Taking off from Prescott, our route to Winslow takes us past the black mountains and the mining town of Jerome, overhead Sedona and the Mogollon rim, and onward to the East.
Heading west out of Sedona, our track crosses the Mogollon rim and the landscape opens out into an immense plain extending far into the horizon. Not much here, after the spectacle of Oak Creek Canyon? Wrong!
Sometime around 60,000 years ago, a meteorite the size of a truck fell to earth about 30 miles ESE of Flagstaff, Arizona. The result was the best preserved meteor impact crater on Earth.
It seems to be a strange co-incidence that only 30 mi to the NW is Sunset Crater, a volcano that was active only 2,000 years ago. Indeed, volcanoes were active here so recently that they caused early Americans to abandon nearby Pueblo villages.
The richness of Arizona's landscape never ceases to astound the senses!
The tiny settlement of Winslow seems, at first sight, to have little to commend it. However, this is one of few remaining staging posts for the first transcontinental air route and is almost unchanged from those times. When you taxi up to the Adobe terminal building, you tread in giant footsteps. Inside, there is a photograph of Lindburgh, opening the very same building in about 1933. History indeed.
Beyond Winslow, we head NE toward New Mexico. Passing Holbrook, Gallup and Window Rock, capital of the Navajo nation, we pass close to the four corners area and the Canyon de Chelly National Monument. Here are some truly beautiful box canyons cut into the brilliant red sandstone of the area. Aircraft have to stay well above the monument itself, but to the East we can go down for a closer look at the terrain.
Our next landmark is a truly spectacular one. Shiprock, New Mexico is aptly named. From the highway, this 1500' outcrop standing isolated in an otherwise featureless sea of desert sand resembles a sailing ship of old.
The Shiprock is actually a volcanic outcrop of hard rock that has withstood the vast forces of erosion that have otherwise levelled this flat desert. Once, great mountains stood here and in a fault magma forced it's way to the surface. Today, the line of the ancient fault remains as a volcanic dyke and the core of the volcano is frozen into the shape of the Shiprock itself.
From Shiprock, we turn NE again toward the ramparts of the
Colorado rockies, rising abruptly from the flat plains of New
Mexico. The emerging snow capped peaks (It is November) have been
visible since leaving Window Rock and now, 1.5 Hrs flying later,
form a barrier to our further progress.
In the foothills of the Rockies is the city of Durango and it's twin airports of La Plata County and Animas Air Park. My destination is Animas, nestling right up against the mountains with a field elevation of 6684' - high enough for a C-152!
Beyond Durango, the Animas river emerges from the mountains.
In the still air of the next morning, I venture a little way into
the valley, following the tracks of the famous Durango and
Silverton Railway far below.
In such perfect conditions, the giant mountains towering far above the little aeroplane's ceiling seem harmless enough, but as the valley narrows ahead it is soon time to turn for home (at 10,500') and leave this wonderland of nature
Go Back to the Arizona Map