Haunted Hotels: A GUIDE TO THE STATE’S SPOOKIEST INNS
O C T O B E R 2 0 0 7
Looking for fall colors?
Grab this magazine and hit the road!
i Inside Mystery Castle n Halloween in Jerome n JFK Slept Here
FRUITFUL FUN Kids of all ages dash for sweet treats during
the “Fruit Scramble” event at the 4th Annual Natoni Horse Race
on the Navajo Indian Reservation. See story, page 16. tom bean
FRONT COVER Navajo hoop dancer Tyrese Jensen, 7, competes in
the 16th Annual World Championship Hoop Dance Contest held at the
Heard Museum in downtown Phoenix. See story, page 32. jeff kida
BACK COVER A hiker amounts to a Tiny Tim on the window
"sill" of Los Gigantes Buttes Arch near the Lukachukai Mountains
on the Navajo Indian Reservation. See story, page 24. tom till
n To order a print of this photograph, see information on opposite page.
contents october 2007
Last month the magazine offered fabulous footpaths
to tread. This month, lay tire tread with our "Expanded
Fall Drives Guide." To cruise a list of ideal autumn back
roads, click the Arizona Highways online "Trip Planner."
And if October finds you hankering for Arizona's
authentic haunts, click on the "Haunted Arizona
Guide" or follow along on the Superstition Death Loop
trail. Find all this and more at arizonahighways.com.
WEEKEND GETAWAY Roger Naylor conjures up a
frighteningly good tour of Jerome's culinary treats.
EXPERIENCE ARIZONA Plan a trip
with our calendar of events.
Photographic Prints Available
n Prints of some photographs are available for purchase, as
designated in captions. To order, call toll-free (866) 962-1191
or visit www.magazineprints.com.
2 DEAR EDITOR
3 EDITOR'S LETTER
It’s always best to “be prepared.”
5 TAKING THE OFF-RAMP
Arizona oddities, attractions and pleasures.
50 ALONG THE WAY
Things that go bump in the night.
52 HIKE OF THE MONTH
Mingus Mountain's View Point
Trail near Prescott.
54 BACK ROAD ADVENTURE
Cutting corners through the Carrizo
Mountains in Navajoland.
MAPLE MELODY Crimson and orange bigtooth maple leaves
fall into the south fork of Cave Creek in southeastern Arizona's
Chiricahua Mountains. See story, page 8. jack dykinga
FRONT COVER Aspen trees begin the change into fall's
golden coats along Weatherford Road in the Kachina Peaks
Wilderness Area, north of Flagstaff. morey k. milbradt
n To order a print, see information on opposite page.
BACK COVER A mottled aspen trunk serves as a
backdrop for a wild rose in the San Francisco Peaks. The
fruit, or hips, of the wild rose are used to make vitamin
supplements, wine, jams and jellies. randy prentice
8 Spectacular Scenic Drives
New England gets most of the attention this time of
year, and rightfully so. Still, Arizona has plenty of places
to get a great dose of fall color. All you have to do is
read our story, pile into the car and hit the road.
by bob albano
26 The Inner World of Stone
Plain ol’ rocks to the untrained eye, some might
say. A photographer looks closer with his
camera and finds a spectacular world of color
hidden inside stones collected in Arizona.
by gregory mcnamee photographs by bill atkinson
34 Somebody Said Boo
A skittery writer samples Arizona’s most-haunted
hotels and finds out that ghosts really don’t like him.
by roger naylor photographs by richard maack
44 Mystery Castle of the Desert
Near South Mountain in Phoenix, Mary Lou Gulley’s
father made a last gift that keeps on giving.
by jobeth jamison photographs by richard maack
46 Night of the Dancing Dead
The old mining town of Jerome jiggles and
shines as the Halloween Capital of Arizona.
by roger naylor photographs by j im marshall
I noticed that you and National Geographic
Adventure both featured Grand Canyon
National Park on your June 2007 covers.
There really is something special about that
grand place in Arizona. It was at Grandview
Point during a summer vacation in 1975
where I met my wife. Among other hiking
and camping visits to the Grand Canyon,
we came back to that same lookout point
on our 10th anniversary, and during our
25th anniversary we rafted down the
Colorado River. After many years of
reading your wonderful magazine, we’ll be
moving to Arizona just a couple weeks
after our 30th anniversary — just hours
away from the Canyon. So, when you
feature something that’s so special, we
know what you mean. The Grand Canyon
is a special place in our hearts.
