I can hardly believe I did this, but I didn’t go on the Durango-Silverton train trip!! Yep, I totally blew it off. I couldn’t find any free campsites anywhere near Durango so I was aiming to stay at Lower Hermosa CG about 12 miles outside of town. I went to the campground but it took a full 30 minutes to go the last 4 miles….horribly washboarded road! Since I had to be at the train station at 7:15 in the morning, I decided it would be better to stay at Haviland Lake CG which is a little farther from Durango, but it’s only one mile from the main road to town. Well when I got there, they didn’t have any non-electric sites left, so it would have cost $17 a night!! WHAAAT? I can’t pay that for a campsite!! I’d need it for two nights, plus it was going to cost $6 for parking at the train station….$40. I decided it was just too much money. So I wasted $116 on the train ticket but look, I saved $40!! Hmmm.
I headed out of town and went to Navajo National Monument. They have a free campground there that’s quite nice. It’s 10 miles from the main road and I passed a van with a big sign “BUYING PINON” parked at the side of the road. There were cars and trucks parked all over the place the whole way to the park. I guess harvesting pinon nuts is Big Business there!! I wonder how much they get for them? (I was going to stop and talk to the guy on my way out but he wasn’t there) I know pine nuts are really expensive. I was going to stay a couple days until I found out that you can’t really see any of the ruins without being able to hike a bit. So I stayed one night and kept heading towards the North Rim Grand Canyon the next day.
There sure is a lot of boring, desolate country out there, but along the way I passed the Vermilion Cliffs….beautiful!
Between Jacob Lake and the Grand Canyon were about 7 miles of burned woodlands, I think from the Outlet Fire of 2000. A lot of small aspens are growing up so it was kind of pretty, but so sad to see so many pines burned.
I found a great free campsite just 10′ from the North Rim!! The scenery sure was beautiful, but it was a windy day and the gusts coming up off that rim were really powerful. (Just past DeMotte CG, turn left onto FS611 & go 5-6 miles. Several campsites on the right. The farther you go, the closer to the rim) My view from camp:
I was shocked to find that there were not very many places to view the canyon…not anythying like the South Rim that has lots of pulloffs for different views. At the North Rim, if you can’t hike, you don’t get to see very much. Here are a few views: