E SC A P E . EX P LOR E . EX P E R I ENCE
JAVELINAS ARE NOT PIGS:
THEY JUST ACT LIKE PIGS
WATERFALL CANYON: A DESERT
HIKE WITH A NICE DOSE OF H2O
A Dozen of the Best Places to
Get Some Fries With That Shake
Reel Life: The History of Harkins Theatres
Why Celebrity Chef Robin Miller Loves Arizona
A Hot Topic: Grand Canyon NP Goes Solar +
ASU VS. UA FOOTBALL:
110 YEARS OF TURF WAR
14 DINERS & DRIVE-INS
A dozen of the best places in Arizona to load up on hamburg-ers,
french fries, banana splits and a healthy dose of the good
old days. By the way, the word “healthy” in that last sentence
was figurative. If you’re looking for bean
sprouts and protein shakes, you’ve
come to the wrong place.
BY LORI K . BAKER
PHOTOGRAPHS BY DAVID ZICKL
24 NATURAL GRASS
Everybody knows about the saguaros, the
sunsets and the awe-inspiring rock forma-tions
of the Grand Canyon. They’re iconic,
which is why they ended up on the Arizona quarter.
Lost in the shadow, but every bit as impressive, are
the grasslands of Southern Arizona.
A PORTFOLIO BY JACK DYKINGA & RANDY PRENTICE
34 REELING IN THE YEARS
What started as a failed road trip in 1931 has become the
largest family owned theater chain in the United States. It
wasn’t easy, though. Despite its eventual success, Harkins
Theatres nearly went bankrupt, got into a legal battle with
major Hollywood studios, and lost its most popular theater.
Like any great movie, there’s been plenty of drama, but as
you’ll see, this story has a happy ending.
BY KELLY KRAMER
40 A PLACE IN THE SUN
With more than 300 days of sunshine a year, the use of solar
energy in Arizona is a no-brainer. That’s why the National
Park Service recently installed 84 photovoltaic solar panels
at its main visitors center on the South Rim of the Grand
Canyon. That’s a mouthful, but the system is impressive. Not
only will it power the compound, it will also keep thousands
of tons of carbon out of the atmosphere annually.
BY KELLY KRAMER PHOTOGRAPHS BY MICHAEL QUINN
◗ Clouds gather above a herd of cattle
grazing in the grasslands of Santa Cruz
County in Southeastern Arizona.
PHOTOGRAPH BY RANDY PRENTICE
FRONT COVER The neon lights of the Snow
Cap Drive-In glow along Historic Route
66 in Seligman, just as they have since
Juan Delgadillo opened the restaurant in
1953. PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID ZICKL
BACK COVER Seen from the Atascosa
Mountains, distant Baboquivari Peak
highlights the horizon as sunset paints
the Sonoran Desert in shades of purple.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JACK DYKINGA
Photographic Prints Available Prints of some photographs in this issue are available for purchase. To view options, visit www.arizonahighwaysprints.com. For more information, call 866-962-1191.
• POINTS OF INTEREST IN THIS ISSUE
TALK TO US: In this month’s issue, we spotlight some
of our favorite diners (see page 14). Of course, it’s not a
comprehensive list. We know there are many more, and
we’d love to hear about some of your favorites. We can
be reached at email@example.com.
GET MORE ONLINE:
A few months ago, we relaunched our Web site. If you
haven’t checked it out, you should. The new site is user-friendly
and features everything you need to know
about travel in Arizona, including hiking, lodging, din-ing,
weekend getaways, photo tips and so much more.
The deadline for our second-annual online photogra-phy
contest is coming up. Don’t miss your opportunity
to enter. Details can be found on our home page.
For a daily dose of Arizona Highways, visit us elec-tronically
on Facebook (www.facebook.com/azhigh
ways), Twitter (www.twitter.com/azhighways) and
2 EDITOR’S LETTER 3 CONTRIBUTORS4
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
5 THE JOURNAL
People, places and things from around the state, including
a profile of the man who single-handedly saved Route
66, a Q&A with one of the Food Network’s celebrity
chefs, the pig-like nature of javelinas, and the history of
the Territorial Cup, which is at stake again this month
when ASU and UA butt heads at Sun Devil Stadium.
44 SCENIC DRIVE
West Side Mormon Lake Road: Spindles of aspens
intersperse with ponderosa pines along this 15-mile dirt
road, which winds from Mormon Lake to Munds Park.
46 HIKE OF THE MONTH
Waterfall Canyon Trail: This trek in the White Tank
Mountains is best after a rainfall, but even without
the rain, it offers dramatic desert scenery.
48 WHERE IS THIS?
www. a r i z o n a h i g hwa y s . c om
2 n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 9 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 3
Bruce Itule, whose family came to Arizona in the early 1900s,
has been writing about great places to visit and explore in
the Grand Canyon State for more than 40 years. Today, the
University of Arizona journalism professor still enjoys some
of the same restaurants in Tucson that were around when he
was a kid — one of which is El Corral (see page 7). When he’s
in the mood for a piece of beef, El Corral is the first place he
thinks of. It’s not just nostalgia, though. The food is great. In
case you’re wondering, he usually orders a porterhouse steak
or the prime rib.
In 1987, photographer Randy Prentice got word from
then-photo editor Peter Ensenberger that the maga-zine
was planning a portfolio of windmills. Almost daily,
Prentice trekked from his home in Tucson to seek out
and shoot as many windmills as he could find. In the
process, he became intimately familiar with the varied
grasslands of Southern Arizona. With that in mind, it
made sense to include him in this month’s portfolio
(Natural Grass, page 24). He continues to visit and pho-tograph
the beautiful grasslands of the region, but with
one side effect: He can’t drive by a windmill without
doing a double take. Prentice is a frequent contributor
to Arizona Highways.
Zickl combined both of
his passions to shoot this
month’s cover story (Diners
& Drive-Ins, page 14). Zickl’s
cousin, fashion photog-rapher
George L. Zickl III,
first introduced David to
photography at the age of
19, and from there he even-tually
landed gigs as an
assistant to both Annie Lei-bowitz
and National Geo-graphic’s
Now, as a graduate of the
Arizona Culinary Institute,
Zickl’s not sure where his
professional road will take
him, but, inevitably, there
will be stops at a diner or
drive-in along the way.
i’ve been thinking a lot about Mr. Cronkite lately. It’s not just his death; it’s the
time of year. November is when he’d make his annual trek to Arizona State Uni-versity
and the journalism school that bears his name. He’d meet with students and
faculty and a flood of others, and then he’d present the “Walter Cronkite Award of
Excellence” to some worthy journalist. This year’s recipient is Brian Williams of
NBC. Unfortunately, Walter Cronkite won’t be there to shake his hand.
Like so many ASU grads, and men and women all over, I’m having a hard time
imagining a world without the most trusted man in America. He’s been a constant
in my life for as long as I can remember. Although his passing wasn’t unexpected,
the news was still tremendously sad. In the days and weeks following his death, you
heard a lot about his accomplishments — no one in the history of journalism earned
more respect, and no one deserved more. There’s nothing I can say about his legacy
that you don’t already know. There is one story, however, that you haven’t heard.
As a board member, adjunct professor and graduate of the Walter Cronkite School
of Journalism, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Cronkite on many occasions — it
will forever remain one of my greatest claims to fame. Most recently, Mr. Cronkite
and I were in an almost empty room together. It was November, and he was in Phoe-nix
for his annual visit. Among other things, the banquet surrounding the award
presentation included a meet-and-greet with Mr. Cronkite. I was always lucky
enough to get an invitation.
On his last visit, I found my way to the private reception, and there he was, alone
on a stool, with only his assistant and a photographer in the room. I remember walk-ing
up, introducing myself as the editor of Arizona Highways, and asking him about
the state of journalism in this country. We talked about Britney Spears being front-page
news, and then he leaned over to me and asked: “Is there any chance you could
send me some copies of Arizona Highways? I used to get the magazine — I don’t know
who sent it — but then it stopped coming. I always enjoyed looking at it.”
I remember thinking: Hmmm ... is he serious? WALTER CRONKITE wants copies of OUR
magazine? I’m pretty sure I can make that happen.
I had almost five minutes alone with him that day, which in Walter Cronkite
time was an eternity. As a general rule, I think “surreal” is one of the most overused
words in the English language, but there’s no other way of describing that morning.
I presume he received the magazines, but I never
knew for sure. And I guess it doesn’t really mat-ter.
That he even made the request made my day.
Since then, I’ve always imagined Mr. Cronkite
reading our magazine, which put a lot of extra
pressure on the editorial process. Would he
appreciate the writing, the photography, the
design? This month, I think he would have
approved. Although our cover story isn’t Water-gate
or the Apollo moon landing, it does provide a
service, especially if you’ve had it up to here with
bean sprouts and protein shakes. As you’ll see, all
of the diners and drive-ins in the story are authen-tic,
which means they serve french fries, onion
rings, banana splits, homemade pie, hamburgers,
cheeseburgers and plenty of chrome accents. It’ll
hit the spot. If popcorn’s more your thing, head to
a Harkins theater. Theirs is the best.
In the same way that Walter Cronkite is an
icon in the world of journalism, Harkins is an
icon here in Arizona. The popcorn is part of it,
but it takes more than that to become the larg-est
family owned theater chain in the country.
In Reeling in the Years by Kelly Kramer, you’ll learn
about the unlikely beginnings of the company,
the skirmish with
else that ultimately
led to Harkins’
happy ending. It’s
a story I think Mr.
have enjoyed. At
least that’s what
I’ll be imagining
as Brian Williams
accepts the award
named for a man
who’s been a constant in my life for as long as I
can remember — a role model I’ll never forget.
