Drive to a Volcano and an Ancient Metropolis | Jail Can’t Hold Lawman
A Plumage of Myth
Odd Mating Habits
Saving Desert Eagles
Nature Back to
2 DEAR EDITOR
3 ALL WHO WANDER
Our editor reflects on
the whitewater thrill
of his first year.
learns about life
5 TAKING THE
43 ALONG THE WAY
A Marine seeks solace
Baghdad and Bagdad.
44 HIKE OF
Ghosts linger along Camp
Beale Trail in Kingman.
46 BACK ROAD
Sunset Crater to Wupatki:
Cataclysm to comeback.
FRONT COVER The bald eagle is a feared
predator and an icon of the ages. See stories,
pages 8 and 16. tom vezo
n To order a print call (866) 962-1191 or visit
BACK COVER Pacheta Falls spills 131 feet
toward the Black River on the White Mountain
Apache Indian Reservation. Charles Bowden
and Jack Dykinga take a stunning, Apache-guided
ecotour through usually hidden sacred
land. See story, page 20. jack dykinga
n To order a print call (866) 962-1191 or visit
8 Eagles Wear
Plumage of Myth by carrie m. miner
Native American eagle stories mingle thunder, fear,
healing and awe. photographs by tom vezo
16 Nestwatchers Save a Species by richard l. glinski
Desert bald eagles have recovered thanks to people
who spend months camping out and playing nanny to
vulnerable chicks. photographs by tom vezo
20 Apaches’ Language
of the Land by charles bowden
White Mountain Apaches open sacred mountain to
ecotours, and a photographer discovers a secret
waterfall. photographs by jack dykinga
32 Odd Mating Habits of Birds
and Birders Revealed
by peter aleshire
A man named Walraven invokes whiskered owls and
whispering birders to illuminate the strange love life
of birds and bird lovers. photographs by tom vezo
36 Audubon Society
Celebrates 100 Years
by randy summerlin
The world’s feathered folks are living a
bit better, thanks to this group.
This month on our Web site, we answer the call of the wild with
trips to our favorite destinations for viewing Arizona’s unique
wildlife. Go to arizonahighways.com and click on our “Nature
Travel Guide” for:
• Favorite eco-friendly ways to enjoy Arizona’s natural resources.
• Hot spots for birders.
PLUS, get our regular monthly online-only features:
HUMOR Our writer can’t decide how to pick up the dinner tab.
ONLINE EXTRA Sail away on northern Arizona lakes.
WEEKEND GETAWAY Study ancient solar calendars at Petrified Forest
TRAVEL THROUGH TIME Arizona’s imaginary town lives on.
EXPERIENCE ARIZONA Use our statewide calendar of events.
contents april 2006
38 11 Great Wildlife
Viewing Trips by clint van winkle
Nature is calling, answer. We offer 11 great
places to see an ark-load of watchable
40 No Jail Can Hold Lawman
Turned Outlaw by david m. brown
Burt Alvord turned out to be far more accomplished
as a robber and jail breaker than as a
constable. illustration by ezra tucker
GUIDING LIGHT [this page] The sun casts
a ghostly spotlight into the Navajo hogan
of Andrew Henry, a skilled silversmith, best
known for his storytelling bracelets depicting
life in Canyon de Chelly. colleen miniuk-sperry
2 a p r i l 2 0 0 6 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 3
by Peter Aleshire, editor
Running Grand Canyon’s
Lava Falls Rapids is a lot like
editing a magazine.
craig, the adonis ideal of a boatman, pivoted the unwieldy
pontoon boat deftly into the gyre of quiet water behind the
primordial monolith of the Anvil. We could hear the ravenous
roar of Lava Falls Rapids downstream.
I trembled with 200 miles worth of anticipation of the
most violent Grand Canyon rapid, but I still had not decided
whether to sit on the front of the pontoon for the plunge into
the rapid or stay safely in the “chicken coop” in the center.
Craig launched into a witty discourse, like a Disneyland
jungle-boat driver on a river with real hippos and headhunters.
The furious rapids were all that remained of an extinct
volcano’s foolish attempt to thwart the Colorado River, and we
had anticipated the upcoming five minutes of fear and fury
for a week. I can perfectly recall the pounding of my pulse in
earshot of Lava, with my pride and my hopes and my sons
perched precariously on the pontoon tip.
Kind of reminds me of how it felt to sign on here as editor.
Can you believe that it’s been a year?
It seems like the right moment to touch the flood-smoothed
sides of the Anvil, report on our journey and consider the
import of the roar sounding up out of the canyon ahead.
This month, Arizona Highways celebrates its 81st birthday
with this incrementally redesigned magazine. The departments
have a different, more flexible look. You’ve probably noticed
other changes we’ve made as we’ve paddled along. We’re
still hopelessly in love with landscape photography, but now
we include more information about how our photographers
make such stunning images. We still spin great yarns,
but also include more, shorter stories. We’ve retained a
clean, handmade design, but include more travel tips and
I’d like to tell you it’s been a catered raft trip with soufflés in
the Dutch oven. In truth, we’ve been bouncing off boulders. A
year ago, we faced problems with our circulation, newsstand
sales and bank balance. We were afraid we would have to cut
pages or the size of the magazine. We’d already had to drop
several features treasured by many readers.
So we lashed down the load and strapped ourselves to the
Mercifully, our beloved readers have
responded. Newsstand sales jumped by
about a third, our circulation decline slowed
significantly, sales of books and calendars
rose, our bank account grew.
I did a number of dumb things that
might have capsized the raft. Fortunately,
the most wonderful collection of writers,
photographers, editors, friends and fellow
travelers yanked me back each time I started
to slide off the pontoon.
Moreover, I’ve been sustained, tolerated
and inspired by our wonderful readers, even
when you write to point out some blunder. Clearly, you love
this luminous and lyrical magazine as much as I do. Coming to
work is a joy.
Of course, I worry I’ll puncture a pontoon. I love this
magazine so much that it would break my heart to hurt it.
But then I remember how much Lava Falls frightened me
just before my son crawled out onto the front of the pontoon
and gripped the ropes for the descent into the pit of Lava. As
you have done, he gave me the courage to swallow the lump of
my heart and climb onto the bright blue tip of the pontoon.
The maelstrom of water sucked in the great raft like a scrap
of hope. The raft plunged, slid, rose, trembled, bent, folded,
shuddered, then plunged again. We clung to the rope as our
fingers purpled, screaming, spitting and laughing in a chaos
of sound and water. The pontoon slammed into a wet white
wall and doubled back, wrenching my right hand loose. I slid
sideways, but sitting behind me was a woman whose bout with
breast cancer had convinced her to fulfill a lifelong dream and
raft the Grand Canyon. She grabbed my slicker until I regained
So I passed through Lava with hope and help. It changed
me, for we are defined by the things we fear and the things
So here is your magazine, which Win has made solvent and
Barb has made beautiful, and Beth has made graceful, and Pete
(the other Pete) has made luminous, and Richard has made
aesthetic, and Randy has made credible, and Sally has made
accurate, and Billie has made cool and everyone has made
better. I hope you love it as much as we do. But if you don’t, I
hope you will tell me so we can fix it. In the meanwhile, please
forgive me my fumbles.
For you are the river and have changed me irrevocably.
I thank you for that.
Passing Through the Maelstrom With
Hope and Help
Why I Read Arizona Highways
I was born in Bisbee [Brewery Gulch]
and spent my younger years there. My
father worked in the mines and died
when I was 11 and my brother 14.
Our uncle took us on a camping trip
across Arizona to help us with our loss
after my father died. So the three of us
and an old dog went on a two-month
trip. The only rules were not to drive on
a paved road unless there was no other
way and to leave our camping places like
we were never there. We got to see, feel
and live in some wonderful backcountry.
We also met people who treated us like
family on and off the reservations.
Now that I’m in my senior years, I
cannot just now go back to Arizona to
feel the warm sun, see the sunsets and
live in the places that helped me learn
how to deal with my loss. But I can
just for a little while, when I get your
magazine. I hope someday to take my
son and grandson to Arizona so that
they can see for themselves why I read
Arizona Highways. Thank you.
James Combel, Baine, WA
It is for letters like yours that we work at Arizona
Digital Tunnel Vision
Director of Photography Peter
Ensenberger’s tunnel-visioned approach
to digital puts him in the 19th century.
Let’s get up-to-date, folks! I’m not
canceling my subscription, as I still
think you put out a great publication.
Richard C. Lutgen
Lighten Up, Guys (Preferably Late Light)
Marty Hulsebos (“Dear Editor,” January
’06) uses the term “enhancement.”
Whether an image is enhanced is a matter
of opinion. Of course film manufacturers
use focus groups to see what may be
popular with viewers. The camera (film
or digital) “sees” images in a different way
than the human eye. No film or digital
media has ever reflected “reality.” I would
like to say to all involved in this debate—
don’t take yourself and the images you
produce so seriously! Have some fun!
Jerry Sieve, Phoenix
Arizona Highways contributing photographer
Almost Like a Humor Page
My father moved us to Arizona when I
was a young girl. He had been a medic
during World War II and did not often
speak of his experiences there. One
night in France, he and a buddy found
themselves wandering through an old
farm. Dad heard a noise and called out,
“Bite the dirt!” They both dove into a
pile of manure. They lay there silently,
making sure all was safe. When they got
up, my dad’s buddy reported that he had
lost his dentures. They searched through
the manure, fished out the teeth and
rinsed them off in the watering trough.
As my dad’s buddy placed the false teeth
back in his mouth, dad joked “Hey,
when I said bite the dirt, I didn’t mean it
Maribeth Senner, Tucson
Go to the Little Boys Room
I must say that I am astonished that
neither you nor the State of Arizona
can spell “MOJAVE” correctly — and in
a state where the Spanish influence is
extreme. What is next? Navajoe, Haysus,
Haveleena and Hopee? And your editor’s
column (January ’06) — “Dave is really
cool…I look as cool as my big brother…I
haven’t got any, like, sibling rivalries.”
What scintillating prose! You need to
expand your vocabulary. You need to
go to the little boy’s room and take a
Time Out. And while you’re there, read
Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac, in particular
Cyrano’s exchange with Valvert. And also
study several languages such as English,
Spanish and French.
Jack Rowley, Aberdeen, ID
Whoa. Way harsh, dude. –Ed.
Arizona Highways magazine has inspired an
independent weekly television series, hosted by
Phoenix TV news anchor Robin Sewell. For
channels and show times, log on to
arizonahighways.com; click on “DISCOVER
ARIZONA”; then click on the “Arizona Highways
goes to television!” link on the right-hand side.
highways on tv
Recruiting Younger Readers
Meadow Jones and her parents (our daughter and son-in-
law) love visiting us in Arizona, and they get a gift
subscription to Arizona Highways from us. The magazine
is Meadow’s favorite reading material while practicing
her potty skills. Her vocabulary has been considerably
enhanced with cactus, condor and many other words.
Emma and Jeffrey Burch, Fountain Hills, AZ
This month, Highways is 81 years young and counting, and with readers
like Meadow, we expect to be here another 81 years at least. Can you say
“ecotourism,” sweetie? –Peter Aleshire, Editor
Produced in the USA
APRIL 2006 VOL. 82, NO. 4
Publisher WIN HOLDEN
Editor PETER ALESHIRE
Senior Editor BETH DEVENY
Managing Editor RANDY SUMMERLIN
Web/Research Editor SALLY BENFORD
Books Editor BOB ALBANO
Editorial Administrator CONNIE BOCH
Editorial Assistant PAULY HELLER
Director of Photography PETER ENSENBERGER
Photography Editor RICHARD MAACK
Art Director BARBARA GLYNN DENNEY
Deputy Art Director BILLIE JO BISHOP
Art Assistant DIANA BENZEL-RICE
Map Designer KEVIN KIBSEY
Production Director KIM ENSENBERGER
Promotions Art Director RONDA JOHNSON
Webmaster VICKY SNOW
Director of Sales & Marketing KELLY MERO
Circulation Director HOLLY CARNAHAN
Finance Director BOB ALLEN
Information Technology CINDY BORMANIS
Inquiries or orders Toll-free: (800) 543-5432
Phoenix area or outside the U.S. (602) 712-2000
Or visit arizonahighways.com
For Corporate or Trade Sales Dolores Field (602) 712-2045
Letters to the Editor email@example.com
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ARIZONA TRANSPORTATION BOARD
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Members S.L. Schorr, Delbert Householder,
Robert M. Montoya, Felipe Andres Zubia,
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Society of American Travel Writers Foundation
Arizona Highways® (ISSN 0004-1521) is published monthly by the
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Single copy: $3.99 U.S. Send subscription correspondence
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all who wander
4 a p r i l 2 0 0 6 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 5
hoop it up
the great joy of wildlife photography is realized when
months of planning meet a moment of opportunity. Sometimes
that opportunity reveals the unexpected.
