ESCAPE • EXPLORE • EXPERIENCE
“In the end, the character of a civilization is encased in its structures.” — FRANK GEHRY
OUR TAKE ON THE STATE’S
MOST HISTORIC LANDMARKS,
INCLUDING TOVREA CASTLE,
EL TOVAR & MORE
PLUS: HELLSGATE WILDERNESS • RATTLESNAKES • YUMA’S BEST BURRITOS
MORENCI, AZ • QUEEN VALLEY ROAD • OLIVE OATMAN • CAMELBACK MOUNTAIN
w w w. w . a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 1
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2 EDITOR’S LETTER > 3 CONTRIBUTORS > 4 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR > 56 WHERE IS THIS?
5 THE JOURNAL
People, places and things from around the state, including the girl
with the blue tattoo; Yuma’s best burritos; and Morenci, our town
of the month.
16 HISTORIC PLACES
If TIME can pick a “Person of the Year” every year, and Good House-keeping
can put its seal of approval all over everything, we figured
that after nearly nine decades of publishing, it was time for us to
start officially designating a few things of our own. We begin with
five of Arizona’s most historic places.
BY ROBERT STIEVE & KELLY VAUGHN KRAMER
PHOTOGRAPHS BY CRAIG SMITH
28 AWE NATUREL
From the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley in the north to the
Sonoran Desert and Chiricahua Mountains in the south, Arizona
has more than its share of natural wonders. Talk about naked
beauty ... this portfolio showcases Arizona in its natural state.
EDITED BY JEFF KIDA
40 THIS BITES!
Most people are inherently wary of rattlesnakes. And for good
reason. Their venom can digest a human body from the inside
out, leaving limbs hideously swollen and black as coal. Or worse.
So why would our writer spend the night in a desert teeming with
BY CRAIG CHILDS
PHOTOGRAPHS BY BRUCE D. TAUBERT
44 TO HELLSGATE AND BACK
Lining up writers and photographers for stories about Havasu Falls,
Hannagan Meadow or Horton Creek is one thing — idyllic-sounding
places are an easy sell — but when the contract includes the words
“go to Hellsgate,” the list of contributors gets a lot shorter. Hells-gate
is a rugged place, and getting in and out requires a willingness
to endure triple-digit temperatures, hungry bears, poisonous
snakes, flash floods and a 2,000-foot vertical drop.
BY ANNETTE MCGIVNEY
PHOTOGRAPHS BY ELIAS BUTLER
50 HISTORY MAJOR
Words and photographs make up most
of Arizona’s historical record, but if you
ask collector Jeremy Rowe, there aren’t
enough pictures. That’s why he’s col-lected
more than 35,000 photographs
and postcards. It’s one of the best col-lections
BY DAVID SCHWARTZ
PHOTOGRAPH BY JOHN WAGNER
52 SCENIC DRIVE
Queen Valley Road: As it winds through the Superstition
Mountains, Queen Valley Road offers a little something
for everyone — gorgeous landscapes for
sightseers, and extreme terrain for
54 HIKE OF THE
Summit Trail: Maybe
you’ve done Camelback. If
so, great; if not, put it on your
list — it’s one of the most
unique urban trails in
◗ Snow blankets Four Peaks, the most notable summits in the Mazatzal
Mountain range, east of Phoenix. | MOREY K. MILBRADT
FRONT COVER Tovrea Castle and Carraro Cactus Garden, located at
52nd and Van Buren streets in Phoenix, recently opened for public tours.
Alessio Carraro built the castle in 1928 and sold the property to E.A.
Tovrea in 1932. | CRAIG SMITH
BACK COVER Sunset light paints delicate sandstone fins at Vermilion
Cliffs National Monument in Northern Arizona. | GEORGE STOCKING
• POINTS OF INTEREST IN THIS ISSUE
w w w. 2 F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 3 a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 3
Giant centipedes, snakes and hungry
bears didn’t scare writer Annette
McGivney (see To Hellsgate and Back,
page 44). “We managed to do the trip
when it was not too hot and not too
cold, and all the critters were either
withdrawn from the cooler nights
or happily occupied with gorging
themselves on a profusion of prickly
pear fruit,” McGivney says. “It was
heavenly down at the creek and swim-ming
through the narrow gorge of Hell’s
Gate. I took my son because I wanted
him to experience true wilderness, and
he did.” McGivney’s work has also been
published in Backpacker, Outside and
The New York Times Magazine.
— KELLY VAUGHN KRAMER
Writer Craig Childs is an avid adventurer,
but one journey really stands out — a
multiday excursion in the Mexican
desert, complete with rattlesnake
encounters. Childs relates his close calls
with sidewinders in This Bites! (page
40). Although he hasn’t yet been bitten,
Childs has written many books about
his treks into the wild, including The
Animal Dialogues, which gives readers
a glimpse at his close encounters with
a variety of wildlife. Childs is a frequent
contributor to Arizona Highways. His
work has also appeared in The New
York Times and Outside.
BRUCE D. TAUBERT
Bruce Taubert is no stranger to Arizona’s
wildlife. As a biologist-photographer, he’s
come very close to things that crawl and
slither, including the Western diamond-back
and sidewinder rattlesnakes you’ll
see in This Bites! (page 40). “I love to pho-tograph
bats, hummingbirds, snakes and
nocturnal animals of all types,” Taubert
says. “The more difficult a photograph
is to make, the more I want to make it.”
Taubert’s work has also appeared in
Arizona Wildlife Views and WildBird.
F E B RUA RY 2 0 1 3 V O L . 8 9, N O . 2
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PRODUCED IN THE USA
PUBLISHER Win Holden
EDITOR Robert Stieve
MANAGING EDITOR Kelly Vaughn Kramer
ASSOCIATE EDITOR Kathy Ritchie
EDITORIAL ADMINISTRATOR Nikki Kimbel
PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR Jeff Kida
CREATIVE DIRECTOR Barbara Glynn Denney
ART DIRECTOR Keith Whitney
DESIGN PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Diana Benzel-Rice
MAP DESIGNER Kevin Kibsey
PRODUCTION DIRECTOR Michael Bianchi
WEBMASTER Victoria J. Snow
DIRECTOR OF SALES & MARKETING Kelly Mero
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2039 W. Lewis Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85009
GOVERNOR Janice K. Brewer
OF TRANSPORTATION John S. Halikowski
BOARD CHAIRWOMAN Barbara Ann Lundstrom
VICE CHAIRMAN Victor M. Flores
MEMBERS Stephen W. Christy
Kelly O. Anderson
Joseph E. La Rue
William J. Feldmeier
If you like what you see in this
magazine every month, check out
Arizona Highways Television, an
Emmy Award-winning program
hosted by former news anchor Robin
Sewell. For broadcast times, visit
our website, www.arizonahighways.
com, and click the Arizona Highways
Television link on our home page.
ELLEN BARNES I grew up with the Ringlings. That
might sound like a metaphor, but it’s
not. Their extensive property was next
door, literally, to my boyhood home. I
don’t know how many acres the Ringling
brothers had on that particular spread,
but it was a lot, and a half-mile through
the woods between us was a collection
of old buildings, including a three-story
stone structure that was used as a stable
of sorts for some of their circus elephants.
In our Tom Sawyer years, my three broth-ers
and I, along with the other neighbor-hood
kids, would spend our summers
trying to get into that old building,
which was boarded-up and brooding —
the kind of place you’d expect to see
Shaggy, Scooby and a parade of stagger-ing
mummies. It was also off-limits and
inaccessible. Well, almost inaccessible.
(Sorry, Mom, it was Jeff’s idea.)
I thought about the elephant barn
when I was standing at the front gate of
Tovrea Castle, about to enter a place I’d
wanted to explore for years. Like every-one
else in metropolitan Phoenix, I’d
driven past the castle a thousand times,
and couldn’t wait to see what was inside.
I was there with former Phoenix Mayor
John Driggs, who was one of the many
people working to restore the iconic land-mark.
On that fall day in 2011, the castle
was still a work in progress, but the dust
didn’t diminish the experience —
I was Howard Carter at King Tut’s Tomb.
Today, Tovrea is open to the public, and
this month, it’s on our list of the state’s
most historic places.
Lowell Observatory is on the list,
too, along with the Elks Opera House
in Prescott, Kannally Ranch House in
Oracle, and El Tovar, which opened on
the South Rim in 1905. Built by the Santa
Fe Railway for the then-exorbitant sum of
$250,000, the beautiful hotel was dubbed
“the most expensively constructed and
appointed log house in America.” Hyper-bole
notwithstanding, El Tovar is the
epitome of historic places in Arizona, and
its proximity to the Grand Canyon only
makes it more so. Of course, El Tovar and
the Canyon are among the things people
think about when they
think about Arizona.
They also think about
saguaros, sunsets and
Craig Childs, in par-ticular,
has a fascina-tion
with the latter.
“In some ways, I
wished it had been me
[who was bitten], just
to get it out of the way,
and answer my curios-ity,”
he writes in This
Bites!, an unsettling
essay that inspired
Associate Editor Kathy Ritchie to walk
into my office after reading it and say:
“That’s so disturbing. I’m never going
anywhere with Craig Childs.”
The essay looks back on Craig’s time as
a river guide and the ever-present threat
of snakes. “We were all likely targets,
working as field instructors on the lower
Colorado River, a place well populated by
rattlesnakes. Picking up gear boxes and
snapping out tarps, wearing river san-dals
and shorts, our
bare flesh was always
available.” Turns out,
a colleague did get
attacked, and nearly
died, but the story
doesn’t end there.
From the lower Colo-rado,
the essay moves
south into Mexico,
where Craig and his
band of lunatics spent
several nights in a
desert teeming with
I don’t know, but
instead of Mexico,
they could have just as
easily gone to Hellsgate.