8 0 0- 5 43- 5 43 2
www. a r i zona h i ghways .com
N OV EMB E R 2 0 0 9 V O L . 8 5 , N O. 1 1
Arizona Highways® (ISSN 0004-1521) is published month-ly
by the Arizona Department of Transportation. Subscrip-tion
price: $24 a year in the U.S., $44 outside the U.S.
Single copy: $3.99 U.S. Subscription correspondence
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2009 by the Arizona
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Letters to the Editor
2039 W. Lewis Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85009
JANICE K. BREWER
Director, Department of Transportation
JOHN S. HALIKOWSKI
Arizona Transportation Board
ROBERT M. MONTOYA
FELIPE ANDRES ZUBIA, WILLIAM J.
FELDMEIER, BARBARA ANN LUNDSTROM,
VICTOR M. FLORES
International Regional Magazine Association
2006, 2005, 2004, 2002, 2001
MAGAZINE OF THE YEAR
If you like what you see in this magazine every month, check out Arizona Highways Televi-sion,
an Emmy Award-winning program hosted by former news anchor Robin Sewell.
Now in its sixth season, the show does with audio and video what we do with ink and
paper — it showcases the people, places and things of the Grand Canyon State, from the
spectacular landscapes and colorful history to the fascinating culture and endless adven-ture.
And that’s just the beginning. “For me, the show is about more than just the desti-nations,”
Robin says. “It’s about the people behind the scenes. It’s their stories that make
the destinations so interesting.” Indeed, there’s a reason this show wins so many awards
— it’s second-to-none, and we’re proud to have our name on it. Take a look. For broadcast times, visit our
Web site, www.arizonahighways.com, and click the Arizona Highways Television link on our home page.
ROBERT STIEVE, editor
Ride Along Enclosed
4 n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 9 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 5
letters people > dining > lodging > photography > history > nature > things to do > > > > THE JOURNAL
I just want to thank you, Mr. Robert
Stieve, and the rest of the folks there
at Arizona Highways for the many
packages that have begun to arrive
here at COP Vegas from the editorial
staff at your magazine. Originally, I
had asked only for a few magazines
that the soldiers here could enjoy
thumbing through, and about a week
ago boxes began to arrive with tons
of good stuff in them. I can’t thank
you all enough for the kindness you
have bestowed upon our platoon.
As for the packages, everything you
all sent was absolutely awesome. It
didn’t take long for everyone to grab
a handful of the things they wanted.
Thank you Arizona Highways! We are
all grateful for everything you have
done to help us while we are away on
this deployment. If there is anything
I can do in return, please don’t hesi-tate
SSG THADDEUS MONTGOMERY
KORENGAL VALLEY, AFGHANISTAN
EDITOR’S NOTE: I smiled at the modesty of the ser-geant’s
last line. Believe me, Sergeant Montgom-ery,
there’s nothing more you need to do. Risking
your life for our freedom is above and beyond ...
more than we could ever repay. For those of you
who would like to join us in helping these deserving
soldiers, their address is: 1st Plt, B CO 2-12 IN BN,
COP VEGAS, APO, AE 09354.
Beautiful issue, as usual [August
2009]. However, you need to know
that we in the San Bernardino Valley
of Arizona want you to spell our
name right. Please make a note on
your spell check that San Bernadino
is not a real saint and is not a place in
Southeastern Arizona. We need the
“r” in there.
WENDY GLENN, SAN BERNARDINO VALLEY
THE BEST LETTER
Your exemplary magazine has totally
outdone itself with this edition
[August 2009]! It is easily the “Best of
Arizona Highways” in my book. Many
thanks for your continuing excellence!
BUD & JEAN STANLEY, GREEN VALLEY
Thank you for your great article
about the Coronado Trail [June
2009]. I had the opportunity to see
and feel this very amazing twisty
road on a motorcycle trip through
Arizona in October 2007. We stayed
the night at Hannagan Meadow
Lodge, where we had a delicious din-ner.
It was an unforgettable trip, and
I like to remember this good time
back home in Germany.
NORBERT CARL, RIEDSTADT, GERMANY
As Flagstaff residents, we enjoyed
the current issue [July 2009], which
highlights attractions and activities
in and around this area. For the most
part, and to the best of our knowl-edge,
your timeline was accurate.
However, we do wish to point out
one glaring exception: When we
commenced our college education in
the mid-1960s, we did not enroll at
“Northern Arizona Teachers College,”
but, rather, Arizona State College (at
Flagstaff). The timeline did require
one additional entry, that being the
existence as Arizona State College
prior to being granted university
status, as correctly shown in the
JOHN & SHIRLEE BLOUNT, FLAGSTAFF
After reading your wonderful article
on Flagstaff [July 2009], I just had
to let you know of my “experience”
in Flagstaff. Last January, traveling
south on Interstate 17, just before the
Sedona turnoff, I looked up and first
saw a bald eagle perched majestically
on a pine tree. Within approximately
2 miles of that sighting, I again was
blessed by noticing a golden eagle in
full flight! I couldn’t believe that I’d
been lucky enough to see both within
a few minutes.
PATRICIA RUETTIGER, JOLIET, ILLINOIS
OUTSIDE HER PROVINCE
I just wanted to say a quick “thank
you” for every issue of Arizona
Highways. I subscribe online from
British Columbia, Canada. My hus-band
and I just bought a vacation
home in your fabulous state and,
being a writer/photographer myself,
I can’t wait to spend time there wan-dering
through some of the places I’ve
seen on the pages of your magazine.
Again, thank you!
PENNY ROGERS, VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA
If you have
we’d love to hear
from you. We can
be reached at
by mail at 2039
W. Lewis Avenue,
85009. For more
Left to right:
GIDDYUP & DOWN
Mule rides into the Grand Canyon
range in price from $40 for a one-hour
trip that begins on the North Rim to
nearly $500 for an overnighter that
kicks off on the South Rim. Rides,
which fill up quickly, can be booked 13
months in advance. Information: www.
nps.gov/grca or 888-297-2757.
6 n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 9 w w w . a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 7
It’s good to drive into a Tucson sunset and remember.
The Sonoran Desert that swells north of River Road into the Santa Catalina Mountains is
still wondrous, albeit clouded by development. El Corral hasn’t changed much, either, other
than the asphalt and homes and shopping centers that now surround it. Beyond that, the old
restaurant is still serving up big chunks of prime rib and porterhouse steaks at decent prices.
It’s good to be here again. To smell the grill. To read the funky cocktail menu. To see Roy
Rogers’ and Monte Montana’s boots and the outfit once worn by Tom Mix.
OK, so El Corral in Tucson doesn’t compare to those highfalutin’ joints selected by airline
magazines as the best steakhouses in America, but it remains a place where you can eat meat
and other hearty grub, and where people have been dining for generations.
“It’s like family here,” says manager Alycia Wheaton, right after she visits a group of people
in another room. “That man over there was my dad’s teacher in
junior high. Mine, too.”
There has been a building north of River Road and east of Camp-bell
Avenue since the 1920s, when it was miles outside of Tucson.
The place became El Corral Café in 1939. In the ‘40s, the business
name was changed to El Corral Night Club, and it operated that way
Meat and Potatoes
It’s not likely to show up in an airline magazine’s “best steakhouses”
story, but Tucson’s El Corral serves up a great selection of the
basics, along with a heaping helping of history.
By BRUCE ITULE
THE FIRST THING YOU notice about Angel Delgadillo
is the perpetual smile, bright as neon and wide enough
to stretch from one end of Route 66 to the other. Then
you spot the eye-twinkle and the
warmth that infuses every handshake
or pat on the shoulder. Next to Angel,
Santa Claus would seem surly.
Angel moves through his Route 66 gift shop in Selig-man
like a gentle whirlwind, signing autographs and
throwing a lanky arm around folks who traveled thou-sands
of miles just to have a photo taken with him. Not
many retired small-town barbers command such admi-ration,
but then again, not many are credited with pre-serving
a sweeping slice of American heritage. Angel’s
story is about the man who saved Route 66.
Back when Angel cut hair for a living, business was
good in Seligman. The main drag was Route 66, and
up to 9,000 cars a day rumbled through town. That
changed abruptly on September 22, 1978, when the
adjacent section of Interstate 40 opened and a deathly
“One day there was so much traffic in Seligman, it
might take 15 minutes to cross the street,” Angel says.
“The next day, you could lie down in the middle of the
road and not worry about getting run over.”
Seligman struggled during those lean years. Plenty
of other communities simply vanished, but Angel was
determined to keep that from happening to his town.
In 1987, Angel, along with other local business owners,
formed the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona.
They lobbied the state to designate Route 66 a historic
highway. By the next year, the state had agreed and
began posting appropriate signage.
Soon organizations sprang up in other states and a
wave of Route 66 nostalgia was under way. For his tire-less
efforts to preserve and promote the highway, Angel
Delgadillo is known as the Mayor of Route 66. He has
been written up in hundreds of articles and books, and
was honored as an Arizona Culturekeeper in 2003.
“We were forgotten after the interstate opened ...
that was a sad time,” Angel says. “Now people travel
from all over the world just to visit us. Every day is a
“It seems like he’s getting younger,” says his daughter
Mirna. “More and more people come through town
looking to discover a way of life they thought was gone,
and he feeds on that. Their
passion gives him new energy.”
Turns out, Angel’s story is
not just about the man who
saved a road. It’s also the story
of a road that saved the man.
Angel Delgadillo cut hair for a living.
For a legacy, he saved an American
icon. That’s why he’s known as the
Mayor of Route 66.
By ROGER NAYLOR
until the late 1950s, when it became El Corral
Eating there is like having a meal in a
ranch house, with its flagstone floors, wood-beam
ceilings, fireplaces and red-and-white
checkered tablecloths. El Corral specializes
in prime rib, which is served with horseradish
and an au jus sauce that makes
it a bread-dipping meal. An
extra-large cut of prime rib —
the most expensive item on the menu — is
The highest-priced steak, a porterhouse,
is $18.95, and it’s as good as one grilled out-doors
at home. There also are ribs, chicken,
shrimp and salmon. Each meal is served with
a choice of baked potato, vegetables, ranch
beans, tamale pie or mashed potatoes and
gravy. Go for the tamale pie. It’s a tradition
there. So is the adobe mud pie, the one des-sert
that’s made in the kitchen.
