August 18, 2009

Indians in top 50 road trips

Two local road trips named among magazine's 50 drives of a lifetime

By Alysa LandryVacationers looking for a journey rather than a destination may find themselves in the Four Corners area after two local scenic drives were featured in the September issue of National Geographic Traveler.

The magazine scoured the globe for the world's 50 most beautiful or interesting road trips, or "drives of a lifetime," according to the article. The Four Corners area and the Navajo Nation both made the cut.

"The Four Corners is far too prosaic of a name for the strikingly beautiful territory that respects no man-made boundaries in the southwestern United States," the article states. Author John Rosenthal recommends taking the 525-mile drive in no fewer than two days.

The drive includes stops in Winslow, Ariz.; Canyon de Chelly; Mexican Water, Utah; the Trail of the Ancients near Cortez, Colo.; Mesa Verde; the San Juan Skyway and Telluride, Colo.
And:The other local route to make the list of "drives of a lifetime" is a 425-mile loop on the Navajo Nation.

The dozens of highways cutting across the sprawling, 27,000-square-mile Nation could be one of the West's best-kept secrets, said Lorenzo Long, an office assistant at the Navajo Parks and Recreation Department.

"Some of the highways here are really something to drive," he said. "The landscapes, the way the land is set up, it's beautiful."

Landmarks specifically mentioned by National Geographic Traveler include the dinosaur tracks near Tuba City, Ariz., cliff dwellings at Navajo National Monument, Canyon de Chelly and Hubbell Trading Post.
Comment:  I've been to many of the places on these two drives. I'd recommend the drives to anyone as a relatively cheap vacation. Every American should know about the culture and history of this region.

In particular, I've been to Winslow, Canyon de Chelly, Mesa Verde, the dinosaur tracks near Tuba City, and the cliff dwellings at Navajo National Monument. I think I visited the Hubbell Trading Post also.

In fact, the dinosaur tracks and cliff dwellings will appear in the PEACE PARTY graphic novel. That's because a "real" Native-themed comic is about a people's culture and history, not their crimes and casinos.

For pix of these beautiful places, see my photo gallery.

Below:  "Balcony House, at Mesa Verde National Park, is accessible only by descending a steep trail from the top of a cliff. This view, shown Aug. 1, is available to visitors who pay an additional fee for a tour guide." (Alysa Landry/The Daily Times)

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