2017 US Route 89 Calendar Cover

2017 Calendar: US Route 89 National Parks & Monuments

2017 calendar featuring photographs of the National Parks and Monuments along US Route 89 by James Cowlin

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Direction sign or US 89T

Getting to Page, Arizona, on US 89T

Since the Big Slump closed US 89 in northern Arizona in February 2013, I have received numerous requests for information about alternative roads. At first, a detour route was established between Flagstaff and Page, Arizona, that took travelers 50 miles out of their way adding at least an hour to the trip. A much shorter […]

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The Painted Desert Project

The last place you would expect to find street art is along US Route 89 on the Navajo Reservation. But there it is. You can’t miss it as you head north from Flagstaff. It’s on tanks and roadside jewelry stands. Big black and white photographs pasted up there for all to see. We first saw […]

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Tumacacori National Historical Park

Spanish Settlements in Southern Arizona

In this day of Google maps and GPS’s everywhere, it is hard to imagine how the world looked to the Spanish explorers when they arrived in the region we now call Arizona. Early explorers had mistakenly believed that California was an island and the territory between the Rio Grande and Colorado Rivers was a blank […]

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US Route 89 Roadside Attraction: Catalina State Park

The Santa Catalina Mountains dominate the horizon as you approach Tucson from any direction. The tallest peak is Mount Lemon at over 9,100 feet, some 6,900 feet above the surrounding valley. The whole range covers 200 square miles and is one of the largest of the aptly named Sky Islands of southern Arizona. Historic US […]

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Lonely Dell Ranch, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, AZ

US Route 89 Roadside Attraction: Lonely Dell Ranch

The first time I saw Lonely Dell Ranch at Lee’s Ferry was at the end of a five-day backpack through Paria Canyon. It was a welcome sight, a green oasis among the red rocks. My fellow hikers and I sat at picnic tables in the shade of tall cottonwoods eating lunch and recalling the highlights […]

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The first Navajo Bridge

US Route 89 Roadside Attraction: Navajo Bridge

The most unusual, not to mention scary, assignment I had as an industrial photographer was working with an engineering firm inspecting Navajo Bridge. The bridge had been completed in 1929 and by the 1989 was showing its age. The inspection consisted of crawling around on the superstructure looking at every weld and bolt. My job […]

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US Route 89 Roadside Attraction: West Fork of Oak Creek

Towering above you as you hike up the West Fork of Oak Creek are red and white limestone and sandstone canyon walls. At your feet is the gentle burble of the creek surrounded by wildflowers. The descending notes of the Canyon Wren’s song echos against the rocks. It is no wonder that this is one […]

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US Route 89 Roadside Attraction: Tumacácori National Historical Park

There are two ways to appreciate the mission church at Tumacácori—its historic significance and its architectural qualities. The long history of Tumacácori begins with Father Eusebio Francisco Kino who came to the the Santa Cruz River valley at the request of the O’odham people who lived there. He established a mission at Guevavi and a […]

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US Route 89 Roadside Attraction: Domingues-Escalante Historic Site

Talk about a road trip. On July 29, 1776, two Franciscan priests, a cartographer and eight men set out from Santa Fe to map an overland route to the missions in California. Francisco Atanasio Domínguez and Silvestre Vélez de Escalante traveled through present day Colorado and into Utah. They arrived at Utah Lake near the […]

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US Route 89 Roadside Attraction: Tom Mix Memorial

Before Hopalong Cassidy and the Lone Ranger became cowboy heroes, Tom Mix had won the hearts of American children. In a career that started in 1909 and lasted until 1940, he made hundreds of films. His performances were famous for showmanship featuring action over realism as he led his horse, Tony, through one trick after […]

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US Route 89 Roadside Attraction: Horseshoe Bend Overlook

When water slowly flows across a flood plain it tends to curve back and forth or meander. Meandering rivers erode sediment from the outer curve of each meander bend and deposit it on an inner curve further down stream. This causes individual meanders to grow larger and larger over time and the channel to deepen […]

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US Route 89 Roadside Attraction: Shrine of St. Joseph

No matter what your religious persuasion or non-persuasion, you will find the Shrine of St. Joseph in the Mountains worth a stop. The shrine is in Yarnell, Arizona, in the mountainous transition zone between the desert and the Colorado Plateau. Look for the small sign on the west side of the highway in the middle […]

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Is Flagstaff the Craft Brew Hub of the Southwest?

