Quick Trips Reports
As all of you already know, Experience Arizona is dedicated to providing the best, most detailed information regarding hiking, biking and four-wheeling in Arizona. And I think we’re doing that.
But there’s more to enjoying Arizona than just hiking, biking and four-wheeling. A lot more. Maybe you want to dip your toes in a cool stream on a hot day? Or find a shady spot to observe some of Arizona’s colorful birds? Or a unique place to eat lunch? Maybe attend a little-known festival in a small town? Anything that might be fun and exciting to do on a weekend.
Quick Trip Reports, or QTR’s, to the rescue.
QTR’s are exactly what they sound like: short, quick and to the point reports. One or two paragraphs describing the site or adventure, maybe a picture or two, possibly a GPS waypoint and a general map (but no detailed directions). Bim, Bam, Boom and you’re done. Free to go explore it on your own!
In addition, some QTR’s may only include a picture and short description with no GPS coordinates. No, we’re not being lazy or mean. We believe puzzles are fun. We’re going to leave it up to you to figure out where it is and how to get there. Don’t worry, we’ll provide enough clues to solve the mystery (though some will be harder than others). Besides, we believe exploring new areas is half the fun anyway.
QTR's are our way of getting the most fun out of Arizona in quick, short reports. We hope you enjoy experiencing them as much as we did.
July, 2011: Some of these adventures may be closed due to fire damage or forest closures. See news page for more information.
If you're driving along Arizona Highway 288 from Globe to Young and want a quick and interesting detour, take a look at this little gem.
I call it Walnut Creek Canyon Cabin or Ranch because it's sort of in Walnut Creek Canyon. This isn't the infamous Walnut Canyon, but it's pretty just the same. Others may call this Parker Canyon Ranch since it's very close to the much more known Parker Canyon.
Whatever you call it, it's pretty cool. The ranch overlooks the entire valley and has good views of Lake Roosevelt. We talked to some people who were there and their grandfather used to hunt there when he was a boy (early 1900s). They said it was an old hunting cabin.
One of the interesting features of this place is the pool, yes I said pool, they had next to the house. It has excellent views and would have been awesome to float in the water as the sun set.
To drive there you should have a 4WD, but it may not be necessary if you're a skilled driver. High clearance is mandatory. The first 30 feet are the worst as you go by a washout that leans toward the valley. It's a butt clencher for sure. After that, it's pretty easy. Expect some new scratches on your vehicle. Larger vehicles will have some issues getting through the vegetation and other obstacles.
If you don't have a 4WD, you can easily walk the 0.5 mile roundtrip. There's a small parking area across the road, just before the turn (from Globe to Young).
Click here to go to a gallery from my visit.
Click on Topo image to view larger size. The ranch is is about 45 minutes north of Globe. Take 188 out of Globe, then take a right on 288. The turn off is about 14 miles on highway 288. Click here for Google Maps directions.
- Ranch1: N 33 43.749, W 110 57.478
- Ranch: N 33 43.553, W 110 57.318
-WP0001: N 33 43.603, W 110 57.278
If you're a Route 66 aficionado, you'll love this stop. This is one of the best known places along the old Route 66. The twin arrows have been on book and magazine covers and although the stop has long since closed, is still listed by some Route 66 maps as a "must see."
It's not clear when exactly the the trading post and diner opened, but most likely in the 1950s. A sign for the stop hails it as the "Best little stop on I-40."
It was closed down in the 1990s and the harsh weather and vandals are taking its toll. But all is not lost. When the twin arrows became almost completely destroyed, they were restored by the Hopi tribe and Route 66 buffs a few years ago.
Click here to go to a gallery from my recent visit.
Twin Arrows is about 20 miles east of Flagstaff along I-40. Click here for Google Maps directions.
GPS waypoint: N 35 9.687, W 111 16.755.
Here are some additional references:
Weird Arizona: you can see what the arrows looked like before the restoration.
Roadside America: talks about the restoration of the arrows
If you're looking for funky, but relaxing natural hot spring in southern Arizona, then the Essence of Tranquility may be right for you.