Jay Israel, Paoli, Pennsylvania
I was surprised and pleased to see one of
my favorite viewpoints in the Grand
Canyon issue (“Viewfinder,” June ’07). My
husband and I were married at Marble
Viewpoint 24 years ago. I chose the spot
for the fantastic “aisle” of aspens leading
up to the point, and for its magnificent
view and easy access. It’s nice to know
others think it’s a great place too.
Janece Ohlman, Kayenta
All About Eden
The May 2007 issue of Arizona Highways
was as enjoyable as they always are.
However, I thought I should comment on
the photo of water clover on page 24
(“Wild Eden”). There are two species of
Marsilea (M. mollis and M. vestita) in
Arizona, and they’re both native. Although
there are introduced water clovers
elsewhere in the U.S., the ones in Arizona
are widespread but sporadic components
of the flora. These aquatic ferns have
amazingly complex reproductive structures
and interesting life histories. Recent
research at the University of Arizona by
John Reeder, Kathryn Mauz and others is
also uncovering some tiny weevils with life
histories that are tied intimately to these
ferns, including at least one species that is
entirely new to science. Invasive exotic
plants have become so ubiquitous in
Arizona landscapes that your magazine is
no longer troubled by printing beautiful
landscape images with red brome and
other non-native weeds interspersed with
the native wildflowers. However, the water
clovers are not part of this rogues’ gallery
of alien invaders!
George Yatskievych, Missouri Botanical Garden,
St. Louis, Missouri
I am both thankful for and amazed by the
brilliant pictures and inspiring writing in
“Wild Eden” (May ’07). I hiked up to
Atascosa Lookout in November 2006, and
I knew right away that the Tumacacori
Highlands are a special place. Jack
Dykinga’s photographs captured the
natural beauty that I trust Congress will act
to preserve. I look forward to taking my
family to walk that wild ground and see
that amazing place. For my friends who
wink and nod at my tales of the splendor
of southern Arizona, I now have “Wild
Eden” as proof.
Mike Jarrell, Newark, Delaware
An Axle to Grind
I was amused by the story on the dumbest
driver in the history of the Grand Canyon,
L. Wing of Los Angeles, who drove to the
bottom of the Canyon in 1914 (“Drive-thru
Canyon,” June ’07). You say the roadster he
used “negotiated the sand, steep grades and
axel-hungry boulders.” You omit the fact
that Mr. Wing apparently was an ice skater.
I can just imagine the axel-hungry boulders
chewing up his beautiful jumps on the ice
he encountered. Or was it his axles that the
boulders were chomping on?
Robert F. Longley, Green Valley
Editor’s note: You’re probably right, Robert, but from
the looks of that roadster, anything is possible.
“are we there yet?” It’s a question
kids have been asking their parents
since the invention of the wheel. From
the perspective of a car seat, everything
looks about the same — there’s no
such thing as a scenic drive. From the
perspective of the front seat, things are
different. Whether you drive an SUV or
a four-door sedan, there’s nothing like a road trip into the heart
of the great outdoors. Especially in Arizona.
Back in the day, before Google Maps and MapQuest, the
nation’s most scenic drives were known as “blue highways”
(on road maps, they were marked in blue). Like the Pinto,
the Pacer and the wood-paneled station wagon, that term has
been relegated to the glove box of pop culture. The highways
themselves, however, still exist, and they go through places
like Why, Arizona, and Whynot, Mississippi. In the same way
that Route 66 is more interesting than I-40, these drives offer
character, characters and the unexpected. And isn’t that the
whole point of a road trip?
Steinbeck and Kerouac seemed to think so. And so did
William Least Heat-Moon, who wrote in his brilliant bestseller,
Blue Highways, “Any traveler who misses the journey, misses
about all he’s going to get.” In this month’s cover story, we’ll tell
you about five of Arizona’s most scenic journeys. Fall color is
the main attraction for each, but you’ll also get a healthy dose
of rocks and trees and birds in the sky.
The North Rim Parkway is a good example. Among other
things, this 44-mile route, which runs from Jacob Lake to the
North Rim of the Canyon, passes through grassy meadows,
groves of gold-colored aspens and dense forests of Douglas
firs. Along the way, you might catch a glimpse of mule deer,
wild turkeys or even a California condor. And then, of course,
there’s the Seventh Natural Wonder, which is the high point
of the trip. Although this drive is hard to beat, all five are
something special — no matter which trip you take, there’s a
lot to look at as you look out the window. What you won’t see,
presumably, are ghosts. For that, you’ll have to go to Flagstaff.