Photographer Tom Vezo silently stalks wildlife with a camera.
He wants his photographs to tell us something new about a wild
species. Sensitive to the rhythms of the moment and armed
with in-depth knowledge of his furred and feathered
subjects, he hopes to document rarely seen behavior.
“Documenting the lives of birds is a hunt without a gun,”
Vezo says. “It’s challenging and exciting. You never know
what images you will come home with. Over time I have
gained an extreme interest in the lives of birds, almost to
the point of becoming scientific about my findings.”
Seldom has one photographer so dominated an issue
of Arizona Highways that he or she scores the front
cover and three exclusive byline stories inside. Vezo
photographed both bald eagle stories — our cover story
about eagle myths, “Swoop and Soar, Death and Rain,”
beginning on page 8, and “Devoted Nestwatchers
Nurture a Comeback,” on page 16. He also shot our
story on Arizona’s birding boom, “The Odd Language
of Love Among Birds and Birders,” starting on page
32. And to top it off, his dramatic image of a bald eagle
in flight was selected as this issue’s front cover, the
most important and sought-after photo position in the
magazine. It’s the culmination of months of travel and
hard work for a city-boy-turned-nature-photographer.
You might say wildlife photography led Vezo to the
wild side of life. Born in Brooklyn, New York, hardly a
hometown to inspire a nature-lover, he discovered the
wonders of the natural world through photographs he
saw in books and calendars.
One book in particular played an important role in Vezo’s
early development: The Birds of North America by Eliot Porter,
the person who inspired him to pursue bird photography in the
first place. “What I love most about Porter’s bird photography is
how he captured the beauty of these wonderful creatures with
their lifestyle and habitat in his vision,” says Vezo. “He added
spirit, a sense of place and realism to his images.”
Realism is an important element of wildlife photography, but
sometimes things can get too real.
On a recent trip to finish up work on his new book, Wings
of Spring: Courtship, Nesting & Fledging, Vezo traveled with a
professional filmmaker into Canada’s old-growth forests to
find two great gray owl chicks nesting high up in a tree. For
three days they observed and photographed as the adult owl
cared for the fledglings.
When they returned to the nest on the fourth day, the chicks
were gone. Fearing predation, they were lamenting the sad
outcome in hushed tones when suddenly they heard the cry of
one of the chicks perched on a nearby branch.
“What a relief,” Vezo said. “After doing a little research, we
found out that great gray owl chicks jump out of their nests at
a certain time in the breeding cycle.”
They waited patiently for the adult to come in to feed the
chick, and they weren’t disappointed. “She came back with a
mouse. Our motor drives were smoking as she continued to feed
and preen her baby for 15 minutes. What a magical moment!
The only thing missing was the other chick,” Vezo said.
On the fifth morning of their trip, Vezo’s filmmaker friend
returned alone to the nesting site, hoping to get more footage
of the owls. Later that day when Vezo met him for lunch, the
friend hinted that he had documented something special on
his morning shoot. “I followed him back to his camper where
he showed me the video he’d shot that morning,” Vezo said.
He was not prepared for what he saw on the tape.
“When the adult owl came back to feed her baby, we were
astonished to see that, this time, she brought with her the carcass
of the missing chick,” Vezo says. “She proceeded to feed it to the
surviving chick, and then finished the remainder herself. The
missing chick must not have survived the jump from the nest.”
Months of planning met a moment of opportunity. And even
though Vezo wasn’t there to capture the finale to this natural
history epoch, he knows that the next time he enters the owls’
world there’ll be more opportunities. Because nature’s saga
always carries the addendum “to be continued.”
“There is so much more to learn about bird behavior, so
much that is still unknown,” Vezo says. “Every time I go out
into the field, I learn something new from the creatures I
photograph. But this experience was over the top. It’s too bad I
wasn’t there to document that behavior. Or, maybe not . . .”
Leads to the Wild Side of Life
Find expert photography advice and information in our online archives at
arizonahighways.com (Click on “Photography”).
A great gray owl preens its fledgling chick on a branch
high in a Canadian forest. tom vezo
by Peter Ensenberger, director of photography, firstname.lastname@example.org
arizona oddities, attractions and pleasures
the once-bitter tale of Tovrea
Castle and the surrounding
Carraro Cactus Garden, located
near Phoenix’s Papago Park,
is getting sweeter every
year. Completed in 1930, the
historic “wedding cake castle”
resort and its sprawling 277
acres quickly sold as a private
residence. In 1969, twice-widowed
owner and occupant
Dell Tovrea passed away
leaving the splendid estate
to die a slow death while
the surrounding acreage fell
victim to a thriving metropolis.
Between 1993 and 2003, the
city of Phoenix purchased the
castle and a remaining 44 acres.
Restoration is currently under
way and the area is scheduled
to open as a multiuse public
park in 2009.
Though the castle is currently
closed to the public, curious
“cake” lovers can get a taste of
it from the road. 5041 E. Van
Buren St.; (602) 262-6862;
tovhist.html. — JoBeth Jamison
Piece of Cake
when the southern pacific railroad rolled into
Willcox in 1880, it changed the sleepy tent city
of Maley’s Camp into the busy town of Willcox.
Ranchers could then easily ship cattle to market,
and Willcox quickly became the “Cattle Capital of
Today, the railroad depot has been restored and
is the only remaining Arizona depot built between
1871 and 1880 on the southern transcontinental
railroad route. It is the only known, original, on-site
passenger depot still existing on this route between
Los Angeles and Chicago. Listed on the National
Register of Historic Places, the stick-style wood-framed
building is covered with redwood.
Two Railway Express Agency
wagons, original to the station,
are outside; inside, visitors can
watch a video on the railroad
narrated by Rex Allen, singing
cowboy movie star from Willcox.
Children will enjoy pulling the
rope to make the train whistle
blow. Part of the building serves
as city offices.
Located at 101 S. Railroad
Ave., open Monday through
Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Information: (520) 384-4271.
— Janet Webb Farnsworth
special needs kids interact with animals that
have been neglected, abandoned or have physical
abnormalities at Whispering Hope Ranch in the
ponderosa pines east of Payson. The result, according
to founder Diane Reid, is a special kind of healing.
“I know the power of human-animal interaction
because I’ve experienced it in my life,” says Reid.
“Studies have shown that animals enhance the
immune system, lower blood pressure and produce
a general calming.”
One example: Reid tells of an autistic girl who
could speak only five phrases her parents taught her.
After interacting with a ranch donkey, she suddenly
blurted out, “I love you, Eeyore” — the first words
she’d spoken spontaneously in 10 years.
Today, Whispering Hope is home to more than
100 animals — emus, llamas, peacocks and more,
and has expanded to create a year-round “Arizona-style”
retreat for kids sent by children’s health
organizations throughout the state.
“This is about serenity, unconditional love and
changing lives,” says Reid. The ranch is open to
visitors by appointment.
Information: (877) 478-0339.
— Leo W. Banks
I Love You, Eeyore
in the days when even the
legs of chairs and pianos
were draped, Victorian-era
Tucsonans passed a prim
and proper law making it
illegal for women to wear
pants. Even though times
have changed since then, this
obscure prohibition still sits
on the books — proving that
some laws are meant to be
broken. — Carrie M. Miner
6 a p r i l 2 0 0 6
learn how Lower Colorado River Allowed
Indian tribes lived and thrived at
the Kwapa Nawee U’as llusaaw,
or Cocopah Museum. Located
10 miles south of Yuma, the
museum illustrates the traditions
and ancient lifestyle of the
Outside the museum stands a
model of a traditional Cocopah
home. The ramada-style dwelling
is constructed from arrowweed,
mesquite and other local
materials. Inside the museum’s
exhibit room, visitors see
professionally curated dioramas
depicting traditional tribal life
handcrafted by local tribal
members. The exhibits detail the
daily activities of a people
defined by their relationship to
the cycles of the Colorado River
and the natural environment,
including the Sonoran Desert and
the river delta.
The museum also showcases
recent tribal history, including a
prominent display by the small
tribe’s U.S. military veterans.
A gift shop features beadwork,
including intricately beaded
capes, other tribal arts and crafts,
Native American music CDs and
cassettes, and souvenirs.
The Cocopah Museum is
open Monday through Friday.
Admission is free.
Information: (928) 627-1992.
— Debra Krol
Cocopah Museum Preserves a Tiny Tribe’s Heritage
Next Stop, Willcox
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: ARIZONA GAME AND FISH (GEORGE ANDREJKO); WHISPERING HOPE RANCH; COCOPAH MUSEUM CLOCKWISE FROM TOP RIGHT: KATHY COLLINS; DAVE BLY
good to be a
burden. If you’re
Arizona’s top trail
maven, it’s even
his life, the
has juggled many
job titles, including
caballero, congressional aide, counselor, “Arizona
Culturekeeper,” ranch owner, manager and
entrepreneur. So beloved is Burden by the people
of his hometown that they have officially,
proclaimed November 21 as Dana Burden Day,
and they even named a local hill in his honor. But
Burden’s true identity rests in the trails and
tributaries of his home state.
Raised on Remuda Ranch, the former dude
ranch established by his father in 1926, Burden
learned the lay of the land as a child, how to
maneuver canyons, run rivers and plot desert
passage, how to “know you’re okay on your own,”
Burden’s exploring expertise led to successful
business ventures such as Wickenburg Jeep Tours,
Adventure Trails of Arizona and Wickenburg Clean
and Beautiful, Inc. Now the footpath aficionado
has taken on the role of author, putting his
decades of desert know-how in a new guidebook
entitled Desert Hiking Out Wickenburg Way. The
hiker handbook features no-nonsense, detailed
trails and directions, and includes a CD with topo
maps, points of interest, GPS coordinates, colorful
photos and equally colorful legends and lore.
While wandering out Wickenburg way, this
is a Burden you’ll definitely want to carry.
— JoBeth Jamison
when a rambunctious raptor
attempted to take flight from
a branch that housed a hive of
Africanized bees, the situation
got ugly. The young bald eagle
that prompted the attack, as well
as another eaglet, received stings
from the angry swarm. One
Arizona Game and Fish
Department staff found the
surviving eaglet in the Bartlett
Dam area of the Verde River and
handed her over to Scottsdale’s
Liberty Wildlife Rehabilitation.
While there, volunteers taught
the feisty female how to “fly,
hunt for food, avoid predators
and carry out other behaviors of
an adult bald eagle.” The eaglet
was eventually returned to the
wild after rehabilitation.
The 2005 bald eagle breeding
season produced 37 nestlings
from the 39 known breeding
pairs that call Arizona home. Due
to the hard work and dedication
to preserving our national
emblem by Arizona Game
and Fish and Liberty Wildlife
Rehabilitation, another bald eagle
may one day produce eaglets of
her own. — Clint Van Winkle
8 a p r i l 2 0 0 6 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 9
are useful for protectionrn in Tewa taHopi lore considers the eagle a divine messenger, which is why some
clans gather young eaglets and raise them respectfully on elevated
platforms to be sacrificed in May or June in the Niman Katsina ceremony
marking the return of the kachinas to their otherworld homes for the
rest of the year.
According to Frank Waters in The Book of the Hopi, “The Kachina Father
then delivers his farewell to the kachinas: ‘Now it is time that you go
home. Take with you our humble prayer, not only for our people and
people everywhere, but for all the animal kingdom, the birds and
insects, and the growing things that make our world a green
carpet. Take our message to the four corners of the world, that
all life may receive renewal by having moisture . . . May you go
on your way with happy hearts and grateful thoughts.’ ” After
the ceremony, their feathers are plucked for future use and the
eagles are buried in special cemeteries.
Following are some Native American eagle tales. In some cases,
different versions of a single story have been combined.
Swoop and Soar,
Death and Rain
Mysterious and majestic, the eagle
soars through Native American
myths, associated with rain and
thunder, death and rebirth, sickness
and healing—awe alternating with fear.