“The area contains a very high con-centration
of snakes,” the Forest Service
warns. But that’s not the only deterrent
to entering Hellsgate. Although it’s a wil-derness
loaded with natural beauty, it’s
rugged territory, and getting in and out
requires a willingness
to endure not only rat-tlesnakes,
but also tri-ple-
aggressive bears, giant
of gnats, flash floods
and a 2,000-foot verti-cal
drop. About the
only thing you won’t
encounter down there
is a parade of stagger-ing
In To Hellsgate
and Back, Annette
McGivney recounts her
grueling trek into that unforgiving wil-derness.
She hiked in with her son, a girl-friend
and photographer Elias Butler, but
as you’ll see, it’s not a trip for everyone.
However, if you’re wired for extremes,
entering the depths of Hellsgate ranks as
one of the best adventures in Arizona. It’s
an experience, to be sure. Like gaining
access to a cordoned-off castle or sneak-ing
through the third-story window of a
boarded-up elephant barn.
COMING IN MARCH ...
Our annual portfolio of spring wild-flowers,
featuring the spectacular pho-tography
of George Stocking.
It’s an Experience
ROBERT STIEVE, EDITOR
Follow me on Twitter: @azhighways
4 F E B RUA RY 2 0 1 3
w w w. a r i z o n a h i g hwa y s . c om 5
THE JOURNAL 02.13
Stark winter trees reflect in the shallow,
calm water of the east Verde River, as
seen from Flowing Springs Road. The road
borders the Tonto National Forest near
Payson. Information: Tonto National Forest,
928-474-7900 or www.fs.usda.gov/tonto
CAMERA: CANON EOS 5D MARK II; SHUTTER: 25 SEC;
APERTURE: F/11; ISO: 100; FOCAL LENGTH: 85 MM
SECOND TIME’S A CHARM
This morning, I read every word and absorbed every picture in
your “Next Best Images” issue [December 2012], and began to
wonder why the first issue had failed to grab my full attention
like this one did. So I dug out the first issue and compared them.
I’ve concluded it has to do with layout. Subtle differences in
presentation let the reader focus more on the photographs in the
2012 issue. Another plus is the presentation of the artists’ names.
Even though they’re in bold print, they don’t detract from the
picture, while hunting for the photographer’s name in the first
issue does. I’ve watched Arizona Highways evolve for 35 years ...
the presentation of the December 2012 issue is an improvement
over December 2011. Jean Hutton, Scottsdale, Arizona
letters to the editor
contact us If you have thoughts or com-ments
about anything in Arizona Highways, we’d
love to hear from you. We can be reached at editor@
arizonahighways.com, or by mail at 2039 W. Lewis
Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85009. For more information,
I just received the December 2012 issue
featuring your “second best photos.”
Regarding Josef Muench [cover photo-graph],
he was on the same ship from
Germany that my mother was on in 1928.
Doris Scharfenberg, Greensboro, North Carolina
The photograph on page 13 of the
December 2012 issue of Arizona Highways is
not Kayenta, but Shiprock, New Mexico.
Larry Caviggia, Gallup, New Mexico
What a breath of fresh air! The December
2012 issue is the best in years. We’ve
been subscribers for a long time, and have
missed much of the old style with the
Bob & Mary Lou Cummings,
Apache Junction, Arizona
RAZING THE BARROOM
My husband, Henry, and I have been
restoring the Weatherford Hotel since
1975, and one of our greatest accomplish-ments
was renovating the Zane Grey
Ballroom in 1997, and then restoring the
first half of the wraparound balconies of
the Weatherford Hotel that burned off in
the late 1920s. Imagine my dismay that
one of our favorite Arizona treasures,
Arizona Highways, renamed it the Zane
Grey Barroom in one month.
Pamela S. (Sam) Green, Flagstaff
A FLOOD OF MEMORIES
It’s amazing what a little blurb out of This
Month in History [November 2012] brings
to mind. It mentions that in November
1919, the “overburdened Agua Fria River
threatens Glendale.” In March 1960, I
wrote in our travel log the following: “We
traveled farther on the dirt road toward
Black Canyon Highway and the Agua Fria
River. The river was shallow, but spar-kling
clean, sandy-bottomed and not too
cold. The boys (Don and Pat) loved it, and
Debbie (14 months) toddled around in the
water.” I believe she was munching on
some wildflowers at the time. We were
desert rats for many years, and Arizona
Highways is a wonderful memory jogger.
Thanks for the little bits and pieces, too.
Alice Turner, Grafton, North Dakota
In February, two family friends came to
Arizona from Wisconsin for a regular
visit. Over the years, they’d built up quite
a repertoire of great bars to visit while
they were here. One day, they asked
my boyfriend and me to go with them
to Parker … a place I’d never been. Out
of nowhere, we found ourselves at The
Desert Bar [November 2012]. It’s because
of places like this — places rich with cul-ture,
history and a great story to boot —
that I wanted to move to Arizona. Thanks
for the highlight.
Jenna Latz, Phoenix
WHAT HE’S DRIVING AT
I enjoy your magazine very much, but
this is the second time I’ve noticed a
comment that hits on a particular nerve
of mine. In the Editor’s Letter [November
2012] discussing the old saloons of
Arizona, you wisely warn readers not
to drink and drive, because: “You don’t
want to end up in a county jail some-where.
Or, worse yet, in one of Mark
Lipczynski’s cemeteries.” But you forgot
the most important reason not to drink
and drive, which is that nobody has a
right to put other people’s lives at risk
because of their own convenience or
carelessness by driving down the road in
an impaired state. It shouldn’t be about
the trouble that someone can get them-selves
into; it’s about the risk they pose
to innocent people by their bad choices.
Dr. David P. O’Brien, Tucson
I’m an Arizona native, I lived in the
Bradshaw Mountains and I worked for
the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
I must say that your magazine has had a
huge impact on me. My parents were sub-scribers,
and as a kid I’d pore over every
issue. I have most of your books, and
when I’m in Phoenix, I stop by your store
just to walk through. Partly because of
your magazine, I chose a career in wildlife
law enforcement and photography. Thank
you for being a positive role model in my
life. I’m not sure if any of you have ever
thought about what you do in this man-ner,
but I’m sure I’m not the only one who
appreciates Arizona Highways.
Mark Quigley, Prescott, Arizona
hometowns > local favorites > history > photography > odd jobs
dining > nature > lodging > things to do
6 F E B RUA RY 2 0 1 3 w w w. a r i z o n a h i g hwa y s . c om 7 T H E J O U R N A L
FIRST KNOWN AS JOY’S CAMP, Morenci
was established in 1872 and built against
the sides of Longfellow Hill in Eastern
Arizona’s Greenlee County. Settlers
built up instead of out, and for decades,
Morenci was known as “the town without
a wheeled vehicle.” Its roads were danger-ous,
and only footpaths led miners and
their families into the heart of town. After
statehood, town officials widened the
roads, leading to an influx of new set-tlers
— most of them miners. Renowned
artist Ted DeGrazia’s parents were
among the town’s new residents, and
DeGrazia was born in Morenci. His father
and uncles were miners there. So, too,
was he — but only briefly. By 1933, the
longtime contributor to Arizona High-ways
had left town to pursue a degree at
the University of Arizona and a career in
the arts. Although DeGrazia hit the road,
Morenci’s mines endured, and today,
Freeport-McMoRan’s Morenci Mine is
the largest employer in both Morenci
and the neighboring town of Clifton. The
open-pit copper mine processes ap-proximately
635,000 metric tons of ore
each day. — KELLY VAUGHN KRAMER
0.8 square miles
E L E VAT ION
Chase Creek Marketplace is located at 215 Chase Creek
Street in Clifton. For more information, call 928-865-
1251 or visit www.chasecreekmarketplace.com.
Susan Snyder’s vision for Chase Creek Market-place
was simple: Provide “handcrafted gifts
by people we know.” Since the store opened
eight years ago, artists from Clifton and
Morenci have showcased their work. Snyder
herself even contributes her wares, which in-clude
earrings, rosary bracelets and knit caps.
What was the inspiration for the
About 18 years ago, several local artists
started a volunteer gallery in the old train
depot in Clifton, which we called The Art
Depot. After operating for 10 years, we ran
out of available volunteers to keep the
depot open to the public. I was friends with
many of the artists from The Art Depot and
wanted to help make their art available
to everyone. Eight years ago, I was able to
purchase a building on Chase Creek Street
and open a shop for artists to sell their art
and crafts all year.
What things are most popular?
We have a wide variety of items, such as
pottery, salsa, paintings, clothing and, of
course, jewelry. So, we’re not just known for
What will surprise people most about
Everything is locally made. You don’t have
to travel an hour to Safford to find a gift.
They’re all one-of-a-kind items; you never
have to worry about arriving at a party and
showing up with the same gift.
— ANDREA CRANDALL
8 F E B RUA RY 2 0 1 3 w w w. a r i z o n a h i g hwa y s . c om 9 T H E J O U R N A L To learn more about photography, visit www.arizonahighways.com/photography.asp.
Richard Jackson. If you’re looking for a high-performance photographic
print, that’s the guy you want. Jackson is the driving force behind Hance
Partners, a company that specializes in fine-art printing for photographers,
and his company’s client list is a who’s who of excellence: Steve McCurry,
Amy Vitale and Joe McNally are all contributing photographers to National
Geographic; Jack Dykinga, Gary Ladd and Randy Prentice are longtime
contributors to Arizona Highways; and the list goes on. Jackson has been
in the photo-lab business for a long time, and he could have gone to New
York or anywhere else, but he’s always preferred small operations — those
that emphasize a collaborative effort between photographer and print-maker.
There are others who focus on that, but what sets Jackson apart is
the dialogue he initiates with each photographer. This photo of the Grand
Canyon, made by Gary Ladd, is a good example. Among the questions
Jackson asked were: What’s the story? What was the motivation behind the
photo? Where do you want the viewer’s eyes to go first, and where should
they linger? After Ladd answered, Jackson asked the technical questions:
Is there enough dimension in the clouds? How much shadow detail would
you like on the right-hand wall? Should the highlights on the sunlit wall be
brighter down canyon, or more toward the middle of the frame? Jackson
knows what to ask and what to do with a photographer’s answers, creat-ing
a perfect combination of art and print performance.