Like the condors to the north, there’s no guarantee you’ll
see any spirits in Flagstaff, but a night at the Hotel Monte
Vista offers as good a chance as any. As Roger Naylor writes
in “Somebody Said Boo,” “For sheer number and diversity, the
Monte Vista’s roster of spooks stacks up against anyone’s.”
In addition to the crying baby — a ghost that once chased a
maintenance man from the basement — there’s the woman who
rocks by the window in Room 305, the murdered prostitutes in
Room 306, and the bellboy who knocks on doors and whispers
“room service.” It’s the bellboy that John Wayne encountered
during one of his stays at the hotel. Yup. Even The Duke saw a
ghost. Was it real? Unreal? I don’t know, but if you’re looking
for something a little different this Halloween, check out this
story and check into the Monte Vista — or the Hassayampa Inn
in Prescott or the Copper Queen in Bisbee. They’re all haunted.
The Mystery Castle, however, is not.
Instead of ghosts, visitors to this historic site in South
Phoenix will find an odd fortress featuring balconies, towers
and mismatched windows. What’s more, it’s made of colorful
rocks, discarded materials and homemade mortar. And
that’s just the outside. Inside, things are even more unusual.
Intriguing might be a better word.
How else to describe a home comprising 18 cavernous
rooms — including a dungeon — filled with treasures of stuffed
animals, priceless family heirlooms, a “pet rock” collection and
other knickknacks, scraps and strange relics? Although Mary
Lou Gulley still lives in the “castle” her father built in the first
half of the last century, the structure is anything but typical.
In “Mystery Castle of the Desert,” JoBeth Jamison tells the
heartwarming story of Ms. Gulley and her fascinating home,
a place that’s been named one of Phoenix’s “Points of Pride.”
As you’ll see, the Mystery Castle is a trip back in time — to the
days of blue highways and wood-paneled station wagons. And
it’s a trip worth taking. “Are we there yet?”
— Robert Stieve
editor’s letter by Robert Stieve
For more scenic drives in Arizona, check
out our new book, The Back Roads. Now in
its fifth edition, The Back Roads ($19.95)
features 40 of the state’s most scenic drives.
To order a copy, call (800) 543-5432 or visit
We’d like to congratulate you on a fantastic
magazine. We’ve been receiving Arizona
Highways as a Christmas gift for the last two
to three years, and we enjoy every page of it.
We’ve been lucky enough to visit Arizona for
the last few years — it’s the best place for a
Jacqui and Brian Phillips,
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 3
OCTOBER 2007 VOL. 83, NO. 10
Publisher WIN HOLDEN
Editor ROBERT STIEVE
Senior Editor RANDY SUMMERLIN
Managing Editor SALLY BENFORD
Book Division Editor BOB ALBANO
Books Associate Editor EVELYN HOWELL
Editorial Administrator NIKKI KIMBEL
Editorial Assistant PAULY HELLER
Director of Photography PETER ENSENBERGER
Photography Editor JEFF KIDA
Art Director BARBARA GLYNN DENNEY
Deputy Art Director SONDA ANDERSSON PAPPAN
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2 o c t o b e r 2 0 0 7
Arizona Highways magazine has inspired an
independent weekly television series, hosted by
former Phoenix TV news anchor Robin Sewell.
For channels and show times, log on to
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Produced in the USA
highways on tv
If you’re looking for
something a little different
this Halloween, check into
one of the state’s “haunted”
hotels. See page 34.
4 o c t o b e r 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 5
hoop it up
arizona oddities, attractions and pleasures
“be prepared.” It’s more than just the
Boy Scout Motto. For Arizona Highways
photographer Lon McAdam, these are words
to live by.
McAdam confronted a life-and-death
situation on a recent trek through the harsh
and unforgiving Superstition Wilderness.
Shrewd preparation and backcountry savvy got him home in
“I called this the ‘final push,’ ” McAdam says. “My oldest son,
Travis, and I had been hiking to this canyon and exploring the
lower reaches. Gaining a better understanding of the canyon,
we now could plan the final push.”
Familiar with the terrain and water sources along the
route, they plotted a nine-day trip up Rough Canyon to the
summit of Cimeron Mountain. There, they would celebrate the
completion of a journey more than three years in the making.
But when the time came to go, neither Travis nor McAdam’s
usual hiking buddies could accompany him.
