Sunday, April 23, 2017

Windwhistle Campground in the Canyon Rims Recreation Area of Southeastern Utah

         The name was enough to lure me to this desert campground.  That, and its remote red rock location.

         Although visitation is increasing, this campground—about 35 miles south of over-crowded Moab—is still worth a visit.  The Bureau of Land Management administers this land, which includes a picnic area at the overlook into the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, and another primitive campground and overlook at the end of an unimproved dirt road.

Our tent is nestled in the Junipers at Windwhistle Campground.

Evening shadows in our campsite.

         On our fall trip Tim and I took advantage of cool morning and evening temperatures.  Our first evening in camp we walked a half mile nature trail in the shadows of towering rock alcoves.

Towering sandstone cliffs.

Along the nature trail in Windwhistle campground.

         The following morning we rode our tandem bicycle from the campground to the Needles Overlook, a 32 mile round-trip ride on a paved road.

Needles Overlook at the end of the road.

Standing at the edge.  It's a 1000 foot drop-off into the canyon
on the other side of this fence.

         That evening our treats included s'mores around the campfire and a creamy white milky way spilling from horizon to horizon.   After crawling into the tent a Great-Horned Owl serenaded us to sleep with his soothing deep-toned hoots.

Ready for s'mores as darkness falls.

         Did we hear the wind whistling through the Juniper trees surrounding our site during this visit?  No.  Our calm clear days and nights prevented us from experiencing the reason for this campground's alluring name.
         That discovery will have to wait for the next visit.  

The campground is located on Needles Outpost road, about half-way down this map.
The first blue arrow shows the approximate location of Windwhistle CG.

The only thing missing from this open campsite in Windwhistle campground is you!


Monday, April 3, 2017

Enduring Architecture of the Ancients

         Imagine your home, still standing 900 years from now and being visited by fascinated tourists from 30th Century America.  Can't picture it?  Neither can I.

Montezuma's Castle, part of a cliffside village containing a 5-story
apartment-like building which was once home to several thousand people.

         The architectural wonders of Montezuma's Castle and Tuzigoot National Monuments however, have endured since the 12th century in the Verde River Valley south of Flagstaff, Arizona.  These Puebloan multistoried adobe structures adorn hillsides and cliff alcoves and were home to the Southern Sinagua people.

         Don't feel dismayed if you haven't heard of the Southern Sinagua.  I hadn't heard of them either until a few weeks ago when I toured Tuzigoot and Montezuma's Castle and learned that contemporary Hopi tribes trace their ancestry to immigrants from the Sinagua culture.

         The Sinagua lived and farmed in the Verde River Valley for over 300 years—longer than the United States has been a country—and then disappeared.  Why did they leave?  It's a mystery, but archeologists speculate any number of reasons ranging from overpopulation and resource depletion to disease or conflict within groups.

Tuzigoot National Monument.  This hillside pueblo once contained
100 rooms.  Many artifacts were discovered here.

         When the Sinagua left their villages they didn't take much with them.   The structures themselves are impressive, but even more incredible was the array of artifacts found within.
         While unearthing the rooms of Tuzigoot, archeologists discovered a treasure-trove of everyday household items—carved tools and needles, decorated pottery, storage containers, ornaments of shell and turquoise for personal wear.
         But what really brought these homes to life for me was the discovery of tiny carved animals and bowls, believed to be children's toys.
         How on earth did the Sinagua persuade their children to leave their toys behind?

Antique's Roadshow, eat your heart out!
These carved stone toys are all miniatures, no
larger than a few inches.
No way could anyone have pried these tiny
stone animals from my five-year-old hands!

         I highly recommend a visit to these two ancient archeological sites.  You'll walk away in awe of the Sinagua people and their resilience and ingenuity.   And you may wonder what of any significance will endure from our culture.