— JEFF KIDA, photo editor
Making the Papers
Blue in the Face
Those people who walked 10 miles to school every day in the snow
haven’t got anything on Olive Oatman, who was abducted by Indians,
forced into slavery and given a blue tattoo on her chin.
If a picture’s worth a thousand words, this photograph of
Olive Oatman speaks volumes. Her story is remarkable.
In 1850, she and her family left their home in Illinois and
headed west to California. In February 1851, they approached
the Gila River in Arizona, where they were ambushed by a band
of Yavapai Indians. Only three of the nine family members sur-vived
the attack — brother Lorenzo was beaten and left for dead,
although he managed to seek help, and sisters Olive and Mary Ann
were abducted and forced into slavery.
According to a story written by Father Edward J. Pettid in
the November 1968 issue of Arizona Highways, the girls were
traded to a band of Mojave Indians for “two horses, a few vege-tables,
a few pounds of beads and three blankets.” Although the
girls were captives, the Mojave chief treated them like daugh-ters
and marked them as such with blue tattoos on their chins.
The Mojaves considered the tattoo — with its five vertical lines
— a form of identification in the afterlife. Despite being cared
for, the sisters endured severe hardships alongside the Mojaves,
including food shortages. Mary Ann later died of starvation.
Five years after the family was ambushed, authorities from
Fort Yuma, California, found Olive and negotiated a trade with
her captors. When she finally arrived at the fort, she became
an instant celebrity. Following the publication of a book about
her story, Olive began talking publicly about her experiences to
help promote it.
Although Olive’s early years were rather extraordinary, she
went on to live a very ordinary life when she married John B.
Fairchild, and later adopted a daughter. Olive Ann Oatman
Fairchild died on March 20, 1903, at the age of 65. The town of
Oatman, Arizona, is named in her honor.
— ANDREA CRANDALL
ARIZONA STATE ARCHIVES
50 Years Ago
■ The townsite of
Phoenix, which consists
of 380 acres, is filed in
the U.S. Land Office on
February 13, 1872.
■ George W.P. Hunt
becomes the first gov-ernor
of Arizona when
the Territory becomes
a state on February
■ The Phoenix Street
Railway stops service
on February 17, 1948.
The streetcar line
was established in
1887 and boasted the
motto “Ride a Mile
and Smile the While.”
■ Astronomer Clyde
Pluto, which is now
known as a “dwarf
planet,” at Flagstaff’s
on February 18, 1930.
The February 1963
issue of Arizona
Highways featured a
story about Scottsdale
and how the ambitious
city created its own
theater and opera
companies, despite its
small population. The
issue also celebrated
Governor Hunt, left, and
Open up for
shadow detail in
Hold detail for
dimension in clouds.
Look for our book
at bookstores and
try using bracketing
to ensure the best
this means making
three or more im-ages:
with the presumed
and one slightly
DSLRs have an
to do this, but if
your camera does
not, you can bracket
manually by slightly
adjusting your ex-posure
for each shot
— usually in 1/3 -or
above and below
the camera’s read-ing.
When it comes
time to edit your
images, you’ll have
more options from
which to choose.
10 F E B RUA RY 2 0 1 3 w w w. a r i z o n a h i g hwa y s . c om 11 T H E J O U R N A L
DAWN KISH (2)
Jesus “Jesse” Aguiar has a thing for leather. He’s
been crafting all sorts of leather goods, including
wallets, belts and purses, since 1969. But when
a friend suggested he make moccasins for a
company in Tucson, Aguiar tapped into his niche.
“It was really simple for me,” he says. “I took to it
like a duck to water.” These days, Aguiar makes
his beautiful handmade moccasins for Arizona’s
Hopi and Navajo tribes. For Hopis, he makes
moccasins for Katsina dancers in three different
colors: rust, white and turquoise. For Navajos, he
typically makes a deerskin wrap-style moccasin
with a rust-colored toe. “The women mainly
wear those,” he says. In 2011, Aguiar opened
San Agustin Trading Co., a retail shop where he
creates custom moccasins. “[Wearing moccasins
is] like walking barefoot,” he says. “They wear
forever, and they’re really comfortable. Some
people come into the store who have moccasins
I made 20 or 30 years ago.”
— KATHY RITCHIE
Jesus “Jesse” Aguiar, Tucson
For more information, call 520-971-7803 or visit www.
12 F E B RUA RY 2 0 1 3 w w w. a r i z o n a h i g hwa y s . c om 13 T H E J O U R N A L
Grasshopper mice have been described
as the wolves of the mouse world be-cause
the small creatures “howl” with a
high-pitched whistle. The gray-brown or
cinnamon-colored desert dwellers were
named after their diet — they eat insects,
including scorpions, centipedes and, of
— ANDREA CRANDALL
BRUCE D. TAUBERT BRUCE D. TAUBERT
R ocky Mountain irises are beautiful.
Simple as that. Also known as West-ern
blue flag, the flowers bloom a
bright purple or blue, adding splashes
of color to alpine meadows. In late spring and
early summer, they grow in profusion along
streams and in grassy pastures.
But the delicate flowers are more than just
a photo op. Several Indian tribes are said to
have used parts of the Rocky Mountain iris to
treat ailments, including toothaches and joint
pain. Their roots, however, are poisonous.
Rocky Mountain irises are also known
for their ability to produce useful cordage.
Their strong and flexible fibers can be woven
into rope, fishing nets and snares. And if
you’re ever in need of a coffee substitute, the
roasted seeds of the flowers pack a caffein-ated
— ANDREA CRANDALL
and 20 to 40
Blooms are bitter
“Just like grandma made.” At most restaurants, those words are just words that look good
on a marquee, but at the Chile Pepper, they’re literal. Since 1956, this mecca for Mexican
food has been using Bessie Gutierrez’s recipes to make some of the best burritos in Yuma.
MANY RESTAURANTS CLAIM TO SERVE HOME-cooked
meals, but they don’t. They order
frozen or heavily processed
foods, reheat them and
serve them up — “just like
your grandma used to make.”
The opposite is true at the Chile Pep-per
in Yuma. The food that comes out
of this kitchen is 100 percent grandma’s
recipe. But you might not know it at
first glance. Tucked away in a nonde-script
strip mall, the place looks more
like a high school cafeteria. The brightly
colored community table near the back
seems out of place in a sea of green plas-tic
chairs and laminate café tables.
Of course, the Chile Pepper has never
been about appearances. People come
here strictly for the food, and they’ll tell
you that the bean-and-cheese burritos are
the best around — they’re even better on
Wednesdays, when the price is marked
down from $2.29 to $1.49.
“People come in and buy $300 worth
of bean-and-cheese burritos,” says Mary
Lou Huff, partner (with her late brother,
Gilbert, whom she called the restaurant’s
“backbone”) and daughter of the Chile
Pepper’s founders, Juan and Bessie Guti-errez.
“My mom was one of those gals
who said, ‘My mission is to feed people
good food, and we have to make it afford-able,
so keep those prices down!’ ”
Since opening the Chile Pepper in
1956 — it’s since been relocated to its
current location — the Gutierrez fam-ily
has adhered to Bessie’s mantra of
keeping prices low without sacrificing
quality. Everything is made from scratch
using the best possible ingredients. More
than 420 dozen flour tortillas are hand-stretched
every day, while corn is ground
six days a week to create the 630 dozen
— give or take — corn tortillas needed to
satisfy the restaurant’s hungry patrons.
At the end of each night, pounds of beans
cook slowly, so the cooks who come in
at 5:30 a.m. can start preparing breakfast
burritos. Even the beef machaca is made
“I love the fact that it’s the same food
[my mom] started making when she
opened the Chile Pepper,” Huff says. “I
love that it’s the same food I grew up
Although Bessie Gutierrez passed away
last year, her legacy lives on. Besides the
Chile Pepper, the family also owns some
other Yuma eateries, and Juan and Bessie’s
grandchildren and great-grandchildren
work at the Chile Pepper and its sister
“She was so committed, and she saw
her vision materialize,” Huff says. “We
want to continue doing what she started
— not only for our parents, but for our
community.” — KATHY RITCHIE
The Chile Pepper is located at 1030 W. 24th Street in
Yuma. For more information, call 928-783-4213 or visit
14 F E B RUA RY 2 0 1 3 T H E J O U R N A L
When hardware-store owner Floyd Holmes Sine had his fill of
hammers and nails, he decided to jump into the furniture busi-ness.
So, in 1926, he built a two-story storefront on Glendale’s
main drag. Glendale Furniture Co. thrived for a time
before other shops moved into the space, and by
1989, owners had transformed the Sine Building into
the Gaslight Inn. Gary and Teresa Outzen purchased
the property — listed on the National Register of Historic Places
— in 2011, saving it from a nearly four-year period of closure. They
renovated the rooms, added Wi-Fi and flat-screen televisions,
and incorporated the Olde Towne Glendale Wine and Beer Bar,
which regulars have dubbed “the Cheers of Glendale,” an hom-age
to the popular ’80s television show. “We have 10 beautifully
decorated rooms, with the most comfortable beds,” Teresa
Outzen says. “The rooms are loaded with antiques.” And even
though Outzen admits that no celebrities, from the Cheers cast
or otherwise, have stayed at the inn, “Every one of our guests is a
star to us,” she says. — KELLY VAUGHN KRAMER
The Gaslight Inn is located at 5745 W. Glendale Avenue in Glendale. For more informa-tion,
call 623-934-5466 or visit www.gaslightinnaz.com.
Gold Rush Days
February 7-10, Wickenburg
Celebrate Wickenburg’s Old
West heritage at this 65th
annual celebration. Peruse
more than 200 arts and crafts
booths and enjoy live enter-tainment
plus a classic-car show. Don’t
forget to check out the rodeo
($5 admission) and visit the
Desert Caballeros Western
Museum. Information: 928-
684-5479 or www.wicken
February 16-17, Phoenix
Sure, you might have to stand
in line at the 57th Annual
VNSA Used Book Sale, but
the deals are worth the wait.