And the entertainment is free. Think
people-watching with a view of the Catalinas
from the back room.
El Corral is located at
2201 E. River Road in
Tucson. For more
information, call 520-
299-6092 or visit www.
THE JOURNAL > people THEJOURNAL > dining
T U C S O N
How has Arizona
I find myself using
lots of the flavors of
the Southwest and
Mexico in my cooking.
I adore the flavors of
smoky cumin, fresh
and dried chiles, tangy
limes, sweet corn,
fresh tortillas, ripe
tomatoes and tender
avocados. I make
sandwiches with flour
tortillas instead of
bread. We all adore
my Mexican lasagna.
It’s made with corn
or flour tortillas and
a cheesy filling that
cheeses with chili
powder, cumin and
diced green chiles.
I serve a variety of
salsas with most
of my grilled and
roasted chicken, fish
and beef dishes. This
has been influenced
quite dramatically by
this beautiful state!
If you were trying to
impress Bobby, Mario,
Giada and the other
Food Network chefs,
where would you take
T. Cooks at the Royal
Palms. I love Mediter-ranean
worship their tapas-style,
No matter what you
crave, there’s bliss for
every palate to enjoy.
The setting is elegant
yet comfortable and
views of the surround-ing
area. I would feel
proud taking anyone
— Dave Pratt is the
author of Behind the
Mic: 30 Years in Radio
P R A T T ’ S Q&A
S E L I G M A N
Delgadillo’s Gift Shop is
located at 22265 W. Route
66 in Seligman. For more
information, call 928-
422-3352 or visit www.
8 n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 9 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 9
LOCATED 120 MILES SOUTHEAST of Phoenix and 70 miles north of Tucson, Across the
Creek at Aravaipa Farms is easy to get to, yet surprisingly remote, a sweet, quirky paradise
found after 3 miles of dirt road and an easy ford through Aravaipa Creek.
Back in 1995, when Carol Steele bought the property — 55 acres of fruit orchard, farmhouse,
barn and ancient eucalyptus trees — people thought she was crazy. Why would this culinary
icon, famous for bringing fancy foods and visiting celebrity chefs to her
gourmet shop (called C. Steele) in Scottsdale, abandon the urban environ-ment
in which she thrived? Steele gave them two great answers: 1) people
needed balance in their lives, a chance to escape what she called “the encroaching digital world,”
and 2) they needed a place to stay after hiking Aravaipa Canyon.
Cannily blending the spiritual and the practical, she created a peaceful, romantic getaway
that sits five minutes from one of the state’s most spectacular wilder-ness
areas, a riparian zone so rich in biodiversity that even nonhikers
feel compelled to get up off their duffs and do some exploring.
Although Steele’s sparkling pool is tempting, being active is hardly
necessary. She transformed the outbuildings on her property into five
wonderfully rustic casitas, each boasting its own shady, flower-filled
patio complete with burbling fountain, outdoor fireplace and comfy
chairs. They’re ideal spots for reading, bird-watching (the area is home
to 150 species) and finding constellations in a night sky thick with stars.
Located a stone’s throw from one of the most beautiful canyons in the world
is an equally impressive — and unexpected — country inn known as Across
the Creek at Aravaipa Farms. You won’t believe your eyes.
By NIKKI BUCHANAN
Inside, each uniquely furnished suite is an
eclectic compilation of slate floor, stone fire-place,
rusting metal and rough-hewn wood,
fresh flowers, leather armchairs, weathered
Mexican furniture, feminine duvets and color-ful
folk art — all thrown together with a kind
of elegant offhandedness.
Because local restaurants aren’t readily
accessible, Steele offers three squares a day.
Fresh fruit, cheeses, homemade granola, sig-nature
banana-nut bread and English muffins
(served with jams and preserves made with
fruit from the orchard) are stocked in each
casita for a do-it-yourself breakfast. Picnic
lunches, which include terrific C. Steele-style
sandwiches, cookies and addictive trail mix,
arrive in a tote bag before the lunch hour (ear-lier
if you’re hiking the canyon), while dinner
— which begins at 6:30 p.m. with wine on the
patio — is served communally at a long pine
table in the cozy, converted barn.
This may be a country inn, but entrees
such as curried lamb, roasted chicken with
preserved lemons and salmon baked in fig
leaves are anything but countrified.
Across the Creek at
Aravaipa Farms is open
and is located at 89395 E.
Aravaipa Road, 10 miles
south of Winkelman. For
more information, call
520-357-6901 or visit
Once you determine
a photo destination,
around and scouting
without your camera.
Pay special attention
direction of light at
different times of day.
Make a list of potential
shots, and when you
think you’ve found
the money shot, push
yourself to keep going,
to look more closely at
And don’t forget to
look at close-ups and
medium shots. You’ll
quickly learn there can
be elegance in details.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Look for
Arizona Highways Pho-tography
at bookstores and www.
Q&A: Suzanne Mathia
Although we’re partial to our own photo contest, which is
currently under way, we couldn’t help being impressed by a recent
National Geographic contest — it was won by a woman from Scottsdale.
By JEFF KIDA, photo editor
Was this your first contest?
No. I entered the Arizona State Fair contest and won
two awards. I also entered a contest with The Nature
Conservancy. One image was a finalist and the other
received an honorable mention.
How did you decide which image to submit?
The National Geographic contest was called “Vision of
Paradise,” so I chose this image [pictured] because it’s
an iconic view of Havasu Falls. Because it was going
into a national competition, I felt it needed to be rep-resentative
of the area, and at the same time, convey
my personal vision. Had it been a local competition, I
would have picked a more unusual perspective for my
How did you get started in photography?
When I first moved to Arizona and was raising my
two boys, we’d hike and camp together as often as we
could. It allowed us to explore many parts of the state.
I’m an outdoors per-son,
and I’m sure I get
some of that from my
father, whose hobby
When I was grow-ing
up, we’d travel
and explore together,
we found with
his camera. Back
then, we didn’t nec-essarily
the actual photos
we made, it was
about doing things
together — the pro-cess.
As I became
more interested in
my own photography,
I realized that shar-ing
my images had
to me. I looked for
ways to improve, and
came across an ad for
the Arizona Highways
Photo Workshops. It
was a perfect fit,
combining my love of nature with photographic
instruction from some of the finest photographers in
Have the workshops affected the way you photograph
Yes. A workshop is a wonderful, selfish time to explore
your photography away from the stresses of everyday
life. You don’t have to concern yourself with the details.
The workshop organizers get you to the right place at
the right time with the right light. You have the luxury
of spending some time at a location and really getting
to know it photographically. An ordinary scene can
become unusual and interesting when you have time
to study it from a new angle or from a different per-spective.
Workshops also make you think outside the
box, try new things and explore different techniques.
You work alongside experienced photographers and
share ideas with the other participants. Workshops
usually have time for critiques, either of current work
or images captured
during the trip. We
get so involved with
our own pictures
and style, it’s great
when you can learn
from others’ work
and get feedback on
Most valuable les-sons
To find your own
vision. Develop your
creativity and expand
your technical skills.
Learn your camera,
learn your lenses, fil-ters
and all the tools
in your bag, learn all
the rules, and then
go out and break
them. Be willing to
fail until you get the
result you want. Slow
down, be aware and
learn to see things in
a new way.
THE JOURNAL > lodging THEJOURNAL > photography
O N L I N E
For more photography
tips and other informa-tion,
highways.com and click
A R A V A I P A
10 n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 9 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 11
PLAYING FOOTBALL IN 100-DEGREE weather is anything but nor-mal.
But that’s exactly what the “Normals” of the Tempe Normal
School — now Arizona State University — did more than 100
The first game in Arizona college football history dates back to
1899, 13 years before Arizona became a state. The trophy
that was awarded to the winning team was inscribed:
“Arizona Football League 1899 Normal.”
The Territorial Cup, as it’s known today, is the oldest trophy
of its kind in the country. It’s a symbol of pride in a rivalry that
pits Arizona State University against the University of Arizona.
Like most rivalries around the country, this one generates a lot of
chest-thumping among the fans and players, with the winning
The Territorial Cup, which is awarded to the
winner of the annual skirmish between ASU and
UA, is the oldest rivalry trophy in college football.
By MARK CRUDUP
Javelinas are difficult to love. If the
javelina were human, it would be the
scraggly haired boor with B.O. who
pilfers your lunch from the office refrigerator
and then chews it with his mouth open. But
like the scraggly haired boor, the javelina is
The first mystery about javelinas is this:
What are they? They are collared peccaries
— the only wild pig-like critters native to the
United States. They’re not pigs, though, and
they’re not wild boars, which are Eurasian,
originally brought to this country by explorer
Hernando de Soto. The species is quite dis-tinct,
and you’d easily be able to pick a javelina
out in a lineup. The wild boar has long legs
and a long, horsey snout; the javelina has a
spade-shaped profile and squat legs.
Collared peccaries sport a band of white
hair around their necks — hence the name.
But it’s their javelin-like tusks that gave them
the nickname javelina. In fact, they have the
largest and sharpest teeth of any noncarnivore.
Masters of survival, javelinas range from
Arizona, New Mexico and Texas to Argentina,
adapting to environments that include rain
forests and deserts. They rove in herds of six
to 12, foraging for flowers, fruits, nuts, bulbs
and succulents. Their favorite food — the
prickly pear cactus — provides enough mois-ture
that javelinas rarely need water.
Despite their stumpy legs, javelinas are
excellent runners, having been clocked at
more than 20 mph. They also have keen
senses of hearing and smell — except, per-haps,
when it comes to sniffing themselves.
