Journey to Bonita Creek
Located in one of only two Riparian Natural Conservation Areas in the United States, Bonita Creek is truly a desert oasis. Over spring-break, Nick Smallwood had the opportunity to visit this amazing place and capture its beauty through the lens of his camera. Here are a few of his best photos, as well as a short story about his trip.
Bell Rock Bliss
Sedona is one of those places that’s hard to describe with words alone. It’s a place where all the elements – beautiful scenery, unique shops, and a large amount of outdoor activities – come crashing together to create a travel destination that is unlike any other. A few weeks ago, Nick Smallwood spent a weekend in Sedona to experience some of the great hiking there. Join Nick as he takes you on a blissful journey up Bell Rock, one of the town’s most prominent rock features.
Finding Arizona's Lost Highways
Think you’ve discovered all there is to find in Arizona? Think again! Hidden in plain sight are Arizona’s lost highways. While these roads are no longer in use, hiking them is a surefire way to bring back the nostalgia of the good old days. In this article, Nick Smallwood travels back to the 1930’s as he shows you how to find these old roads.
Journey to Windy Point
Join intern Nick Smallwood for his photographic journey to Windy Point, a popular vista near Tucson. If you've never been there before, his beautiful images will make you wonder what you've been missing.
Angels of Oak Creek Cabin
Some of the places we visit are very old. These places have a lot of unwritten history. It appears sometimes this history wishes to contact us. After reviewing pictures from a camping trip to an old cabin where "strange things happened during the night", my sister found what looks like an angel in the cabin's window. Join me as I take an in depth look at this image to see if it's a fake (Photoshop) or real.
Gilbert Riparian Preserve at Water Park
Intern Elisabeth Morales brings us a wonderful multimedia story of the Gilbert Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch. This is another hidden gem in Arizona that has over four miles of hiking trails, bird watching fishing, education and much more. If you live in the area and are looking for something to do outdoors this winter that's close to home, this may just be what you're looking for!
Tony Sedgwick: A Moving Force
“Suck the juice out of your time here on this planet –do it all,” he says with a smile. His contentment is contagious and impossible to ignore. From a successful law career on the East Coast to charitable community leader, Tony Sedgwick opens up on what led him here today. Read more to find out about one of Nogales’s most giving men.
Scenic Chair Lift: A Ride Into Fall
As it finally starts to cool down, the scenic chair lift ride in Flagstaff, Arizona is the perfect way to get in the fall spirit with its dramatic views and tranquil atmosphere – all at 11,500 feet.
Las Lagunas - A Community's Treasure
Between the coming together of a community, countless volunteers and one dedicated family comes Las Lagunas de Anza- a symbol of hope and hardwork in this small border town.
Hilltop Indian Ruins - Part II
By Matt Marine
Here's Part II of the Hilltop Ruins story. Join us as we attempt to scale the spire on extremely narrow ledges. Two of the four adventurers don't make to the top. But for those who do, what an awesome experience!
Hilltop Indian Ruins - Part I
By Matt Marine
What do you get when you combine a dangerously steep mountain, an almost impenetrable carpet of cactus, and a quest to reach ancient ruins? A grand adventure! Come read our latest feature story as Cat-dog and I try to survive our attempt to find some hilltop Indian ruins in central Arizona.
Conquering My Fear of Heights While Ziplining
By Matt Marine
What do "normal" people who are afraid of heights do when they here that a new zipline adventure is opening up in southern Arizona? They immediately call to see if they can get a reservation! At least that's what I did. So, okay, I may not be normal, but I was up for the adventure! At least I thought I was.
Can ziplines be both Exciting and Cozy?
If you've been looking to check out the longest zipline in southern Arizona--1,500 feet long--then good news because Tobey has already done it and she has some good feedback. Check out what Tobey has to say about Arizona Zipline Adventures.
Ten Days in Arizona
Guest writer Dana Benner shares his first visit to Arizona (coming from New Hampshire) in part one of his story, Ten Days in Arizona, where he finds there much more to the state than just the Grand Canyon.
Tobey prides herself in being a good cook both at home and in the backcountry. For some, the latter can be a little difficult. In this article, she gives you step by step instructions and tips on how to create the perfect personal pizzas in the backcountry... Yum!
Canoeing Along the Colorado River
Want to see a glimpse of what it's like to canoe 35 miles down the Colorado River through the Chocolate Mountains? Check out Tobey's video of her paddling adventure!