These hot springs are located just outside of Safford in a semi-rural area. We recently visited them on our way back from a trip to New Mexico.
It's a offbeat place, with about 6 different man-made hot tubs (though the water comes naturally into the tubs). Many of these are private and clothing is optional.
The water was nice and warm (ranging from 98 to 104 degrees depending on the tub). I found the place nice and relaxing. Best of all, it was at a reasonable price: $5 per hour or $10 all day.
They also offer massages, ear coning, reflexology and essential oil treatment. In addition, you can camp at their tent sites or spend a night in one of their many casitas. Again, sort of funky accommodations, with communal kitchen and living rooms, etc. This isn't the Hilton, but it has a great atmosphere.
If you're looking for either an upscale resort ambiance or a completely natural hot spring, this probably isn't the place for you. But, if you want something a little different, relaxing and reasonable, you may want to give this a try.
more ... (info and directions)
You can also read their FYI page which I thought was entertaining...
Visit one of southern Arizona's best preserved ghost towns. No four-wheeling or hiking involved. If you're going to Tombstone, this is a nice place to visit.
by Matt Marine
Two years ago, I went to the Empire Ranch open house near Sonoita (N 31 47.121 W 110 38.548). I had a great time. Nice weather, good food, beautiful scenery and some cool displays.
As a bonus, they had an author's pavilion. This year, instead of going there as a spectator, I will be one of the author's in the pavilion.
Come on down, say hello, watch some western demonstrations, eat good food and have a great time.
Cat-Dog, my youngest and I taking a break on a large cottonwood tree that had fallen in the nearby wash.
The Author's Pavilion (where I will be).
Click here for directions from Tuson.
by Matt Marine
There's an area about 7 miles up along Catalina Hwy (Mt. Lemmon Rd) which most of us who have been around Tucson for a while know as the Old Prison Camp (WP coordinates N32 20.385 W110 43.063). This area is now known as the Gordon Hirabayshi Campground or Recreation Area (for a former prisoner as we will discuss later).
For many years, the only way to access the top of Mt. Lemmon was either by foot, horse, mule or a road completed in the 1920 that connected the town of Oracle on the north slope to Summerhaven at the top. This road is known today as either the "back way to Mt. Lemmon" or the "old control road". The control road designation comes from the practice that it used to be a toll road.
In the late 1920s, a big push for a southern access (which was much closer to Tucson) to Mt. Lemmon began. After a few failed attempts, the 25 mile southern approach was approved (mainly due to the efforts of Frank Hitchcock which the road was aptly named after). Now, that the road was approved, the problem was to find someone who could build the road. Cheap labor. Hitchock came to the rescue again when he suggested federal prisoners build the road.
Between 1933 and the early 1950s, over 8,000 prisoners worked on the road, which finally opened for automobiles in 1951. During WWII, some 44 Japanese-Americans who had refused Executive Order 9066, which called for the forced evacuation of anyone with 1/6th or more Japanese blood from the Western states and interned in concentration camps, stayed at the prison camp.
One such prisoner was a Japanese-American by the name of Gordon Hirabayshi. He refused to submit to the Executive Order, but lost all his appeals. He wanted to work outside and received approval to move to the Catalina Federal Honor Camp from the Washington site he was interned at, but federal authorities refused to pay for his trip. Gordon hitchhiked his way to Tucson. When he arrived, the prison could not find his papers and Gordon went out to dinner and a movie while they found them.
The camp never had any walls to keep the inmates from escaping. Painted white line and stern words were the only things used to keep the prisoners inside.
Gordon served out his time at the camp and after the war, went on to become a professor of sociology. In 1987 a Federal Appeals Court unanimously overturned Gordon's conviction and in his honor, the old prison camp was renamed the Gordon Hirabayshi Recreation Site.
Click here for a map of the prison site.
Click here for more information on the Catalina Federal Honor Camp.
Click here for more information on Gordon Hirabayshi.
by Matt Marine
On a recent trip to Crown King (adventure to be published soon), we decided to take a different route back than taking the dirt road back to I-17. We went back through Minnehaha, Wagoner and Walnut Grove.