B Y C A R R I E M . M I N E R P H O T O G R A P H S B Y T O M V E Z O
Look familiar? Deemed a divine messenger by Hopi ancients, the eagle has also made its heralding mark in
modern America. When the Post Office Department reorganized under the Nixon administration in 1971,
the country bid farewell to the running pony that had symbolized the service for more than 140 years
and replaced it with the national airborne icon. A 1990s redesign of the logo eliminated the eagle stance
(similar to the one seen here), leaving its head as the lone image for the USPS logo still in use today.
e a g l e m y t h s
10 a p r i l 2 0 0 6 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 11
After they arrived in the Fourth World, the Creator directed
each Hopi clan to travel throughout the world before returning
to live at the Center of the Universe. When they climbed a high
mountain, they encountered an eagle. Two spokesmen for the
tribe, insect-people resembling the locust, asked the eagle if he
would share this new land with the Hopi clans.
“If you pass the tests that prove you worthy you may stay,” the
He beckoned the first locust forward.
“I am going to poke an arrow into your eyes. If you keep them
open, I will consider your request.”
The brave locust stood fast and refused to even blink as the
eagle tested him with a sharp arrow point.
“You are a people of great strength,” the eagle admitted. “One
more test and I will allow you to stay.”
A second locust stepped forward, and the eagle shot an arrow
through its body. In response, the locust lifted his flute and
began to play a sweet melody. The eagle shot the other locust in
the same manner, and this locust, too, began to play his flute.
“Well you are even more powerful than I had thought,” the
eagle exclaimed. “Now that you have stood both tests you may
use my feather any time you want to talk to our Father Sun,
the Creator, and I will deliver your message because I am the
conqueror of the air and master of height.”
Since that time, Hopis have revered the eagles’ feathers as
The Legend of Man Eagle (O’odham)
The O’odham say that in the early days of creation, a man was
beguiled into drinking a magic potion of pinole tainted with
ground-up eagle feathers. Immediately, pinfeathers sprouted
all over his body, and before long he was transformed into a
large eagle. He flew up into the wild mountains of Apacheland,
where he made his home in a large cliff. His huge appetite soon
decimated the herds of deer, and he began to kill people for
food. He also carried off a beautiful young girl and forced her to
become his wife. The people waged war on Man Eagle, but could
not kill the wicked “shape-shifter.” Finally, the people went to
Elder Brother for help.
“I will go to that mountain myself against Man Eagle,” said
Elder Brother. “If you see clouds rise over the mountain you will
know I was successful.”
Elder Brother scaled the cliff to reach the cave, where he
found Man Eagle’s wife. She agreed to help him, and so Elder
Brother turned into a fly and hid under the pile of corpses Man
Eagle had killed. Man Eagle’s wife then lured her husband to
sleep and whistled to Elder Brother four times. At the summons,
Elder Brother emerged and cut off the head of the evil Man
Eagle. So great was Man Eagle’s power that the whole mountain
shook with thunder and clouds gathered over the peak. Elder
Brother brought the corpses back to life, and these resurrected
people made a litter filled with eagle feathers. They carried Elder
Brother down the mountain singing:
On my litter of feathers
I look big and wise like a medicine man.
On my bed of downy feathers I am lying
And my heart is light as the wind.
Thunderclouds went out from me
And covered the mountain.
BIRDS OF A FEATHER
Not unlike humans, these white-headed
wonders become so with
age. In the bald eagle branch of
the hawk family tree, this most
noticeable mark of maturation
generally happens between
the ages of 4 and 5. Later, their
remaining feathers grow darker,
while their eyes, feet and clawlike
bills turn bright yellow. Until
then, eaglet bodies, which can
grow up to 14 pounds, are almost
entirely brown, as seen on the
left. Unlike humans, however, the
eaglet females typically become
the bigger, more dominant
birds and the better hunters.
Eagle Welcomes Hopis to the Fourth World (Hopi)
12 a p r i l 2 0 0 6 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 13
The Tale of Monster Slayer
and the Giant Birds (Navajo)
When the world was young, Monster Slayer trav-eled
Navajoland to destroy the evils that had sprung
up because of the transgressions of the First People.
Among these evils were the Giant Birds, the offspring
of eagle plumes. They carried people to their moun-tain
home to feed to their monstrous brood. Monster
Slayer went to the home of the Giant Birds, where the
male monster plucked him up and flung him at the
sharp rocks in his nest. However, two magic feathers
saved Monster Slayer from the fall, and he tricked the
mighty bird by smashing a bag of blood he carried
around his neck to make it seem that he had died.
The two nestlings cried a warning to their father,
but Monster Slayer hushed the young monsters. When
the Male Rain and its accompaniment of thunder and
lightning came, Monster Slayer killed the father bird
with one of his lightning arrows. On the next night,
the gentle shower of Female Rain brought the mon-strous
mother and Monster Slayer slew her as well.
Upon seeing their parents felled from the sky, the
young birds cried in fear. “Will you slay us, too?”
“Had you grown up here you would have been
things of evil; you would have lived only to destroy
my people,” Monster Slayer said. “But I shall now
make you something that will be of use in the days
Monster Slayer took the first nestling and swung
it around him four times, telling it to forget its evil
origins and furnish plumes and bones for The People.
He let go and the eagle soared toward the sky. He did
the same with the second nestling, saying that men
would listen to its voice to learn the future, and the
owl departed in search of the night.
Monster Slayer now searched for a way down, but
soon realized only a winged creature could reach the
nest. At sunset, he saw Bat Woman walking around
the base of the cliff and called four times to her for
“Grandmother there is no danger up here for I have
killed the Giant Birds,” he said. “If you take me down
you can have all the feathers from the Giant Birds.”
Bat Woman agreed and carried Monster Slayer
down from his perch on the high peak. Monster Slayer
filled her basket with the Giant Birds’ feathers and
warned her not to walk through a neighboring field
of sunflowers. Despite his warning, she did just that.
After a few steps, she heard a fluttering and a little
bird flew past her. After a few more steps, a brilliantly
colored flock of birds flew out of her basket of feath-ers,
transformed by the magic of the sunflowers. She
could not catch them, so she named the little birds
until her basket was empty. That is how the feathers
of the Giant Birds became a rainbow of color in the
sky—the flickers, swallows, starlings, robins, spar-rows,
wrens, warblers, titmice, juncos, nuthatches
and all of the other little birds of the world.
NUTHIN’ BUT TALON
Ranging from 6 to 7.5 feet, the wingspan of a
bald eagle rivals the height of some NBA players.
By keeping their wings flat, the roving raptors
can soar and glide across surfaces at more than
30 mph to grab prey with pinpoint precision.
Sensational folklore once held that eagles were
prone to snatching up small children, but these
creatures generally prefer “fast food” weighing
under 5 pounds, like fish, squirrels and rabbits.
They also enjoy more relaxed meals of wounded
waterfowl, road-kill and other colorful carrion.
14 a p r i l 2 0 0 6 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 15
A hawk is running,
Toward me it is running;
Its down feathers ruffle in the wind.
Eagle, my older brother,
Like a bow, in every direction,
Your long feathers are bent.
Hawk, my younger brother,
Like arrows, in every direction,
Your down feathers are let loose.
The Mountain of Reeds
Stands up at the west.
There an eagle cries,
The flat land resounds.
The Narrow Mountain
Stands up at the east.
There a hawk cries,
The mountains echo.
Killer-of-Enemies and the Eagles
When the world was still young, Killer-of-Enemies made
his way into an eagle nest where he acted as a protector
for the young eaglets until their parents returned. On
the fourth day, the father and mother eagle came down
and asked what he wanted. Killer-of-Enemies asked the
eagles to take him up to visit the heavens. The eagles
agreed. They fitted him with an eagle suit and taught him
to fly. After a grueling four-day journey, Killer-of-Enemies
finally reached the hole in the sky and entered the home
of the eagles.
Here, Killer-of-Enemies learned that the eagles were at
war with the bees. A battle began, and the eagles started
dying. So Killer-of-Enemies wrapped himself in a buffalo
hide and entered the melee. The brave warrior killed all of
the bees except two, a male and a female, which he sent
to Earth with the command that they not kill any more.
The bees agreed, but said, “When people tease us, we will
give them a shock”—which is why the myth holds that
bees sting when provoked.
“It is a good thing that you came up,” said the eagle chief
to Killer-of-Enemies. “You have brought us peace.”
In gratitude, the chief gifted Killer-of-Enemies with a
bundle of eagle feathers and an eagle headdress. Killer-of
Enemies gave these things to the neighboring Pueblo
people, who still use them in their ceremonies today.
Carrie M. Miner has had a fascination with raptors since her first encounter with a golden
eagle as a young girl hiking with her father in the Rocky Mountains.
Tom Vezo of Green Valley says photographing eagles is thrilling, difficult and addictive.
Most photos for this story were shot with a 600 mm lens from a long distance, using
“fast” film. Vezo also photographed the “Nestwatchers” story on page 16 and the
“Birds and Birders” story on page 32.
Eagles are thought to have the keenest vision of any living animal. Because their eyes are so large,
they move very little within their sockets, causing the birds to direct their vision by turning their heads
like owls. A series of depressions in the retina called fovea provide the birds with both monocular
(lateral) and binocular (forward) vision and enable them to magnify images from great distances. For
every square millimeter of fovea, eagles have about 1,000,000 visual cells. Humans have 200,000.
Eagle Power (O’odham)
A black-headed eagle
On a low rock
Flapped its wings.
A white-headed eagle
On a low rock
When he alights
There is a sound of thunder.
When he perches
There is a flash of lightning.
An eagle is walking,
Toward me it is walking;
Its down feathers blow in the breeze.
16 a p r i l 2 0 0 6 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 17
B Y R I C H A R D L . G L I N S K I P H O T O G R A P H S B Y T O M V E Z O
bird’s eye view
The Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Bald Eagle Nestwatch Program
hires two-person teams to protect eagle nests around rivers and lakes
in the central part of the state. Here, nestwatchers Scott Olmstead and
Erin Brandt scan a protected wildlife area along the Verde River, near
Clarkdale, where bald eagles breed and nest from winter to spring. Nestwatchers Nurture a Comeback
18 a p r i l 2 0 0 6 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 19
bulldozer rumbles toward
a snag topped by squawking
bald eagle fledglings as their frantic
parents wheel overhead.
Floodwaters rise inexorably toward a mas-sive,
untidy mound of sticks where a gangly
pair of bald eagle chicks perches.
An endangered eagle chick struggles in his
cliffside nest, dangerously entangled in a coil
of fishing line brought back inadvertently
with the fish carcass his mother snatched
from the surface of a desert lake.
In these emergencies, who you gonna call?
Beset by the eggshell thinning effects of the
pesticide DDT, dams, diversion, loss of habitat
and human disturbance near their stream-side
nesting sites, Arizona’s population of bald
eagles had dwindled to a dozen hard-pressed
pairs when a heartening coalition of state, fed-eral
and private agencies took action.
On the national front, the federal govern-ment
On the Arizona front, the Forest Service spearheaded
the Arizona Bald Eagle Nestwatch
Program, a volunteer-oriented
field study and protection program aimed
at rescuing the majestic national symbol from what
once seemed sure extinction. By guarding the most
vulnerable eagle nests in the state through the spring
season, the effort has contributed to a fourfold increase
in nesting pairs of eagles. Collectively, federal and state
preservation efforts have saved at least 8 percent of the
eagle chicks born in Arizona in the past 30 years. As a
result, the unique desert-dwelling population of Arizona
nesting eagles has flapped backwards from the precipice
Clearly, Arizona bald eagles have needed the help,
since their nests lie alongside the same rivers and
streams human beings seek so eagerly in the spring.
People often accidentally spook eagles from nests,
leaving the young unprotected from the hot sun. The
nest disturbance, coupled with the naturally high
mortality rate for young eagles, meant that the dozen
nesting pairs in the state couldn’t sustain the eagle
The nestwatch program, which now safeguards a
dozen breeding areas annually with contributions
from 18 different government, tribal and conserva-tion
entities, was created by the Forest Service using a
small group of weekend volunteers from the Maricopa
Audubon Society in 1978.
The program was adopted by the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service in 1984 and then passed to the Arizona
Game and Fish Department in 1991.
Now, Arizona Game and Fish hires about 20
nestwatchers to work in two-person paid teams for
four months each spring. Beginning in February, they
Verde Canyon Railroad
Jaques Marsh or
Woodland Lake Park
south of Flagstaff
Luna Lake Wildlife Area
Along the Salt River
Horseshoe Bend to Redmond
Flat and below Stewart
(928) 402‑6200; (480) 610‑3300
Lake Pleasant Regional Park
eagles Where to see
camp near the nests in 10-day stints, watching the
eagles from sunup until sunset, shooing away hikers,
campers and boaters and recording eagle behavior.
Each year, they ward off thousands of disturbances by
people who usually have no idea the eagles are nearby.
Many nests often require a more drastic intervention.
If eaglets show signs of disease or injury, biologists
can climb trees or rappel down cliffs to remove the
babies and take them to a veterinarian for rehabilitation.