The Ranch with more than one Purpose
For Tobey, who became a vegetarian for environmental reasons, visiting a cattle ranch was quite the learning experience. Check out her day spent herding cattle and tagging calves on the Santa Fe Ranch in Nogales, Arizona.
Join Tobey Schmidt in her first story with Experience Arizona as she takes you on a rock climbing adventure during a frosty morning in southern Arizona. Tobey not only discovers what it's like to fall, but also what truly motivates her to keep climbing.
Coming out of the Tool Closet
By Matt Marine
I'm finally coming out of the tool closet and admitting to something that I've had to live my whole life with and some in the Jeep world will shun.
A Most Beautiful Success
By Dale Brech
Here's Part II of our adventure at Pueblo Canyon Ruins - A Most Beautiful Success! After I turned back without reaching the ruins, here's the story of the two that did.
I want to thank Dale Brech, guest writer and fellow adventurer, for his wonderful write up. This story would not have been possible without him.
A Most Beautiful Failure
By Matt Marine
No one enjoys failing. But if you're not failing every once in a while, you're not pushing yourself hard enough. And sometimes failures can be beautiful - here's the story of one of my most beautiful failures.
By Jordyne Neminske
Oatman is a living ghost town in northern Arizona near Kingman. Oatman was once one of the largest gold producing towns in Arizona. Now, it's a unique tourist destination with plenty of interesting shops, a few restaurants, an old mine and some tough old donkeys you can hand feed. Go back in time with Jordyne as she discovers why this town should be rediscovered.
Witnessing the Paranormal
Legends of cowboy spirits, haunted hotels and spooky mines are embedded in Arizona’s rich history. These unsolved mysteries loom over cities, homes and people here in the West. Luckily there are a select few who are dedicated to discovering the truth: paranormal investigators. I sat down with two of Arizona’s finest paranormal investigators at the haunted, Steam Pump Ranch in Oro Valley. We discussed what it means to investigate the paranormal, what ghosts look like, the history and haunting of Steam Pump Ranch and much more. The natural beauty of Arizona draws people here from around the world but maybe there is more to this state than what meets the eye.
The Descent into Darkness
A persistent chill and complete darkness fills the Lava River Cave in Flagstaff, Arizona. 700,000 years ago molten rock erupted from a volcano vent, forming an underground flowing river of lava. Today one of Arizona's most thrilling attractions, The Lava River Cave remains. This cave is an otherworldly adventure and a perfect place to cool off from the summer heat.
Searching for Clues in a Mystery Castle
Phoenix, Arizona is home to a mansion full of secrets and treasures – a strange castle built in the 1930's with a mixture of materials such as distorted bricks, wagon wheels and automobile parts which form its 18 rooms. The castle was dedicated to a woman named Mary Lou Gulley who lived there until her death in 2010. Here’s the story of one of the most unique and visited places in the West – Phoenix’s Mystery Castle.
The Crazy Bird Lady of Elephant Hill
By Matt Marine
As promised, here's the story of "The Crazy Bird Lady of Elephant Hill." It's a story about decisions - good or bad and how they may impact you, those with you and even those around you. This is perhaps one of the strangest things I've witnessed while out exploring. Was this lady courageous or crazy? You make the call!
In Search of a Fire in the Sky
By Brian Sullins
In his latest story, In Search of a Fire in the Sky, guest writer Brian Sullins heads out to find the location of one of the best documented cases of alien abductions in the US. It happened in northern Arizona back in 1975, on a day many local residents of the small town of Heber will never forget.
Guardrailosaurus WReX Recently Discovered at Grand Canyon
By Brian Sullins
Introducing guest writer, Brian Sullins. Brian is a friend, fellow explorer, and amateur photographer / writer currently living in living in Litchfield Park, Arizona. He’s also an Arizona native and father of three who enjoys spending much of his free time going to the places only accessible by foot or 4WD. Please welcome Brian to the site and take a moment to read his story, Guardrailosaurus WReX Recently Discovered at Grand Canyon.
Spring Breaking and Making Memories in Antelope Canyon
By Shannon Higgins
Page, Arizona might not be every college student’s destination for spring break, but this year it was mine. Ditching the beach to spend time with my family exploring Antelope Canyon seemed like a risky decision. Page wasn’t much to see and I questioned if a seaside view would have been more enjoyable than what I signed up for. Did Antelope Canyon outshine a typical spring break with salty air and a warm beach?