Which brings us back to their reputation.
Javelinas are considered neighborhood hooli-gans.
They’re so clever and adapted to subur-ban
life that they’ve figured out how to break
into backyards: They dig under gates and
push up with their snouts, releasing the latch.
They then knock over and eat your garbage,
make a buffet of your garden, and lounge,
sated and stinky, on your lawn. If confronted,
they might bark, charge and bite.
But their delinquency is exaggerated.
What’s interpreted as charging is often just the
extremely nearsighted critters trying to get a
better look at you. They rarely bite unless cor-nered
or hand-fed, both of which are unwise.
Plus, they benefit the environment, spread-ing
the seeds of the cactuses they eat and
possibly digging out water sources from which
other wildlife can drink. And while that doesn’t
exactly qualify as charming, it’s hardly boorish.
I Am Not a Pig Javelinas look like pigs, they root around like
pigs, they even smell like pigs. But they’re not pigs. They’re peccaries, and
they’ve figured out how to get into your backyard. By KERIDWEN CORNELIUS
BRUCE D. TAUBERT
THEJOURNAL > nature
T E M P E
This year’s game will
be played at Sun Devil
Stadium in Tempe on
team holding on to bragging rights for an
entire year. Arguably, the Territorial Cup
is as important to the respective schools
as going to a bowl game.
Interestingly, the trophy belonged
solely to ASU for nearly a century. Then,
in 2001, Lattie Coor, ASU’s president
at the time, ordered that the trophy be
awarded to the winning team. The cup,
which was produced by Reed & Barton
in 1899 for $20, is now recognized by the
NCAA as the oldest traditional rivalry
trophy in the history of college football.
The Normals, which became the ASU
Sun Devils, won the first game in what
was called the Arizona Territorial Foot-ball
League Championship — the “Duel
in the Desert” — on Thanksgiving Day, 1899. In a show of good
sportsmanship, UA students hosted a post-game Thanksgiving
dinner for the ASU players.
Both schools were founded in 1885, though UA opened a few
months before the Tempe Normal School. UA also holds a slight
edge in head-to-head combat, with 45 wins to ASU’s 37.
Over the years, the teams have hatched well-known football
greats. Pat Tillman, who played four seasons for the NFL’s Ari-zona
Cardinals, is a member of ASU’s Football Hall of Fame,
and UA’s Art Luppino became a nationally known NCAA star.
Tillman will long be remembered not
only as a football hero, but as an Ameri-can
hero who died during a tour of duty
with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan.
■ On November
2, 1940, five days
before her 90th
birthday, Big Nose
wife of Doc Holliday,
died at the Arizona
Pioneers Home in
Prescott. Buried at
the home’s cemetery,
simply reads, “Mary
K. Cummings, 1850-
■ General Stephen
Watts Kearny led
his troops down the
Gila River on No-vember
7, 1846, on
the way to engage
Mexican forces in
■ The Arizona
original counties on
November 9, 1864:
Pima and Yuma.
The Arizona State Museum in Tucson was the
focus of our November 1959 issue. Fifty years
later, the museum still serves as a spectacular
repository for our state’s colorful history. That
issue also featured the lakes and mountains of
Western Arizona, and included a scenic drive
along the Apache Trail.
50 years ago
I N A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S
Less Is More
Known for its
provides a spar-kle
of color in Ari-zona’s
of paloverde and
mesquite trees to
the trees in dense
forests, the bright,
bird is common
state, and can
even be found
in many urban
THEJOURNAL > history
ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY, HAYDEN LIBRARY
Tempe Normal School Football Team, 1899
12 n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 9
FLW’s Living Room
NOV EMB ER 1 – 3 0 SCOT T SDA L E
Frank Lloyd Wright’s unique architectural designs are on display in
his recently restored living quarters at Taliesin West. The living room
is highlighted by low entryway ceilings and stone walls leading to an
extensive garden and terrace. As you’ll see, Wright’s “organic archi-tecture”
transcends his idea of natural, architectural forms. Information:
480-860-2700 or www.franklloydwright.org.
N O V EMB E R 2 0 - 2 2
Check out this
annual event that
fills the Western
Arizona sky with
colorful hot air bal-loons.
launches, the festival
features a miniature
tissue balloon launch,
a balloon glow, as
well as food and live
Red Rock Fantasy
NOV EMB E R 1 9 – JANUA RY 2 S EDONA
Every year, Sedona’s Red Rock Fantasy festi-val
features more than a million lights and 30
displays, along with games for the kids. It’s
the perfect way to experience Sedona’s pan-oramic
red-rock beauty with a dazzling touch
of holiday spirit. Information: 928-282-1777 or
Head out to the newly constructed, 4-acre Nina Mason Pulliam Rio
Salado Audubon Center and join the effort to protect Arizona birds
and their habitats. The new center features 2,760 native trees and
bushes. Information: 602-468-6470 or www.az.audubon.org.
NOV EMB ER 1 – 3 0
N O V EMB E R 1 4 – 1 8
L A K E POWE L L
Spend four days on a houseboat
while learning to make breath-taking
photographs of Padre Bay,
Face Canyon, Labyrinth Canyon
and many other eye-catching
coves at this Arizona Highways
Photo Workshop, led by long-time
contributor Gary Ladd.
Information: 888-790-7042 or
Western Music Festival
NOV EMB ER 6 - 8 TOMB S TON E
Tombstone’s Western Music Festival features three days of live
Western music, nightly entertainment and street vendors. Bands will
perform at the historic Schieffelin Hall, and jam sessions will be held
after the performances, so take your guitar. Information: 520-457-2295
THEJOURNAL > things to do
KATE CHESLEY LOS ABRIGADOS RESORT
Fa l l
Looking for Autumn Leaves
and a Cool Breeze? Pick Up
This Issue and Hit the Road!
Ghost towns: a Portfolio
the storied history of the arizona ranGers
a Grand Canyon adventure: 4 Girls, 2 niGhts, 1 tent
Haunted Hamburger ...
tHe food is scary good
WHy loy canyon trail
is sooooo ... beautiful
never slept in amado?
tHere’s really no excuse
Subscribe to Arizona Highways for $24
for one year. Call 800-543-5432 or visit
By Lori K. Baker
Photographs by David Zickl
A dozen of the best places in Arizona to load up on hamburgers, french
fries, banana splits and a healthy dose of the good old days. By the way,
the word “healthy” in that last sentence was figurative. If you’re looking
for bean sprouts and protein shakes, you’ve come to the wrong place.
14 n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 9 MacAlpine’s Soda Fountain, Phoenix
16 n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 9 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 17
nostalgic Arizona road trip
along wavy two-lane roads
reveals a slice of Americana at
every rise and dip. Tiny black-and-
white-tiled diners with red
stools and jukeboxes that serve
apple pie from the person who
baked it. Roadside dives with the
best old-fashioned malts served
by waitresses like John Steinbeck’s
Mae, who called everybody
“Honey,” winked at kids and
yelled at the cook. The trip evokes
memories of a simpler time, when
you could feel the adventure of
the open road without nagging
guilt about your carbon foot-print.
When neon-lit drive-ins
employed carhops on roller skates
who glided across the asphalt
with trays piled with hamburgers,
onion rings and banana splits,
and no one even knew about
cholesterol. Those carefree days
live on in Arizona’s offbeat diners
and drive-ins tucked away in the
least expected places.
1. MacAlpine’s Soda Fountain
˜Ph oe n i x
A former 1928 Rexall drug store in the heart of Phoenix’s
antiques row, MacAlpine’s is one of the few places where you can
still order a cherry phosphate topped with a maraschino cherry,
served in a tall soda glass, while listening to old 45s from a 1952
jukebox that plays two tunes for a quarter. You can also indulge in
an old-fashioned shake or malt, hand-packed with Thrifty ice cream
and whipped up in a 1940s blender, or an egg cream, that classic
fountain concoction made of chocolate syrup, milk and seltzer.
MacAlpine’s also offers a variety of entrees June Cleaver would have
been proud to serve. 2303 N. Seventh Street, 602-262-5545.
2. Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner
˜ Ki n gma n
In the heyday of Route 66 travel, Kingman’s celebrity-studded past included pit stops by Greta
Garbo, Clark Gable and Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Still, it came as a shock to Mr. D’z
proprietors Armando and Michelle Jimenez when Oprah Winfrey made a surprise visit to their
turquoise and pink roadside diner and ordered a hamburger and frosty root beer. Oprah loved the
root-beer recipe, a special concoction created by Armando and his brother Nacho, and later ordered
17 cases shipped to her studio for a televised audience giveaway. The celebrity talk-show host turned
Mr. D’z into an overnight phenom, luring visitors from Phoenix to Las Vegas for its now-famous root
beer, bacon cheeseburgers, Harley dogs (a quarter-pound hot dog on a hoagie roll and topped with
Armando’s spicy sauce), onion rings with barbecue sauce, and banana splits. They’re all creations of
Armando, who worked as a chef at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas before he adopted a retro Route
66 lifestyle of driving a ’54 Chevy pickup and grooving to old Elvis tunes on a Mr. D’z jukebox. 105 E.
Andy Devine Avenue, 928-718-0066.
18 n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 9 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 19
3. Dot’s Diner
˜ Bi s be e
“Two chicks on a raft and a blonde with sand
coming right up!” you might hear a waitress say in
this vintage 1957 Valentine Company-manufactured
diner. Translation: two eggs on toast and coffee with
cream and sugar. Diner slang — sometimes racy, but
always light-hearted and tongue-in-cheek — was
popular back in the ’50s as a way for short-order
staff and cooks to memorize menu items. And
it’s something you’ll still hear at this tiny 10-stool
metal diner that maintains its original charm with
a black-and-white-tiled floor, red stools, specials
scrawled on a blackboard, vintage advertisements
and a jukebox that belts out the tunes of the era
by Ruth Brown, Lloyd Price, Chuck Berry, Louis
Armstrong and the Andrews Sisters. Along with
chicks on a raft, breakfast specials include blowout
patches (pancakes), Allison on a raft (tofu scrambled
with veggies on a toasted English muffin) and a two-plate
special with pancakes, eggs, bacon or sausage.
