Truck: rusted and with bullet holes
Rusted truck in the desert of Arizona

From Columbus, New Mexico, we drove into the southern eastern part of Arizona, where we enjoyed the valleys, the desert, and Tucson.

Arizona is a very diverse state, and it is my personal favourite one.

Our first acquaintance with Arizona was formed by the Chiricahua mountains . They are marvelous. There are canyons with streams, full of birds, and there are roads higher up in the mountains, paved or unpaved, which carry you through a very diverse, weird mountainous landscape.

More pictures of the Chiricahua Mountians on the Dutch nl Day 1 .

 

Douglas is a border town in Arizona, and you see signs of former glorious days everywhere, especially in the Gadsden Hotel. One of the intriguing aspects of border towns is that the influence of money on everyday life is very explicit: second hand cars for sale in the USA-part of the town; restaurants, shops and everything elsde on the Mexican part.

A big fence in between, and a border which is easily crossed from the USA towards Mexico, but very difficult the other way around.

More pictures of Douglas on the Dutch nl Day 1 .

 

There are many ghosttowns in the south east of Arizona. We saw two extremes:

Tombstone is a real ghosttown which is turned into an atraction. There are shops, saloons, museums, all in what remained of the ghostown of Tombstone. It is really fun to walk there, part camp, part real. Especially wothrwhile of you have kids (or if you are still able to feel like a kid ;-)

The other extreme was Fairbanks , a ghosttown near the San Pedro River, which used to be a lively town with a station and a hotel. Very few buildings of Fairbanks remain today. When we were there, a man was around, Tom, and he had lots of stories to tell about Fairbanks. Whe you are there, ask him for stories, he is a great story teller!

More pictures of Tombstone and Fairbanks on the Dutch nl Day 2 .

 

In fact, Bisbee would be a ghosttown as well, if it had not been discovered by hippies. Bisbee is an old mining town, picturesqely built in the mountains. We stayed at the Inn of Castle Rock , and dwelt through the streets. When you want to rediscover how pleasant and simple life can be, stay for a couple of days in Bisbee!

More pictures of Bisbee on the Dutch nl Day 2 and nl Day 3 .

 

One of the marvels of the south-east of Arizona are the canyons. The land is desert, barren, dry. So you don't expect the many streams, running in canyons. Down in such a canyon, everything is lush green, and full of birds.

Ramsley Canyon is famous for its birds. We heared them everywhere, but were not very lucky in getting to see them, except for various Hummingbirds. Didn't matter: it was a walk through paradise anyway.

Garden canyon is also incredibly green, but it has other attractions as well: there are rock panitings on several places. It gave a special feeling, following the same path as native people did for hundreds years, and being able to see their rock paintings "in the wild".

More pictures of Ramsey Canyon and Garden Canyon on the Dutch nl Day 3 .

 

Tucson is a town where I could live! It's not a big city, but it has a university, an old centre, and numerous interesting restaurantsm shops, café's.

More pictures of Tucson on the Dutch nl Day 4 .

You can see the Santa Catalina mountains from everywhere in town: you have them in your backyard.

Pictures of the Santa Catalina Mountains on the Dutch nl Day 6 .

There are several interesting museums; we took a look in the Arizona State Museum, and spent a whole day at the Paths of Life exhibition.

More pictures of the Arizona State Museum on the Dutch nl Day 7 .

 

The Sonora Desert Museum is another of the many attractions of Tucson. but it deserves a place of its own.

It's more of a zoo than a museum, but it is a zoo with a theme: the desert. Here, you can see all the animals that live in the deserts in the neighbourhood of Tucson, and in the canyons. And of course, plants are not forgotten.

There are rangers explaining - for instance - the reason of the ribs on the saguaro cactus, or showing this Western Screech Owl.

When you happen to be in the far neighbourhood: go there!

More pictures of the Sonora Desert Museum on the Dutch nl Day 5 .

 

When you follow the (unpaved) Golden Gate road, from Tucson, and after that El Camino de Mañana (unpaved), and then, when you have reached the Santa Catalina Mountains, the 77, you reach Globe (with a "Western" historical centre). Near Globe is the San Carlos reservation .

Don't enter the casino, but explore the reservation itself, like we did. Endless unpaved roads, with views on the mountains. You are more likely to meet one of the horses that roam there, than another human being.

When we were there, there was a thunderstorm, the most spectacular one that I have experienced, because of the loneliness (and because of the fact that we got stuck ;-).