Biologists also return nestlings that fall from their
nests, or treat them for their injuries. When floods in
the 1980s and 1990s threatened to inundate reservoirs,
nestwatchers called for the removal of eaglets from
endangered nests so biologists could place them in
Sometimes, program participants report missing
or dead eagle parents so biologists can rescue the
orphaned eaglets. At one breeding area, the nest-watchers
stopped a bulldozer from knocking down a
tree occupied by nesting young.
The program has saved at least 44 eaglets since
1983. “This represents about 8 percent of the number
of eagles that have fledged from Arizona nests dur-ing
this time period. That’s a significant contribution
to the reproduction of eagles,” said James Driscoll,
bald eagle management coordinator with the Arizona
Game and Fish Department. “We now have 47 nesting
pairs of bald eagles in Arizona, and the population is
no longer in danger of extinction.”
The effort provides heartening evidence that endan-gered
species can make a comeback—with a little help
from their friends.
Richard L. Glinski retired from the Arizona Game and Fish
Department, where his duties included leading the Southwest
Bald Eagle Recovery Team in the 1980s. He now manages the
Desert Outdoor Center at Lake Pleasant for Maricopa County
Parks and Recreation Department.
Tom Vezo also photographed the eagle myths and birding
stories in this issue.
Whether it’s a cozy cliffside dwelling, top, or a towering treetop habitat,
right, Arizona Game and Fish bald eagle biologist Jorge Canaca leaves no nest
unchecked when it comes to the health and well-being of bald eaglets.
Nestwatch contractors like Chris White and Game and Fish field projects
coordinator Kenneth Jacobson, above, weigh and examine the baby
birds. If the eaglets have been orphaned, injured or show signs of
disease, they are taken out of harm’s way and put into rehabilitative or
supervised care until they are well enough to return to the wild.
T h e L a n g u a g e o f t h e
B Y C H A R L E S B O W D E N
P H O T O G R A P H S B Y J A C K D Y K I N G A
White Mountain Apaches
Open Sacred Mountain
Landto Ecotours With mist set aglow by the first rays of the rising sun, Christmas Tree
Lake lies cradled by the fog-shrouded coniferous forests below Mount
Baldy. The lake lies at the confluence of Sun and Moon creeks on the
White Mountain Apache Reservation.
n To order a print call (866) 962-1191 or visit www.magazineprints.com.
Mi s t y Mo r ni ng
22 a p r i l 2 0 0 6 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 23
The map says this place is Christmas Tree Lake because,
when Lyndon Johnson sat in the White House, a big
blue spruce was harvested here for his 1965 holiday
cheer. But I am into other events—an osprey passes
with a trout in its talons, a beaver swims past as mist
rises against the spruce and fir-lined shore, and Sun
and Moon creeks merge and feed the sheet of water
before my eyes. The lake sits on the White Mountain
Apache Reservation, 1.6 million acres with 400 miles
of cold streams, over 15 lakes, endless forests and
canyons, and all this dwarfed by a sacred 11,000-foot
mountain that nontribal members call Baldy. That’s
the rub, the landscape here is splattered with English
place-names, but beneath these names rest Apache
names and they are not readily given up because . . .
the land is the language. In the language, ni’ can mean
“mind.” Or “land.”
A bald eagle flaps by, ducks ride on the water and
over there, against the far shore of the 41-acre lake, a
great blue heron stands stock-still on the shore. And
now, the White Mountain Apaches are considering
opening up some of their backcountry to what outsid-ers
call ecotourists. This lake, a legend in trout circles
because the world’s largest Apache trout is probably
feeding right before my eyes at dusk, is one such place.
It remains closed to all except a few trout fisherman
who pay a high fee for a visit. In early May, this fee can
be $250 a day. But then the monster elk of the reserva-tion
can command a hunting fee of $40,000.
But that’s not why I’ve come. I’m here because the
reservation may hold some of the healthiest ground
in Arizona and this may be because of the Apache
language. Long ago, the gods created life on Earth and
grasses and trees became the hair, rocks and moun-tains
the bones, rivers and streams the blood, and the
wind became the breath. The wolf has returned here.
There are thousands of black bears and elk, countless
mountain lions, 15,000 to 18,000 wild turkeys. And
a culture has fought the federal and state government
and taken back the land-management of their ground.
Grazing and timbering are in decline and I’m staring
at the result—an emerging Eden.
There is electric green, pale green, lime green, blue
green, Kelly green and a green that is almost black
when I stare into the stands of blue spruce. A gob-bler
moves past, five hens trailing him. The forest
floor teems with ferns, and ravens croak in the trees.
The tap, tap, tap of a woodpecker drums through the
stand of spruce. Patches of lupines seep blue under
the mountain light.
T h e s u n i s d o w n ,
t h e m o o n n o t y e t u p .
Swirling runoff from seasonal
rains hurries over the 131-foot-high
precipice of Pacheta Falls.
Ru s h of Wa t e r s
Western sneezeweed flowers
await the dawn in a dew-soaked
mountain meadow near
Christmas Tree Lake.
Sh a d e s o f Gre e n a n d Gol d
(Text continued on page 26)
24 a p r i l 2 0 0 6 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 25
Pa che t a Fa l l s
Summer brings monsoon storms
to Arizona’s high country. Gentle
streams may become rain-swollen
torrents, charging down
mountainsides with dramatic
intensity. Here, Pacheta Creek bursts
into trailing ribbons of water as it
courses over its namesake falls.
n To order a print call (866) 962-1191
or visit www.magazineprints.com.
26 a p r i l 2 0 0 6 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 27
Christmas Tree Lake is the
prettiest body of water I’ve ever seen in Arizona, it floats
before my eyes like a dream. Years ago, the ethnogra-pher
Keith Basso made a study of this land and this
people. He created a map of the native place-names,
one now kept under lock and key at tribal headquarters.
One woman he talked with was Annie Peaches, 77 years
old back in 1978 when she shared her knowledge. She
told Basso, “The land is always stalking people. The land
makes people live right. The land looks after us. The
land looks after people.”
Bats feed overhead, and the slap of trout leaping
comes off the lake. A cormorant drifts through, and
at my feet wild strawberries rise up from the duff of
pine needles. The sky goes pink and the dying sun
plays out on the water. The stars come out. I stare at
a rising moon now. The sky is a gray bar, the lake a
silver bar feeding off the moon, the forest a black bar.
And before my eyes the columns of pine and fir and
spruce rise like towers. Coyotes sing before their hunt.
And then the silence of land stalking people.
Here what you call something becomes what you
are and what the ground makes you.
I mo ve a round and poke into areas normally
closed to my kind. Turkeys cross the road, cow elk
and calves feed on the edges of the forest. Lakes flit by,
and meadows blaze with green. I keep taking forks in
the road and wander. I suppose I’m lost but it does not
feel like that. I run into no other people. Most of what
I see lacks signs and names — at least names available
Tribal members take me to a special place, Pacheta
Falls. The surrounding landscape speaks of my kind
and of the time when the land was seen simply as
lumber and beef. The Apaches with me point out this
fact by fingering the place-names on my map: Poker
Mountain, Ten of Diamonds Ranch, Pair O’ Dice
Ranch. The name Pacheta Falls, I’m told, is a corrup-tion
of “Pair of Cheaters.” No matter. The falls is a roar
of water, 131 feet high and maybe 50 feet wide hidden
in a slot canyon just above the Black River. Yellow
monkeyflowers trail down from the lip. The location
is not on my official map of the White Mountains.
The plunge of water comes without warning. The
land here is fairly flat, a creek idles through a meadow,
and then suddenly there is faint sound, which grows
louder until the creek hits the rim and tumbles down
into deep pools where trout linger safe from hooks.
About a century ago a tribesman told an anthropolo-gist,
“Water itself has life; witness the way it ripples
and flows in a river, the noise it makes in a flood.”
At Pacheta Falls, I believe
An extravagantly colored fly
agaric mushroom provides a
bright accent for a forest floor
covered with ponderosa
Sc a rl e t Sur pr i s e
Rent a Lake From the White Mountain Apaches
The White Mountain Apache Tribe’s Wildlife & Outdoor Recreation Division offers two
secluded lakes for multiday rentals. The Rent-a-Lake program offers up Hurricane Lake
and Cyclone Lake for renters to relax, fish and barbecue in complete isolation.
The 37-acre Cyclone Lake sits in the northeast portion of the reservation, an hour
away from Pinetop-Lakeside. At an elevation of 8,300 feet, Cyclone Lake boasts a good
chance to hook into top-notch rainbow and Apache trout.
Even though the 19-acre Hurricane Lake is half the size of its rent-a-lake cousin,
it earns its own bragging rights. Located in the southeastern part of the reservation,
Hurricane Lake is managed as a “trophy Apache trout fishery,” so fishermen have an
opportunity to pull a lunker out of this high-elevation lake.
Both lakes require a minimum three-day rental, and have a split rental season
from May 24 through September 9 and October 13 through November 1. Cabanas,
firewood, potable water and barbecue facilities are standard amenities at both sites.
INFORMATION: White Mountain Apache Wildlife & Outdoor Recreation Division, (928)
338-4385 or www.wmat.nsn.us (choose “Recreation,” then “Wildlife & Recreation,”
then click on Rent-a-Lake) or e-mail: email@example.com. —Clint Van Winkle
Afternoon rainstorms are
a regular feature of monsoon
season in the mountain
highlands. Here, clouds build
above an ephemeral pond
in a secluded meadow.
n To order a print call
(866) 962-1191 or visit
Song o f Sunl ight
an d Sh a d ow
(Continued from page 22)
(Text continued on page 31)
28 a p r i l 2 0 0 6 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 29
Clouds from a passing storm disperse
reflected sunset colors of gold and magenta
in the still waters of Christmas Tree Lake.
n To order a print call (866) 962-1191 or visit
Fa ding Maje s t y
30 a p r i l 2 0 0 6 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 31
everything the tribesman said so long ago. I’m looking
at a kind of miracle. The tribe sued the federal govern-ment
for mismanagement of its land, won, and put the
money into a permanent Land Restoration Fund, one
that aims to bring the land back to the condition it was
in before the federal government got its hands on it. A
board of tribal elders advises the project. And what they
speak for is the very creation of their ground. In the
beginning was water: “ ‘How will it breathe, this earth?’
Then came Black Thunder to that place, and he gave the
earth veins. He whipped the earth with lightning and
made water start to come out.” What nontribal culture
calls restoring riparian habitat, the tribal elders call
“bring life back to the streams,” and helping the springs
“to breathe again.”
I stare at the canyon wall framing Pacheta Falls, a
slot of dark brown rock streaked here and there with
black stain ending in a riot of ferns below at the edge
of the punch bowls formed by the tumbling water.
Now I can hear nothing, the roar of water vanishes
and I simply melt into the landscape. My side of the
canyon is ponderosa pine. Across the chasm is pure
spruce and fir. Between the slabs of stone, Pacheta
Creek rolls and tumbles and deep pools harbor trout.
In the past, Apache cowboys would sometimes
descend to the canyon bottom by a rope strung next
to the falls and catch a few for dinner. The rope is gone
and some other kind of world is being born here.
I sit down amid rotting logs silvered with age. Needles
carpet the ground and limbs are scattered like lines in
some abstract painting. Young ferns, lupines and col-umbines
poke up like green tongues savoring the sun.
I can look at the falls, or at the ground. Part of normal
tourism is pulling over at designated vista points where
the earth is believed to be camera-ready. I’m past nor-mal.
Before me is the most beautiful waterfall I’ve seen
in Arizona. At my feet is a mess of debris. I give them
equal time. I’m starting to get the hang of the word ni’.
Th e r e s e r va t i o n t imb e r was devoured for
decades and there is hardly a virgin stand left. The for-est
can look deceptive with its tall trees and green grass.
We simply have lost all memory of how it greeted the
eye at the end of the 19th century. But there are haunt-ing
reminders and one of them is a grove of 1.7 acres
just off Reservation Lake, a lens of water and trout at
9,039 feet on the flank of Mount Baldy.
This pocket of trees survived the great cutting. In
Apache culture, the word gozhoo can mean “healthy
ground” or a “healthy person.” This grove is gozhoo
(according to the tribe) and that is telling within the
culture. Ancient place-names scattered about the res-ervation
designate wet spots that are now dry. This is
taken by the tribal members as a punishment for being
greedy and uncaring about their land.
I wander up a slope by a
cienega, then take a few
steps down. A giant fir
looms over me. The trunk
is maybe 8 feet in diameter.