Lunch includes nostalgic comfort food — hamburg-ers,
grilled cheese, malts, sundaes, floats and pie. So
if you hear a waitress holler, “Burn one, pin a rose
on it and send it through the garden,” she’s simply
telling the cook to put a hamburger on the grill and
serve it with lettuce, tomato and onion. 1 Douglas
4. The Horseshoe Café
˜Wi c k e n bur g
In this sunny yellow café with home-sewn
red-and-white gingham curtains, petite red-haired
owner Deb Thompson takes orders and kibitzes
with hometown regulars, including “Uncle Wes”
Bodiroga, perhaps Arizona’s oldest bartender who’s
worked at the nearby Rancho Bar 7 for more than
60 years, and shows up for breakfast every morning
like clockwork at 7 a.m. The café captures the laid-back
cowboy vibe of this Old West town where city
slickers spend the weekend roping cattle at nearby
dude ranches. A lariat encircling leather chaps hangs
on a wall, along with a saddle, spurs and a sign that
reads, “Cowboys never lie, they just improve the
truth.” For a cowpuncher’s breakfast, try the bis-cuits
smothered with sausage gravy or the Barrel
Racer, an egg, bacon or sausage, with “taters” and
toast. Lunch fare includes the Rodeo Burger loaded
with a full half-pound of beef. 207 E. Wickenburg Way,
5. Snow Cap Drive-In
˜ Se l igma n
National Geographic magazine once called Juan Delgadillo “the clown
prince of Arizona eateries.” The man who built the Snow Cap Drive-In
with his brothers and father in 1953 out of scrap lumber he collected while
working for the Santa Fe Railroad died in 2004, but his madcap wit lives
on in this one-of-a-kind Route 66 drive-in, where outside signs advertise
“cheeseburgers with cheese” and “dead chicken.” It’s still a family run
operation with Delgadillo’s son, John, and daughter, Cecilia, in charge.
They see to it that their father’s famous antics continue on with servers
squirting fake mustard at customers and shaking their hands when they
order a shake. And they still serve all the 1950s drive-in fare that lured
families and teens piled high in Chevrolet coupes: hamburgers, banana
splits, root-beer floats and fountain sodas. 301 E. Route 66, 928-422-3291.
6. Carter’s Drive-In
˜Wi l l c ox
You can’t miss this former A&W drive-in/diner (circa
1958) on Haskell Avenue, where nostalgic trademark A&W
Root Beer family statues — a mom, pop and teenager —
still tower outside. Inside, you’ll find hamburgers made the
old A&W way: a steak-like patty that’s flattened thin on a
sizzling grill to create a crust, then stacked on a bun with
mustard, lettuce, pickle and tomato at the bottom. Served
with a frosty mug of A&W Root Beer and a side of onion
rings, the meal is a “heart attack waiting to happen, but
what a way to go!” according to one aficionado. 575 S. Haskell
20 n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 9 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 21
8. Bisbee Breakfast Club
˜ Bi s be e
In Lowell, a community perched precariously high over
the famed Lavender Open Pit Mine, husband-and-wife-team
Pat and Heather Grimm have transformed a historic Rexall
Pharmacy, with towering pressed-tin ceilings and exposed
brick walls, into a breakfast and lunch haven with a cult-like
following. Sunlight spills through the original skylights
and storefront glass windows in this cheery apricot and
fern-green restaurant that serves comfort food like gooey
sticky buns, Blue Wally Cakes (pancakes with blueber-ries
and walnuts) with real maple syrup, and hefty wedges
of lemon cheese pie, a cross between lemon meringue pie
and cheesecake on a soft cookie-like crust. You’ll spot Pat
behind the griddle, creating his signature dishes such as
coffee-charred chicken salad that’s blackened and espresso-rich
or hamburgers topped with his own whiskey barbecue
sauce. 75A Erie Street, 520-432-5885.
7. Joe’s Farm Grill
˜Gi l be r t
Pastoral scenes of farmhouses and silos dotting fields of
cotton, alfalfa and barley have all but vanished in Phoenix’s
sprawling metroplex. But it’s still possible to experience
rural Americana at Joe’s Farm Grill, located in a Gilbert
master-planned community, called Agritopia, built on farm-land
that’s been in use since 1927 with a 12-acre urban farm
as its modern-day centerpiece. The farm grows lettuce,
endive, Asian greens, heirloom and other varieties of toma-toes
used by this retro burger stand. Joe’s is known for its
delectable dishes, such as the popular Fontina burger, a one-third-
pound all-natural ground beef patty piled high with
roasted peppers, pecan pesto, arugula, grilled mushrooms
and loads of creamy Fontina. Barbecued chicken pizza
is another hit: a chewy pizza crust topped with smoked
chicken chunks, bacon, barbecue sauce, tomato, onion and
shreds of fresh basil. Accompaniments include light and
crisp sweet potato fries, breaded onion rings and garlic
fries smothered in fresh garlic, herbs and olive oil. 3000 E.
Ray Road, 480-563-4745.
9. Red Planet Diner
˜ Se d on a
This quirky town is known for its cinematic
red rocks, Western art galleries, New Age pil-grimages
to the Earth’s supposedly high-energy
“vortexes,” and a 1987 sojourn by a band of UFO
spotters who gathered at the base of Bell Rock
and waited for its lid to open and reveal a UFO.
Needless to say, nothing emerged. But it’s still
possible to enjoy a USS Enterprise experience in
Sedona at the Red Planet Diner. Decked out in
alien kitsch and neon-pink intergalactic décor,
the Red Planet is where you can sip a mother-ship
“vorttini” while you await your Roswell Burger,
topped with green chiles and oozing with melted
Monterrey Jack cheese or steaming Flash Gor-don
chili served in a bread bowl. At times, diners
may feel wary of the 8-foot Roswell alien looming
in the corner, but be assured there have been no
reports of alien abductions here. 1655 W. State Route
22 n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 9 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 23
12. Lucky Boy Burger Shop
˜Ph oe n i x
For a glimpse at what fast food looked like in the 1950s,
take a look at this 16th-Street landmark drive-in with its
funky Lucky Boy sign. Loyalists swear by its charbroiled
quarter-pound burgers, barbecue burgers topped with a
tangy barbecue sauce, and its thick, creamy milkshakes
that come in 14 flavors. 3430 N. 16th Street, 602-274-6440.
11. Pat’s Drive-In
˜ Tu c s o n
This 1950s-style red-and-white-tiled takeout joint spe-cializes
in chili dogs topped with cheese, house-made chili
and diced onions with generous sacks of hand-cut, piping-hot,
skin-on french fries. (The drive-in goes through 600
pounds of potatoes per day to keep up with demand.) A
chili dog with cheese is priced at $1.65, so you can’t help but
wonder if the prices have remained unchanged like so much
else in this family run drive-in, where Charlie Hernandez
started working at age 16 in 1965 and became the owner in
1979. 1202 W. Niagara Street, 520-624-0891.
10. Miz Zip’s
˜ Fl a gs t a f f
Back in 1952, when Miz Zip’s opened, Route 66 was a two-lane street that wound past this roadside diner, where a vintage green neon sign
glowed “Let’s Eat” and you could order a cup of coffee and a plate stacked high with golden-brown buttermilk pancakes drenched in butter and
maple syrup for 50 cents. Other than prices, little has changed at this family-owned diner where four generations have served breakfast, lunch
and dinner. Flagstaff’s main street is still the original Route 66, drawing history buffs who make pilgrimages to the long stretch of roadside
Americana and Miz Zip’s. Locals and travelers grab a stool at the green marble horseshoe-shaped counter and order a piece of homemade pie —
lemon, blackberry, coconut, blueberry, apple, rhubarb or pumpkin, depending on the season — with a delicate, flaky crust. For lunch and dinner,
the french fries are freshly cut and the proprietors butcher their own meat for extra juicy steaks and hamburgers. 2924 E. Route 66, 928-526-0104.
24 n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 9
Natural Grass Everybody knows about the saguaros, the sunsets and the awe-inspiring
rock formations of the Grand Canyon. They’re iconic, which
is why they ended up on the Arizona quarter. Lost in the shadow,
but every bit as impressive as all of the above, are the grasslands of
Southern Arizona. As you’ll see in this month’s portfolio, you don’t
have to be a Hereford to appreciate Mother Nature’s Back Forty.
[ a portfolio by jack dykinga & randy prentice ]
www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 25
The setting sun casts the
long shadows of an alligator
juniper tree, breaking up a
seemingly endless sea of
grama grass on the San
Carlos Apache Reservation
in Southeastern Arizona.
[ photograph by jack dykinga ]
Mesquite trees and yucca
plants dot the landscape of
the Buenos Aires National
Wildlife Refuge, while the
rising sun illuminates
Baboquivari Peak in the
[ photograph by jack dykinga ]
26 n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 9
Early morning light warms
giant cottonwood trees that
mark the channel of the Santa
Cruz River as it meanders
through the grasslands of
San Rafael Valley.
[ photograph by randy prentice ]
28 n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 9
30 n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 9 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 31
Managed by The Nature
Conservancy, the rolling
grasslands of the Apache
Highlands Ecoregion in the
Canelo Hills is home to one
of the most diverse reptile
populations in North
[ photograph by jack dykinga ]
One of 14 agave species in
Arizona, this large stand of
Parry’s agaves grows in the
grassy plains below the
[ photograph by randy prentice ]
32 n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 9 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 33
In Southern Arizona’s Buenos
Aires National Wildlife Refuge,
velvet mesquite trees and
grasses (left) provide shade
and food for resident prong-horns
[ photographs by jack dykinga ]
What started as a failed road trip in 1931 has become
the largest family owned theater chain in the United
States. It wasn’t easy, though. Despite its eventual
success, Harkins Theatres nearly went bankrupt, got
into a legal battle with major Hollywood studios, and
lost its most popular theater. Like any great movie,
there’s been plenty of drama, but as you’ll see, this
story has a happy ending. By Kelly Kramer
34 n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 9 w w w . a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 35
Red Harkins inspects film strips in 1941.
