we left the Grand Canyon National Park, our next destination was Mesa Verde. This is more than just a daytrip away from the Grand Canyon although you could probably drive there in one day.We were headed for Denver where my aunt and uncle (my father's brother and SIL) lived.
Because we were coming from California, we didn't get to see Bryce National Park or Zion National Park in Utah on our way to the Grand Canyon. (They are about 2 hours drive apart, and Zion is about 350 miles north of the Grand Canyon, AZ) We also missed Pipe Springs National Monument, and Lake Powell/Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
Neither did we make a detour through the Petrified Forest National Park/Painted Desert or the Canyon de Chelly National Monument. The latter site is 160 miles from Mesa Verde. We did stop briefly at the area known as Four Corners, the only spot where four states actually meet in the USA. This actual site is on Indian land
Mesa Verde is a more intimate site than the Grand Canyon, and is definitely worthwhile
I know we visited Spruce Tree House which is the third largest cliff dwelling. It was constructed between AD 1211 and 1278 by the ancestors of the Puebloan peoples of the Southwest. The dwelling contains about 130 rooms and 8 kivas (kee-vahs), or ceremonial chambers, built into a natural cave measuring 216 feet (66 meters) at greatest width and 89 feet (27 meters) at its greatest depth. It is thought to have been home for about 80 people.
.. Due to the protection of the overhanging cliff, Spruce Tree House had deteriorated very little through the years
As can be noted by the blue color, the park boundaries are vast and run the length of 277 miles. On about 30 miles is accessible for driving. The north rim is 65 miles from Kanab, and the south rim 81 miles form Flagstaff. Limited highways between the two causes a trip of 212 miles if you want to see both rims.
Just outside of the Park and opposite the Squires Inn Hotel theres an American Indian craft market every Saturday morning.
About 2 dozen stalls selling amazing handmade jewllery, ceramics and tapestries and at an even more amazing price.These lovely people selling their wares explained in detail what every design represented on their jewllery....from the bear paw which meant healing, to the wheel which meant long life.....so interesting. But the nicest bit about this market is that you get a chance to meet the small family of the Hopi tribe.
The grandfather is the narrator, and my did he teach us a thing or two. He tells of their history and their philosophy and had us mesmerised for over an hour. Two younger men show us their dance and their music...or rather how to play the drum and how the beat represents the heartbeat, and the two young daughters sing and tell us more tales of their ancestors. We even got a chance to join in on a real Hopi tribal dance of peace.
What a fabulous way to spend a morning.
The town just outside the South Rim Gate to the National Park is Tusayan. Although there are still bus loads of visitors you should be able to get a room in November, even without reservations.
If you are coming from Nevada (e.i. Las Vegas!) you could stop at the Hoover Dam, it is an impressive engineering piece.