With more than 500,000
gently used books — includ-ing
some first editions — from
every genre imaginable,
plus CDs, DVDs, puzzles and
games available for sale, this
annual book sale benefits
local charities. Information:
602-265-6805 or www.vnsa
February 9, Scottsdale
This auction features rugs,
pottery, baskets, kachina
dolls, jewelry and more. Best
of all, purchases are tax-free,
so come support the Friends
of Hubbell. Proceeds will
benefit Hubbell Trading Post,
as well as Native American
youth who want to pursue
higher education. Information:
La Fiesta de los Vaqueros
February 16-24, Tucson
With more than 650 contes-tants
from the United States
and Canada competing for
more than $420,000 in prize
money, this event gives visi-tors
a chance to see working
cowboys and cowgirls ply
their skills. Rodeo events
include bull-riding, bareback-and
roping, team roping and
women’s barrel racing. Infor-mation:
520-741-2233 or www.
Square Dance Festival
February 8-10, Yuma
A longtime Yuma tradition,
this popular event features
dancers from several Western
states looking for a chance
to show off their down-home
dancing skills. Information:
928-782-0844 or www.ysrda.
things to do in arizona
Don’t Just see the Canyon ...
From hands-on archaeology surveys and backcountry
adventures to rim-based day tours and photography
workshops, the Grand Canyon Field Institute offers
expert insight into the natural and cultural history of
the world’s most famous natural wonder.
For a complete list of programs, call 866-471-4435
or visit www.grandcanyon.org/fieldinstitute
Grand Canyon Field Institute
16 F E B RUA RY 2 0 1 3
By ROBERT STIEVE &
KELLY VAUGHN KRAMER
Photographs by CRAIG SMITH
If TIME can pick a “Person of
the Year” every year, and Good
Housekeeping can put its seal of
approval all over everything, we
figured that after nearly nine decades
of publishing, it was time for us to
start officially designating a few
things of our own. We begin with five
of Arizona’s most historic places.
Twilight illuminates the 116-year-old Clark Dome at Lowell Observatory,
located on Mars Hill in Flagstaff.
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Percival Lowell believed in something bigger than
himself — in the stuff that stars are made of and in
faraway planets and other galaxies. So, in 1894, he
chose Mars Hill, near downtown Flagstaff, to build
his observatory. What started as a place for Lowell
to sketch canals — the evidence, he believed, of
life on Mars — and search for a trans-Neptunian planet has since
grown into one of the country’s major astronomy research institu-tions.
It’s there that Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto on February
18, 1930, and where Vesto M. Slipher investigated spiral nebulae.
Today, Lowell Observatory houses the 4.3-meter Discovery Channel
Telescope at its Happy Jack site, as well as a slew of others on Mars
Hill. It has an annual operating budget of more than $6 million.
LOCATION: 1400 W. Mars Hill Road, Flagstaff
ARCHITECT: Sykes Brothers (Clark Dome); Guy Lowell
INFORMATION: 928-774-3358 or www.lowell.edu
1894 Percival Lowell establishes his observatory on Mars Hill.
1912 Vesto M. Slipher’s research into spiral nebulae leads to the
first real evidence that the universe is expanding.
1916 Lowell dies, and his search for a trans-Neptunian planet is
suspended while the observatory battles his estate.
1930 Clyde Tombaugh discovers Pluto.
2012 Lowell Observatory commissions the Discovery Channel
18 F E B RUA RY 2 0 1 3
ABOVE: Astronomer Henry
Giclas added a boxing glove
to Lowell’s Pluto Discovery
Telescope when he realized
that people often hit their
heads on the telescope’s
RIGHT: Percival Lowell
observes Venus through the
24-inch Clark Telescope on
October 14, 1914.
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John Muir saw the Grand Canyon and called it “God’s
spectacle.” The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway
saw it and saw money, and thus built a spur line there
to haul out copper. Turns out, there wasn’t much cop-per
in the area, so the railway built El Tovar at the
then-exorbitant cost of $250,000 — the luxury resort
was dubbed “the most expensively constructed and appointed
log house in America.” Hyperbole notwithstanding, Charles
Whittlesey’s design is indeed impressive. The exterior was
built in the style of a European chalet, with a wrapped turret,
jigsawn balustrades and cedar shakes, while the interior is pure
American hunting lodge, complete with dark wood, a massive
fireplace and trophy mounts. The rock is all local, which helps
El Tovar blend in with the landscape, and the logs — Douglas
firs — were shipped by rail from Oregon. During the planning
stages, the hotel was known as Bright Angel Tavern, because of
its proximity to Bright Angel Point; but before the grand opening
on January 15, 1905, it was changed to El Tovar, in honor of the
Spanish explorer Pedro de Tobar. Today, the hotel’s 78 rooms are
small and simply furnished. Few offer Rim views, but they’re all
mere steps from the Seventh Natural Wonder of the World.
LOCATION: South Rim, Grand Canyon National Park
ARCHITECT: Charles Whittlesey
INFORMATION: 928-638-2631 or www.grandcanyonlodges.com/
1901 The first passenger train arrives at the
1902 Charles Whittlesey works on the design for
El Tovar Hotel.
1905 El Tovar opens.
1909 The Santa Fe Railway builds a depot on the
1919 Grand Canyon is designated a national park.
1954 Fred Harvey Co. purchases South Rim
facilities from the Santa Fe Railway.
1968 Fred Harvey Co. becomes a subsidiary of
1981 El Tovar gets a $1.5 million rehabilitation.
1989 Passenger train service returns to the South
Rim after a 21-year absence.
1998 El Tovar undergoes a multimillion-dollar
ABOVE: Fifteen years
after a multimillion-dollar
El Tovar remains
the grande dame
of Grand Canyon
lodging. Located on
the Canyon’s South
Rim, El Tovar features
78 rooms and is
booked months in
LEFT: Hopi Indian
a crowd in front of El
Tovar in 1922.
COURTESY NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
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In February 1904, the Prescott Daily Journal Miner posted
notice that members of the Benevolent and Protective
Order of Elks Lodge No. 330 sought to build an opera
house — at an estimated cost of $15,000 — on East
Gurley Street in Prescott. Weeks later, the building’s
granite cornerstone was laid, and 10 months after
that, the Victorian-style theater opened with a staging of Marta
of the Lowlands, starring Florence Roberts. Over the decades,
the Elks began offering more film viewings than stage perfor-mances,
though live theater returned in the 1980s. In 2001, the
city of Prescott acquired the opera house and established the
Elks Opera House Foundation to help preserve and restore the
LOCATION: 117 E. Gurley Street, Prescott
ARCHITECT: John R. Minor
INFORMATION: 928-777-1367 or www.elksoperahouse.com
1905 The Elks Opera House opens in downtown
Prescott on February 20.
1916 Birth of a Nation is the first motion picture shown
at the Elks, launching it into the film era.
1940s Opera boxes and ornamental finishes are removed
to accommodate wider movie screens.
1982 The Arizona Community Foundation purchases
2001 The city of Prescott acquires the building.
2011 The Elks Opera House Foundation completes a
$2 million restoration.
ELKS OPERA HOUSE
LEFT: Prescott’s Elks
Opera House recently
$2 million restoration
and reopened for live
RIGHT: The Elks Theatre
a performance by
British actress Dorothy
Hamilton, circa 1936.
SHARLOT HALL MUSEUM
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Oracle State Park, Oracle
Kannally Ranch doesn’t have the name recognition
of El Tovar or Lowell Observatory, but it is on the
National Register of Historic Places, and it’s on our
list of iconic Arizona landmarks. Built into a hillside
between 1929 and 1932, the 2,622-square-foot white-stucco
home with turquoise wooden shutters fea-tures
four levels, two terraces and no bedrooms. The lack of sleeping
quarters is odd, but the history of the property is pretty typical. The
original 160-acre ranch was purchased by Neil and Lee Kannally of
Illinois in 1903. The two brothers were later joined by sisters Lucile
and Mary and brother Vincent, and the ranch grew to almost 50,000
acres — or 78 square miles. They ranched those acres for decades,
and then, in 1952, they sold their mineral rights and all but 4,000
acres to the Magma Copper Co. Following Lucile’s death in 1976, the
rest of the ranch was willed to the nonprofit Defenders of Wildlife,
which later deeded the ranch to the Arizona State Parks Board.
Oracle State Park was officially dedicated on October 1, 2001, and
today it’s a 4,000-acre wildlife refuge and environmental learning
center. Friends of Oracle State Park raises funds for the restoration,
preservation and operation of the historic Kannally Ranch House.
LOCATION: Oracle State Park
ARCHITECT: H. Newkirk
INFORMATION: 520-896-2425 or www.azstateparks.com
1903 Neil and Lee Kannally purchase the original 160-acre ranch.
1929 Construction of the Kannally Ranch House begins.
1954 The Kannally family sells mineral rights and all but 4,000
acres of the ranch to the Magma Copper Co.
1976 Lucile Kannally dies and deeds the ranch to Defenders of
1985 Defenders of Wildlife deeds Kannally Ranch to the Arizona
State Parks Board.
1988 The development of a master plan for a state park is initiated.
2001 Kannally Ranch is officially dedicated as Oracle State Park.
Now part of Oracle State Park, Kannally Ranch
House once belonged to Neil and Lee Kannally
and their siblings, Lucile, Mary and Vincent.
The 2,622-square-foot home features four
levels, but no sleeping quarters.
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When Italian cobbler-turned-developer
Alessio Carraro moved to Phoenix in 1928,
he dreamed of turning the desert east of
Phoenix into a major resort community,
with a hotel at its center. In 1932, Carraro
sold the property to cattleman Edward
Ambrose Tovrea. Although Carraro’s development never came to fruition
and E.A. Tovrea passed away in 1933, the property — including what’s
come to be known as Tovrea Castle — remained in the family until 1993,
when the city of Phoenix purchased it. Today, the Tovrea Carraro Society
oversees the preservation and restoration of the property and has begun
offering public tours.