36 n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 9
an Harkins’ love of film began
at an early age. So early, in fact,
that you might say it all started
to evolve when he was merely a
twinkle in his father’s eye.
You see, Harkins was con-ceived
in his parents’ studio
apartment. That’s not uncom-mon,
of course, but there was
something special about the
home of Red and Viola Harkins — it was adja-cent
to the projection booth in what was then
the College Theatre, and what is now the Valley
Art theater in Tempe.
“I guess you could say that my love of film was
literally developed in utero,” he says.
hen Dwight “Red” Har-kins
was 16, he ditched
his hometown of Cincin-nati
and took off for Hol-lywood.
He had a Harley,
a handful of cash and
dreams of hitting it big
on the big screen. It was
1931, and he was deter-mined.
Despite his ambi-tions,
however, he never made it to California.
Instead, he landed in Flagstaff — nearly broke
and 472 miles from the City of Angels.
Red stayed in Flagstaff briefly, and then
headed south to Tempe, where, two years later,
he opened the State Theatre, his very first. He
was only 18.
Some seven years later, Red opened the College Theatre on Mill
Avenue, long before the street was a bastion of retail stores, trendy
bars and brand-name restaurants. There, Red met and married his
sweetheart, Viola. Although the couple was entrenched in the day-to-day
operation of the theaters, Red was also busy
behind the scenes.
Technology, it seemed, was his cup of tea. In
addition to seeking out the most innovative
equipment for his theaters — headphones for
the hearing-impaired, electronic drinking foun-tains
and carpet that glowed in the dark — Red
was also very much into sound.
“The theater was my dad’s workplace, his
home and his electronics lab,” Dan says. “He
invented multichannel sound for television and
radio right there.” Indeed, the technology he
developed included FM multiplex radio, which
Red later parlayed into the launch of the first-ever
radio station to transmit multitrack sound.
He also played a pivotal role in the development
of KPNX, Channel 12, Phoenix’s second televi-sion
“My dad was responsible for several inven-tions
still used to this day,” Dan says. “And it’s
amazing that he did all that work right where
he and my mom were first married in 1950. By
the time I was a few weeks old in 1953, my mom
finally convinced him — begged him — to move
into a real house.” They did, and not surpris-ingly,
as Dan grew into adolescence, the theater
became his second home.
abaret. 2001: A Space Odyssey. Butch
Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Dan
Harkins has seen all of the clas-sics
— vintage Steve McQueen,
original Woody Allen, classic
Clark Gable and Humphrey
Bogart — and he’s seen them
hundreds of times.
As a high school freshman,
he made a dollar an hour as a
doorman and thought it was “the best deal ever.”
By age 15, he’d been promoted to projectionist.
By the time he was in college, he planned to get
his law degree and help his dad run the family
“My first memory is of going to work with my
parents and loving it,” Dan says. “I’d go to the
theater in the morning and not come home until midnight. I’d watch
those movies over and over again, sitting in the front row and eating
a bag of popcorn that was bigger than I was.”
Dan dropped out of Arizona State University after his sophomore
Arizona’s diverse geology and geography
have made it appealing to film directors
the world over. What follows are just a
few of the better-known classic movies
filmed in the Grand Canyon State.
Directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne, Andy Devine
and John Carradine, this filmed-in-Monument-Valley Western’s
tagline says it all: “Danger holds the reins as the devil cracks the
whip! Desperate men! Frontier women! Rising above their pasts
in a West corrupted by violence and gun-fire!”
The Bells of St. Mary’s, 1945
This holiday classic about a run-down
inner-city school was actually filmed
in the Sonoran Desert at Old Tucson
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, 1949
John Ford and John Wayne returned to
Monument Valley for this film, which tells
a classic cowboys and Indians tale.
Filmmakers cheesed off the Sooner state by
filming the Rodgers and Hammerstein clas-sic
in Southern Arizona’s San Rafael Valley.
The theater was
my dad’s workplace,
his home and his
electronics lab. ”
Dan Harkins is committed to excellence at every level, even down
to the refreshments. The popcorn, in particular, is second-to-none.
Red Harkins works with his printing press
in the early days of his theater business.
www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 37
38 n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 9
year to help run the business, and although the job was daunting — he
worked 100 hours per week or more — he thought nothing of it. By
then, Harkins Camelview had opened in Scottsdale, and it seemed
that the company — that old mom-and-pop family business — was
beginning to grow.
The decision speaks to one of three principles that underscore
a recent conversation with Dan on a day when he was on vacation,
waiting to take his kids out on a Georgia lake.
Principle No. 1: Family first.
Sadly, the company would have to grow without Red. In 1974, he
passed away, leaving control of the company and its five theaters to
Dan, who was only 21.
Family friend Bill Thompson, well known to Arizonans as Wallace
of Wallace and Ladmo fame, has known Dan since the 1960s, and says
he feels a tremendous amount of pride for his friend, “Danny,” and the
way he took the reins.
“He was just a nice kid,” Thompson says. “Who
would have imagined that he’d take a small chain of
theaters and turn them into a giant corporation? I
was so proud of him when he jumped in, and now he’s
made Harkins the greatest theater chain this state has
Thompson adds that he might be a little biased —
Dan did, after all, give him a lifetime pass to Harkins
Theatres, which includes free refreshments. “And
those are some really tasty refreshments,” he says. But
Dan isn’t one to pat himself on the back. Not by any
“I just love the industry,” he says. “I counted my work
hours by how much I slept, but it didn’t seem like work.
I had a huge sense of accomplishment. The movies
seemed like the best way to influence people in a posi-tive
way. People use the experience to relax after a
stressful day, and to escape reality. I mean, a lot of first
dates happen at the movies. People laugh, they go on
It’s that genuine passion for the business that
appeals to so many of Harkins’ employees, including
president and chief operating officer Mike Bowers,
who’s worked for the company for 16 years.
“We never forget that, each day, we are entertaining
our friends and families,” Bowers says. “This drives
our performance and our innovations and our overall
customer service. The philosophy was passed on from
Dan’s father to him and from Dan to the rest of the
company. Dan is a showman and has an infectious
passion for the industry and for movies in general. His
enthusiasm is evident in every interaction he has with our employees,
and that inspires them to carry on our mission with passion.”
Principle No. 2: Practice what you preach.
arkins is now the largest family owned theater chain
in the country, but it’s seen its share of hardship. Dan
Harkins is regularly referred to as “the nicest guy
you’ll ever meet,” but he’s not one to back down from
“I was his boxing coach,” Thompson says. “Some
guy was picking on him, so I taught Danny how
to punch. The next time the guy messed with him,
Danny knocked him down. And that was the end
Not long after he took over the enterprise, Harkins filed an anti-trust
lawsuit against several Hollywood studios for their refusal to
offer first-run movies to the company. The suit wouldn’t be settled for
14 years, but eventually, the studios agreed to play fair in the first-run
sandbox. Dan refused to back down, and that was
the end of that challenge, too.
In the intervening years, before the settlement,
Harkins was able to stay afloat, thanks in large part
to the second of Dan’s two favorite theaters: Cam-elview.
That theater, the last to be built by Red, is
what Dan calls “the vanguard of innovation.”
“Camelview kept us going because it was a dedi-cated
art theater,” he says. “It was a little block that
kept us from going bankrupt, and I was going to
hold on to it even if it meant going broke.”
But rather than going under, the company’s finan-cial
tide turned in 1982, when Camelview hosted
a “special engagement” of Disney’s Fantasia, which
had already shown six times in the Valley. How-ever,
thanks to an aggressive marketing campaign,
the film tripled its highest box office numbers in
That success — combined with the popularity
of the Ciné Capri, the buyout of Mann Theaters,
which doubled Harkins’ size, the installation of
fan-favorite stadium seating, and the introduction
of 24- and 25-screen “megaplex” theaters — helped Harkins ride out
the 20th century and cruise into the 21st. It also helped Dan protect
the crown jewel of the enterprise.
In the 1960s, Red had lost possession of Dan’s favorite theater, the
Valley Art, and the building was in escrow to become a Hard Rock
Café. In an effort not unlike Paul McCartney’s struggle to reclaim the
rights to The Beatles’ music catalog, Dan was able to buy back the Val-ley
Art building in 1991, and regain a piece of family history.
“We spent $1 million to spruce up a single-screen theater,” he says.
“Maybe that doesn’t make a lot of sense in the modern movie market,
but we were able to preserve a historical site and preserve an impor-tant
part of Harkins’ history and heritage. Someone wanted to buy the
theater from me, and I said: ‘OK. My parents met in this theater. I was
conceived in this theater. I spent $1 million to save this theater. You
can go ahead and guess its price.’ ”
Principle No. 3: Protect your investment.
Next came the saga of the original Ciné Capri, which was acquired
in 1988 and located at one of the busiest intersections in Phoenix,
24th Street and Camelback Road. Despite its popularity and an over-whelming
grassroots effort to preserve it, the theater was razed in
1998 to make way for a high-rise office complex. Ironically, the last
film shown in the theater was Titanic, but Dan was determined to keep
the theater afloat, and he did. In 2003, the Ciné Capri was resurrected
in North Phoenix, and is now home to a 600-seat auditorium and the
biggest movie screen in Arizona. A second Ciné Capri was opened in
Tempe a few years later.
Meanwhile, the Harkins enterprise has expanded even farther.
