Experiencing the American Southwest

Oh my! Where do I start in describing what it was like to visit the Southwest for the first time? David and I flew to Denver, rented a car, and drove more than 3,500 miles through Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona in ten days. Awesome does not even begin to describe what we experienced.

Over the next several blog posts, I will share photos and write about our experiences. First I will describe some of ways I was awed or surprised during this trip and in later posts I’ll describe visits to specific places.

I found the geology in the Southwest endlessly fascinating. I have always been a geologist at heart. Even back when I was a young Amish woman, I collected stones as souvenirs from places where I visited. I’ve only ever taken one course in geology, but one doesn’t need more than that to know that the geological history of the Southwest could keep geologists studying for eons and still there would be more to learn.

David did most of the driving during our trip, which left me with my camera to capture the scenes as David drove the speed limit of 75 miles per hour. Often just when I had my window open, the camera pointed, ready to snap a photo, a tree or telephone pole would sneak into the photo. Still, I managed to salvage enough of them to show some of the diverse geological formations, colors, layers, and shapes. These tell their own story.

I am not able to remember precisely where I snapped these photos, but I give an idea in what area they were taken.

Along Route 25, between Pueblo, Colorado and Santa Fe, New Mexico. These are posted in order that they were taken, from north to south.

Love that vein of rock below the ridge! Photo by Saloma Furlong


A tor in the desert. Photo by Saloma Furlong


Mesa in the desert. Photo by Saloma Furlong

These photos were taken between Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the Petrified Forest National Park. We took Interstate 40.

What a clear demarcation between gray and red! Photo by Saloma Furlong


A geologist’s playground. Photo by Saloma Furlong


A spelunker’s playground. Photo by Saloma Furlong


From tan to black, all in one place. Photo by Saloma Furlong


We thought this looked like volcanic rock. Photo by Saloma Furlong


Somewhere in Arizona there are red hills. Photo by Saloma Furlong


A red mesa in Arizona. Photo by Saloma Furlong


Mother Nature built a castle on a hill. Photo by Saloma Furlong


A cave next to Highway 40 in Arizona. Photo by Saloma Furlong

Then of course, there were all the geological phenomena we discovered at the Petrified Forest National Park. I will write a post on that later. After visiting the Petrified Forest, we drove to Flagstaff. We were amazed to see mountains looming up out of the flat prairie, which are the mountains around Flagstaff. We were approaching it during sundown, so I couldn’t get a great photo of it.

Where did those mountains come from? Photo by Saloma Furlong

We drove to the Grand Canyon National Park after staying in Flagstaff overnight. I will be writing about our adventures there in another post also.


Sunset Crater Volcano near Flagstaff. Photo by Saloma Furlong

I took this next set of photos while we were driving from Tucson to Denver. These are in the order I took them, from south to north. Most of our trip was on Interstate 25.

A few of Mother Nature’s sculptures. Photo by Saloma Furlong


Smaller sculptures. Photo by Saloma Furlong


At a rest area along Interstate 25, in “Texas Canyon” in New Mexico. Photo by Saloma Furlong


At the same rest stop. Photo by Saloma Furlong


The top of this mountain looks to me like a crop on a rooster’s head. Photo by Saloma Furlong


“Point of Interest” surrounded by many square miles of flat prairie. Photo by Saloma Furlong


Last but not least. I took this somewhere south of Denver. Photo by Saloma Furlong

I’ll pick another aspect of our trip to focus on for my next post. Then I’ll come around to writing about specific places such as the ones I mentioned above. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these pictures we captured along our way.

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7 thoughts on “Experiencing the American Southwest”

    1. Hi Katie,

      It is a wonderful place to visit, but I don’t know that I’d want to live there. I cannot imagine living with so little water. They are actually experiencing a drought, which only makes that problem worse.

      There are other reasons I wouldn’t want to live in the Southwest, which I will get to later.

      I hope you’re doing well. How is Florida these days?

      1. Winter is about over. Slowly the winter people are leaving. In about June or so we will be a ghost town again. Life is good.

  1. Great photos. My husband, sister and I had a road trip almost exactly the same route many yrs ago. It was great to see and it seemed like forever going from one place to another. We needed more eyes to see everything. I filled 3 big huge scrapbooks with photos and other memorbilia from that trip. Once in awhile I will look at the scrapbooks and I am so thankful I was able to see it all. I can’t travel like that anymore but while I could I enjoyed every single minute.
    gr. Mary M

    1. Mary, thank you for your comments. I’m so glad you had these experiences. Your joy and gratitude comes through in the telling of it. I like that you documented them so well.

      Enjoy Spring when she finally arrives… we have six inches of snow here in Virginia… more than we’ve had all winter.

  2. Elva Bontrager

    Farther north than where you traveled, I remember being blown away by the terrain and natural formations of Wyoming. Flat, flat desert and then a sudden bluff rearing out of the red, over and over again. From time to time the bleak tents and immense flocks of sheep tended by Basque sheepherders. I told myself that someday I would spend a year in the area but I never did.

    1. Elva, I hope to travel through the Colorado Rockies, Utah, and Wyoming someday. Don’t you find it fascinating when mountains rise up out of flat land like that? I sure do.

      I didn’t know there were Basque sheepherders in Wyoming. So many things I don’t know about my own country.

      Always a treat to hear from you, Elva. Have a wonderful week.

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