LOCATION: 5041 E. Van Buren Street, Phoenix
ARCHITECT: Alessio Carraro
1928 Alessio Carraro conceptualizes Carraro Heights and the Carraro
1932 Carraro sells the castle and surrounding land to E.A. Tovrea.
1936 The widowed Della Tovrea marries William Stuart, publisher
of the Prescott Daily Courier. The couple spends most of the year in
Prescott, but winters at the castle.
1969 Della Tovrea dies, and the Tovrea Family Trust assumes
control of the castle.
1993 The city of Phoenix purchases the castle, as well as 7.5 acres
of surrounding land.
1996- The city purchases an additional 36 acres and begins
2003 preservation and restoration efforts.
2012 The castle and cactus gardens open for public tours.
HISTORIC PLACES Last year, the Tovrea Carraro Society and
the city of Phoenix opened Tovrea
Castle for public tours.
OPPOSITE PAGE: When this photograph was
made in 1930, Alessio Carraro lived in the
castle. He sold it to E.A. Tovrea two years
later. It remained in the Tovrea family
ARIZONA STATE ARCHIVES
28 F E B RUA RY 2 0 1 3
xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxx x x x
BY CRAIG CHILDS
PHOTOGRAPH BY JXXX XXXXX
[ a portfolio ]
From the Grand Canyon and Monument
Valley in the north to the Sonoran Desert
and Chiricahua Mountains in the south,
Arizona has more than its share of natural
wonders. Talk about naked beauty ... this is
Arizona in its natural state. EDITED BY JEFF KIDA
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30 F E B RUA RY 2 0 1 3 w w w. a r i z o n a h i g hwa y s . c om 31
[preceding panel] The snowcapped San Francisco Peaks loom over the sandstone hoodoos of Ward Bench,
on the Navajo Indian Reservation of Northeastern Arizona. “In planning this photo, I wanted to adjust
a pose of the hoodoos against the peaks,” says photographer Jack Dykinga. | Jack Dykinga
CAMERA: NIKON D3X; SHUTTER: 1/3; APERTURE: F/16; ISO: 100; FOCAL LENGTH: 400MM
[left] The turquoise waters of Havasu Creek pool beneath Mooney Falls. “Peering over Mooney Falls,
I gingerly crept to the very edge of the cliff,” says photographer Suzanne Mathia. “I was captivated by this
breathtaking view of the water as it flowed calmly after a 200-foot drop.” | Suzanne Mathia
CAMERA: CANON EOS 1DS MARK III; SHUTTER: 1/2; APERTURE: F/13; ISO: 160; FOCAL LENGTH: 70MM
[above] Clouds hover over Blue Mesa, in Petrified Forest National Park.
“This angle just really worked for the photograph,” Dykinga says. “It leads your eye into the storm.” | Jack Dykinga
CAMERA: ARCA SWISS; FILM: FUJI 4x5 VELVIA; SHUTTER: 3 SEC; APERTURE: F/45; ISO: 50; FOCAL LENGTH: 75MM
[ a portfolio ]
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[preceding panel] “I planned this HDR shot
of Toroweap for a while,” says photographer
Shane McDermott. “I wanted the rising sun
to align with the river bend below. So many
images from Toroweap portray such a sharp
and abrupt drop into the abyss below.
No doubt dramatic, but perhaps not
overly inviting.” | Shane McDermott
CAMERA: NIKON D800; SHUTTER: 1/8;
APERTURE: F/16; ISO: 100; FOCAL LENGTH: 14MM;
HDR IMAGE: 5 EXP FROM -4 EV TO +1 EV
[left] Fog envelops the upper Salt River
Canyon, on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation.
“I planned this photograph because of the bad
weather,” says photographer Jack Dykinga.
“I was following the storm.” | Jack Dykinga
CAMERA: ARCA SWISS; FILM: FUJI 4x5 VELVIA;
SHUTTER: 1/4; APERTURE: F/32; ISO: 50;
FOCAL LENGTH: 400MM
[ a portfolio ]
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38 F E B RUA RY 2 0 1 3 w w w. a r i z o n a h i g hwa y s . c om 39
[ a portfolio ]
[preceding panel] Mitten Ridge peeks from
behind Sedona’s Bear Wallow rock. “Photo
opportunities, for me, seem to come in waves,”
says photographer Mark Frank. “On this day, for
example, the weather was nearly perfect. I was
able to capture three or four quality shots in a
30-minute period. There are many times when
I can go for months and not see what I had in
front of me that day.” | Mark Frank
CAMERA: NIKON D200; SHUTTER: 1/3;
APERTURE: F/20; ISO: 100; FOCAL LENGTH: 46MM
[left] A summer monsoon creates a double
rainbow over the foothills of the Santa Catalina
Mountains. “In every case, when there’s bad
weather, I try to photograph the moods and
feelings of the storm,” says photographer Jack
Dykinga. | Jack Dykinga
CAMERA: NIKON D3; SHUTTER: 1/25;
APERTURE: F/16; ISO: 200; FOCAL LENGTH: 70MM
40 F E B RUA RY 2 0 1 3 w w w. a r i z o n a h i g hwa y s . c om 41
Most people are inherently wary of rattlesnakes.
And for good reason. Their venom can digest a
human body from the inside out, leaving limbs
hideously swollen and black as coal. Or worse. So
why would our writer spend the night in a desert
teeming with sidewinders?
BY CRAIG CHILDS
PHOTOGRAPHS BY BRUCE D. TAUBERT
T COULD HAVE BEEN ANY OF us bitten by a rattlesnake.
We were all likely targets, working as guides and field instruc-tors
on the lower Colorado River, a place well populated by rat-tlesnakes.
Picking up gear boxes and snapping out tarps, wearing river
sandals and shorts, our bare flesh was always available. In some ways,
I wished it had been me — just to get it out of the way, and to answer
It was not me, though. Instead, it was a friend working a few miles
upstream. He stepped on a rattlesnake in the night when the desert was
warm and the only light came from an ambient, bluish glow among the
stars. He was wearing his river sandals, and for an alarming half-sec-ond,
a snake, some Crotalus species, thrust its knuckle-length
fangs and 40 milligrams of venom into the exposed arch of
his foot. The venom moved quickly into his cells and began
at once digesting his foot and leg from the inside out. Within
minutes, vascular breakdown began as his heartbeat carried
poisons through his system. I did not hear from him at the time. All I heard shortly
afterward was the sound of a boat passing alone in the night. News was shuttled up to
my camp around tents and kitchen gear that a rescue was in progress, my friend being
hurried downstream to the takeout. Five hours from the nearest hospital, I stood and
listened to the silent, meandering river. I looked across the dome of the night, wonder-ing
what was happening on that departing boat, wondering and just barely wishing it
had been me.
My friend did not die. There was not enough venom to stop his heart or plunge him
into a coma, so he had remained conscious, gritting his teeth as he lay in the bottom of a
boat heading for the takeout. Without a precise antivenin on hand, there was little to do
but tie a loose strip of cloth above the bite and hope he did not die en route. After being
carried off the river, and after a jostling ride across the desert to the town of Yuma, he
lay in a hospital bed waiting for the poison to subside. Using antivenin is a dangerous
procedure and can be fatal in itself, so the doctors decided just to watch him, making
sure his throat did not seize. He had to wait it out.
There is more than death in a rattlesnake’s bite. Its venom is a pharmacological menag-erie
of highly evolved proteins that, when isolated, prove to have numerous restorative
powers. Its venom is known to treat some cancers. Its method of breaking down cell
The Western diamondback
rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) is
common in the southwestern
United States, particularly at
elevations below sea level and
up to 6,500 feet. The snake
— classified as a pit viper — is
characterized by a triangular
head and dark, diamond-shaped
patterns along its back.
42 F E B RUA RY 2 0 1 3 w w w. a r i z o n a h i g hwa y s . c om 43
walls — using an atom of zinc to cut through the membrane like
a sharp tooth — is the same process by which cancers travel
through the body. A drug made from rattlesnake venom reduces
blood clotting and has been successfully administered to stroke
victims, allowing them to regain physical and mental abilities
within a matter of hours. A number of people who have inten-tionally
injected doses of rattlesnake venom like daily vitamins
have lived to an old age with few physical complaints, no colds
or flu to speak of. But it is not something to trifle with. Dosage is
a treacherous balance. Death is always present.
When I saw my friend a few days later, of course I wanted to
hear every detail. He told me the bite itself had felt like a glow-ing-
hot ice pick stabbed all the way to the bone. He described
a burning sensation of poison entering his veins, how layers of
pain seemed to unfold his very being. He said I could pull away
the sheet covering him, and when I did I saw a foot and leg hid-eously
swollen and black as coal. His skin, which looked like it
should have exploded from such swelling, was grotesquely fire-worked
with burst blood vessels. I saw deflection in his eyes as
he hid the constant wince he was feeling.
I smiled at him as I covered his disfigured leg with a sheet. I
thought he was a better man for this. I said, “Snake medicine.”
Knowing what I meant, knowing that he now had the physi-cal
presence of a rattlesnake inside of him, he nodded uncom-fortably
and repeated, “Snake medicine.” OVER THE YEARS, we all left the river
and took different jobs, but some
of us came back to this desert. We
returned and met for long reunions in
the wilderness. One night, a decade
after we had worked together, three
of us got a ride from a herpetologist 40 miles down a sandy two-track
into the desert. The plan was for the herpetologist to drop
us off with enough water to walk our way out.
A rattlesnake appeared coiled in the headlights and the herpe-tologist
slammed on his brakes. He flew out his door wielding a
long pole with a net on the end. I do not know where the net came
from. It simply sprang out of his arm. Without pause, he swept the
net across the ground and in one fluid motion dove a single hand
inside. He had a cord of muscle writhing in his hand. Like pulling
a rabbit out of a hat, he lifted a Colorado Desert sidewinder, Cro-talus
cerastes laterorepens, into the headlights. His thumb pressed
behind the snake’s skull, his forefinger shoveled under its jaw. The
snake’s body flipped back and coiled around his arm. It was not a
long snake, less than 3 feet. But it was animated.