It is a message from the
stands now long gone that
once carpeted the reserva-tion.
For the Apaches, a
stable mind rests on three
elements: resistance, resil-ience
and smoothness. They
apply the same words in
assessing the vitality of
what others call an ecosys-tem.
I am staring at smooth-ness,
a grove mixed in
species and ages, a place
that can handle the roll and
tumble of life without a
murmur. The tree must be
older than the United States
and, for all I know, it was a seedling when Columbus
sailed. The bark is deep and corrugated with flashes
of reddish color against the brown.
Greg Dazan of the tribe’s Recreation Division stands
by the tree. He explains it takes eight men with arms
extended to encircle the fir.
“Imagine,” he says softly, “what the forest was like
when it was full of big trees.”
Such a vision will require centuries. Gozhoo takes
time and patience. But at the moment, the tribe is
opening up some areas to limited visitation. The trick
is to get a living from the land without maiming it
in the process. As one elder told her grandson, “Go
slowly; listen to the land and it will tell you what to
do.” Here is our chance to eavesdrop on a conversation
we need to hear.
Location: White Mountain Apache Indian
Reservation, approximately 225 miles
northeast of Phoenix.
Getting There: From Phoenix, take State
Route 87 north to Payson. Turn right (east)
onto State Route 260 and drive 105 miles to Hon Dah.
Fees: Outdoor recreation activities like hunting, fishing,
camping, and other activities such as off-road travel on the
White Mountain reservation land require permits. Outdoor
recreation permits, daily, $6 per vehicle; individual, $3; general
fishing permits, adult, annual, $65; daily, $6; juvenile, annual,
$32; daily, $3; camping, daily, vehicle, $8; individual, $3.
Lodging: Sunrise Park Lodge, toll-free (800) 772-7669;
Hon-Dah Resort Casino and Conference
Center, toll-free (800) 929-8744.
Additional Information: Toll-free (877) 338-9628;
when you go
surrounding aspen trees,
this giant old-growth
ponderosa pine may
survive for 300 years
Anc i e nt Wi t ne s s
Intertwined like thatchwork,
windblown grasses decorate the
surface of a seasonal pool in a
high mountain meadow.
Ta ngl e d Up i n Blue
Tucsonan Charles Bowden says: “I’ve worked on a newspaper,
freelanced, started up and ran a magazine, scribbled 18 or so
books and, thankfully, have never quite gotten the hang of it.”
After collaborating with author Charles Bowden on six
Southwestern books and countless Arizona Highways stories,
nothing prepared Jack Dykinga of Tucson for the visual feast
of the Apache land, which he calls “simply stunning.”
(continued from page 26)
32 a p r i l 2 0 0 6 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 33
“Whiskered screech owl,” cries Wezil, his
extravagant enthusiasm for all things feath-ered
exaggerated into a personality trait by
decades of professional birding. Raucous as
a raven and frenetic as a nuthatch, the gray-thatched,
strong-legged, fresh-faced Wezil
can shame a mockingbird when it comes to
imitating birdcalls, but can’t for the life of
him mimic nonchalance.
Several befuddled birding couples grab
their binoculars and tumble toward the
doors of the Casa de San Pedro’s bird van,
the first stop in a treasure hunt that will
yield unexpected insights into birds, bird-ers
and their odd mating rituals.
Only Tucson Audubon Director Sonja
Macys understands Wezil’s bounce-off-the-
walls excitement. A blonde-crested,
slim-legged, hard-core birder and conser-vationist,
Sonja knows the rare whiskered
screech owl lures birders to the Huachuca
Mountains from all over the country.
Behind flit Susan and Larry McKennon,
lovebird Army colonels who once invaded
Iraq and are now on a campaign to under-stand
the alien culture of birders. McKennon
helped build housing for a couple hundred
thousand soldiers waiting to invade in the
first Gulf War, while Susan ran MASH
units. They got married while posted at Fort
Huachuca, which once harbored the Buffalo
Soldiers of Apache War fame and now pro-tects
some of the best blessed bird canyons
in North America. Susan and Larry have
returned from retirement in Oregon to cel-ebrate
their 10th wedding anniversary with
a romantic interlude at the bird-obsessed
Casa de San Pedro. In all innocence, the
colonel couple has now fallen in with a
band of birders.
Following them come my wife, Elissa,
an artist, and me, a writer, 26 years mar-ried
and given to unpredictable enthusi-asms.
I am hoping this night and day tour
will reveal the interlocked secrets of birds
and birders and so explain why 46 million
Americans spend $32 billion on their dearly
daft hobby every year.
Birders migrate to southeast Arizona
in flocks to explore famed canyons in the
Huachuca, Santa Rita and Chiricahua moun-tains
and lush riparian areas like Sonoita
Creek and the San Pedro River. Thanks to
sky islands, diverse canyons, migratory
flyways and its location on the boundary
between the Mexican tropics and temperate
A M a n N ame d W a l r a v e n R e v e a l s . . .
B Y P E T E R A L E S H I R E P H O T O G R A P H S B Y T O M V E Z O
Language of Love
Wezil Walraven hits the brakes on the bird-watching
van in the middle of the darkening road into Ramsey
Canyon, prime habitat for that most peculiar of
Whiskered Owls &
A pair of wood ducks quack sweet nothings, but don’t let
his fancy outfit fool you. These small colorful ducks nest in
cavities in big trees like sycamores, but the male plays no role
in either picking the nest or sitting on broods of up to 12 eggs.
34 a p r i l 2 0 0 6 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 35
Huachuca, where Wezil has promised us
elegant trogons, outlandish, foot-long,
parrotlike tropical birds that remain the
avian superstars of southeast Arizona.
They sport long tails and nine colors,
including emerald-green backs, vivid red
breasts, bright yellow bills and spooky
orange eye rings. A tropical species, they
breed in a few lush canyons along the
Arizona-Mexico border where they nest
in sycamore trees, whose soft, easily bro-ken
branches make them a cavity nester’s
The Aztecs believed trogons harbored
the spirits of dead warriors, perhaps for
their gaudy plumage and eerie calls.
Trogons have expanded into Arizona in
just the past century, perhaps due to a 3-
degree average temperature rise linked to
cattle grazing and deforestation. They eat
berries, bugs and lizards, nest in aban-doned
woodpecker holes, reproduce
slowly and defend their young fiercely.
They often mate in the tropics, but the
females can store the sperm inside for
weeks before fertilizing an egg. The
males migrate first so they can hunt up
several nest cavities in hopes one will
impress his true love, since they appear
to mate for life. When the missus arrives,
he leads her from hole to hole, fluttering,
croaking and preening hopefully.
Wezil delivers us to a peaceful picnic
area in Garden Canyon, where gaggles
of birders wait hopefully for a trogon’s
call. We wander about, appreciating
North America’s greatest diversity of
butterflies and pointing out painted
redstarts, hepatic tanagers, yellow-eyed
juncos, whitebreasted nuthatches and
even a rare sulphur-bellied flycatcher, to
add to a species list that will top 40 by
Suddenly, we’re electrified by the
bizarre, swallowed-caw of the trogon,
sounding like a turkey reared by mock-ingbirds
on hallucinogens. Delighted, we
creep through the woods behind Wezil,
druids seeking our fairy circle. The heart-stopping,
bright-red breast of the male
trogon flashes in the branches. We crane
our necks, cry out, shamble through
the forest, stumble over tree roots, cross
the stream, bumble down the road and
return to the picnic area—following the
trogon from perch to perch. Two trogons
fly back and forth overhead, a delirium of
red and green.
Wezil can lie down and nap on his lau-rels
so far as I’m concerned.
Instead, he leads us to the humming-bird
heaven of Beatty’s Miller Canyon
Guest Ranch & Orchard. There we
encounter a New York birding guide, an
obsessive life-lister with a frightening
gleam in her eye who has tallied 736 spe-cies
in North America, but hasn’t glimpsed
a new bird in two years. She has brought
three wealthy clients to see several rare
tropical hummingbirds. Now she haunts
the row of buzzing hummingbird feed-ers,
unnerving as Marley’s ghost dragging
the chain of a life list. In the next hour
we see two-thirds of the North American
hummingbird species, including black-chinned,
and violet-crowned — not to mention
rufous, Annas, costas and magnificent.
Still, Wezil has not finished with
us, seeing as how Susan is still calling
trogons “Trojans.” So Wezil resolves to
reveal to us the secret hiding place of the
threatened Mexican spotted owls, elusive
predators of old-growth forests hanging
on in a few unlogged canyons, including
Scheelite Canyon in the Huachucas.
So we drive to the canyon and troop
nearly a mile up a steep, leafy, bird-thronged
At length, Wezil perches on a rock and
tells us to think like a Mexican spotted
owl. After much blundering about, I spot
a gigantic, drowsy, mottled brown owl
high in a nearby Douglas fir.
Moments later, Susan stops in aston-ishment
beneath a branch just 8 feet off
the ground that holds a foot-high, fledg-ling
Mexican spotted owl, adorable in
his baby feathers. The mother eyes us
dubiously from a nearby tree.
Susan shrieks in delight.
“Oh, it’s so cute,” she cries. “That’s it.
I’m a birder!”
Wezil chortles like a trogon.
The owl holds my stare skeptically, but
I can only shrug.
I cannot explain us, especially when it
comes to mating habits.
Even so, I’m proud of our most distinc-tive
field marking: A wonderfully fluffed
up sense of wonder.
Peter Aleshire is editor of Arizona Highways.
Tom Vezo of Green Valley also photographed the
eagle myths and nestwatchers stories in this issue.
habitats, the area boasts more than half
of North America’s bird species.
By the time we escape the van, Wezil
has already centered his birding scope
on a dark hole in a huge tree set in a V
in the road. I focus my binoculars in the
Sonja peers into the scope. “There’s the
mother—and the baby,” she whispers.
I elbow her aside and the scope reveals
the baby, visible only when he opens his
haunting yellow eyes and fixes me with
a look wise beyond his fluff-feather years.
I cannot see the mother.
Susan looks. “I see them,” she chirps.
Impossible. I look again. Suddenly, I
see the mother perched right on top of
the baby, as cleverly camouflaged as a
brain twister illustration in a children’s
Wezil dances a jig in his excitement
over our astonishment. Then he pied-pipers
us down the road in the dark,
hooting and ooohing.
Down the hill where pines and syca-mores
yield to oaks and scrub, he whips
out his CD player to reproduce the ter-ritorial
call of a western screech owl, a
hoot that diminishes like a dropped ping-pong
ball. A moment later, a ghost owl
passes noiselessly overhead and perches
indignantly in the cottonwood opposite.
Wezil flicks on his 9-volt flashlight and
notes that this owl lacks the fringe of
face bristles adorning its cousin up the
road. The whiskered screech owls use
the bristles to funnel flying bugs into
their mouths. The larger-taloned west-ern
screech owls, by contrast,
snatch up lizards and mice.
Such differences in even
closely related species make
birds nature’s Rosetta stone,
revealing the complex con-nection
between habits and
Wezil and photographer
Tom Vezo, who has in his
files 100,000 pictures of birds
of 500 species, then launch
into a complex discussion of the local
dialects of owls and Mexican whip-poorwills.
I eavesdrop, like a plumber
listening to a discussion between Albert
Einstein and Niels Bohr about whether
God does, in fact, play dice with the
Abruptly, Wezil cocks his head.
“Elf owl,” he says, reacting to a call I
hadn’t even heard.
Tom spins and spots the 5-inch-long
bump of an elf owl on a branch, thanks
to an eye trained by 20,000 hours of
birding. A sparrow-sized insect hunter,
the elf owl also draws birders from the
far corners of North America. Suddenly,
the feisty elf owl plunges from its branch
and smacks into the back of screech
owl’s head. Everyone yelps, most espe-cially
the screech owl.
The owls curse.
The birders hoot.
We chat happily on our way back to
Casa de San Pedro, getting to know each
Sonja is earnest and expert, although
she gave up keeping her “life list” of
birds she has seen after the Mexican
federales inexplicably confiscated her
only copy during one memorable fiasco
Susan is easygoing and brimming
with delight, although baffled by the
birder hubbub. Larry is careful as a colo-nel
in a roomful of generals, although his
eyes gleam with amusement. He watches
Susan with the wordless devotion that
prompts soldiers to throw themselves
on grenades to save their buddies. She
is the happy splash of a stream to his
deep ocean current, but they fit perfectly.
They found each other in the midst of
muddled wars and now seem as content
as life-mated eagles.
We declare the owling a great success,
but privately consider Wezil odd and
Sonja obsessed, especially after Wezil
insists we have breakfast by 6 a.m. to get
those early birds.