More pictures of the San Carlos Reservation on the Dutch nl Day 8 .

 

Near Safford, driving on the US 70, you will see the Black Hills Back Country Byway on your left. This is an unpaved road through the Black Hills, in use for centuries, by the Indians, the pioneers and the miners, and now by almost nobody.

It's not very well signposted, so we were not able to folllow the whole stretch...

 

The Black Hills Back Country Byway takes you to the US191, which leads you to the impressive open mines of Clifton . The vastness of these mines is almost incomprehensible.

When you passed the mines, the 191 is called The Coronado Trail, meaning: 90 miles of curves, curves, curves through the Coronado Mountains. You drive through forests, and god, how I longed for a motorcycle here!. Ninety miles, and not a single straight stretch!

More pictures of the Coronado Trail and the Black Hilles Back Country Byway on the Dutch nl Day 9 .

 

There was much much more to see in the Petrified Forest National Park than I always thought. It is a place where many fossiles of dinosaurs have been found (one of the best places for these fossiles in the world, actually), and of course, there are the petrified trees, of the Araucaria forest (trees of a family that still has living members nowadays), where these dinosaurs once roamed. Minerals colour these petrified trees in all shades of orange, red, magenta and more.

You can take a view at the Blue Mesa (of the photograph), see the rock paintings at Newspaper rock, dwell through Pueblo Puerco, and then feel stunned at the views on the Painted Desert.

More pictures of the Petrified Forest on the Dutch nl Day 9 .

 

In the Four Corner Area, we visited Inscription Rock, where Kit Carson wrote something on a rock, before attacking the Navajo which lead to the Long Walk.

We knew about the "other" side of this Long Walk: the main reason being that the Navajo had "raided" the Hopi villages so often, taking away not only the food, but also women, to sell as slaves to the Spaniards, that the Hopi were on the rim of extinsion.

It is a strange fact, that the Navajo have been able to colour what everybody knows about "the indians" to their own advantage, omitting what should not be forgotten. I don't understand how it happened.

To get a glimpse of the history of the Hopi, read the book Pages of Hopi History , it's very good!.
You can get another glimpse by reading White Man's Justice , on the Hopi-Navajo land dispute. I think it is very important that *all* aspects of this complicated history are known!

More pictures of Inscription Rock on the Dutch nl Day 10 .

 

Flagstaff has a nice "oldfashioned" feeling. You can walk in the old centre, and easily imagine that you live one hundred years before today.

The museum of northern Arizona is located in a big wooden house in the woods, and has a great collection of Indian art.

The nearby San Franciso Peaks are very high, and during the summer the temperature there is very comfortable.

More pictures of Flagstaff on the Dutch nl Day 10 and nl Day 11 .

 

The 89 to Sedona is an enchanting road, winding through green forest with very red rocks everywhere.

After Sedona, the 89 brings you to Jerome, an old mining town, glued to a mountain, or so it seems as you drive towrds it.

The people who live there are very fond of their historical houses: everything is cared for very well. A great place, a friendly place.

More pictures of the 89 and Jerome on the Dutch nl Day 11 .

 

Off the Simmons Highway leads the Yolo Road, to the Yolo Ranch and after that to Bagdad Arizona. An enormous stretch of unpaved road, from nothing to nothing, through forest, and dry, hilly country.

A great road to watch animals, to enjoy the landscape you are in, and to see the sun set.

More pictures of the Yolo Road on the Dutch nl Day 11 .

 

The unpaved Buck and Doe Road takes you through the land of the Hualapai, all the way to the Grand Canyon.

At this point, it is not as high as at the North and South Rim, but for me, it was more impressive. Here you see the Colorado river at the bottom (higher than natural, because of the nearby Hoover Dam), and somehow, it starts to be possible here to grasp the immensity of the dimensions.

On the Dutch nl Day 12 , you see a wide photograph of theviewpoint of the Grand Canyon; a smaller one doesn't show anything.

An unpaved sideway of the Buck and Doe Road takes you through the Yoshua Tree State Park of Arizona, and it is a great lonely stretch of road. The Yoshua Trees sometimes really form a sort of forest; sometimes they stand alone, showing their pecular form.

More pictures of Grand Canyon West and the Yoshua Tree Forest on the Dutch nl Day 12 .

 

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© Copyright - Author: Sylvia Stuurman , Pictures: Ernst Anepool .
Copyright 1993-now.
For comments, e-mail adress: sylviastuurman@gmail.com
 
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