Theaters have opened in Oklahoma City, Denver, Dallas and Southern
California, as did eight new theaters in Arizona. But again, Dan won’t
take the credit. Instead, he gives it to the state’s movie fans.
“We’ve had the wonderful opportunity to grow in a community
that’s supportive of the movie business,” he says. “We’re blessed to be
in a state where folks are more culturally educated, where people are
willing to experiment with different film genres. I’m on my knees
thanking Arizona moviegoers for their support over the past 75 years.
I’ve always felt blessed. I feel like I’m the luckiest guy in the world.”
Bus Stop, 1956
Marilyn Monroe visited Phoenix
to shoot this film, which featured
the old bus station at Van Buren
Street and Central Avenue.
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, 1957
This classic Western was filmed at Old Tucson
Studios, which was devastated by a fire in 1995.
The studio reopened two years later.
Easy Rider, 1969
Monument Valley played
another big role in this
motorcycle classic, as did
U.S. Route 89.
The Greatest Story Ever Told, 1965
The Glen Canyon area doubled as the Holy
Land in this biblical tale, which starred
Charlton Heston as John the Baptist.
Several more recent movies were also filmed,
at least in part, in Arizona, including:
• National Lampoon’s Vacation, 1983
• Revenge of the Nerds, 1984
In 1933, at the age of 18, Red Harkins opened Tempe’s first movie house,
the State Theatre on Fifth Street. At the time, he was considered the young-est
theater owner in the country.
below Red Harkins (left) interviews a young Frank Sinatra in 1953 for
radio station KTYL, which was owned by Harkins.
Red Harkins (right) visits with Bing Crosby on the
set of Road to Singapore, which was filmed in 1940.
• The Karate Kid, 1984
• Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, 1989
• Waiting to Exhale, 1995
• Little Miss Sunshine, 2006
• The Kingdom, 2007
COURTESY TEMPE HISTORY MUSEUM
www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 39
40 n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 9 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 41
LLight. It plays along the Grand Canyon floor, feline and fluid. It darts
around corners, in and out of crevices and across a landscape crafted
over thousands of years by water, its earthly counterpart. This is the
stuff that inspires awe among artists and adventurers alike.
Along the Canyon’s rims, the light changes. It’s bolder, less agile and
less inclined to shy away and fade into shadow. This is the stuff that
power is made of.
In the same way the Canyon is a symbol of Arizona, so, too, is the
sun. With more than 300 days of solid sunshine per year, the state is
a veritable hotbed of potential energy — power that would take some
strain off a stressed environment and reduce energy costs for count-less
In mid-May, the National Park Service and Arizona Public Service
unveiled the lovechild of a unique partnership: a newly renovated visi-tors
center that features 84 photovoltaic solar panels, which provide
the building with 18 kilowatts of electricity. It’s the keystone in what
both partners hope will be a bright future for Arizona solar projects.
“Some time ago, I was approached by a local APS employee, who
asked if the park would be interested in partnering on a photovoltaic
project,” says Judy Bryan, the park’s chief of interpretation. “I immedi-ately
thought of the Canyon View Information Plaza as a great location
for the project. It’s already a main hub of activity. With more than 80
percent of our visitors parking there, they’d be able to see the photovol-taic
cells and see APS’ commitment to renewable energy.”
Early reports indicate that the National Park Service can expect to
save approximately $2,500 per year in energy costs as a result of the
Commonly known as solar cells, photovoltaic cells absorb photons
of light that release electrons. Then, those free-flowing electrons are
captured and forced to flow in a certain direction as an electrical cur-rent
that can be used as electricity. One of the special electrical prop-erties
of the cells — something the U.S. Department of Energy calls
a “built-in electric field” — provides the voltage required to drive the
current through an external load, such as a light bulb.
That, of course, is an oversimplification of the process, but the bot-tom
line is simple, too: Sunlight is converted to energy. This is Arizona.
There’s plenty of sunshine to go around.
With more than 300 days of sunshine a year, the use of solar energy in Arizona is a no-brainer. That’s why the National Park Service recently installed
84 photovoltaic solar panels at its main visitors center on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. That’s a mouthful, but the system is impressive. Not only
will it power the compound, it will also keep thousands of tons of carbon out of the atmosphere annually. Yep. This one’s a no-brainer.
A PLACE IN THE SUN
Recently constructed photo-voltaic
panels utilize Arizona’s
300 days of sunshine per year
to generate a third of the ener-gy
used by the Grand Canyon’s
South Rim visitors center.
by kelly kramer
photographs by michael quinn
42 n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 9 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 43
THE GRAND CANYON’S MAIN VISITORS
center, the photovoltaic arrays not only serve
as a significant energy source for the build-ing,
they also educate the more than 4.5 mil-lion
visitors who make their way to the South
Rim each year.
Interpretive exhibits inside the center and signage adjacent to the
platform-mounted solar panels describe the physics and mechanics
of how the center receives up to 30 percent of its electricity. One
array is linked to a computer, so visitors can track just how much
electricity is being generated, says Toni Bouchard, APS’ renewable
“We really felt like this project could help educate people about
APS’ commitment to renewable energy,” she adds. “It sets an exam-ple
for what people can do in their own homes.”
Indeed, homeowners can register for the APS “Green Choice”
program, which encourages the use of power from multiple renew-able
resources, including solar, wind and geothermal energies. In a
classic example of “what goes around comes around,” the rates those
customers are paying have helped fund the Grand Canyon project.
“We have customers who are as committed to renewable energy
as we are,” Bouchard says. “The remaining funds were drawn from
the Arizona Corporation Commission’s Renewable Energy Stan-dard.”
APS also provides financial incentives to customers for the
installation of solar electric systems and solar water heaters.
“The Park Service has been a great leader on this project,” says
Steven Gotfried, the media liaison for APS. “It’s a great, physical
example of a commitment to preserving the Grand Canyon. The
Park Service is committed to walking the walk when it comes to
Many of the parts required to construct the photovoltaic panels
were fabricated in nearby Flagstaff and installed by a local contrac-tor,
making the project a homegrown affair.
“I think that speaks to renewable energy as an economic driver
in the state,” Gotfried says.
ALTHOUGH A BILL THAT WOULD REQUIRE ALL STATE PARKS
with showers to install solar-powered hot-water heaters by the end
of 2019 was introduced earlier this year, it hasn’t yet come to a vote
in the Legislature. But that doesn’t mean the state has come to a
As of mid-June, the Bureau of Land Management was inundated
with 35 applications to use more than 700,000 acres of Arizona’s
public lands for solar-power ventures. The proposed projects vary
in size and scope, from a 160-acre, 18-megawatt photovoltaic array
in Maricopa County to a 224,000-acre concentrated solar power
trough near Salome. The high interest has the bureau declaring it
has received a “gold rush” of right-of-way applications.
One of the largest projects currently being reviewed by the BLM
is the Sonoran Solar Energy Project, which was proposed by Boule-vard
Associates, LLC. The company hopes to construct a “concen-trated
solar thermal” power facility in the Little Rainbow Valley,
south of Buckeye and east of State Route 85. Although the applica-tion
requests the use of more than 14,000 acres of federally managed
land, the company indicates that only 4,000 acres will be used for
the actual plant, which is expected to provide approximately 375
megawatts of solar power. Assuming the facility operates at maxi-mum
capacity, that’s enough power to fuel 93,750 homes.
On July 8, the BLM officially started a review process for the
facility by publishing a notice of intent to submit an environmental
impact statement to the Federal Register. Research and preparation
of the statement is expected to take several years.
Meanwhile, several national and international solar companies
will be staking claims for Arizona land.
In April, California-based SolFocus completed expansion of its
solar-glass reflector factory in Mesa. The facility now has the capac-ity
to produce 2 million reflectors a year, 15 times the plant’s capac-ity
in 2008. By the end of this year, the company expects to add 150
full-time employees. That goes a long way in making Arizona part of
the “new energy economy” and eligible for a bigger piece of President
Obama’s stimulus pie, which provides $59 billion in economic stim-ulus
funds and an additional $150 billion from the federal budget to
promote what he calls America’s “clean-energy future.”
“The swift expansion of this facility not only creates new jobs, but
pushes Mesa to the forefront of sustainable economic development
enabled by the stimulus package,” says Mesa Mayor Scott Smith.
“We anticipate that this facility will allow Mesa to serve the increas-ing
demand in the United States for advanced solar-energy technol-ogy.
The city of Mesa has a tremendous opportunity to showcase an
innovative, renewable-energy technology, build a long-lasting solar
cluster and be an American Recovery Act success story.”
By the end of this year, Germany-based Schletter Inc. will begin
manufacturing solar-panel brackets in Tucson. The company, which
manufactures brackets for large solar-panel power plants, plans
to employ 40 people, from factory workers to sales and marketing
executives, at the Tucson facility. The company is the largest solar-bracket
manufacturer in Europe, and they’ll be joined in the Old
Pueblo by three other solar companies — Global Solar Energy, Solon
America Corp. and Prism Solar Technologies Inc.
The influx of massive solar facilities speaks volumes about Ari-zona’s
potential as a national leader in solar energy, as does a recent
private land auction. In early June, two undisclosed buyers pur-chased
two parcels of land with the intent to develop solar facilities,
according to the parcels’ seller, Vermaland Inc. The first property,
an 80-acre site near Tonopah, sold for $340,000, while a 320-acre
site within Tonopah’s city limits sold for more than $2 million.
Vermaland intends to sell another 3,600-acre parcel by the end of
Undoubtedly, the interest in desert land comes at an opportune
time. In essence, it creates a market for land that might otherwise
have tanked with the rest of Arizona’s real estate. However, it also
poses an interesting conundrum to conservationists: There’s an
irony in developing the desert to create a larger opportunity for
energy efficiency, minus the environmental impact.
