Part 4: Tucson, AZ to Mogollon Rim, AZ


Navigation Links
 Trip Home Page     


The Trip

We stayed with my family in Tucson for several days.  Along the way, we celebrated my father's 90th birthday with a small party.  No fireworks though as the desert has been so dry that a fireworks ban had been in place for many weeks.  Indeed, the whole Catalina National Forest north of Tucson has been closed due to the fire danger.  From Tucson, we took the asphalt to Phoenix and stayed with long-time friends Rick and Kim in Chandler.  While there, I was able to conclude the sale of my Unimog to a nice fellow in Washington state.  We had many, many good times with that truck and it will be missed.  From Phoenix, we headed up the Salt River toward the Mogollon Rim.

The photos below are what we saw.

We headed east out of Phoenix toward the Superstition Mountains.  We passed them on their north side and got some interesting views of the volcanic cliffs.  It is easy to see how the myths and mysteries of these mountains got started.

The cactus wren is the state bird of Arizona and I caught this fellow in the act.  The damage to the sahauro is due to the pecking of the wren.

This sahauro also provide both food and sanctuary for this dove.  They eat the flowering fruit of the sahauro.

The windmill is an enduring symbol of the American west.  Without the wind-powered pumping of water, most life in the area would have been impossible.

Our first view of Canyon Lake on the Salt River.  The Salt River is managed by the Salt River Project (SRP) that was set up at the turn of the century to harness the river and provide flood control, irrigation and power to Phoenix.  The big dam at the top of the canyon is called Roosevelt dam and was finished in the early 1900s.  Since then a string of dams have been added to the river downstream, several of which provide boating for the locals.  The large power lines on the right come from the dam's powerhouse.

The first of a number of narrow one-lane bridges that we would encounter.

Many boats were stored at the marina.  It would be much easier to store the boat than trailer it on the narrow road.

The stark desert mountains provided great views.

When dry, even the desert is at wildland fire risk.  I am sure that this burn was caused by a cigarette thrown from a passing car.

We knuckled down for some dirt work.  Interesting to think that some think that the local government puts road signs up as targets.  I am sure that the same fellow that shot the sign also threw the cigarette butt.

The scope of the fire was bigger than we thought.  The red coloring on the hills is from fire retardant dropped from the fire-fighting planes.  The dye allows them to see where they hit.

As we dropped into the Salt River canyon, we could see the old road that provide passage for travelers, freight and construction of the Roosevelt Dam.

The grade was steep and we made heavy use of our exhaust brake.

The crossing at the bottom was a side creek to the main river.  Another narrow, single-lane bridge.

The cliffs were tall and steep.

The volcanic landscape produced wild shapes.

Some of the formations were impressively large and steep.

There was a sign on the trail for a restaurant at the marina.  And, despite the dirt road up top, the access to the marina was paved.  I am sure that was because it was so steep that it would have been totally torn up by folks trailering their boats and slipping the tires causing ruts.

We had an acceptable lunch at the marina and continued up the dirt road toward Roosevelt Dam.  Just below the dam, we encountered this sign.

It was sunny and hot and the 1017 does not have a/c so it was a toasty drive.  We stopped below the dam for a few photos.

The dam was impressive but has totally been redone since the last time I was here in the late 1970's.  What I recall was a set stone dam constructed of large blocks hooked together by steel bars.  I am guessing that the dam is within the current concrete structure, but I am not sure.  The powerhouse at the bottom as well as some of the auxiliary buildings are made of stone and are likely original 1910 vintage.

A view from the top.

Some of the old infrastructure was left in place.

Across the lake behind the dam, Roosevelt Lake, is this nice bridge.

We traveled the length of the lake and again crossed the Salt River on our approach to the face of the Mogollon Rim.  This bridge was much less impressive.

Interestingly, the Salt River supports many millions of folks and would be called a creek back east.  But here in the arid west, any year-around flowing water is called a river.

The face of the Mogollon Rim provided an imposing barrier and steep grades.

We did a remote camp near the trail in the pinon and juniper brush.  The weather cooled quite a bit due to the clouds and altitude.

We enjoyed the family time in Tucson and were treated to some great meals as well as interesting thunderstorms.  We also got a chance to sight in our new rifles at an outdoor range near our place.  Visiting old friends was very, very nice and the only thing I can say is that we should have never lost touch in the first place.

Tomorrow: the Mogollon Rim, Gila Mountains and Gila Cliff Dwellings.

Navigation Links
Previous Adventure
Top of this Page
  Next Adventure
Trip Home Page  
Bill Caid's Home Page

Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2011, all rights reserved.
For your enjoyment only, not for commercial use.