According to Steele Wotkyns, one of the founders of the Flagstaff Ale Trail, it is. He has some convincing evidence to back that up. There are now six craft beer brewers in Flagstaff ranging from the well-established Flagstaff Brewing Company to the newest start-up, Cosmic Beer. The breweries are joined by Hops on Birch with […]

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Four Peaks Brewery

As soon as we turned onto Old 8th Street in Tempe, Arizona, it was apparent that we had arrived at someplace special. The street was lined with cars on both sides and it was only 4:30 in the afternoon. I drove past the building, made a quick u-turn and grabbed the last space on the […]

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Rocky the Frog

US Route 89 Roadside Attraction: Rocky the Frog

On Highway 89 between the towns of Yarnell and Congress there is a frog. Well, it’s not actually on the road. It sits on top of a pile of boulders on the west side of the road. It has been sitting there in all of its green splendor since 1928 when Sara Perkins spotted the […]

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Borderlands Brewing Company on Historic US Route 89 in Tucson, Arizona

I hear the train before I see it through the window behind the bar at Borderlands Brewing Company. It is a reminder that Tucson’s newest brewery is located in an old warehouse near downtown. The red-brick building was built in the early 1900s originally used by the Toole and Sons Produce Company. The exposed brick […]

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Where Is US Route 89 in Arizona?

When you look at a map of Arizona, US 89 is hard to find. In fact, it only exists from Flagstaff to Page and into Utah. So what happened to our border to border highway? A little background—when the federal highway system came into existence in the late 1920s, US Route 89 connented Utah and […]

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El Charro Café Serves Great Mexican Food in Tucson, Arizona

I have a passion for Mexican food. In Arizona that means Sonoran-style featuring tacos, tostadas, burros, enchiladas, chimichangas, fajitas, red and green chile, chile rellenos, and tamales. I love them all and always have a hard time deciding what I want most when we go out for Mexican. One solution is to choose one of […]

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The Craft Beer Brewers of US Route 89

If given a choice at the end of a day on the road, I prefer to visit a local brew pub to sample whatever is on tap and enjoy a meal. Fortunately, there are ample opportunities on US Route 89 for such simple pleasures. By my count, there are at least twenty-eight microbreweries and brew […]

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5 National Monuments on US 89 Highlight Prehistoric Indian Cultures

Can you imagine living in Arizona 800 years ago? By visiting five National Monuments along Highway 89, you can learn about and experience the living conditions of Native Americans in the early part of the last millennium. How did they obtain food? What sort of dwellings did they build? What arts and crafts were part […]

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Flagstaff to Page on US Route 89—black and white and red all over

Driving US Route 89 between Flagstaff and Page brings you into contact with three distinctively different landscapes: black volcanoes, multicolored desert hills and red cliffs.

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89 or 89A: That is the Question

Of all of the questions I am asked about traveling on US Route 89, one of the most frequent is about the two possible drives between Bitter Springs, Arizona and Kanab, Utah. Since both US 89 and 89A are about the same length and take the same time to drive, neither one has a clear […]

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Getting the Most Out of a Visit to Saguaro National Park

The image that comes to mind with the word ‘desert’ is of a desolate, dry place of sand dunes and little else. When you visit Saguaro (pronounced “sah WAH row”) National Park you will enter a lush world filled with plants and animals that have evolved to live in a dry, hot climate. Observing these […]

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Butterflies and a Digital Dilemna

Last Saturday, son Mathew and I visited the Tucson Botanical Gardens for the first time. I knew there was a Tucson Botanical Gardens, but didn’t know where it was. As it turns out, I’d been by it a number of times, but simply didn’t notice it. For one thing, the sign isn’t very conspicuous. For […]

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Five Outstanding Scenic Drives on US Route 89

National Geographic selected US Route 89 as the #1 Drivers’ Drive in the world in its recently published book, Drives of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Most Spectacular Trips. Having driven over 20,000 miles on Highway 89, I couldn’t agree more. I have my favorite sections that I look forward to on our road […]