Time will tell how a balance between land development and
energy conservation will evolve, but according to a presentation pre-pared
in March for the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club as
part of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, finding alternative
energies and increasing energy efficiency in Arizona would reduce
consumers’ energy bills by 10 to 50 percent; would create more than
12,000 new jobs in the state by 2025; and would keep more of the
energy economy in Arizona. As it stands now, $6 billion of the $10
billion spent on energy by businesses and private consumers leaves
the state each year.
At the Grand Canyon, one thing is certain: The light that paints
the South Rim in a palette of blushing hues has become a symbol of
conservation, education and efficiency. And light, kinetic and well-traveled,
holds incredible potential for every corner of the state.
Interest in desert land
comes at an opportune time.
However, it also poses an
interesting conundrum to
conservationists: There’s an
irony in developing the desert
to create a larger opportunity
for energy efficiency.
Visitors at the newly renovated
Grand Canyon visitors center
can learn about solar energy
through interpretive exhibits
and signs that describe how
the photovoltaic panels work.
44 n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 9 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 45
“b etween every two pines is a
doorway to a new world.” So
wrote the prolific adventurer and
naturalist John Muir. If you’re
headed south from Flagstaff and
want to prolong your stay in the
pines, try West Side Mormon
Lake Road (Forest Road 90). The
ponderosas framing this 15-mile
graded dirt road to Munds Park
may not unlock fantasy worlds
such as Narnia, but they will
open myriad doorways to the
mountains, where the magic of
scent, shade and scenery prevail.
As a bonus, begin your jour-ney
just south of Flagstaff at
Lake Mary Road (Exit 339 off
Interstate 17). The next 26 miles
are scenic in their own right,
with panoramic views of Lower
and Upper Lake Mary — azure
pools topped with lime-green
patches and surrounded by
indigo peaks. The lakes, created
by twin dams in 1907, are named
for the daughter of Flagstaff pio-neer
Timothy Riordan. Watch
for bald eagles and ospreys that
hunt near the water.
Follow the sign toward Dairy
Springs Campground, and turn
right onto West Side Mormon
Lake Road. Drive slowly on the
paved portion of the road as it
meanders for 2 miles toward the
small town of Mormon Lake Vil-lage.
Be mindful of pedestrians,
horseback-riders and campers.
Look for Dairy Springs Camp-ground,
where Mormon settlers
started a dairy farm in the late
1870s. The asphalt surrenders to
dirt 3 miles later at Forest Road
240. Turn right a few seconds
before you get to the sign for
Mile Marker 5. The bumpy road
immediately angles uphill and
crosses stands of Gambel oaks.
After a mile, glance left for a clear
view of ponderosas stretching to
the horizon. Keep your eyes open
for ATV users, who frequent the
windy roads and surrounding
forest. If you’re lucky, you might
also spot elk.
Pass a cattle guard and fol-low
the road as it levels to the
intersection of Forest Road 132A
toward Mormon Mountain. Keep
left to stay on FR 240. Another
mile ahead, spindles of aspens
intersperse with pines and create
white gates to lower elevations.
As sharp curves wend downhill,
drive only as fast as your eyes
can feast on fallen trees and the
shrub-like New Mexico locust.
After 9 miles, continue right
on FR 240 as it passes a farm-house
and spills onto spacious
meadows. Crooked wooden
fence posts guard wildflowers
in the summer and the feathery-tipped
grass known as foxtail
barley. The next 6 miles make
up a flat, easy drive through
prairie lowlands frequented by
pronghorns. The mahogany-colored
road passes around
the backside of the farmhouse
and meets with Forest Road
700. Follow FR 240 to the
secluded Casner Park, named
in honor of horse rancher Mose
Casner, who lived near these
quiet meadows in the 1880s.
Here, mountain bluebirds flit
between the pines, rustling the
needles along with the breeze.
Steer over several humble hills
and a dry wash to an iron gate,
which marks FR 240’s transition
to a paved road called Pinewood
Boulevard. The entrance to I-17
is about 2 miles down the road.
The well-manicured suburbs of
Munds Park offer gas, food and a
farewell glance at the pine-stud-ded
portals into the mountains.
oak trees mingle
pines, forming a
canopy over West
make up part of
the landscape at
the northern end
of Mormon Lake.
EDITOR’S NOTE: For
more scenic drives,
pick up a copy of
our book, The Back
Roads. Now in its
fifth edition, the book
40 of the state’s
most scenic drives.
To order a copy, call
ROAD Spindles of
this 15-mile dirt
road, which winds
Lake to Munds
BY LEAH DURAN
Note: Mileages are approximate.
LENGTH: 15 miles one way
DIRECTIONS: From Flagstaff, go southeast on Lake Mary
Road (Forest Highway 3) for approximately 26 miles
past Lower and Upper Lake Mary. About 3 miles after
the intersection leading to Pine Grove Campground
(Forest Road 651), turn right onto West Side Mormon
Lake Road (FR 90). After passing Dairy Springs
Campground, bear right onto FR 240 and continue to
Munds Park and Interstate 17.
VEHICLE REQUIREMENTS: Accessible to all vehicles
WARNING: Back-road travel can be hazardous, so
beware of weather and road conditions. Carry plenty of
water. Don’t travel alone, and let someone know where
you are going and when you plan to return.
INFORMATION: Mormon Lake District, 928-774-1147 or
Travelers in Arizona can visit www.az511.gov or dial
511 to get information
on road closures, construction,
delays, weather and more.
S T A R T H E R E
To Flagstaff To Flagstaff
C O C O N I N O
N A T I O N A L F O R E S T
Mormon Lake Road
Upper Lake Mary
Lake Mary Road
FR 91 FR 700
46 n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 9 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 47
month OF THE
this is one hike that takes a little planning. Selecting the
right day to make this short trek can mean the differ-ence
between catching a rushing waterfall or coming upon
a quiet, cool pool. Both are beautiful, but for those who
want to experience the hike’s namesake,
it’s best to wait until after a rainstorm.
The Waterfall Canyon Trail in White
Tank Mountain Park is named for an unex-pected
waterfall at the trail’s end. There are
two ways to get there: by parking in Area 6
and walking 1.8 miles round-trip, or parking
in the more populated Area 4 and taking
the Black Rock Long Loop to the Waterfall
Canyon Trail for a total trek of 2.8 miles.
In addition to the water, the latter route
offers a nice hike through a cactus wonder-land.
Park in Area 4 and cross back over
White Tank Mountain Road to the beginning of the Black
Rock trail on the other side. This kicks off an easy stroll
through a valley bursting with a half-dozen shades of green.
There are cactuses everywhere. Yellowish-green staghorn
chollas stretch their jointed arms out to nearby strawberry
hedgehog cactuses, their fuchsia blooms popping during
spring; the “fuzzy” heads of teddy bear chollas spread out
into little herds; and stately saguaros oversee the whole lot.
When you get to the fork in the trail, take the Long
Loop on the right. This route continues at an easy amble,
and plenty of benches are peppered along the trail in case
you want to sit and enjoy the scenery.
Eventually, the Black Rock Long Loop connects with
Waterfall Canyon Trail. The trail signs are easy to see,
and for a short stretch, the path is paved in clay. The trail
then steepens a bit, revealing a dry wash that runs paral-lel
to the trail below — you can’t miss the bright white
boulders scattered about.
At this point, you’ll want to make a quick stop at Petro-glyph
Plaza to see the writing on the rocks. Just beyond
the petroglyphs, the trail turns into a dozen stone steps
before arriving at a sandy clearing.
Giant cliffs shade this area, and the temperature is
noticeably cooler. It’s the perfect place to have a quick
snack — smooth, cool boulders make great benches —
especially if there’s a group ahead of you that’s already
checking out the waterfall.
Getting closer to the waterfall involves an easy climb
up and over a few smaller boulders and through a wide
crevice. If a heavy storm has recently rolled through,
water will be rushing down the canyon wall. If not, the
walls will glow silvery white in the shaded light, and the
pool of water below will be quiet and cool.
Either way, it’s a surprising finish to a trail that mostly
meanders through a dry desert landscape. It’s also a good
reminder that while timing does matter, nature still
offers a stunning view to those who make the effort to
explore a little.
LENGTH: 2.8 miles round-trip
ELEVATION: 1,400 to 1,600 feet
DIRECTIONS: From Phoenix, take Interstate
10 west to Cotton Lane/Loop 303 (Exit
124). Head north on Loop 303 for about 8
miles to West Olive Avenue. There will be
a road sign directing traffic toward White
Tank Mountain Regional Park. Turn left
(west) onto Olive Avenue, which leads to
the park’s entrance. Once inside the park,
continue on White Tank Mountain Road
to the Area 4 parking lot. Park entry fee
INFORMATION: White Tank Mountain
Regional Park, 623-935-2505 or www.
• Plan ahead and be prepared.
• Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
• Dispose of waste properly and pack
out your trash.
• Leave what you find.
• Respect wildlife and minimize impact.
• Be considerate of others.
◗ In the White
hikers reap the
rewards of the
and, if their tim-ing
is right, a wa-terfall
at trail’s end.
WATERFALL CANYON TRAIL
This trek in the White Tank
Mountains is best after a rainfall,
but even without the rain, it
offers dramatic desert scenery.
BY AMANDA FRUZYNSKI
PHOTOGRAPHS BY GEORGE STOCKING
O N L I N E For more hikes in Arizona, visit our “Hiking Guide” at www.arizonahighways.com.
trail guide F
W h i t e T a n k M o u n t a i n s
W H I T E T A N K M O U N T A I N
R E G I O N A L P A R K
Waterfall C anyon
T R A I L H E A D
Waterfall T R A I L H E A D
48 n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 9
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to our winner, Carolyn
Swalling of Charlo,
BY KELLY KRAMER
fact, they were
built to protect
who had settled
the area. Today,
site serves as a
reminder of a
bitter feud that
took place in
the 1800s. By
the way, Ziggy
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