I was not ready to see this. I had gotten out of the truck to
look at a snake coiled on the ground, squat down in front of it
maybe, watch its tongue snap at the air from a safe distance. But
suddenly this man had a rattlesnake in his grasp and was look-ing
into its eyes from a couple inches away. It was like looking
straight into the steely gaze of Vishnu, the destroyer-god, some-thing
you just don’t do. I stepped back, almost stumbling on my
own feet. I had known he was a reptile scientist, but I did not
know about the net, or about the swiftness of his zeal.
“Oh,” I said breathlessly, all I could say.
The snake was really pissed now. On the tip of its tail, an
amber-colored shaker moved so fast, it whined. The rattle
appeared to shimmer, a stack of dried, segmented scales vibrat-ing
at about 60 flicks a second. It sent a single, loud message:
Touch me not.
As if in a trance, with a fascinated smile on his face, the her-petologist
muttered, “Ah, it’s beautiful.”
After a moment of reluctance and disbelief, I stepped closer. I
was fixated, my heart thrumming under my shirt.
We were about to set off on a long walk in a country of rat-tlesnakes,
and I felt uneasy about what was happening here. A
rattlesnake bite in the Mexican wilderness would be dire. Heli-copters
would not come to our rescue. This seemed like bad
I do not know the magic of things, incantations or hexes, but
I imagined it could not be good, angering a rattlesnake so much
before a trek. As scientifically minded as I wish to be, I felt like
we were broadcasting ill will to all sidewinders in the vicinity,
adding to our risk. I thought to tell the herpetologist to put the
snake down, but I could not. I was spellbound.
The herpetologist stepped back from me, finding a clear space
between us where he released the sidewinder onto the ground
with a thrust of his hands, not throwing it, but setting it down
very swiftly. The snake flew across the ground like a rope of
water racing away.
From there, the herpetologist left us. We three who remained
navigated by stars as his taillights paled behind us. No one used
a flashlight. Instead, we kept our eyes adjusted to the dark. The
desert rolled out in front of us as we focused our eyes on the
skim of Earth and sky in the distance, counting stars as they
set. A rattle erupted from the ground between us, and suddenly
we all woke, bodies snapped into action. We could not see the
snake, but we knew exactly where it was between us as we cir-cled
in. It sounded like a small one, a young sidewinder. We
looked down at nothing, an emptiness on the ground that was
making a buzzing fury.
Someone said: “We’re just out walking, nothing to get excited
over. We know you’re there.”
The snake’s rattling subsided and then stopped. We kept
on, and finally set camp in the dark. I woke at dawn. I crawled
from my sleeping bag into a realm of blown sand. A void encir-cled
me, occupying every horizon. There was no wind, only a
still and pale sky. I got up and stepped barefoot across sand fine
as table salt. Not 3 feet away, I stopped at a fresh track left by
a sidewinder. I followed it with my eyes back toward my gear,
finding that while I slept a snake had passed beside my head.
It left a graceful, rhythmic print, something written in script. I
bent down to the track and looked very closely. The sand was so
smooth it revealed each slick, broad scale on the snake’s belly.
Looking for a place to urinate, I stepped over the track without
scuffing it. I came upon a second sidewinder track, and then a
third beyond that, and a fourth crisscrossing a fifth. Rattlesnakes
In the coming days we walked over countless tracks, and not
one of us was bitten. We emerged out the other side, better men
for what we did.
xx Sanita doluptatur mincit
lab iur sa pelendi alignatur?
mpor re sequi consequis ipsum
(Crotalus cerastes) inhabit
Arizona, Nevada, California,
northern Mexico and Utah.
Named for their sideways pat-terns
of movement, the snakes
commonly bury themselves
in sand or in animal burrows.
They’re distinguished from
other rattlesnake species by
raised scales above their eyes,
giving them the appearance of
w w w. a r i z o n a h i g hwa y s . c om 45
Karen Pugliesi, writer
Annette McGivney and
McGivney’s son, Austin,
hike out of the Hellsgate
Hellsgate Trail 37.
and Back Lining up writers and photographers
for stories about Havasu Falls,
Hannagan Meadow or Horton Creek
is one thing — idyllic-sounding places
are an easy sell — but when the
contract includes the words “go to
Hellsgate,” the list of contributors
gets a lot shorter. Hellsgate is a
rugged place, and getting in and out
requires a willingness to endure triple-digit
temperatures, hungry bears,
poisonous snakes, flash floods and a
2,000-foot vertical drop.
By Annette McGivney
Photographs by Elias Butler
44 F E B RUA RY 2 0 1 3
46 F E B RUA RY 2 0 1 3 w w w. a r i z o n a h i g hwa y s . c om 47
HERE WERE PLENTY of sensible reasons to not go back-packing
in Hellsgate Wilderness. For starters, the name
raised suspicions that it could be a Godforsaken place.
And then there was the fact that hungry bears stressed
by drought were trying to eat people. The Hellsgate Trailhead,
just east of Payson, was closed last June after three separate
incidents at the nearby Ponderosa Campground — a bear there
had put its jaws around the heads of campers (all of whom sur-vived)
as they slept.
There was also the possibility of being swept away by a mon-soon-
induced flash flood. Or succumbing to heatstroke during a
long, hard hike in triple-digit temperatures. The spare and dis-couraging
description of the wilderness on the Tonto National
Forest website only threw up more red flags: “While the hiker
faces several moderate to steep climbs on the route to Hell’s
Gate,” it cautioned, “the real challenge is getting back out.”
When I called the Tonto National Forest office in Payson last
July to inquire about the bear situation, the recreation special-ist
added this: “Be aware that the area contains a very high
concentration of snakes.”
Yet, despite all of the ominous warnings, I was infatuated
with Hellsgate. It was a place I’d eyeballed on the map and
always wanted to see. Located at the base of the Mogollon
Rim, almost at the dead center of Arizona and bisected by the
perennial waters of Tonto Creek, this 37,000-acre roadless wil-derness
possessed an irresistible combination for me: water in
the desert and remote, rugged canyons. Every new bit of nega-tive
information only made me more determined. I had to go. I
planned my backpacking trip, prudently I thought, for the last
week in September. It would be after the threat of flash floods
had passed and, I’d hoped, when the hungry bears and triple-digit
summer temperatures had retreated.
But three days before my departure, news of other hazards
in Hellsgate stopped me in my tracks. Friend and photogra-pher
Elias Butler had just returned from what he intended
to be a three-day stay. Instead, after a grueling 12 hours in
Hellsgate, he hiked out as quickly as possible. “The heat com-ing
off the rock walls was like a furnace,” he said, noting it
was 90 degrees by 9 a.m. “And there were so many swarming
gnats I couldn’t leave my tent. I wanted to get in the water, but
I couldn’t.” He said that a recent rainstorm had filled Tonto
Creek with silt and made it too murky to swim in and difficult
to filter for drinking. His creekside camp was also invaded
by ants and giant centipedes. It was a cauldron of biting and
stinging critters that was so unpleasant even a dedicated wil-derness
traveler like Elias was chased away.
“THE GREAT American Desert is an awful place,” Edward
Abbey wrote in his book The Journey Home. “People get hurt,
get sick, get lost out there. Even if you survive, which is not
certain, you will have a miserable time. The desert is for mov-ies
and God-intoxicated mystics, not for family recreation.”
This is why, when I finally do hike into Hellsgate Wilder-ness,
I take my 15-year-old son, Austin. I suspect Hellsgate is
the kind of unruly, wild country that Abbey relished. And I
want to share the experience of exploring it — which I hope
will not be entirely miserable — with Austin. After Elias’ expe-rience,
I rescheduled my hike for the third weekend in Octo-ber,
when the potential for human-friendly conditions would
be at its greatest. Joining us on the three-day hike are Elias
(undaunted by his previous trip) and my friend Karen Pugliesi.
Hoisting heavy packs loaded with extra water and rubber
inner tubes for canyoneering, we set out from the Hellsgate
Trailhead on a Friday afternoon (the bear closure had been
lifted in September) and head into the forest, where cows
watch us from a distance. It’s nearly 8 miles on Hellsgate Trail
37 to the bottom of Tonto Creek Canyon and the actual place
named Hell’s Gate. Our plan is to hike halfway on the first day
and camp on a ridge overlooking the canyon. But, due to our
late start and heavy packs, darkness falls before we reach the
ridge. We set up our tents, instead, in a small clearing in the
forest, a place we name “cow pie camp” for all the droppings
we have to kick out of the way.
After dinner, in the chill of late fall, we huddle around a fire
and talk about what we might see tomorrow when we finally
arrive at Hell’s Gate. I share a story about a friend who hiked
years ago into the wilderness and was camped along the creek
on a hot summer night and slept without a tent on top of his
sleeping bag. He awoke with his face itching and discovered
he’d been bitten head-to-toe by blood-sucking conenosed
“Oh my god!” Karen exclaims as we all laugh and shiver.
“And we’re going to this place!”
The next day we follow Trail 37 on a rocky route that transi-tions
from an old jeep road into a hiking path. The temperature
warms to a pleasant 70 degrees as we wind through the oak
and manzanita scrubland of Little Green Valley and then con-tour
around the head of Salt Lick Canyon. To the north is the
towering escarpment of the Mogollon Rim, and somewhere
to the south, in the unseen depths of Tonto Creek Canyon, is
Hell’s Gate. As we walk, I notice piles of bear scat the size of
dinner plates along the trail, and it’s riddled with prickly pear
seeds. After the monsoon, the desert is ripe with fruit, and
many species are gorging on this bounty. Purple prickly pear
is an awful place.
Even if you
is not certain,
you will have a
LEFT: Tonto Creek passes through “Hell’s
Gate,” providing a cool respite for hikers.
ABOVE: Tonto Creek cascades over pink
granite below Bear Flat in the Hellsgate
48 F E B RUA RY 2 0 1 3 w w w. a r i z o n a h i g hwa y s . c om 49
fruit covers the ground, along
with blue juniper berries, yel-low
cholla fruit and piñon pine
cones full of nuts.