We assemble just past dawn in the
Casa de San Pedro dining room for a
reassuringly substantial breakfast, then
head for Garden Canyon on Fort
SPOTTED OWLS Laid-back parents,
these big, endangered owls greet
intruders with phlegmatic calm and
feed their young, like this one, for up to
three months after they leave the nest.
HEPATIC TANAGER These feathered models
of monogamous marriage raise a single
batch of up to four babies and warble to
one another in sweetly simple songs.
Males flit up from the
tropics and find a nest
cavity that will impress
arriving females. The
parents then each
pick their favorites to
feed, which means
half of those little
trogons will turn out
to be momma’s boys.
YELLOW-EYED JUNCO Perhaps nesting on the
ground with all the skunks, snakes and clodhoppers
makes this junco look a little crazed. Then again,
perhaps it’s raising three sets of chicks a year.
LOOK, IT’S A BIRD... Ecotour guide Wezil Walraven
points out a preening elegant trogon to a group of bird-watchers
on a trip into the Huachuca Mountains.
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 37
The National Audubon Society
Ranch. Near Elgin in southern
Arizona, the 7,000-acre tract,
which has excluded livestock
since 1969, is a native plant and
animal sanctuary devoted
primarily to grassland research,
according to Vashti “Tice”
Supplee, a biologist and director
of bird conservation, who
oversees the Important Bird Area
Program. Much of the ranchland
was burned in a vast grass fire in
2002, but nearly all traces of the
fire have disappeared, according
to Campana, who says it has been
restored to a condition “better
than it was a hundred years ago.”
With prior appointment, the
public may visit the ranch,
considered a “signature” area of
importance by the national
Information: Research ranch,
(540) 455-5522, or Audubon
Arizona, (602) 468-6470; www.
The Nina Mason Pulliam Rio
Salado Audubon Center. At
Central Avenue at the Salt River in
Phoenix, the 4-acre educational
center site adjacent to the Rio
Salado Project hosts informative
outdoor programs for the public,
especially student groups. The
center will open in 2008.
Arizona, (602) 468-6470;
The Important Bird Area
(IBA) Program. Twenty-six
regions in the state have been
designated as having special
importance for birds. The areas
are used to engage the public
and private landowners in
conservation, to promote habitat
and to encourage partnerships
for species protection.
Arizona, (602) 468-6470;
Arizona Watchlist 2004.
A list of 53 bird species
— including threatened or near-threatened
— is compiled to
observe and monitor those
Eight Chapters Statewide.
The work done by the society
is mainly a local effort done
on the chapter level.
Arizona, (602) 468-6470;
to contact individual chapters, see
To join: https://websvr.
hanks partly to a bunch of precious feathers and
a fashion-conscious society that loved plumed hats, the birds of
the world are living a little bit happier.
In the early 1900s, the great egret and snowy egret were
in danger of extinction because their feathers—at the time
reportedly worth twice their weight in gold—were harvested
excessively. A group of concerned conservationists soon
took flight and won legal protection for the birds—helping
to launch the National Audubon Society, which celebrated its
100th year in 2005.
Arizona chapters began forming about 50 years ago in Pima
and Maricopa counties. Eight such chapters now exist around
the state, forming the regional backbone for Audubon’s work
in a state where bird observation and conservation are a high
environmental priority—and big business. It’s reported that
birders spend more than $800 million in Arizona annually
pursuing their passion.
Birds are like the canary in the mine—they’re a barometer
for the health of the entire environment, says Sam Campana,
executive director of Audubon Arizona. She heads Audubon’s
Phoenix-located state organization, which opened in February
2002 and now has about 15,000 members.
Highlights of Audubon Arizona’s activities, research areas
and programs include:
B Y R A N D Y S U M M E R L I N
Audubon Celebrates a Century Devoted to
All Things Feathered
1905 The National
Audubon Societies is
incorporated in New
York State. William
Dutcher is named first
president. Guy Bradley,
right, one of the first
Audubon wardens, is
murdered by game
poachers in Florida.
1970 The first
held; Clean Air
1994 Bald eagle down-listed from
endangered to threatened.
COURTESY NATIONAL AUBUBON SOCIETY
36 a p r i l 2 0 0 6
2005 The ivory-billed woodpecker,
presumed extinct, is rediscovered in
Cache-Lower White River National
Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas.
1913-1918 Congress passes a
landmark law placing all migratory
birds under federal protection. Three
years later President Woodrow
Wilson re-signs law to include
an international treaty provision
between the U.S. and Canada.
1953 Audubon adopts a flying
great egret, one of the chief
victims of turn-of-the-century
plume hunters, as its symbol.
In the early days of state
female members urged
fellow socialites to stop
wearing feathered hats.
LEFT AND BOTTOM: RICH PAUL ARCHIVES, NAS
Randy Summerlin is managing
editor of Arizona Highways
and a nature-lover at heart.
38 F E B R U A R Y 2 0 0 6 a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m A R I Z O N A H I G H W AY S 39
Where the Buffalo Roam
House Rock Wildlife
North Rim of the Grand
Canyon on State Route 67
Stare down 2,000 pounds of fur
and horns. And, no we aren’t
talking about the IRS. A herd
of 125 free-range bison browse
and glower in northern Arizona,
the descendants of a failed
1905 “cattalo” experiment. C.J.
“Buffalo” Jones tried to breed
cattle with bison, but gave
up trying to go commercial
with the prickly half-breeds.
However, visitors can still view
their shaggy descendants in the
wild, especially between May
and mid-September, when they
migrate back to House Rock for
calving season. Pronghorns and
mule deer also share the range.
Information: Arizona Game
and Fish Department, (928)
Life’s a Beach
Willow Beach, Lake Mead
National Recreation Area
15 miles south of Hoover
Dam off U.S. Route 93
Take a three-hour raft trip
on the Colorado River above
Lake Mohave to see Arizona’s
elusive cliff-climbing desert
bighorn sheep. The sheepish
sheep wander down to the
river’s edge in the early morning
and late afternoon to drink. A
national fish hatchery plops
plump trout into the river, and
desert tortoises have been
spotted racing around the area.
Information: (928) 767-4747;
Try Talking to the Animals
Hassayampa River Preserve
Wickenburg on U.S. Route
60, Mile Marker 114
Dr. Doolittle would love this
place for its vast array of wildlife,
but you need not talk to the
animals to enjoy the javelinas,
raccoons, ringtails, mule deer,
bobcats, gray foxes and 280
species of birds that frequent
the preserve. Located just south
of Wickenburg, the reserve’s
guided and self-guided walks
put visitors into the midst of
the menagerie. Now, what
was that raccoon saying?
Information: (928) 684-2772;
Lyman Lake State Park
in the White Mountains
on State Route 81
What do you get when you
cross a bald eagle and a bobcat?
When you find out, let us
know. In the meantime, visit
Lyman State Park’s 1,200 acres
to see bald eagles, bobcats and
waterfowl running amuck in
northeastern Arizona. If that
bores you, pitch horseshoes,
water ski, camp or fish
to pass the time away.
Information: (928) 337-
Keepin’ It Real
Aravaipa Canyon East
65 miles northeast of Tucson
off State Route 77
This place is so cool the
bighorn sheep wear
earrings — compliments of
the Arizona Game and Fish
Department. Other critters,
upset because they don’t get
to wear the bright yellow
accessories, include white-tailed
deer, coatimundis and gray
foxes. Holler a shout-out as you
creep by, but stay in your vehicle
while journeying through this
Arizona wildlife hangout.
Information: (928) 348-4400;
Buenos Aires National
50 miles southwest of Tucson
on State Route 286
There’s a flock of things to do
on this 118,000-acre parcel
of land that sits just north of
the U.S.-Mexico border. Enjoy
birding, guided nature walks,
migratory bird day, a Christmas
bird count and a host of
other outdoor activities. An
amazing 330 bird species, 53
reptiles and amphibians, and
58 mammal species lay claim to
the land, so chances are high
you will encounter something.
Information: (520) 823-
4251, ext.116; www.fws.
A Haven for Suckers
San Pedro Riparian
50 miles southeast of Tucson
on State Route 80
A desert sucker isn’t just
someone who gets stuck on
top of Camelback Mountain
without water in the summer,
but a fish you might see at San
Pedro Conservation Area. Don’t
let the fact that rattlesnakes
may be present stop you from
catching a glimpse of the
other critters that roam these
parts. Thirty-five species of
raptors and 379 species of birds
have been recorded here, so
keep your eyes to the sky.
Information: (520) 439-6400;
A Trip Worth Truckin’
Corduroy Creek Loop
in the White Mountains
off U.S. Route 191
If you’re sick of hanging around
and you’d like to travel, try this
62-mile jaunt that begins in
Alpine. The long, not so strange
trip will have you trucking, like
the doodah man, through
old-growth forest. The loop
also puts visitors close to black
bears, mule deer, elk, chipmunks
and a wide variety of birds.
Information: (928) 333-4301;
BY C L I N T VA N W I N K L E
Wander the Wetlands
Near Clarkdale and Cottonwood,
off State Route 89A
Keep on the lookout for the
hordes of animals that call this
central Arizona marsh home.
Beavers, yellow-billed cuckoos
and several species of bats all
wander this wetland, which
is Arizona’s largest freshwater
marsh away from the Colorado
River. Tavasci Marsh has been
designated as an Audubon Society
Important Bird Area (IBA).
Information: (928) 634-5283;
Antelope Antics Await
Prescott, along State Route
89 between State Route
69 and State Route 89A
Giddyup that minivan for an
8-mile drive through Prescott
Valley’s short-grass prairie.
Pronghorns dominate the
wildlife-watching here, but
prairie falcons and kestrels
also call the area home. Unless
you have eagle eyes, don’t
forget the binoculars.
Snowbirds Flock to Lake
Mormon Lake, Doug
Flagstaff, Lake Mary Road
There’s more than one kind of
snowbird in Arizona, and this
type doesn’t golf. Travelers
can glimpse the other form of
snowbird at Arizona’s largest
natural lake, which is also one
of the best spots in the state
to view bald eagles. From
November to April, wintering
bald eagles flock to a 9-square-mile
area of wetland, open
water, grassland, coniferous
forest and cliffs, which are
all represented. Waterfowl,
elk, mule deer, pronghorns,
ospreys and peregrine falcons
also call this place home.
Information: (928) 774-1147;
11 Great Nature Trips
You Should Answer
The most vocal of all North American
wild mammals, coyotes use a variety
of squeaks, yelps and howls to
establish territorial boundaries and
to communicate within the pack or
family unit. paul and joyce berquist
ADDITIONAL READING: Step into
the wilderness, explore its beauty
and immerse yourself in its solitude
with Arizona Wild & Free. The coffee-table
book draws from former U.S.
Rep. and Interior Secretary Stewart L.
Udall’s experiences in what he terms
“Arizona’s sanctuary” illustrated
by stunning photographs of wild
places and animals. Published by
Arizona Highways, the book ($14.99
plus shipping and handling) can be
ordered online at arizonahighways.
com or by calling toll-free (800)
The Wild Calls
40 a p r i l 2 0 0 6 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 41
urt Alvord came from the
right side of the tracks, but
he ended up, via the rails,
on the wrong side. Hired to catch rob-bers,
he became one instead. A jailer, he
broke jail twice. A lawman, he became a
model of lawlessness.
A big brawling tough guy, even for
gnarly Tombstone of Territorial days,
Alvord was, in the lingo of the Old West,
“a bad egg” or, in the words of a recent
chronicler, “spawn gone wrong: lawman,
train robber, fugitive.”
After a spectacular rash of robberies,
betrayals, confessions and two daring
jailbreaks, the former deputy sheriff and
constable finally found himself on the
wrong end of a posse, when on February
19, 1904, he was shot twice and captured
by County Sheriff Adalbert V. Lewis and
a crew near Naco on the Arizona-Mexico
But even that didn’t end the controversy
that dogged the daring and dishonest
Albert “Burt” Wright Alvord. He served
just 19 months of a two-year sentence
for attempting to rob the U.S. mail, and
his early release ended up hastening the
retirement of Yuma Territorial Prison
Warden Jerry Millay.
The clang of the heavy cell door punc-tuated
five years of dark deeds, saloon
gossip, blaring newspaper headlines and
ceaseless searches. Once a trusted law-man,
Alvord had in six months master-minded
train robberies at Cochise and
Fairbank, broken jail twice in Tombstone
and led posses, sheriffs and Wells Fargo
detectives into the mountains of Cochise
County and Sonora, Mexico.
As biographer Don Chaput, puts it:
“Burt Alvord turned bad.”