Conquering Middle Parker Creek Canyon - Part III
Hoping We Don’t Need to be Lifted out by Helicopter
The final chapter in our Conquering Middle Parker Creek Canyon series has been published. We were stopped by a unclimbable waterfall and had to decide how we were going to make it out of the canyon: try a quick, but dangerous exit, or take the longer and much safer way out. I'm sure our choice won't surprise you, but what had me thinking of movie, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, may. I’m just glad no one had to be lifted out by helicopter.
Conquering Middle Parker Creek Canyon - Part II
Into the Grotto
Part II of our Conquering Parker Creek Canyon adventure has been posted. In our quest to reach Sleeping Dog Grotto from the north, we find Parker Creek Canyon has more to throw at us than swamps, reeds and cattails. Although we are able to carefully bypass one of the larger waterfalls, we soon discover that isn’t an option when the canyon becomes even more narrow. The only way to get through is to climb down as far as you can, then jump into the freezing cold water. Except if you’re a ninja. Then you may be able to do an awesome ninja move and straddle the canyon. To my utter surprise, I find out that I am NOT a ninja. I also find out that my canyon exit strategy has been nixed by a 35 foot waterfall. Beautiful, but impassible.
Conquering Middle Parker Creek Canyon - Part I
"Chances of Survival are 725 to 1"
A few friends and I decided we would attempt to hike what I am calling "Middle Parker Creek Canyon". This section of the canyon would tie in to the upper half of the lower section we hiked a few months ago. I thought it may be a little bit of a challenge, but like usual, I was wrong. It's not often you have to wade hip deep through a murky swamp in Arizona hoping not to be taken down by some unseen creature. Or have to jump off a small waterfall into numbingly cold water. Or scale super steep canyon walls that crumble away after every step. But we managed to find all of this and more. Here's the first part of our story.
Preserving Kartchner Caverns State Park
Kartchner Caverns State Park is the largest living cave in Arizona. With such a remarkable place open to the public, I wanted to discover how they are able to preserve this underground world from deterioration.
A Tale of Two Canyons
A Tale of Two Canyons: here's a story about an extraordinary experience I had a couple of weekends ago. I got to hike, 4WD and camp along two very different canyons, which happen to be the same canyon. Sound confusing? It's really not. The same water flows through them, but they are so different and unique they may as well have been in different states. If you like breathtaking beauty and have a sense of adventure, it doesn't get much better than this.
Bridal Wreath Falls
It’s easy to overlook the Rincon Mountains and not give a second thought to what could be hidden in them. I decided to take advantage of this natural beauty and discover what it has to offer, which led me to hike Bridal Wreath Falls. This moderate day hike led me back through the mountains to a cool grotto with water streaming off the cliffs.
Box Canyon Blunders
Ever have one of those days? I had one last weekend when we went out to Box Canyon to see if there was any water flowing in the canyon after it rained the previous day. It wasn't and I paid the price for not adhering to on the my Cardinal Rules of exploring.
Return to Spooky Canyon and Getting Rock-Blocked!
After being away for over four years, we made our return to Spooky Canyon. This canyon is usually filled with creepy critters and strange stuff, just perfect for the month of October.
Unfortunately, we didn't see anything like that on this trip, but what we did come across stopped us in our tracks.
Reaping the Rewards of an Arizona Hurricane - Part III
I've added Part III of our adventure to Carr Canyon Falls after hurricane Odile hit southern Arizona. After experiencing the beauty of the falls, we head back down to our vehicles. On our way we encounter some very strange things, the likes of which I've never seen before.
We also discover why have been alone on the mountain all day.
Reaping the Rewards of an Arizona Hurricane - Part II
Part II of our adventure to Carr Canyon Falls after hurricane Odile hit southern Arizona is now online. We make it to the bottom of the falls and witness something few people get to see - the spectacular beauty of huge waterfall shrouded in the mist in southern Arizona.
Reaping the Rewards of an Arizona Hurricane - Part I
In the aftermath of hurricane Odile, we venture to Sierra Vista to see if we can make it to Carr Canyon Falls.
The Huachuca Mountains received four inches of rain the night before and we found portions of the road completely submerged. Would the rampaging flood waters stop us or would some new friends give us the courage to make the crossing?
