Our route today was simple: US 160 West from Pagosa Springs, Colorado to US 89 South to Flagstaff, Arizona. We started out at 8am with temperatures in the mid-50's and ended the day pushing 90 degrees. 160 West took us past Chimney Rock National Monument between Pagosa Springs and Durango.
An archaeological site that preserves hundreds of ruins from the Ancestral Puebloans who lived here over 1000 years ago, Chimney Rock is in the San Juan National Forest. Not far down the road we passed Mesa Verde, another site where the Ancestral Puebloans lived for over 700 years, building cliff dwellings that exist today. We celebrated as our odometer rolled over to 32,000 miles.
In Durango, US 160 becomes the San Juan Skyway, twisting 236 miles through the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. We were only on this route for a few miles, continuing on 160 West while the scenic skyway turns off onto CO 184.
We rode through Cortez, just outside the Ute Mountain Tribal Park. The park is currently closed due to COVID, but we rode past Sleeping Ute Mountain. According to legend, the mountain is the sleeping Great Warrior God who battled evil, was hurt, and lay down falling into a deep sleep.
Until Cortez the scenery was green - irrigated fields of grass and hay and dark green pine trees on the mountain sides. Continuing west past Cortez brown is the dominant color as the desert takes over.
US 160 goes past the Four Corners Monument, the only place where four states meet: Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. This is another casualty of COVID, closed by the Navajo Nation to minimize the spread of the disease. We saw several groups of horses today as we rode through the vast Navajo Nation, and I wondered how they manage to survive on the scarce brown grass. The 2-lane paved highway stretches straight through the desert, only occasionally sweeping in wide turns.
We stopped in Kayenta for lunch at Subway, repeating our lunch stop the first day of our trip almost 2 weeks ago when we rode east on US 160. There aren't many places to stop and eat on the Navajo Nation so we made sure to take advantage of places we know are open. After lunch we continued west on US 160, riding through flat areas that stretched out to hazy cliffs in the far distance that alternated with high rock cliffs and craggy canyons.
We turned south on US 89 with long-distance views of the San Francisco Peaks in Flagstaff, AZ, in front of us.
The temperature climbed and hovered around 90 degrees even as we climbed in elevation to about 7000' in Flagstaff. After 7 hours of travel today, we were ready for an air conditioned hotel room and an early dinner followed by a walk around busy downtown Flagstaff. Tomorrow we head home, finishing our 2-week trip through the Southwest.