Distance Driven: 5.5 Hours; 323 miles
Points of Interest: Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, Ramah, NM; Zuni Pueblo; Petrified National Park, Mather Campground – Grand Canyon NP
Another beautiful sunrise in Ramah and another day full of adventure awaits us. We were able to sleep in a little bit which was nice since the first sanctuary tour wasn’t until 11:30am and was only 20 minutes from the Air B&B. Being in this beautiful house was a bonus as the atmosphere automatically encouraged rest. There were no complaints from anyone on the fact we got to sleep in here. I had a hard time pulling myself out of the master bedroom and my dream meditation space. The windows were huge in the master and I was able to lay awake and just stare at the bright constellations from my pillow. We did eventually have to say goodbye to my spirit house sadly but our next stop was the reason I decided to make the NM 53 detour and stay in Ramah!
We left around 10:30am and arrived at the wolf sanctuary around 10:50 but they didn’t open until 11:00 so we drove the property as they have campsites we wanted to explore.
The Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary is a non-profit and is a non-breeding facility. They are in existence because of inconsiderate people that decide to breed and own wolves, wolf dogs, coyotes, dingos and other wild animals and then decide they can’t control or own them anymore or that were part of a pet trade operation. The facility receives these beautiful animals and takes care of them for that animal’s lifetime on a daily basis. They provide very large living spaces that are as close to their natural habitat as possible and are given medical care as needed. You can find out more information about this haven for these beautiful wild animals here: https://wildspiritwolfsanctuary.org/
The 45 minute tour was $10 per adult and $5 per child (up to 12). They are closed on Mondays, so plan accordingly. They also offer specialty tours and reservations are required where you can feed the animals and give some belly scratches on the wolf ambassadors that are used for education and training the public. They are looking for volunteer workers…when we move to Colorado, this would be something I would LOVE to do if we are near one. The sanctuary is located at 378 Candy Kitchen Road, Ramah, NM.
As we walked around with our tour guide, we were able to get pretty close and observe these amazing creatures. We didn’t get to hear the wolves howl like the location in Colorado, but the visit was still pretty neat.
When I was 14 years old on an Outward Bound 2 week leadership expedition in the Cascade Mountains, I had my first wild wolf encounter. I heard some rustling outside my tent and when I unzipped the front so I could peek out of just the top of the opening, I got to see a large wolf carrying one of my boots away in its mouth! My boot was found the next morning with a tooth indention on the side. So cool! 🙂 Hearing the wolves howl on that expedition forever touched my heart and I have a very large special place for them forever now.
At 12:30pm it was time to say goodbye and get on the road as we still had the Petrified Forest National Park to hit before we arrived at our campsite at the South Rim. Definitely plan to check out the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary if you are in the Ramah area and don’t forget to tip your tour guide as they don’t make very much money on staff there and appreciate any little bit.
The boys got to mark off another state visited on their list…welcome to Arizona, the Grand Canyon State!
As we approached the Petrified Forest National Park, if felt like we were out in the middle of nowhere to say the least. It looked almost like another planet…desolate, dry and barren. The boys were honestly not very impressed by this NP, but it was fascinating to me with all the geological history and the process of the trees underwent to get to their petrified state. If you have a science kiddo or you yourself enjoy science, this is a must stop! The visitors center has a HUGE gift shop and a cafe if you want to get water or snacks for the drive through the park. You can hike, backpack, horseback ride, geocache and much more. Find more information on the park here: https://www.nps.gov/pefo/index.htm
As you can see from the map below, you arrive on the north side of I40 to enter the park and then once inside, you drive for a few minutes and then cross over I40 to see the rest of the points of interest along the route. We decided to drive through it and then head west to meet up with I40 again later before heading north towards Mt. Humphrey and South Rim. FYI: You can not enter the park and then get back onto I40 at the crossover as there is no interstate entrance ramp once inside the park.
As you begin your drive, you will see that it is quite stunning in its own way…you feel as if you truly have landed on another planet.
It is amazing to think that this barren land was once covered by a dense forest and now all that remains are the petrified sections for us to learn from.
Along the way right before you cross over I40, you can pull off on the right and stand on the original route of Route 66 that is identifiable with a cool marker in the ground. There is even a car that was located in the area to mark this spot as well.
For those that aren’t as familiar with the process of petrification, petrified wood is essentially a fossil. When plants are buried by soil and layers of sediment, the plant material is protected from the decay process from organisms and oxygen that can cause the material to break down faster. Then water flows through the ground either from floods or redirected streams and rivers causing the original plant material to turn into silica, pyrite or other materials like calcite. So why are all the wood specimens cut as if by a chainsaw through out the park? Funny thing…as they were not cut but rather that the quartz within the petrified wood is extremely hard and brittle and under stress, it fractures easily making it look like it was cut with a chainsaw. Pretty amazing right?
Here are some cool pics we got as we explored…
This picture below is one of my favorites from the park as you can see the wood but also how inhospitable the land appears. Yet as we walked, we saw green sprouts coming from the hard ground, at least 4 different species of very large lizards and more signs of life. Just beautiful!
After about 25 miles driving through the park, it was time to head on and get to the South Rim. We still had about 3 hours of driving at this point and it was also 4:30 so we needed to get moving. Of course, we are used to setting up camp and tents in the dark but I knew the boys would want to see the entrance of the park and all there was to see there while it was still day light if possible. Coming up, this will be the only stop on this 4 week trip that I have never been to…The Grand Canyon so I am pretty excited. 🙂
As we drove, we got to enjoy more fun sights along Route 66 as I love the gas stations and the iconic rest stops that have been in existence beginning in 1920’s. It is kinda sad that it was decommissioned in 1985. For those that don’t know much about Route 66, it is also known as the Will Rogers Highway. It is essentially known as the America’s first highway system built and opened in 1926. Route 66 originally ran from Chicago->Missouri->Kansas->Oklahoma->Texas->New Mexico->Arizona. What I love about this iconic road is that upon its creation, this is when folks began finally having the unique opportunities to travel farther from home. This new idea idea of camping became a reality and long road trips came into popularity, diners were created for travelers to quiet their hunger pangs and motels sprung up along the route to allow weary vacationers to rest their tired bodies from sitting in cars exploring new lands and meeting new people. I am so grateful for Route 66 and all that were involved in getting it built and established, because their efforts have allowed me and my family the opportunity to easily cross the United States every summer in one way or another.
As we got back on I40, I decided to take Hwy. 180 north of Flagstaff because I wanted to see Arizona’s high point, Mt Humphrey. She is beautiful, don’t you think? The trail is a very heavily trafficked 9.2 mile out and back hike and her summit rests at 12,633 ft in elevation. Dogs are allowed on this trail but must be leashed. Elevation gain is 3,342ft so make sure you are physically able to handle the strain of the trail before attempting.
As we left Humphrey’s behind us, I promised her I would be back. 🙂
As we were about 15 minutes from the Grand Canyon park entrance, the sun went down and we were left with just a little bit of light once we arrived at our campsite in Juniper Loop, #126.
I love how the campsites were so spread out and gave each camper room to breathe unlike Yosemite Valley camping. I don’t have any pics this day for the campsite because we ended up setting up camp in the dark. 🙂 But we made it to the Grand Canyon and were so excited for the next morning as we were getting up at 6am to head to the Bright Angel Trailhead to head a little ways down into the canyon.
Sweet dreams and more coming on Day #4 soon! Be safe in your travels and remember to wake up grateful and with love in your heart and you will not have waste a moment.
Owl, Hi-Five & Eagle
“Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.” – John Muir