Photo Essay: Cliffdwellers, Arizona

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Every Friday on Twitter, the hashtag #frifotos can be seen floating around. Friday is the day designated to share photos dealing with a specific theme. This week, the theme is simple: STONE. I haven't participated in #frifotos before, but this seemed like a great week to start.

Here's my submission on the stone theme:

Cliffdwellers, Arizona

On Route 89A between Page, Arizona, and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, travelers drive along the bottom of the Vermillion Cliffs, eventually coming upon a rather curious site.

Vermillion Cliffs, Arizona
The Vermillion Cliffs

There, at the bottom of the cliffs, are a collection of huge boulders scattered about haphazardly, as if a giant had abandoned a game of marbles halfway through.

Cliffdwellers, Arizona

This area is called Cliffdwellers.

Cliffdwellers, Arizona

The Cliff-Dwellers were an actual group of ancient people called the Anasazi, who were probably ancestors of the Peublo people that we all learned about in middle school. The Anasazi were nomadic in nature, and would seek shelter in the cliffs-side caves of the American Southwest (hence the name Cliff-Dwellers).

Cliffdwellers, Arizona, however, does not refer directly to the ancient people. Instead, it is a popular stop for many travelers because of a more modern woman.

Cliffdwellers, Arizona

The story goes that in the early 1900s, a woman traveling alone through northern Arizona got lost. Needing somewhere to spend the night, she happened upon this spot, and discovered some “caves” that had been formed by parts of these boulders being eroded away.

She spent the night there and loved it so much that she later purchased the land.

Cliffdwellers, Arizona

She then built a “house” of sorts, which still stands today — half stone and half wood.

Cliffdwellers, Arizona

Cliffdwellers, Arizona
Cliffdwellers, Arizona

Cliffdwellers, Arizona

Now, whether this story is true, I have no idea. But regardless of its authenticity, Cliffdwellers is still a pretty cool place to stop.

Cliffdwellers, Arizona

Has anyone else stopped at this spot in Arizona? If so, what did you think?


"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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27 Comments on “Photo Essay: Cliffdwellers, Arizona

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  1. I’d say that yours and ours was a Happy Accident indeed!

    Awesome! My family and I happened upon this place back in 2002 after visiting the Grand Canyon. It was so bizarre to come upon this as we made our way to St. George Utah. It’s the middle of nowhere! We were the only ones out there and it was so eerily quiet yet peaceful. Like being on another planet! We stayed for hours where I snapped photo after photo using slide film. Now it’s part of our tradition to pull out the old slide projector now and again to relive that wonderful trip. I didn’t know the name of this place was called Cliff-Dwellers…I’ve been searching the net for some time and finally found this. We always thought that huge boulder looked like a giant ice cream cone. Your photos are fantastic! Thanks so much for sharing!

      My sister and I stumbled upon it completely on accident, too! Definitely a cool spot.

    WOW AMAZING – You know what Amanda? – It’s seeing photos like this that reminds me that there is SO MUCH TO SEE IN AMERICA!!! I’ve chatted with this a bit with you before in comments on both of our blogs, but sometimes I get such an urge to see other parts of the world that I seem to neglect the fact that there is so much of the US I haven’t seen. I mean, I have never even been to the Pacific Northwest, or Boston (and i grew up 5 hours from it!) or the badlands or redrocks or Kansas haha.

    Keep Exploring!
    – LO

      The whole point of my U.S. road trip this summer was to see more of my own country. I did that, covering more than a dozen states in 3 weeks. But you know what it made me realize? Our country is HUGE and there’s SO MUCH to see. America really is pretty awesome, and it has a ton of amazing sites to visit.

    Beautiful shots! I love blue sky and orange earth against one another!

      Thank you, Nicole! The colors were so pretty that day — we lucked out and had mostly good weather out West, with the exception of some rain at the North Rim and in Colorado.

    Love the color of these. The red rocks of the west of the US have always intrigued me.

      Me too, Suzy. Those red-orange rocks are so completely different from anything you can find in the Midwest. Love them!

    I had never heard of this before. Cool photos!

      It’s not exactly on many maps or lists of “things to do/see” in Arizona. But it was a cool quick stop to make to break up the drive.

    I could easily stay in that house but would need to add a swimming pool at least! Maybe even just a washing machine. Great photos Amanda. Loved them.

      Haha, a swimming pool, eh? Nice idea! It certainly was hot there.

    Wow, amazing photos! I so want to go here!

      Thanks, Lauren! It was a really fun place to snap so photos – so unique!

    cool spot amanda! haven’t been there in spite of my mom and brother living in AZ. will have to make a point to get there 🙂

    I’ve seen photos of this place before and it looks really cool. I love the colors in these photos!

      The colors were awesome — so rich, and so different from anything you find in the Midwest. The stop is a pretty quick one, too, so I definitely recommend it if you’re planning to visit the North Rim.

    Looks cool, I bet it was really peaceful out there. I could see why that lady felt for that place. Seriously I would love to chill for the weekend in that house.

      The house was interesting – had a fireplace and everything! You could probably make it quite cozy. And yes, it was beautiful out there.

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