Yet, he started good.
He was born Sept. 11, 1867, in Susanville,
California, the sixth child of Lucinda
and Charles Elbridge Alvord, whose
ancestors had originally emigrated from
England in the 1640s and fought in the
American Revolution. After the Civil War,
Alvord’s family joined the Gold Rush to
California, crossing the country from
their home in Missouri. In the placer-rich
counties in the Sierra Nevadas, Alvord’s
father worked as a miner, mechanic and
constable, and served as a member of
the Company A, Fifth Brigade during
the Civil War. Eventually, C.E. Alvord
moved his family to Tombstone, Arizona,
where he served as justice of the peace
and a miner.
His son, meanwhile, was picking up
skills as a mechanic, liveryman and driver.
Unfortunately, Burt also picked up on the
dark side of Tombstone—cockfights, faro,
hard liquor, brawls, billiards, brothels
and Boot Hill.
Just a block or so from his Toughnut
Street home, the young Alvord imbibed the
world of the gambling tables, billiard halls,
saloons such as the Crystal Palace and the
Oriental. Here he would rub up against
scoundrels, blackened miners, grizzly
gunfighters and easy-virtue gals such as
“Crazy Horse Lil,” “Madam Moustache”
and “Lizzette the Flying Nymph.”
Alvord quickly established his reputa-tion
as a fighter. He was a muscular 6
feet, with attitude, and a big drinker. For
character, or the lack of it, Alvord made
“mean” meaner, “nasty” nastier and
“ornery” as mean and nasty as tough-town
Tombstone ever saw. But, as chroniclers
have shown, he also used a big smile to
his advantage and was a practical jokester
with, as Chaput writes, “a rollicking sense
Cochise County Sheriff John Slaughter
—who knew tough when he saw tough—
appointed Alvord deputy in January
1887. During the next decade, he served
succeeding county sheriffs, including
famed photographer C.S. Fly. Burt also
worked as deputy constable at gold- and
silver-rich Pearce. In 1897, he became
constable of Willcox Township.
However, working as a lawman wasn’t
making Alvord rich. He had heard short
tales and tall tales of railroad robbers
and knew the terrain intimately. So he
devised his first, best robbery for the
evening of September 9, 1899, hoping
to snatch the Pearce mining payroll. At
midnight, as he established his alibi
by drinking and playing cards in Josef
Schwertner’s Saloon in Willcox, three
accomplices stopped the Southern Pacific
train at Cochise, a remote station about
10 miles southwest of Willcox.
His cohorts, Matt Burts, Billy Stiles
and Bill Downing, were equally character-challenged—
cowboys and even deputies
Lawman-turned-robber proves no jail can hold him
B Y D A V I D M . B R O W N I L L U S T R A T I O N B Y E Z R A T U C K E R
Constable Burt Alvord
42 a p r i l 2 0 0 6 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 43
Alvord had recruited from Pearce and
Tombstone. The robbery was quick and
to plan: Burts covered the engineer and
fireman, Stiles held the mail clerk and
the Wells Fargo agent, and Downing, a
rancher, minded the horses and held
people on the platform.
When the Wells Fargo safe exploded,
it yielded about $2,500 in cash and jew-elry.
The culprits either walked or rode
away into the early morning darkness to
the Alvord home in Willcox, where they
cached their stash in the chicken house.
They may also have left some money at
Alvord’s ranch in Pearce.
In Willcox, Alvord acted surprised by
the news. He dropped his cards and whis-key,
gathered 30 men, rode out to the site
and divvied up the citizenry, including
two of the perpetrators who had joined
the posse. Stiles went north, Downing
went south and Alvord led Sheriff Scott
White into the Chiricahuas.
Not surprisingly, Alvord couldn’t seem
to find the bad guys.
Five months later, on February 15,
1900, the Alvord group tried the same
trick at the Fairbank depot, about 45
miles southwest of Willcox. Alvord
gathered a motley gang of ne’er-do-wells,
since Downing had opted out and Burts
had fled the Territory. Alvord’s mixed
bag of desperados included horse thief
“Three-Fingered Jack” Dunlap; Texans
George and Lewis Owens; the infamous
“Bravo Juan” Thomas Yoas; and Bob
Brown, who had heard of the Cochise
robbery through Tom Burts, brother of
glib Matt. Once again, Alvord would
establish his alibi, this time guzzling in
a Benson saloon.
The New Mexico & Arizona Railroad
train pulled in on schedule at dusk, with
universally feared Wells Fargo express
messenger and former Texas Ranger Jeff
Milton sitting, unexpectedly, in the bag-gage
car. Lewis Owens and Bob Brown
held the engineer and fireman at rifle
point. Three-Fingered Jack warned the
unflappable Milton to exit. When he
refused, the outlaws opened fire, shat-tering
Milton’s arm. Milton returned fire
with his shotgun, hitting Bravo Juan in
the buttocks and Dunlap in the stomach
and groin. Then the wounded messenger
slammed the baggage door, tossed the
keys into a corner and took cover.
Unable to find the keys, the bandits
rode off with little more than $42, Bravo
Juan having been wounded in more than
his felonious pride. The outlaws aban-doned
the wounded Dunlap in the desert,
and he later died in Tombstone. Before
expiring, Dunlap fingered his confed-erates,
including Stiles and Alvord. The
Owens brothers and Bob Brown were
apprehended; Bravo Juan was captured
in Mexico. Burts was also apprehended
and readily ratted out his partners.
Downing and Alvord were caught in
mid-February by Wells Fargo detective
J.N. Thacker, with an assist by Sheriff
Scott White and his posse. Stiles won his
release by confessing the details of both
robberies, which he blamed on Alvord.
However, Stiles broke Alvord out of the
Tombstone jail less than two months
later — “dastardly work,” reported The
Tombstone Epitaph on April 8. The jail-breakers
hightailed south to Mexico.
Two and a half years later, Alvord, tired
of running, surrendered to Sheriff Lewis
in early September 1902, after making
a deal to deliver the infamous outlaw
Augustine “El Peludo” Chacon to former
Arizona Ranger Captain and now U.S.
Deputy Marshal Burt Mossman. (Chacon
hanged Nov. 21, 1902, in Solomonville.)
Once again, to the embarrassment of
Sheriff Lewis, Stiles broke Alvord out
of the Tombstone jail in 1903 and, they
escaped to Mexico through the Huachuca
Mountains. But Alvord again surrendered
two months later, although Stiles and a
Mexican with him escaped. In the melee,
Alvord was wounded twice, in the ankle
and the thigh, and was in considerable
pain. The elusive Stiles escaped cleanly,
was cornered again and escaped again.
One epilogue has it that he ended up as a
lawman in Nevada.
Burt Alvord left the Yuma Territorial
Prison three weeks earlier than his
scheduled October 26, 1905, release. A
federal warrant for Alvord’s arrest was
to be served at his full-sentence release.
Millay, who had differently, although
innocently, gauged Alvord’s release date,
ensured that this did not happen, pro-viding
Alvord opportunity to trek to
Los Angeles to stay with his sister, May
Shoults. Further adding to the confu-sion,
Millay also had not informed other
law enforcement officials about the early
release, including the U.S. marshal with
the warrant. When Los Angeles detec-tives
finally arrived at his sister’s home
with the necessary extradition papers,
Alvord was gone. Millay came under
sharp criticism for the mix-up and later
apologized for whatever hand he might
have had in Alvord’s evasion of justice.
Historian Harold L. Edwards has
recently written about how the Alvord
story ended. In Los Angeles, family
friend H.M. DuBois helped Burt Alvord
get work on the Panama Canal. There he
became Tom Wright (his middle name).
With foreman George Wilson, Alvord
then moved on to build a railroad along
the Amazon River in Brazil, where both
men contracted malaria or yellow fever.
For recuperation, they were relocated to
Bridgetown, British Barbados, but Alvord
succumbed and was buried there on
November 25, 1909.
The railroad, this time in the trop-ics,
had delivered Burt Alvord, the liv-eryman,
lawman and outlaw — whose
epitaph might have quipped that here
rested a man who wasn’t that good at
being bad — to his last stop.
from the moment i first found bagdad on a map of
Arizona, I felt called to seek it out.
We fought our way up to that other Baghdad, the one in
Iraq, through the desert and down “Ambush Alley.” We dodged
rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), ducked pop shots and
chased the Fedayeen fighters that patrolled the shadows.
That was two years ago, but I still think about it every day.
I think about the explosions, the burned vehicles and the
way the air smells around the dead. I feel sandstorms and
blazing heat in my sleep. I see strange men lurking in alleys
and helicopters carrying off the wounded. Most of all, I feel
the desert and its expansive nothingness. And now, I miss the
desert, the war and my friends.
Perhaps that’s why the dot on the map at the end of a three-hour
drive beckoned me
into the desert, which has
always offered sanctuary
and enlightenment: Jesus
spent 40 days and nights
in the Judean Desert;
alone in the Arabian
Desert. I needed to leave
the city—needed to make
sense of things.
On my original Baghdad
excursion, the “mother of
all sandstorms” forced us
to hunker down for hours,
but this time cotton-candy
cumulus clouds dominate
the baby-blue sky as I pass
through the tranquil cities
of El Mirage, Sun City
and Surprise. No rough-and-
tumble cities like
Nasiriyah, Hilla or Kut beset this Bagdad escapade. No ambush
alley or RPGs either — just cacti, mountains and tumbleweeds.
The throngs of saguaro sentries remind me that I am in a
different desert, one from which I will most certainly return.
But that only reminds me of the troops in that other desert who
weren’t so lucky.
Groves of Joshua trees with their upraised, prayerful arms
greet me halfway into the drive. It’s a desolate area, but I don’t
feel alone. Instead, I am traveling with
the unit again. My platoon sergeant is
a few vehicles behind, and his voice
crackles through my radio. Corporal
Kipper is riding ahead; he looks back
and gives me a thumbs-up. It reminds
me that we are all in this together.
Mormon settlers named the trees after the biblical Joshua.
Passing through the groves, I ask myself a question those
settlers would have understood, “Whither thou goest?” I can’t
answer the question now, but feel something awaits me up ahead.
When we reached the outskirts of Baghdad, Iraq, the bridges
were mangled and we had to “swim” our amphibious assault
vehicles across the Diyala River to enter that ancient city. Black
smoke billowed from various locations. Incoming and outgoing
shots danced throughout the sky. Nothing quite as dramatic
happens when I enter Bagdad, Arizona. Not even close.
I head to the gas station to forage for a few postcards. I want
to send a Bagdad, Arizona, postcard to my platoon sergeant,
“Gunny” Yates, to tell him about my strange mission in the
wrong desert and give him something to
hang up next to his two Purple Hearts.
Pulling out of the gas station, I notice
children leaving a small school. They run
back and forth playing tag as they cross
Main Street. They appear unafraid and
careless, just enjoying the moment and
what life has to offer them. It is peaceful
in this Bagdad, and I think that maybe I
now understand. Maybe my Iraq journey
somehow helped protect these children
from having to endure the sights and
sounds of a future Middle Eastern war.
And maybe, just maybe, the children of
that other Baghdad, the one of my broken
sleep, will one day be able to leave school
unafraid and careless as well.
On the way home I pass the Joshua trees
again and realize this trip had nothing, and
everything, to do with Bagdad, Arizona.
In that grove of Joshua trees, I see all
the Marines I served with, silent guides
pointing me in the right direction. It is here
I understand that we all have our wars to
contend with, and sometimes you just have to
venture out into the desert to regroup, think
and find peace.
Amid the Joshua trees, I ask myself again,
“Whither thou goest?” And while I still can’t
answer the question, I know that if I just keep
moving and watching, the answers will find
me — somewhere in the desert, somewhere
between Baghdad and Bagdad.
Joshua trees grow only in California, Arizona,
Utah and Nevada. These specimens are near
Bagdad, Arizona. paul gill
The author, Sgt. Clint Van Winkle, left, and
Staff Sgt. David Paxson, right—take a break
for a picture atop an amphibious assault
vehicle just days before the 1st Marine
Division crossed into Baghdad, Iraq, in 2003.
Baghdad and Bagdad
Seeking Solace Between
David M. Brown has lived in Arizona physically
for 25 years and emotionally all of his
life — inexorably drawn here for its elixir of sun,
geography, history and lore.
Ezra Tucker lives in Monument, Colorado, where
he paints Rocky Mountain wildlife and shows
his work in galleries in Aspen and Jackson Hole,
‘He had . . .
a reputation for being
a bad man.’
