What happens when a 150 foot wide chunk of Iron and nickel drops in on the Earth? You get a hole a mile wide and 500 feet deep! Welcome to Barringer Crater, aka Meteor Crater. The crater is located 40 miles East of Flagstaff, AZ. Its right off of Interstate 40.
This is the windest place North of Antarctica! There is a steady 30 mph wind and it gusts well above that. But its the easiest to visit and best preserved crater around. Most craters are eroded by water, in Northern Arizona not much of a problem.
There are three observation areas set up along the rim. Two are slightly below the rim. There is no access within or to the bottom. You get a fairly young (50,000 year old) feature that all the hallmarks an impact crater. This is what the Moon surface is coveted with. The astronauts actually trained here before going to the Moon.
There’s a movie telling the story. There are guided tours subject to weather. The have a small display of other impact craters, meteor types, and video simulaions. You can put your hands on a 1400 pound piece of the meteor responsible for this whole thing.
If you are in the Flagstaff area, its worth a stop even at $18/adult. This is a good add on to Sunset Crater or Wapitaki trips
Saguaro Lake is located 20 miles Northeast of Mesa, AZ. It’s has a marina and several boat ramps. And three roads into the area. There are marked trails for hiking, atv’s and horses. This is part of Tonto Forest area and daily passes are sold off site year round in places like Ft McDowell, Mesa, and Jake’s Corners
And being there at the beginning of March, there are wildflowers. The area is loaded with cacti and cholla.
An oasis in the High Desert. This impounded lake is surrounded by mountains and the stately Saguaro cacti. Located about an hour and a half out of Pheonix this is an unbelievable drive and set of short hikes.
Of course, those with a boat it’s prefect. I have only an inflatable kayak… The wife is funny about going out on a lake 350 feet deep in an inflatable craft. There are 3 boat ramps and they are about 120 get wide and quarter mile long. You can drive down them in a car, just stay out if the way.
There are several roads (some paved) that lead to the water. I mean to the waters edge. Which means be careful because you are alone here for the most part. But several places give you the chance to be alone. The Saguaro cacti are plentiful. The views great on grey days.
I can tell you there are cliff dwellings in a National Monument but they close at 4pm. I missed out today.
The Saguaro cacti take 75 years to start is first “arm”. The one above is probably in the 200-250 year range. It’s maybe 25-30 feet tall.
A grey day in Sedona looks better than a good day other places. A few miles west of the “Y” in Sedona is Dry Creek Road this leads to a bunch of trailheads. But for those who don’t want to walk in cold weather these pictures are all from the road.
If you hike stay on the trails and bring a friend. There are a ton of exposed areas. There were a few puma (mountain lion) prints asking my little solo hike. There were people at the trailhead on my return telling me this is bad place for heat illnesses. Bring water!
There are trails everywhere here outside of Payson, AZ. This is a stab in the dark hike. I left with no more than a distance and direction. The trail offers solitude.
The forest like most in the area have Ponderosa Pines, Alligator Cypress, and Sycamore through out the hike. The forest is open with tons of natural light.
While there were plenty of hoof prints from elk, wildlife around 11 AM was missing. But I did have a butterfly pose for me (actually sipping minerals out of wet soil). I’m not used to seeing them in November. Or as below, a wildflower.
The trail crosses a highway and continues as multiple trails to a small creek and a pasture, or across the state if you keep following the White diamonds. But I stopped at the meadow. Very relaxing but not for nature watching during the middle of the day
This gorgeous piece of travertine has a 183 feet high bridge carved by this passive looking stream. Its located about ten miles North of Payson, AZ off AZ87. The State Park is a nice ride off the highway that ends in some hairpin turns. The park is fairly small none of the four hikes being longer than half a mile.
The bridge is tall enough that you need to drop 200 feet in a fairly quickly manner. Railroad ties make stairs in places to make it easier. The view above is from Gowan trail, it is the easiest way down. You can make it to the bottom where a misty waterfall will get you wet if you stand there long enough. Above you are plenty of swallows that make nests inside holes in the travertine above you. Benches are there for the return trip.
If you wish to rock hop a little you can get about 100 feet into the tunnel safely. The rocks are highly polished and can be wet bring really good shoes. The views are spectacular.
