You’ve probably heard me say how my mom and I are like peas and carrots. Well, it is true! Our birthdays are even close together, and we can celebrate them together. Every year we go on some great adventure, and this time we opted to camp at the Sunset Crater in Flagstaff.
Mom and dad loaded up our Apex Camper with yummy food, and off we went up I-17 north until we saw signs for I-40 east in Flagstaff. We stayed on it until 89A north and followed signs to the Sunset Crater. Upon entering, we veered left to the Bonito Campground. All in all, it was about 2 ½ hours driving.
The Bonito Campground is literally in the Sunset Crater National Monument and is first come, first serve. We opted to head up on a Thursday to beat the grounds. By Friday midday, the campground was full. Be sure your humans have cash to pay $24 per night.
We found a very nice site and as my parents set up camp, I sniffed and explored. The ground was unlike anything I’ve experienced. Living in the desert, I am very familiar with rocks, but the pebbles here were black and rough. Apparently, it is remains of a volcano that erupted some 900 years ago causing the Sunset Crater.
We relaxed for the afternoon and enjoyed dinner under the stars. My mom took me for an evening walk, and the stars were bright and brilliant. Even the Milky Way was showing off! Incredible. Flagstaff has worked hard to protect their evening sky, and we thank them!
The next morning after breakfast, we took the Lava Flow trail. This is a relatively new trail that allows dogs foronly one mile. Once again, my kind aren’t allowed on any of the trails in National Monuments. Since dogs are permitted in the campground, the National Park Service thought they should have something available. I’m a mid-size dog, and I found the terrain tough. It’s flat but has rough rock and sinking sand. The ranger said little dogs would have trouble, and I can see why…they would sink down and not be able to get back up! We saw lava rock, and we were impressed by the plants that thrive in such harsh conditions. That two miles was tiring, though.
I was glad when we got back that we were getting into the car—that meant I could rest! My folks entered the Sunset Crater National Monument. Remember, your humans will need to pay or have a National Park’s pass to get in. We took a scenic drive, enjoying great views of the cater and lava rock, all the way up to the Wupatki National Monument, roughly 35 miles. You can see some of the ruins from the road, but most of them require a short hike. The temps were nice and cool, so I remained in the car. However, should it be hot, your humans shouldn’t leave you, and you aren’t allowed on those trails. Plan ahead and know the forecast.
My folks said the Wukoki or Big House was amazing. The Pueblo Indians were master builders, especially for the time…some 800 years ago. You can spend minutes or hours at each of the sites.
We exited out on the north end and took the freeway back to make a loop. We saw the smoke from a nearby fire, and by the time we returned to our camp, it was pretty smoky. No stars that night!
After breakfast the next morning, we took off to Lockett Meadow, literally across the road from the Bonito Campground. This area is known for its fall color, one of my mom’s most favorite things. We were planning to hike a three-mile loop in the meadow, but our plans were foiled. Too many people had the same idea, and they closed it down. Drats! The rangers suggested the Bearjaw trail, so we took Forest Road 418 to the trail head. We weren’t the only disappointed people, and there was a convoy on the rough, dirt road to the other side of the San Francisco Peaks. It was a good 30-minute drive from the inner basin area. We were assured we would see great color, but what they failed to tell everyone was how strenuous this trail would be.
It’s a loop, and you have the choice to turn right onto the Abineau trail, which is extremely steep, or take a left onto the Bearjaw trail, which is steep. The entire loop is 7 miles, and more than half of the people who arrived with us bailed. It was really rocky at the start, and just kept going up! We plodded along but saw no fall color. Some humans coming down from the other direction told us we still had another mile of uphill climbing before we’d reach the Waterford Trail, so we opted to park it for lunch in an aspen field. A few leaves were turning, but it wasn’t what was promised. Those rangers get a big-fat F for their suggestion! We were told that once we got onto the Waterford Trail there would be some views, but that would make a 7 to 8-mile trip, and we weren’t planning on that kind of time.
Even though we didn’t see the color we were hoping for, it was a beautiful hike. After about ¾ of a mile, the rock turned to soft ground with pine needles. We had shade from the pine trees and hiked through some beautiful aspen trees. Later in the season, I’m sure the rangers would be right and you would see some color…just not in early October. We were all pretty tuckered out after our 5 miles, but my dad still hoped to give my mom some fall color. Back to Lockett Meadow we went. Since it was later in the day, it was opened back up. We drove the extremely narrow and steep dirt road up to the campground and Lockett Meadow. It was still crazy busy, but we did get to see some pretty aspens turning. We decided this was not a place we would have wanted to spend time anyway. Too noisy! So perhaps our day turned out okay after all.
We were ready to hit the hay early, but I was upset. I whined and tried to tell my folks there was a bee in the camper, but they didn’t understand me. I ran around the camper and chased it, but they couldn’t hear it over the wind. They thought I had a tummy ache, I guess. Dad took me out for several walks and that was great fun! However, I didn’t need to go. Every time he took me back to the camper, I would get worked up again. Mom began to worry that I was ill. I am sorry to frighten her, but there was a bee! I HATE bees!!
About midnight, my mom took me out again as one last attempt to calm me down. The stars were amazing again, and the moon was so bright we didn’t need a flashlight. She was so very tired as I was keeping her up. This time, she sandwiched me between her and dad, and I was able to get a little sleep. As soon as that daggum bee flew around again, though, I was alert and on guard, driving my parents nuts.
That mean ol’ bee stung me and then died. We were then able to sleep for a couple of hours. What a rough night! My mom started piecing everything together when she found the dead bee. It is times like this I wish humans spoke dog and could understand how brave I was to protect them from the evil bee! Alas, they just aren’t that smart.
Some friendly camping neighbors came over for coffee, and then dad made us one last camping breakfast. For some reason, food just takes better on the Coleman stove. Maybe it is the fresh air? We certainly loved Mother Nature’s air condition. It was a great break from the Phoenix heat.
We packed everything up and headed back home. I was able to sleep the entire way home, but my parents couldn’t. Poor humans! The Bonito Campground is probably the cleanest we have ever seen, and the hosts were super friendly. Yet, I would not recommend it for dogs. The rocky surface bruises doggy paws, and I didn’t like that much at all. I came home hobbling. Humans need to be aware before they bring furry friends here. This birthday adventure had some snags, but it was still great to be with my family. They are the greatest gift of all!
Hi! I am Kumaito (Kuma for short), a multi-tan Shiba Inu. My breed is one of the oldest and purest from Japan. I personally was born in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, moved to Friendswood, Texas, and now call Phoenix, Arizona home. I enjoy running or hiking almost every day with my mom, chasing rabbits out of my neighborhood, playing with toys, pestering my brother Edmond, eating, napping … well, I love just about everything and everyone!
My mom, Lorraine Bossé-Smith (Founder of the FIT Leader Formula™) is kind enough to help me share my Great Adventures, big and small. My mom is a motivational speaker, corporate trainer, business consultant, executive coach, behavioral-wellness expert, and author of eight published books. More importantly, she’s the best doggy mom ever!
Enjoy my blog at https://www.lorrainebosse-smith.com/category/kuma/ and be sure to follow me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Kumathedog?ref=hl
Get outside! You never know what you’ll discover, and our paths just might cross. Happy tails!