Out West 2019 - Day 3
After packing up, and saying goodbye, we hit the road! Little did we know, this would become one of the longest days of our trip.
The drive had us headed towards the Rocky Mountains, with Pikes Peak right in front of us. It was scary and exciting knowing we had to go through the mountains to get to our destination. We drove through the Spanish Peaks and made our first stop at The Great Sand Dunes National Park. We were able to see a rare occasion as the Sand Dunes were still covered in snow when we arrived. On the drive up to them, there was a wide open field with what looked like big piles of snow. The Park Ranger stated that the snow is usually melted by that time of day. While driving away, we realized that the snow had already started to melt, and you could see a good amount of the Sand Dunes. In the photos below you can see the difference, just remember this was only about 45 min between photos!
From the Great Sand Dunes, we headed up the biggest part of the mountain, driving on the Wolf Creek Pass. This was the scary part! You are headed up the mountain, with no way to turn around, it is snowing/sleeting/raining, and about 5 feet of snow on each side of you. The temp may have dropped 10 degrees, but the views were unbelievable!
From here, we headed to Mesa Verde National Park. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, the park was closed. We were able to drive up a little ways, but with the high altitude, came heavy fog. Next stop - The Grand Canyon!
We drove out of the mountains and into Arizona. We did spend about 2 minutes in New Mexico and drove right next to one of the biggest tourist traps - The 4 Corners. We won’t lie, we were going to stop, but it was closed by that time. The drive through Arizona was beautiful. The flat land, with the outline of mountains in the background was stunning. We were glad we had a full tank of gas as towns are few and far between. They just seem to pop up out of no where!
It was now about 8pm, and we had an hour left to drive. We turned down highway 64, and saw signs that the park was closed a head. Other cars were driving that way as well, so we just figured it meant that the park was closed for the night and the entrance was off to the side. We continued to drive, cars were headed the opposite direction so we thought nothing of it. We drove about 20 miles before the roads started to get really bad. We were climbing in altitude and it has been snowing for a few hours. The ground was covered. We then started to worry. Maybe the park is closed and this road takes us into the park, will we have to turn around? There was a white Nissan that passed us, we we decided to keep an eye out for that vehicle. If we saw it coming back, we knew we were in trouble. We continued to drive....then we saw the White Nissan! We were not happy! We passed the park entrance, and there was the closed road! We had drive about 30 miles on this road at this point and were about 20 miles from our hotel. The only thing we could do was turn around and head back on the same road. After finally getting service, we realized the only way to the hotel was to go back to the main road, take it down to Flagstaff, and then back up. At the time we turned about, Flagstaff was 89 miles away! Let me just give you an idea of how far out of the way we had to go. We were suppose to get to our hotel about 9pm...we didn’t get there till about 1:30am. We had to drive through more snow on the way from Flagstaff to the hotel still! We later found out that the road had been closed for most of the day, and they got about 5 inches of snow at the rim of the Grand Canyon.
We got checked in, FINALLY, and attempted to crash for the night. Lily, on the other hand, was not ready for bed. We had been in the car for about 14 hours, and she slept most of it. We finally decided to bring in the crate so we could get some sleep!