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Biosphere 2, Tucson, Arizona

From Mars Colony to Earth Lab-Biosphere2

When Biosphere 2 was completed in 1991, it’s purpose was to simulate conditions in a completely sealed environment such as would be necessary for colonizing Mars. The intention was for crews of Biospherians to live in the glass roofed buildings for two years at a time. They were to be completely self-sustaining without any intervention […]

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Biosphere 2, Tucson, Arizona

Biosphere2: A Phenomenon Just Down the Street, Where Science and Creativity Meet

Last week, we were treated to a tour of the Biosphere 2. Considering that we have been living about ten minutes away for nearly two years, I’d say that it’s about time. We can see the Biosphere in the distance when we take walks down our own street. It looks massive, intriguing and oh, so […]

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Native American Music Fest at Casa Grande Ruins

I think of Sunday as my day to laze about the house, so it was with some reluctance that I allowed Jim to talk me into making the one hour drive to the Casa Grande Ruins for the 2011 American Indian Music Fest. The promise of Cheetos and a diet Coke on the drive back […]

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A Night Out in Tucson

We live close to Tucson. A short drive from sleepy Oracle gets us to a vibrant city with plenty of interesting cultural opportunities. All located on US Route 89! Jim and I had an afternoon and evening on the town a couple of weeks ago. We don’t go to concerts often, but I couldn’t resist […]

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Panoramic Photograph of the Week-Spiral Petroglyph

From now until early summer is the best time to visit Saguaro National Park in Tucson, Arizona. The weather is pleasant with warm days and cool evenings. Cactus will be blooming and wildflowers may appear depending on the amount of rainfall. The majestic saguaro begins putting out flowers in April and peaks around Mother’s Day. […]

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What makes life so fine on Route 89?—Larry Schnebly

Larry Schnebly is the grandson of Sedona Schnebly for whom the town of Sedona was named. He is also a member of the US Route 89 Appreciation Society. Larry emaied me a couple of months ago and I arranged to record an interview. I knew he would have some great US 89 and 89A stories […]

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Vegetable Crate Labels

The connection between US Route 89 and commercial graphic art ephemera may seem tenuous at first. But we can learn an important p iece of the history of highway 89 from the lowly vegetable crate label. In the early 20th century, agriculture was an important part of the economy of central Arizona thanks in large […]

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Sunflowers, sunflowers, sunflowers

We turned the corner at Ash Fork from I-40 to Arizona 89. What caught our eyes immediately was the flash of yellow along the road ahead. It is early fall and I hadn’t expected such an extravagant display along the shoulders and in the fields as far as we could see. Sunflowers! For thirty miles […]

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Just Lounging About Doing Nothing?

Well, despite being rather silent lately, I haven’t been idle. In fact, one of my pet peeves is the comments people make when I tell them I’m an artist and they tell me about how much fun I must be having and wish they could be having such a luxurious life, too. The other response […]

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What makes life so fine on Route 89 by Wayne Ranney

On the last day of our Spring 2010 Road Trip we had breakfast with Wayne Ranney in Flagstaff. Wayne was an early supporter of the US Route 89 project; in fact he is Member #2 of the US Route 89 Appreciation Society (Barbara is #1). He and his wife, Helen, are sponsors of the Escalante-Grand […]

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Cliffs, Monoclines and Hogback Ridges

Yesterday we drove the House Rock Road which runs north/south about 30 miles between US 89A in Arizona and US 89 in Utah. The landforms along the road our a geology lesson in how the earth reacts to pressures from within. Here are a series of photos that demonstrate what I mean. Here are the […]

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Grand Canyon

It has been several years since I have been to the Grand Canyon to photograph. For about 15 years in the 80’s and 90’s I spent as much time as I could in the canyon including raft trips, rim to river hikes and photographing from nearly every view point on both rims. I wouldn’t say […]

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Discoveries on Highway 89-Wickenburg to Prescott

It has been at least a year since we’ve been through Congress Junction, an old mining town north of Wickenburg. Congress Junction was once the most important town in the center of a rich silver and gold mining boom. Even President Taft has visited there at the opening of the railroad. Over the years since […]

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