Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Heads Up On Travel In Northern Arizona, Including Grand Canyon

Illustrating once again Bill Moyers' axiom that journalists are paid to explain things they don't understand, some news reports this morning say that the big wildfire just north of Flagstaff, Arizona, is blocking the main route to the Grand Canyon from the south.

Actually, the fire -- which has burned 10,000 acres so far near the San Francisco Peaks -- has only shut down a part of Rt. 89, which leads northeast from Flagstaff into the western edge of the vast Navajo reservation. Traffic to the Grand Canyon South Rim -- the main tourist spot -- is moving on Rt. 180. To the northwest.

[UPDATE: Rt. 89 reopened this morning, though that's subject to change.]

Here's the fire as seen by satellite.

Overall, there would be less confusion if the media didn't have such disdain for maps.

Anyway, Rt. 89 is the main road to two popular tourist spots, the Sunset Crater and Wupatki national monument areas.

Both Sunset Crater and Wupatki have been evacuated and are closed.

There are three fires in the Flagstaff area. The main one is called the Schultz fire, and it's burning out of control in the hills just outside Flagstaff along Rt. 89, where lots of development has occurred in recent years.

(But oh, the real-estate lure of those spectacular mountain views of 12,000-foot peaks. Yes, the Southern California mistake has been recreated on a smaller scale in Flagstaff.)

A very wet winter and a hot dry spring were the ideal combination for lots of brush to kindle fires like the Schultz fire, which started in a carelessly left campfire, officials said.


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