Steadily climbing as the heat
rises, we emerge at Apache
Ridge and the signed boundary
of Hellsgate Wilderness. We
sit beneath an ancient alligator
juniper to eat lunch and soak
in the sprawling panorama.
To the west are the Mazatzal
Mountains, and to the south,
perhaps 100 miles away, are the
distinct summits of Four Peaks. And somewhere down there
is a city named Phoenix with more than 3 million people. But
from our 5,000-foot-high perch, the wilderness unfolds, unin-terrupted
in every direction.
As we descend below the ridge and hike toward Tonto
Creek, the top of the canyon harboring Hell’s Gate comes into
view. It looks like the Earth has been slashed straight through
with a machete. The walls are sheer and dark and pressed
together. The canyon might appear ominous if we were not so
hungry for shade.
“I can’t wait to get in the water,” Austin says. The tempera-ture
is now somewhere in the 80s. He’s hot and tired from car-rying
his backpack. He’s also skeptical about my promise that
the discomfort of the hike will suddenly become worth it once
we get to the creek.
The last 2 miles of Trail 37 are brutally steep, plummeting
nearly 2,000 feet, with few switchbacks to ease the strain on
the knees. The final half-mile is more of a slide, and we have
to step sideways on slippery gravel in order to keep from tum-bling
head over heels. Finally, we land on the smooth round
boulders of the creekbed and reach the heart of the wilderness
area where Tonto Creek and its main tributary, Haigler Creek,
converge. We hop across rocks over the Tonto’s rushing waters,
drop our packs at a broad, sandy beach, and collapse next to
Austin lets out a big sigh. Karen takes off her boots and
socks and presses her feet into the sand. The sky is a crisp blue
with feathery wisps of clouds that are framed by the jagged
walls of the canyon. A gentle breeze blows, and the golden
leaves of a sycamore tree rattle above our heads.
“This doesn’t feel like hell,” Karen says.
Staring up at the canyon walls where a dam site was once
proposed, I think about Bobbie Holaday, who fought to get
Hellsgate protected under the 1984 Arizona Wilderness Act. She
was volunteering for the Arizona Wilderness Coalition’s Adopt a
Wilderness program in 1981 and noticed that no one had signed
up to advocate for the wilderness study area called Hellsgate.
“I’d never been there, but I adopted it sight unseen,” Hola-day
told me when I called her after our trip. “Once I hiked to
the bottom and saw how spectacular it was, I devoted myself
to getting it designated. I explored the area in every direction
for the better part of three years.” Holaday, who is now a spry
90 years old, had to wrangle with local ranchers and Forest
Service managers. She compiled detailed records of the Tonto
and Haigler drainage ecosystems, delivered public slideshows,
and led hikes to Hell’s Gate to prove that the area with the
ominous-sounding name was actually one of Arizona’s crown
jewels. She won over the ranchers, the land managers and even
then-Senator Barry Goldwater.
I asked Holaday if she’d had run-ins with snakes during her
time in the wilderness. “I never had any problem,” she said.
“Perhaps, God whispered to them, ‘You leave this lady alone.’ ”
She also told me that the area got its name from ranchers
whose cows were stuck in the bottom of the canyon. “It was
one hell of a place to try and get a cow out,” she laughed.
After lounging on the beach, where we’re not visited by a
single ant, gnat, kissing bug, centipede or snake, we blow up
our inner tubes and summon the energy to visit the narrow
section of canyon that is Hell’s Gate. It’s located up the Tonto,
just above the confluence with Haigler Creek. Getting through
the “gate” requires floating or swimming a deep, 100-foot-long
pool that squeezes between sheer granite walls.
We plop on top of our tubes and push off. I shriek in the icy
water, which, according to the thermometer on Austin’s watch,
is 48 degrees. We paddle into an ever-narrowing corridor
where granite walls rise 1,000 feet and radiate pink in the late-afternoon
light. A warm wind pushes us upstream, through
the gate, and to the end of a pool where we scramble over slick
granite ledges to reach a waterfall.
“Was it worth it?” I ask Austin as we paddle through a sec-ond
pool that’s even narrower, deeper and colder than the first.
EDWARD ABBEY WROTE in his book Desert Solitaire,
“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human
spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread.”
In this regard, Elias, Karen, Austin and I are fully satiated as
we hike back up Trail 37 the next day. The path is still steep and
our packs are still heavy, but our mood is upbeat. This is how
wilderness works. If it’s truly wild, it’s a place that allows other
species to thrive and may not always be comfortable for humans.
But when the timing is right, the experience of being there can
be intensely pure and joyful. The sky is bluer. The canyon walls
more spectacular. The breeze more soothing. The food more
delicious. The bonds with friends and family stronger.
We stop again for lunch on the ridge, sit under a shady oak
tree and polish off the rest of our food. Elias picks up pot-tery
shards that we pass around and then drop back onto the
ground. When the conversation pauses and we look out at the
mountains, I hear a meadowlark singing from a nearby tree. It’s
the sweetest and most heavenly sound.
LEFT: Karen Pugliesi
examines an ancient
metate set within a
boulder near Tonto
Creek. BELOW: Pugliesi
floats in Tonto Creek,
downstream of the
IF YOU GO
DIRECTIONS: From Payson, drive
east on State Route 260 for
11 miles to Milepost 263. Turn
right just past the marker and
drive a half-mile on a graded dirt
road to the Hellsgate Trailhead
on the right.
TRAVEL ADVISORY: Hellsgate
Trail 37 can also be reached
from the south via the Smoky
Hollow Trailhead near Young.
However, the 15-mile, four-wheel-drive
route to that trailhead is
SEASON: Late fall and early
spring are most pleasant for trail
hiking; however, the canyon pools
may be too cold for swimming
without a wetsuit.
INFORMATION: Payson Ranger
District, 928-474-7900 or www.
50 F E B RUA RY 2 0 1 3 w w w. a r i z o n a h i g hwa y s . c om 51
JEREMY ROWE HAS A PASSION for all
From early images of Territorial expe-ditions
and the Grand Canyon to stark
depictions of the state’s Native inhab-itants,
Rowe devoutly believes the old
saying that a picture is worth a thou-sand
words — and sometimes much more. Yet he says
that images unfairly take a back seat to the written
word in piecing together Arizona’s history.
The 60-year-old is on a mission to change all that.
“Photographs are as valuable as written materi-als
and should be looked at in the same way,” says
Rowe, an emeritus professor at Arizona State Uni-versity.
“They inform each other, interact with each
other and help tell a story.”
Rowe knows a little bit about collecting. His
compilation of 19th and early 20th century Ari-zona
photographs features more than 35,000 items,
including some 15,000 postcards. It is considered
Words and photographs make up most of
Arizona’s historical record, but if you ask
collector Jeremy Rowe, there aren’t enough
pictures. That’s why he’s collected more than
35,000 photographs and postcards. And it’s
one of the best collections anywhere.
one of the largest and best of its kind
in the state.
Rowe first ventured into the hobby
with comic books, but not just your run-of-
the-mill ones. At one time, he had the
second issue of the Batman comic book,
as well as complete sets of The Flash, Green
Lantern, The Incredible Hulk and Spider-Man.
Rowe shakes his head with regret that
the now-valuable books are gone, given
away by his mother long ago. He has no
idea where they ended up.
“You always think, when they show
up at auctions, Maybe that’s mine,” he says.
“But there’s really no way to know.”
During his college years, Rowe col-lected
big-name cars to help pay the
bills. Sort of. He kept the vehicles long
enough to fix them up, ride in them for
a while, and then sell them for a tidy
profit — like the Ferrari he bought and
sold that was once owned by the actor
In graduate school, Rowe became
interested in photographs and the sto-ries
behind them after he saw a collec-tion
at a swap meet.
It’s been full speed ahead ever since.
Rowe’s Arizona images span from 1851 to the 1940s
and run the gamut of media, including sketchbooks,
ambrotypes, tintypes, silver prints, stereographs and
postcards. He also collects photo equipment.
A prize in his collection is the 1851 sketchbook
by Henry Cheever Pratt, an artist who accompanied
John Russell Bartlett on a survey of the boundary
between the United States and Mexico. It includes
drawings of San Diego, Yuma, the Gila River and
Pima Indians. The sketches later formed the basis for
Rowe’s earliest Arizona photos are H.H. Edger-ton
shots from 1864. They feature Papago warriors
armed with bows, arrows and guns at a ranch build-ing
Then there are the postcards. Rowe’s collection
runs deep between the years of 1905 and 1920 and
includes images of a Clarkdale parade, early Oatman,
a mining strike in Globe and a railroad yard in Wick-enburg.
There’s even a postcard of a postcard rack in
Jerome. And still more.
“I’ve got it bad,” Rowe says. “When I find something
great, I have to have it. You try to find a way to get it.”
He purchased one postcard in Tucson that had
some corner damage. It was sold as a copy print, but
Rowe got a big surprise when he turned it over. The
original was stuck to the back.
The 1910 image depicts a funeral for a local street
dog in Tombstone. About a dozen men in suits with
American flags are pictured with the cloth-wrapped
dog atop the coffin. Beer bottles filled with flowers
decorate each corner of the coffin.
Lawrence Jones, an Austin, Texas, photo collec-tor
who has known Rowe for three decades, says his
friend is a focused, thorough individual.
“He is just about as passionate as any of the col-lectors
I know,” says Jones, who sold his 5,000-piece
collection to Southern Methodist University in Texas
about four years ago and has started another collec-tion.
“He is very quiet, but he’s very intense. He has
so much energy.”
He also says Rowe is unselfish. “He loves to share
what he’s got. So many people are hoarders. He’s not
one of them.”
Rowe finds items for his collection here, there and
everywhere. For example, the 1864 Edgerton photos
came from eBay. And he has success following the
money, finding his items in places like Boston, Kan-sas
City, Philadelphia and New York, and from those
who invested in Arizona early on.