I really enjoyed this route and one of the highlights was the old wagon bridge over the Hassayampa River. (N 34 18.627 W 112 34.086).
This was a cool truss bridge that was built in the 1920s originally for wagon traffic. See Arizona History Hassayampa Bridge page for more information.
If you're out in the area, this is a neat place to stop and see a little bit of Arizona history.
by Matt Marine
April 2014 Update: It appears that Rattlesnake Crafts has either shut down or moved. We were unable to find it during our last visit. We talked to some people in Gleeson and they said they had heard the owners had moved it, but did not know where.
We did this detour on our last trip to the ghost town of Gleeson. My wife was dubious, but as the dilapidated sign said, "As seen on NBC's Today Show" I figured we couldn't go wrong. And I was right (for once). This place was awesome. Not for the reason you may be thinking. I didn't care much for all the rattlesnake crafts (though some of the were very unique). It was all the "stuff" they had collected over the years.
The friendly rattlesnake folks (John and Sandy) have amassed a great deal of stuff in there years of trading. Unfortunately, none of its for sale, but it's great fun looking at all of it. They have tons of old stuff like cameras, irons, toys, blacksmith gear, saddles, etc. set out for you viewing enjoyment.
We spent a good 30 minutes or more just looking at all this old stuff. If you like this kind of stuff, it's worth the trip. Who knows, you just might pick up some rattlesnake crafts as a present for that hard to buy for aunt of yours!
by Matt Marine
This lookout features more of the famous Sedona red rock than the Oak Creek Canyon lookouts, but the road is rough and bumpy. Four-wheel drive not needed, but I don’t think I’d be taking my nice new car on this drive.
This road also offers access to numerous hiking trails (Schnebly Hill Trail #158 and Munds Mountain Trail #77) and wonderful close up views of rock formations like Merry-Go-Round Rock.
by Matt Marine
An interesting short stop of ghost town buffs (those there's not much to see due to private property limitations) is the small ghost town of American Flag near Oracle, Arizona. Located at coordinates N 32 34.805 W 110 43.238. Here's some history I gleaned regarding American Flag: The town of American Flag was founded by prospector Isaac Lorrainein in the late 1870s where he was operating the American Flag mine. As more mining and ranching camps popped up in the area, the need for a post office grew. The mining town eventually had a population of about forty. The American Flag Post Office was established on December 28, 1880. In 1881, Lorrainein sold the town to the Richardson Mining Company of New York. But by 1884, the population dwindled to only fifteen so and the post office closed on July 16, 1890. The old post office still stands today (now on the site of the American Flag Ranch where it was moved sometime after it was built), and is believed to be the oldest surviving territorial post office building in Arizona. The building is now on the National Register of Historic Places, and is preserved by the Oracle Historical Society.
by Matt Marine
Want to dive into some of Arizona's history but don't have a lot of time? Look no farther than the Strawberry School House. Located at N 34 24.355, W 111 31.165, it may be one of the best little known historical attractions near Payson. Until a recent trip to Fossil Creek, I had no idea that it was even there. The small sign of the side of the road attracted my attention and I pulled over to check it out. And I'm sure glad I did. Touted as the "Oldest Standing School in Arizona," the little building was packed with history. More than enough to fill the short time I had. Stop by for a visit, I'm sure you'll be glad you did.
by Matt Marine
For those of you in Tucson looking for beauty and adventure at the same time, it may be closer than you think. Windy Point (N 32 22.117, W 110 43.008) along the Catalina Highway to Mt. Lemmon offers both.
First of all, Windy Point looks over Tucson from about 6300 ft in elevation. The rock formations and views are outstanding. Secondly, you hike and rock climb among the vertical cliffs in the area.
The nooks and crannies of the rock formations are fun to explore and on some weekends you can see rock climbing enthusiasts defy gravity as they scale the cliffs.
If you don’t like heights, this isn’t the place for you, but if you crave some adventure and scenery, this could be what you’re looking for.
by Matt Marine
Want a nice place for a picnic half way through Oak Creek Canyon? How about the Halfway Picnic Area (Waypoint001: N 34 57.395, W 111 45.336)? It’s not as popular as some of the other spots (due to it’s a little more difficult to get down to the creek), so I really liked it.
