USA - Arizona

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From a distance, saguaros might look like people standing there to greet overlanders with open arms. Yet signs in the Sonoran Desert National Monument warn visitors that encounters so close to the Mexican border may not always be so welcoming.
Between Phoenix and Flagstaff, an alternative route crosses Tonto National Forest which offers a variety of recreational opportunities. One of them is trying to slalom between jumping chollas on tracks as narrow as those meant for ATVs would be. Even at a slow pace, no doubt the vibrations created by our passing vehicle invited many cholla bushes to drop their prickly ends on the ground.
Between Sunset Crater and Wupatki National Monuments, a network of tracks lead to the foot of craters such as Black Bottom. As tempting as it might be for a 4WD to follow this or that trace uphill, the rest of the ascension can nowadays only be completed on foot so as not to further disturb the slow recovery process of these fragile cones.
On the outskirt of Sunset Crater National Monument, a group of juniper trees provided a beautiful hide-out under the volcano. But when caught in a storm which lasted three days, we were glad to be sheltered from the violent winds inside our camper!
We never had thought that we would see snow in Arizona in May. In Sunset Crater NM, snow on volcanic gravel create a photographic black and white landscape.
In Tuba City just as much as in remote areas of Navajo Land such as here, south of the small rural community of Moenave, our vehicle attracted some attention from the locals. After being given a full tour of our truck and camper, Glen pointed us towards some notable petroglyphs to be found nearby.
To find shelter from the wind inside this canyon near Moenave, we had to deflate our tires enough to make it through the sand. In the morning, we had an odd feeling of being watched... until we spotted an appaloosa standing on top of the cliff, as immobile as a statue! Our presence within the canyon had probably disturbed its morning routine of coming down to the stream for a drink.
Crossing Navajo Bridge with its grand views above Marble Canyon is like crossing a gate into a magical area stretching on the Western side of Lee's Ferry and named Vermillion Cliffs for all sorts of colorful reasons. Downstream of Page, this is the only roadway crossing the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon for nearly 1000 km.
Camping among the prickly pear in bloom with the Canyon of the Colorado River in our backs and facing Vermillion Cliffs doing its show for us alone at sunrise was one of the most exceptional bivvy spots we ever experienced.
Several steep tracks were inherited from the mining exploration which took place in Vermillion Cliffs in the 1950's in the hope to find uranium. Sitting on the first mesa up the red escarpments, the view at 180° was absolutely breath taking down there over the expanse carved in by the Colorado River.
On the North rim of the Colorado River, East of the Kaibab Mountains, a remote track leads to Buck Farm Point. Standing in the wind on the edge of this 800 meter drop is a dizzying experience in many respects. Bush camping just by ourselves by the Grand Canyon, in a totally undeveloped setting was a miracle we had not thought was still possible.