A big find came from a company in Amsterdam
that spent millions on mining in Arizona and sent
back photos to show how their dollars were being
put to use. The company went out of business and
officials sold the photos.
Still, Rowe is on the hunt for more.
“Whenever you have a gap in what you have, that’s
the Holy Grail,” he says. “[You don’t stop] until you
At the moment, Rowe’s Holy Grail is an original
photograph that was, according to rumor, made dur-ing
an 1857 Joseph Christmas Ives expedition of the
Colorado River. The photograph may represent one of
the earliest images ever made of Arizona.
“There’s nothing worse than a collection that
doesn’t grow,” Rowe says. “It’s the chase that’s the
real exciting part, not the ownership of the material.
The chase never gets old.”
52 JA NUA RY 2 0 1 3 w w w. a r i z o n a h i g hwa y s . c om 53
wheel-drive. As we crawl over small
boulders, the road narrows, and navi-gating
it requires some finesse. Jon is
in his element and loves every moment.
Fists clenched, I decide compromise is
for the birds.
Around mile 20, we see remnants of
a fire. Contorted branches that look like
witches’ fingers reach out and scratch
our SUV. The narrow road ahead hugs
the mountainside like a ribbon. There’s
no room for another vehicle to pass, no
The next 10 miles feel endless as we
begin our descent down a rocky hill
made up of nauseatingly tight switch-backs.
At mile 24.9, we come to another
T junction. There are no signs, so we
turn right and hope for the best. After
crossing several sandy washes, we spot
U.S. 60 up ahead. After 33 miles, we’re
finally back on pavement. Jon comes
down from his adrenaline high, and my
stomach slowly settles.
“That was awesome,” Jon says.
“Yep,” I reply. “That first part was
Note: Mileages are approximate.
LENGTH: 33 miles one way
DIRECTIONS: From Phoenix, drive east on U.S. Route 60.
About 3 miles past State Route 79 at Florence Junction,
turn left (north) onto Queen Valley Road. From there,
drive 1.6 miles to Forest Road 357 (Hewitt Station
Road), turn right and continue 2 miles to Forest Road
172. Turn left onto FR 172, drive 14 miles, and turn right
onto Forest Road 650. From there, continue 17 miles to
VEHICLE REQUIREMENTS: A high-clearance, four-wheel-
drive vehicle is required.
WARNING: Back-road travel can be hazardous, so be
aware 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: Tonto National Forest, Mesa Ranger
District, 480-610-3300 or www.fs.usda.gov/tonto
Travelers in Arizona can visit www.az511.gov or dial
511 to get information
on road closures, construction,
delays, weather and more.
For more scenic drives, pick up
a copy of our book The Back
Roads. Now in its fifth edition,
the book ($19.95) features 40 of
the state’s most scenic drives. To
order a copy, visit www.arizona
Relationships are funny things.
To make them work, you have to
compromise. The same rule can
be applied to scenic drives. Some scenic
drives, anyway. Queen Valley Road in
the Superstition Mountains is a good
example. If you’re like my driving com-panion,
Jon, who loves the adrenaline
rush that comes from plowing across
boulder-strewn terrain, then you’ll love
the second half of this drive. It requires
four-wheel-drive, which makes me ner-vous,
because all I can think about in
those scenarios is driving off a cliff. If
you’re like-minded, and prefer stunning
views to white-knuckle switchbacks,
then the first half of this trek will be
right up your alley.
After turning left onto Queen Valley
Road off of U.S. Route 60, east of Phoe-nix,
we drive more than a mile before
turning right onto Forest Road 357
(Hewitt Station Road), which is where
we zero out the odometer to officially
measure this scenic drive. The road
meanders for a good 2 miles before hit-ting
Forest Road 172, on the left. The
turnoff is well marked but requires some
attention — there are several offshoot
roads for quads and bikes. The dirt road
quickly narrows, and at mile 3.5, we
come to a fork. Unsure, we veer right.
The landscape is at once brutal and
beautiful. Owl clover and Mexican
goldpoppies are juxtaposed against the
harsh, jagged hills. Around mile 5.3,
we drop deeper into the Superstitions’
inner sanctum. As the canyon walls
close in around us, layers of rock appear
otherworldly. Spindly cactuses cover the
rocky hillsides, and saguaros stand like
sentinels at the edge of the road. Their
arms hang over us like protective giants.
We’re on Mother Nature’s turf, and it’s
By mile 14, the saguaros are gone,
replaced by piñon pines and juniper
bushes, which cover the hillsides. A
tight switchback at mile 15.9 forces us to
pull over and make a three-point turn.
The road looks gnarly, so we decide
it’s time for four-wheel-drive. As we
continue our climb — vertically — we
come to a T junction and veer right onto
Forest Road 650. At this point, the road
is practically impassable without four-
BELOW AND OPPOSITE PAGE: Queen Valley Road,
which runs through the Superstition Mountains, pairs
scenic desert landscapes with narrow switchbacks.
As it winds through the Superstition Mountains, Queen Valley
Road offers a little something for everyone — gorgeous landscapes
for sightseers, and extreme terrain for adventurous spirits.
BY KATHY RITCHIE PHOTOGRAPHS BY GEORGE STOCKING
54 JA NUA RY 2 0 1 3 w w w. a r i z o n a h i g hwa y s . c om 55
LENGTH: 2.4 miles round-trip
ELEVATION: 1,476 to 2,704 feet
TRAILHEAD GPS: N 33˚31.287’, W 111˚58.417’
DIRECTIONS: In Phoenix, go north on 44th Street to its
intersection with Tatum Boulevard and McDonald Drive.
Go right on McDonald Drive for one block and turn right
onto Echo Canyon Parkway, which leads to the trailhead
parking. The parking area is open sunrise to sunset, and
parking is extremely limited.
VEHICLE REQUIREMENTS: None
DOGS ALLOWED: Yes (on a leash)
HORSES ALLOWED: No
USGS MAP: Paradise Valley
INFORMATION: City of Phoenix, 602-262-6862 or www.
• Plan ahead and be
• Travel and camp on
• Dispose of waste
properly and pack
out all of your trash.
• Leave what you find.
• Respect wildlife and
• Be considerate of
OPPOSITE PAGE AND RIGHT: Camelback
Mountain’s Summit Trail is one of the most
popular in the Phoenix area and climbs
more than 1,200 feet in 1.2 miles.
For more hikes, pick up a copy of
Arizona Highways Hiking Guide,
which features 52 of the state’s
best trails — one for each week-end
of the year, sorted by seasons.
To order a copy, visit www.
hike of the month
Maybe you’ve done Camelback. If so, great; if not, put it on your
list — it’s one of the most unique urban trails in America.
BY ROBERT STIEVE PHOTOGRAPHS BY SUZANNE MATHIA Summit Trail
It’s true, climbing Camelback can be
frustrating. The parking is a night-mare,
too many hikers wear too much
perfume, and the single-file line can feel
like the queue at a Jimmy Buffett con-cert.
Nevertheless, this trail is a must.
It leads to the highest point in metro
Phoenix. It’s an iconic landmark that
can be seen from the window seats of
approaching 747s. And it’s only 1.2 miles
to the top. It’s short, but in that short
distance it climbs more than 1,200 feet.
Factor in the sunshine and the ther-mometer,
and it’ll make anybody work
up a sweat.
Like a lot of mountains, there’s more
than one way to the top of Camelback.
In this case, there are two: 1) the Cholla
Trail, which approaches from the east,
and 2) the Summit Trail (a.k.a. the Echo
Canyon Trail), which approaches from
the west. The latter is the most popular,
and if you’re only going up once, this is
the route to take.
It begins at Echo Canyon Park, which
has very limited parking. From the
trailhead, the hike immediately begins
an uphill climb that won’t let up until
you’re on your way back down. After
a series of long steps, the trail winds
around an enormous boulder, about the
size of a Dairy Queen, which is used by
novice rock-climbers as a training site.
About 15 minutes later, you’ll come to a
small saddle that offers great views of
Paradise Valley below and the Praying
Monk rock formation above.
From the saddle, the trail continues
southward to another series of steps,
which are followed by a set of hand-rails
that help guide hikers up a steep
series of boulders. There’s a final set of
handrails before the trail tops out on the
nape of the camel’s neck and winds to a
narrow gully. From this point forward,
there’s not an actual trail. You simply
make your way over and around the
many boulders that dominate the ter-rain
all the way to the summit.
At the crown of the gully, views to
the south open up — you can see down-town
Phoenix and beyond. This is a
good place to catch your breath and gear
up for the hike’s most strenuous stretch,
which is another field of boulders, simi-lar
to what you’ll have conquered in the
gully. This gantlet, however, is much
longer and much more difficult. Not
only will you be trying to catch your
breath, you’ll be dodging the downhill
hikers who are gingerly skipping from
rock to rock, just hoping to maintain
their footing. In terms of balance, going
up is easier than going down, but you
won’t appreciate that while you’re
trudging up and gasping for breath.
Eventually, you’ll come to another sad-dle,
the third in all. Although your mind
will trick you into thinking you’re at the
top, you’re not. This is what’s known as
Camelback’s false peak. Say a few choice
words if you must, but keep on trekking.
The true summit is just a few minutes
away. When you reach the peak, you’ll
be surrounded by exasperated hikers —
because the summit is relatively flat and
comfortably wide, people tend to hang
out up there for a while, catching their
breath, eating Mojo bars and taking in
the 360-degree panorama. If you look
in their faces, you’ll see that most of the
hikers are feeling a sense of accomplish-ment,
and justifiably so. After enduring
the parking, the perfume and the mass of
people, they’ve certainly earned it.
56 F E B RUA RY 2 0 1 3
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Seven ostriches (Struthio camelus) gather near a feeder at this Arizona destination, known
for its menagerie of exotic animals, including lorikeets — which live in their very own Rainbow
Lorikeet Forest — Sicilian donkeys and Boer goats, among others.. — KELLY VAUGHN KRAMER
where is this?
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