I climbed down the steep trail to the creek and walked south along the rushing water. What I saw amazed me! There was this duck. At least it sort of looked like a duck. It was feeding on the bottom of the creek. Not too amazing, but I’d never seen a duck do what this one did. It swam UP the creek. Up the rapids. It was amazing to see this bird swim and jump up the rapids like a salmon. If you go, I hope you’re as blessed as I was.
by Matt Marine
Want a great place to get out of the Arizona summer heat? Take a ride up Mt. Lemmon, enjoy the cool pine scented air. And if you're hungry, I recommend The Cookie Cabin & Pizza (Waypoint N32 26.523, W 110 45.625 approximate).
They had some of the best pizza I've had in a LONG time. A small "supreme" pizza for $7. Yum! And the cookies are about as big as paper plates. Can't beat it.
by Matt Marine
Here’s a quick side trip you can take while you’re visiting Sasco (see previous Sasco 4WD Adventure). Turn left (south) about ¼ of a mile past the turnoff to Sasco (Waypoint Well) and almost immediately you’ll see a small concrete structure (not sure what this was used for) on the right, and then after another 100 yards or so, a stone well on the left. I believe this area used to be the old Sasco town site and the well might have been the town well.
Continue straight on this road (I believe a high clearance truck can make this and 4wd isn’t required) for about one mile, then take the left up the hill (Waypoint Turn Left). If you go straight here, the road ends not to far ahead. Take the left and continue on this road until it ends (Waypoint Park). You can see the shallow cave (with the shrine inside) in side of the hill about a quarter-mile away. To get to the shrine, I hiked the direct route, bushwhacking through the desert, which isn’t too bad, except there’s a small ravine that you can’t see until almost on top of it, though it’s easy to just skirt around it. When you get closer to the shrine, you’ll find a well-worn trail that you’ll want to follow on the way back (it makes it a little easier going), though this trail vanishes near the parking area (which is why you won’t see it from the start).
The shrine is in a shallow cave and from what I hear used to be well taken care of a decade or so ago. When I went there, it was in disrepair. The concrete sign looks like someone broke it, then repaired it and scrawled in words in the new concrete. I’m not sure if these match the original text. A bunch of glass candle vases were littered on the ground.
I don’t know what this place signifies, but it’s sort of a neat thing to see way out in the middle of the barren desert and to ask yourself why would someone do this?
by Matt Marine
Want a nice place to take the dogs out for a run in a sandy (and sometimes watery) place close to NW Tucson? And it even involves about 15 minutes of light four-wheeling? I've got the place for you! Go to the Sutherland Wash near Catalina. (Waypoint 001 32 28.740, W 110 52.292 approximate).
We went out there on July 9th after a nice rain hoping to find some water running in the wash. No luck this time, but the dogs enjoyed a nice run in the sand.
by Matt Marine
Another great place in Sedona to go (especially with small kids) is Red Rock Crossing (Waypoint001 N 34 49.602, W 111 48.412). There’s nice easy trails to explore, great picnic areas and bathrooms. It does cost money to get in, but I found it worth it.
One spot I found especially interesting is the vortex called “Buddha Beach”. This is where people stack the round river rocks in interesting piles. Sit down near all the rock piles and relax, or build your own like I did.
Can you find the old water wheel (not the one on display, that’s cheating)? You can also visit the crossing itself and if the water’s low, cross to the other side. Tons of fun!
by Matt Marine
Want to go to a nice place for a short hike and a picnic on Mt. Lemmon? One area that's nice is Marshall Gulch (Waypoint001 N 32 25.709, W 110 45.317). There’s nice easy trails to explore, great picnic areas and bathrooms. This is a wonderful area to get out of the heat in the summer or see snow in the winter.
For those who want to see water, the stream that runs along the road usually runs throughout the year. One word of caution, it does get very busy here. Parking on weekends can be limited at best. If you want to do a picnic and insure a table, it's best to start early.