Tucson Sunday Examiner, March 27, 1901
Slaughter ranch cowboy
Billie Hildrath, seated,
most likely didn’t know
Burt Alvord, right,
Cochise County in the
along the way by Clint Van Winkle
hike of the month
44 a p r i l 2 0 0 6
what the trail lacks
in trees and shade, ghosts
provide. But it takes a while
to see them.
The Camp Beale Loop Trail
in Kingman leads southwest
toward U.S. Route 93, where
traffic noise and shadows
of concrete keep the ghosts
at bay. However, when the
trail turns north and climbs
along the slouching basaltic
shoulder of the low mesa it
traverses, the highway and its
incessant galvanized rubber
That’s when the ghosts
appear. They’re drawn to
Camp Beale’s Springs down
to the south, where the trees
and brush are thick, about
200 hundred yards from the
trail. It’s now a city park.
Lt. Edward Beale may have
visited the springs in January
1858 during the second of
five trips through the area to
build a wagon road along the
35th parallel. On his first trip
through the area the previous
fall, his expedition included
The 3.2-mile hike begins
at an elevation of 3,629 feet
and requires a moderate and
steady climb for about 2 miles
to an unassuming summit
at 4,107 feet with a metal
bench and a wonderful view.
The Hualapai Mountains
rise to the east, the Peacock
Mountains to the northeast
and the Music Mountains to
the northwest. To the west,
beyond the spires and peaks
of the Cerbat Mountains,
stand the Black Mountains.
As for the ghosts, that’s
the Rose-Baley wagon train
making its way to California
in 1858, the first immigrants
to use the Beale wagon road.
They won’t make it. The
Mojave Indians will kill eight
of them and the survivors
will return to Albuquerque.
From the summit, the
descent is steep in places,
but the trail soon follows an
arroyo for about a half-mile
before the final descent to the
Along the way awaits
the ghost of Waba Yuma, a
Hualapai chief. His death
near here in April 1866, at
the hands of a teamster
named Sam Miller, sparked
the Hualapai War that lasted
until 1870. Much of it was
fought in these hills.
The rewards of this hike
are found far away and up
close — there is not much in
the middle distance upon
which to focus your attention.
At sunset, the Hualapai
Mountains assume a hue of
purple majesty. At your feet
you’ll find another purple, the
There’s no reason you can’t
hike this well-maintained
trail even in the summer if
you avoid the heat of the day
between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Wear a hat and carry plenty
of water. Don’t get confused
by the trail markers. It’s easy
to follow the wrong trail
if you don’t keep in mind
that this is a climbing hike.
Follow the trail leading up
hill and you’ll be fine — so
long as you don’t mind
walking with ghosts.
TRAILSIDE SCENERY The brilliant
pink of a strawberry hedgehog
cactus, left, decorates the rocky
terrain near Camp Beale Loop Trail.
Hikers looking north from the trail
at sunrise would get a painless
eyeful of cacti, above. The view
of basalt boulders, above right,
looks south toward Kingman
and the Hualapai Mountains. Walk With Ghosts of the Past
by Tom Carpenter photographs by Richard K. Webb
Length: 3.2 miles.
Elevation Gain: 476’.
Payoff: Great view.
Getting There: From the Mohave
Museum of History and Arts at
120 W. Beale St., drive west on U.S.
Route 93 approximately 1 mile
and turn right onto the Fort Beale
Drive. Continue 1 mile to the
turnoff to the left to the Camp
Beale Loop Trail parking lot.
Travel Advisory: Trail access
includes mountain bikes and
equestrian trail. Parking
available for horse trailers at
trailhead parking lot on Fort
when you go
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 45
Before you go on this hike, visit arizonahighways.com for other things
to do and places to see in this area. You’ll also find more hikes in our archive.
of History and Arts
Andy Devine Ave.
Fort Beale Dr.
camp beale loop Kevin Kibsey
back road adventure
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 47
sunset crater and the
nearby string of volcanoes
in northern Arizona look
placid, but they’ve spewed
black ash and rivers of molten
rock for millions of years.
Sunset Crater a thousand
years ago offered the most
recent performance of a
deadly pyrotechnics display,
shooting orange fire up to
2,000 feet high.
As I drove north of
Flagstaff along the 35-mile
stretch of Forest Service
Road 545, known as the loop
road that links Sunset Crater
Volcano National Monument
to Wupatki National
Monument, time stood still. I
witnessed nature’s dramatic
rebirth in an arid land that
takes centuries to heal.
My mind turned to the
vulnerable people in the
volcano’s deadly wake, the
Sinagua Indians. They lived
in pit houses and depended
on this land, described by
archaeologist Mark Elson
as “on the very fringes of
survivability.” I wondered
what exactly happened when
the volcano erupted from A.D.
1040 to 1100 to these people
whose fate was inextricably
tied to the earth.
The dramatic tale unfolded
with each mile of the scenic
In the first mile off U.S.
Route 89, the paved road
dropped down through an
open ponderosa pine forest
into Bonito Park, a wide
sagebrush and grass-covered
clearing where Maj. Lionel
F. Brady, a geologist with the
Museum of Northern Arizona,
made a startling discovery
in 1930. He found scattered
potsherds on the ground
that predated the ashfall.
That discovery led museum
director Harold S. Colton
and a team of archaeologists
to another groundbreaking
find: Earth-and-wood below-ground
pithouses buried deep under
volcanic ash, demonstrating
that Indians lived at Sunset
Crater at the time of the
eruption. Colton called the
people Sinagua (Spanish for
My first glimpse of the
devastation the Sinagua
faced, the eerie Bonito Lava
Flow, loomed 1 mile past
the Sunset Crater Volcano
Visitors Center. Initially, I
felt grim at the sight of this
black lunar landscape of
hardened lava, which looked
like it cooled only yesterday.
But then I spotted delicate
red penstemon wildflowers
rising defiantly from the
black ground, proving that
somehow life renews—even
in the face of devastation.
Two miles later, the Cinder
Hills Overlook provided a
dramatic view of the rose-tinted
Sunset Crater volcano
and a series of red cinder-covered
vents. Sunset Crater’s
distinctive red comes from
the iron in the cinders. A
closer look revealed purples,
yellows and greens from
gypsum, sulfur and clay, called
John Wesley Powell, famed
explorer and U.S. Geological
Survey director, described
this colorful volcano in 1892:
“On viewing the mountain
from a distance, the red
cinders seem to be on fire . . .
the peak seems to glow with
a light of its own.” Powell
called it Sunset Peak, a more
apt description since most
people think of a crater as
a hole in the ground, not a
The volcano’s palette of
colors added drama to the
black cinder that coats the
hillsides like snow. But
this color play pales in
comparison to what lay ahead
at 9 miles: a panoramic view
of the Painted Desert—in
iridescent shades of red, blue
and purple. Suddenly I was
filled with a sense of awe and
wonder, like a child seeing
the ocean for the first time.
With a steady view of the
Painted Desert, the road
dropped northward and
the land became drier. A
ponderosa pine forest gave
way to a piñon pine and
juniper woodland. Driving
about 14 miles past the
volcano, I entered Wupatki
National Monument, a 35,422-
acre parkland that protects
about 2,500 archaeological
sites left by at least four
ancient Indian cultures: the
Sinagua, Kayenta Puebloan,
Cohonina and Hohokam.
Here, a Great Basin desert
scrub habitat emerges,
characterized by the gray
sheen of sagebrush. Yucca,
Mormon tea, snakeweed,
globemallow and Peeble’s
bluestar, a rare flower found
elsewhere only in the Little
Colorado Valley, dot the
landscape underneath wide-open
At almost 16 miles past the
Sunset Crater volcano, I
turned right on the 2.5-mile
road leading to the Wukoki
LIFE FROM CINDERS Covering
about 2 square miles at the base of
Sunset Crater Volcano, the Bonito
Lava Flow demonstrates the slow
revitalization of the devastated
land, which now harbors 166
documented plant species in its
Road Runs From Volcanic Sunset Crater to Ruins
Built by People Who Thrived on Disaster
Catac lysm to Comeback
VIEW LOT The three-story Wukoki
Pueblo perched on a sandstone
outcropping adjacent to a walled
plaza was used by ancestral
puebloans during the 12th and
Accessible by regular two-wheel-
drive passenger cars.
Fees: Entrance to both
monuments: $5,adults; free,
children 16 and under.
Hours, Dates: Both Sunset Crater
Volcano National Monument and
Wupatki National Monument
are open daily except Christmas.
Warning: Back-road travel can
be hazardous. Be aware of
weather and road conditions.
Carry plenty of water. Don’t
travel alone, and let someone
know where you’re going and
when you plan to return.
Additional Information: Sunset
Crater Volcano National
Monument: (928) 526-0502;
contact.html. Wupatki National
Monument: (928) 679-2365;
46 a p r i l 2 0 0 6
by Lori K. Baker photographs by David Wentworth Lazaroff
48 a p r i l 2 0 0 6 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 49
Pueblo, a three-story masonry
structure perched atop an
island of red Moenkopi
sandstone. I imagined Lt.
Lorenzo Sitgreaves’ surprise
in 1851, when his party
searching for a practical route
across northern Arizona
stumbled upon this
landscape of deserted pueblos.
Later, archaeologist Jesse W.
Fewkes estimated that one or
two families had inhabited
Wukoki for several generations.
At this pueblo, I decided the
inhabitants must have been
artists to have fashioned
sandstone walls so perfectly
fitted that it’s difficult to
distinguish where wall ends
and bedrock begins.
I couldn’t imagine a site
more enchanting than
Wukoki until 5 miles later I
came upon the haunting red
sandstone pueblo of Wupatki,
where the population
peaked between A.D. 1100
and 1225. I spent nearly an
hour exploring this ancient,
four-story, 100-room pueblo,
although many rooms haven’t
been excavated. By 1182,
perhaps 85 to 100 people
lived in the Wupatki Pueblo,
the largest building for at
least 50 miles. The pueblo
had one ancient amenity:
a ball court enclosed by a
banked stone wall.
No one knows for
sure what game the
Sinagua played here, but
archaeologists guess it
resembled a highly ritualized
sport played by Aztecs and
Mayans in similar courts.
Players tried to keep the ball
in the air without using their
hands or feet, while they vied
to knock the ball through a
Along with recreational
facilities, this ancient
subdivision came with a
whale of a geological feature:
a blowhole. Blowholes
act as natural barometers,
with air blowing out when
atmospheric pressure is low
and streaming back in when
pressure is high. On this
particular day, air blew out
like a cooling fan.
At the blowhole, I looked
out over the blanket of
cinders that still covers the
desert. Ironically, the volcanic
cataclysm may have actually
led to a population boom
Wupatki and elsewhere on
this plateau. Archaeologists
believe the Sinagua left
Wupatki after being alerted by
Sunset Crater’s pre-eruption
earthquakes. The layer of
volcanic ash settled all across
the plateau and acted as
mulch, capturing rainfall and
slowing evaporation. This
extended the growing season
by several weeks and proved
a boon for their crops. Years
later, archaeologists say, the
Sinagua people drifted back
to the area around Wupatki
and newcomers may have
arrived, introducing new
ceramic styles and large,
With a renewed respect for
a civilization that not only
the face of catastrophe, I drove
away from the ruins and
connected with U.S. 89 14
miles beyond Wupatki Pueblo.
I headed home to Phoenix
with renewed faith in the
inimitable human spirit and
our remarkable ability to
adapt, even in times of
back road adventure
Mileages and GPS coordinates are approximate.
> Begin at the intersection of U.S. Route 89 and Forest Service
Road 545, which is about 16 miles north of downtown Flagstaff.
Turn right (east) onto FR 545 and drive about 4.4 miles to
Sunset Crater volcano. (35°22.16’N; 111°30.41’W)
> From the volcano, continue driving northeast about 16 miles
to the road leading to Wukoki Pueblo. To go to Wukoki, turn right;
it’s about 5 miles round-trip to Wukoki and back to 545.
> From Wukoki, return to 545 and turn right (northwest);
drive less than a half-mile to Wupatki Pueblo.
> From Wupatki, drive about 14 miles northwest on 545 to
U.S. 89. (35°34.50’N; 111°31.84’W)
CITY RUINS Having gained a toehold
in rimrock overlooking Wupatki
Pueblo and its comunity room,
broom snakeweed, right, displays its
tenacious ability to survive.
n To order a print call (866) 962-1191 or
A DASH OF RAIN Dropping from
a cloud over Bonito Park
southeast of Sunset Crater, some
light precipitation may contribute
to the area’s average of 16 inches
of rainfall per year.
SUNSET CRATER VOLCANO
Little Colorado River
PAINTED DE SER T
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