Hiking Trip to a WWII B-24 Crash Site and Eating Dry Cat Food
In June, a friend and I attempted to climb half way up the tallest mountain in Arizona to find the remains of a B-24 bomber that had crashed there during WWII.
We had everything planned out, then the plans were thrown out the window. We eventually would find the crash site ... and that when you're really hungry dry cat food doesn't sound too bad.
Dinner at the Rock House
We head out for a nice BBQ and 4WD trip to the Rock House and end up being attacked by Mother Nature.
Run for the Border - Parts I - IV
This was an attempt at finding a lost ghost town we had unexpectedly discovered during a four day expedition near the border in 1988. At that time, it was one of the best ghost towns we had ever visited, with a scattering of intact (and unmolested) buildings and tons of discarded equipment. It was only by stupid luck we found it in 1988. Now, twenty-six years later, would I have enough stupidity and luck to find it again?
Video and Diagram of the Cliff House
I provide a quick video tour of the Cliff House and an interactive layout. You can click on the camera icons to see pictures of each room of the Cliff House.
Return to the Cliff House - Part II
Part II of our adventure as we return to the Cliff House near Redington. We hiked down into the canyon and find out that the hike is tougher on one of us than we'd imagined.
We have to make some hard decisions and discover that sometimes playing it safe is the best way to go.
Return to the Cliff House - Part I
Part I of our adventure as we return to the Cliff House near Redington. This is a unique piece of architecture in a remote canyon that was built in the 1930s.
The place is difficult to find and even more difficult to get to. With good friends, beautiful scenery and sketchy weather we had quite the adventure!
Join us for Part I of our trip as we conquer "Freak Out" hill and discover things aren't always what they seem...
In Search of the Old Glory Dam
A huge dam was built in 1884 to service the largest gold producing mine in the Oro Blanco Mining District in southern Arizona. I failed to locate the dam during my first visit to the area in December, 2013. Something that big doesn’t just disappear. Or does it? After a month of research, I thought I’d solved the mystery and was ready to make a second attempt.
Here’s the story of what I found, the mistakes I made and how wrong one can be. Make sure you watch the video at the end of the story documenting the discovery. Not only does it give you a taste about how I found the dam, but a an idea of what the countryside is like.
Top Ten Reasons Jeeps are Better Than Horses
My wife is obsessed with horses. My wife's best friend is obsessed with horses (she has something like 17 million of them). My youngest daughter spends so much time with her horse I am convinced she is actually possessed by horses (I am looking for someone to perform a horse exorcism on her).
What is it about horses and women? That's one of the Universes age-old questions. One that I can't answer. But, I can tell you why Jeeps are better than horses. It's so simple, I don't understand why my wife and daughter don't see it.
Cold Spring Canyon Ruins - Part III
I’ve added Part III of the Cold Spring Canyon Adventure to the website. It’s the third and final chapter to the story. Three of us will make it to the ruins, one will be stopped 100 yards away. Our attempt to reach Scott and the correct trail will lead us to one of the craziest stunts I’ve ever attempted and one that Cat-dog surely won’t forget. But it was all worth it.
Cold Spring Canyon Ruins - Part II
Part II of the Cold Springs Canyon Ruins adventure continues as we head up the wrong rockslide and find that although we are only 100 feet away from our goal, only one of us had courage and strength to finish the climb. I'll give you a hint. It wasn't me. But the adventure was far from over, it was just beginning.
Cold Spring Canyon Ruins - Part I
Hiking up Big Buck Uranium Mine Road
The first weekend of November two friends, Cat-dog and I went on a grand adventure along Cherry Creek Road. Our first destination were the Cold Spring Indian Ruins. These had been on my bucket list for over a year and I was excited about attempting to reach them. The hike was listed as "strenuous" and "difficult" and I thought I was ready for it.
No Bites, No Fish, No Problem (My Experience at Patagonia Lake)
Fall intern Heidi Jaenicke had a craving for a fresh fish dinner, so she headed down to Patagonia Lake to cast out her line and reel in her limit. Should be no problem. But she didn't count on running into a would-be cast from The Walking Dead, a dead trolling motor battery or an abundance of empty fishing line. Learn how she takes a day that had a recipe for disaster and turns it into a delicious Lemon Lime Tilapia that you'll want to try for yourself.
