Monday, January 30, 2017

Globe, AZ & Huachuca City, AZ (1/11 through 1/16/2017)

The day I left Globe, Mother Nature presented me with another brilliant sunrise.  Little did I know then that my new location would be just as good, if not better, in terms of sunrise/sunset opportunities.

 Huachuca City is a small, somewhat dilapidated town right next door to a much more modern and prosperous town called Sierra Vista.  Sierra is Spanish for "mountain chain" and Vista means "view".  The town is aptly named since there are thirteen distinct mountain ranges in southern Arizona, most of which can be seen from this area.  One of the mountain ranges came to be known as the Huachuca Mountains, probably an Indian word.  Fort Huachuca, a large Army base dating to 1877, was named for the mountains.  It was famous for the "Buffalo Soldiers" at one time.

During my stay here, weather was extremely unsettled, with clouds, rain, high winds and unusually cold temperatures.  It was not conducive to touring most days, but it did produce outstanding sunrises and sunsets.  I moved to different locations each time in an effort to vary the scenes, while still trying to include mountains.  One constant is the presence of dead-looking mesquite trees all over the desert.  I tried very hard to find places without them obstructing my view, but it was almost impossible...they are everywhere.

With so many mountain ranges nearby, obviously there are many canyons, and most of them have some kind of road or 4WD trail.  When the weather permitted, I explored many of the canyons and enjoyed both the scenery and the wildlife (mainly birds).

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Salt River Canyon, AZ Interior (1/10/2017)

Much of the Salt River Canyon is on Apache tribal lands, either the San Carlos tribe or the White Mountain Apaches of Fort Apache.  Another part of the canyon is a wilderness area that's within Tonto National Forest.  To visit the Apache sections, which is what I planned to do, requires a permit from one of the tribes.  I learned on the internet that permits can be purchased at a trading post just off Highway 60 in the canyon, so that was my plan.  However, when I entered the Apache territory, I found there is no trading post.  A couple Apaches I met there told me the trading post was abandoned years ago.  Then there was a permit kiosk, but it's also gone now.  Without a permit, I decided to change my plan and only visit a small part of the canyon, not the full 48 mile trip I wanted to do.  My Apache acquaintances told me that Rangers regularly patrol the canyon road and issue citations for offenders.

My first stop was at Apache Falls, which I had seen from the highway earlier.  The rock along the river provides a good place for up close photos of the falls and rapids.  I even encountered my first road runner of this trip.


I decided to risk meeting an Apache Ranger by taking a short drive down stream, wanting to go at least as far as Cibecue Creek, about four miles away.  At the creek, I had to make a decision whether to hike to the beautiful waterfall a little more than a mile upstream.  Given that the creek was full and had to be crossed multiple times to reach the falls, plus the time to hike would greatly increase the chances of being caught with no permit, I chose to forego this opportunity.  Maybe I'll return some day with a permit.

I also made a short video of the drive in the canyon.  It can be viewed at Jeeping Salt River Canyon.

The San Carlos Apache Reservation was formed in 1872 and actually was used to gather multiple tribes and reduce raids on white settlers.  There have been many problems over the years and the tribe is still among the poorest communities in the country, despite owning nearly two million acres of land, a very large man-made lake and the successful Apache Gold Casino.

Back in the early 1970s, the San Carlos Apache Tribe built a resort and recreational facility called Seneca Lake at a cost of $524,000 to build, with plans to build an 80 unit motel and possibly a golf course and riding stables the following year. The plans came to a screeching halt when the tribe defaulted on payment to their lenders. It didn't take long for the lenders to go out and take back all of the stuff like restaurant equipment, etc. The place was abandoned in the late 70s, and is now listed as an Arizona ghost town (it also requires a permit to visit).  Almost no one visits, it seems, except a few fishermen who go to the small pond that was created by damming Seneca Creek.

I stopped at Seneca, still without permit, because I wanted to explore and look for Seneca Falls.  There are only a few buildings to remind us of the grand plans the tribe had for taking advantage of its resources.  I did manage to find the waterfall, a narrow stream that drops over 200 feet in three tiers, with impressive views of the cliffs at the edge of Salt River Canyon.


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Salt River Canyon, AZ (1/10/2017)

The reason I came to Globe was to visit and explore the Salt River Canyon.  This magnificent canyon doesn't get the publicity it should, primarily because it is on Apache tribal lands.  In fact, the Salt River is the boundary between the Fort Apache Reservation and the San Carlos Apache Reservation.  It is the only place I know where a major highway, US 60/77, goes through such a large canyon.  It descends some 2000 feet to the bottom of the canyon, crosses the river, then climbs up the other side.  Travelers are presented with awesome views over the ten miles required to traverse the canyon, especially from any of the pull-outs provided.

When I came through here some years ago, I was driving a large motor home, which made it impossible to stop, and I didn't have time to come back in the smaller vehicle.  Since then, it has been on my bucket list to more fully explore the canyon.  In this posting, I'll concentrate on the views from the highway and use a separate travelogue to show the interior of the canyon.

The day started with another beautiful sunrise, a prelude to the sunny day I had for my trip.

 One pull-out gives a view of Apache Falls below, which I plan to visit close up when I go into the area off the highway.  The Visitor Center at the bottom allows for views of the old and new bridges, the old now limited to pedestrian use.

In addition to the still photos, I made a video of the drive through the canyon.  You can view it at Highway 60, Salt River Canyon.  It's only about five minutes long, but gives the flavor of the drive.