Now every tunnel had two sides! Above and below are the other views. The second trail is Anna Mae trail. It has the same drop of 200 feet but is much shorter like 500 feet! At the bottom you aren’t able to see the Bridge. So you rock hop. It’s not a difficult “path” but good shoes, knees, and ankles are required. There is mostly uneven smooth rocks that are in the creek. It’s worth the challenge. Below you can see the misty waterfall back light from the morning sun.
The Pine Creek Trail is a half mile of Creek that means very little trail and lots of these cataracts. It’s a nice view and super quiet for most part. It starts with Anna Mae Trail, and is a collection of arrows on rocks and trees that meander side to side. This is a half hour of looking for the best foothold. Below was my prize picture. Kind of Dragon like thing made from a tree trunk still in the ground. I don’t know what happened to the tree but it wasn’t pretty.
Finally, they advertise a Waterfall trail. Uh, not much to see here. You do get a fern choked “waterfall”, meaning water drips a lot from above. There is no cascading. There is no sound of a traditional waterfall. So either do this first or last when splashing with water will cool you off.
A first blush these aren’t the ruins you go to visit. Actually this is what find look like before they are cleaned up and repaired and signed. The rock outlines and fences spread out across 4 acres here. There are changes in styles of rooms and positioning with other rooms. Over four hundred years people lived here. They used rocks as foundations and covered them with branches or skins and wooden frames.
In the picture above, the sapling pine sits where a door was. There is an oval ring where a house stood about 1150 AD toward the end of their stay here.
It’s on the Houston Mesa Rd off of North Arizona 87. There’s a weird feeling to the place. You could spend more time here than you realize.
If you are in the Payson area and have some time to kill. Here are little gem. Its about 20 minutes from Home Depot off a road called Houston Mesa. The road has a gorgeous view of the Mogollan Rim. There’s even a sign for Water Wheel parking after your cross a large concrete bridge.
The hike was about 1 1/4miles that I did. You stay along a tributary of the Verde River. Our experience of the first features is a Box Canyon which terminates with a sixty foot ribbon waterfall. The sides of the canyon are polished granite. The same water below has ride high up these walls and across to smooth the granite.
As you get closer to the end you’ll notice a second ribbon waterfall on the right. Those liking to rock hop you can get to the falls fairly easily.
At the top of the Box Canyon,we have a much more open landscape. Plenty of water flows from multiple sides. Willow trees mix in with Sycamore and pines. There are several cascades that wind around close to the waters edge. They call out to you. I took advantage of dry conditions to explore at least 15 different cascades and third waterfall about 20 minutes from the end of the box canyon. The hike is probably closer to moderate with notrouble a lot of shade. Bring water or drink well before and after.
There are critters calling this home. The tarantula here is about three inches long and blends in really well. Several small lizards run rock to rock. I even saw a butterfly in November. There were few birds.
Today, I stepped out into the Arizona Sun. My restless shoes have been dirt free for a week. New life in a new place. Simply put, this will not do.
I go to the License Bureau to become a real Arizonan (sand cutter). I hear of a place involving diamonds! Ok called Diamond Point. I break out the Google Apps on the phone…. it’s 15 miles from me! Restless shoes are about to find dirt.
Anyone in the area? Well, East of Payson on AZ 260 by 15 miles, you’ll find a little road to Tonto Village. The lovely people pave the first 2 miles for you too! The rest is called dirt but really sand and gravel. You can do it in a car. Lower riders maybe not after bad weather.
There are several campsite spread out along the six mile drive. The views are strictly forest going up. There exist trails from people like me looking for quartz crystals. The forest service maintains the area and may have trails on theirs maps. Ponderosa pines cover most of the area which makes it a nice hiking place. But there’s thing to find here.
That is a quartz crystal! One side has a point and the other part of one. The actual size is about that of a large fingernail. There are two ways to find them. Using a shovel or hand trowel ( perfectly legal here !) Or look on the ground near water run offs, stream beds, drainage pipes along the road. I found this in leaf liter near a dry stream sitting out in the open.
Oh yeah! There’s one hell of a view from the top. The elevation is about 1000 feet above the Valley below. You can see several rows of mountains. They were doing a prescribed burn yesterday and today and some logging too. Don’t go near either operation.