Arizona Mine Fishing
Ever wonder what's at the bottom of the mine shaft you just found, but don't have the equipment or lack of brains to go down there to find out? Don't worry, I've got you covered. I've invented a new sport called mine fishing (saying "sport" may be overselling it a bit, most people just call it idiotic or stupid) which is a ton of fun if you don't die. So grab your best fishing pole, GoPro camera and case of cheap beer and join me as I tell you everything you need to know about this awesome activity and why you should never actually do this. Warning: article contains crude and juvenile humor.
Chasing the Sunset
My daughter Jennifer and I teamed up to write an article for Oro Valley Life Magazine about our adventure heading up into the mountains chasiing after a sunset and watching the monsoons roll in.
The article was the cover story (and Jennifer's picture the cover photo) in the October issue of the magazine.
Here's the article from the magazine and a few more pictures from the trip.
Trail Report: Ripsey Hill Area
Cat-dog and I took a trip back up to the Ripsey Hill area to see if we could find an old mine and shack we'd heard about.
We did (and it was awesome), we also found the largest swarm of bugs I'd ever experienced in Arizona, water where we didn't expect to see any and a bridge any sane mind wouldn't walk across.
The Experience Arizona Memory Project: Spring Break at Chiva Falls (mid 1980s)
Spring Break with a Jeep, Landcruiser, Chiva Falls, two guys, two coolers full of cheap beer and three beautiful girls.
Sounds like an awesome adventure to me.
Except for the part when we almomst died.
Sipping Down in Sonoita
Can grapes grown in the small southern Arizona town of Sonoita compare with those from the infamous Napa Valley? Fall intern, Heidi Jaenicke, decided to take a trip down to Sonoita and do a little wine tasting. I know, tough assignment, right? Join Heidi as she finds out if the saying, “Napa makes auto parts, Sonoita makes wine” holds any water …. or better yet, wine.
The Experience Arizona Memory Project: Copper Creek Flash Flood
As I began to go through my old pictures, they brought back many good memories of past adventures, some of which I hadn't thought about in years. I decided to scan these pictures and share them. But there's more to these memories than just the pictures. There's usually a good story to go along with them.
I'm starting off this adventure with one I hope to never forget. Back in my college days three friends and I went to Copper Creek during monsoon season and experienced an awesome flash flood and rescued someone caught in the water.
Here's the story...
Pena Blanca Canyon Adventure
Are you looking for a 4WD adventure? Then Pena Blanca Canyon may be what you're looking for. This one had everything when we went: a little bit of challenge, beautiful scenery, wonderful animals and water! Lots and lots of water. Did I mention a 50 foot waterfall? We ran this trail just after a summer storm and were lucky enough to reap the rewards. If this sounds good to you, then you may want to hurry. This trail gets closed when the Coronado National Forest publishes there new Motor Use Vehicle Map (MVUM).
The Jeep Wave: Origins, Customs and Etiquette
Ever wonder about the origins and etiquette of the infamous Jeep wave? I’ve done the research and have it all laid out for you in my new feature article called Jeep Wave: Origins, Customs and Etiquette. If you drive a Jeep you need to look at this. If you don’t drive a Jeep, take a look anyway and find out what you’re missing.
Tubing down the Salt River
Looking for a good place to soak it all in? At Experience AZ we've got our outdoor fun down to a science. Let's work some formulas: Lazy River + College House Party x Arizona vistas = the Salt River.
Add yourself into the equation and just see what happens. Check out our latest piece on tubing the Salt River!
For those of us who have lived in Arizona long enough to consider the desert home, you may feel more comfortable amongst the rocks and cacti than cool, blue water. That’s why Experience Arizona and intern Iain Gordon have teamed up to bring you an exclusive tutorial on the basics of canoeing and how to get started in the state of Arizona.
Canoeing the Blue Ridge Reservoir
Arizona means the desert. We know it. We love it. But this doesn't have to mean we can't have fun on the water every now and then. Check out the latest feature piece on the Blue Ridge Reservoir, a lake without a sunset, but instead a "moonrise".
Bouldering the McDowell Mountains: Tom’s Thumb
Join intern Iain Gordon as he visits the McDowell Mountains to climb Tom's Thumb in a sport called bouldering. Bouldering is rock climbing's unruly little brother. No ropes, no fuss, no muss. Just you and the boulder.