“It’s either stay home and dream, or go solo,” the 54-year-old
McAdam says. “Solitude in the backcountry has been
a companion I’ve kept since my teenage years. I’ve spent a
thousand days alone in the wilderness.”
In the cool days of early April, McAdam set out alone. His
backpack was heavy with camera gear, food, water and other
necessities of wilderness survival, including a rented satellite
telephone. He’d also left a detailed map marking his campsites
in Rough Canyon with his wife, Toni. No reason to think this
trip would be any different from past solo treks.
On his second night in the canyon, McAdam called Toni
to let her know everything was fine. The next day that all
changed. Scrambling through a boulder-strewn section of the
creek bed, he stumbled and went down hard, fracturing his left
kneecap on the rocks. Immediately he tried calling Toni, but
trees overhead interfered with the satellite signal. He shoved
the phone back into his pack and moved into a clearing. In the
heat of the moment, he inadvertently knocked the bite valve off
his hydration pack, dousing the phone and rendering it useless.
“It was just a simple little trip,” McAdam said. “I broke my
knee, drenched my phone and pretty much realized I was
Shaken but alert, McAdam assessed the wreckage of his
big adventure. Just three days into his conquest of Rough
Canyon and the trip was suddenly over. Anticipation turned to
disappointment. With his phone out of commission and Toni
not expecting him home for another six days, he knew he’d
have to endure the long wait for rescue in extreme pain. After
stabilizing his knee with duct
tape, he crawled up a hillside
to position his blue tarp where
searchers might spot it.
Once a secure camp was set
up, McAdam’s focus shifted to
another concern. This is bear
country. He knew they frequented this drainage from all the
bear scat he had seen. Restricted mobility made it impossible
to keep his food a safe distance from the campsite, but he was
able to hoist it over a high branch in a nearby tree.
“I’m never without a can of pepper spray on my person when
I’m in bear country, and I let bears know I’m in the vicinity by
whistling and occasional bellows of some sort,” he said.
With little to do but wait, McAdam finally picked up his
camera, turning it on himself to document his ordeal.
When he failed to return home on schedule, Toni called
Pinal County Sheriff’s Office to report her husband missing. To
aid in the search, she contacted the satellite phone company
to pinpoint the location of his last call. Reliable information
on his whereabouts prompted the quick dispatch of a search
helicopter to Rough Canyon.
The sound of the approaching chopper alerted McAdam that
rescue had arrived. Reflections from his small signal mirror
caught searchers’ attention, and soon he was enjoying an aerial
view of the Superstition Mountains he hadn’t expected on this
hike. Within hours he was back home surrounded by family.
Surgery and rehab to repair his busted knee have curbed his
hiking for now, but this painful episode is not the final chapter
of his story in the aptly named Rough Canyon. “I will complete
my trek eventually,” McAdam says. He holds no grudge against
the canyon that chewed him up and spit him out.
McAdam once wrote, “Those of us who venture into the
wilderness know full well that the biggest threat to survival
is the image in our mirrors. Our success or failure, our life or
death, depend on the decisions we make in the backcountry.
We’d never blame the landscape or natural forces for our
A publisher has approached him about telling his story of
survival in an upcoming book. He says there are things he’ll
do differently next time, but the story has a happy ending
because he was prepared. And if McAdam does write the book,
it should be required reading for all Boy Scouts.
Prepare for the worst
BEFORE THE FALL Lon McAdam
was all smiles when he posed for a
self-portrait above Rough Canyon
on day two of a nine-day solo trek.
On the fateful third day, it became
a test of his survival skills.
Find expert photography advice and information at arizonahighways.com
(click on “Photography”).
by Peter Ensenberger, director of photography, firstname.lastname@example.org viewfinder
Rock and Ride
riding and wheeling through the vast red sandstone landscape of Navajoland attracts
adventure-seekers to this ancient land filled with unique rock formations. The rugged
terrain provides thrills for hot-doggin’ hikers and bikers. Here, a lone cyclist pedals across a
natural sandstone arch near Many Farms on the Navajo Indian Reservation. In the past, the
region’s sandstone provided traditional Navajos with materials for a different type of activity.
Navajos once used the colored sand as an element in their religious and healing ceremonies.
At one time created strictly by medicine men, the art drawn on Navajo hogans’ dirt floors
was known as sandpainting. While the medicine men painted with the earth, they chanted
for holy people to enter the image to heal the patient — just the sort of ritual that could
come in handy for today’s daredevils.
6 o c t o b e r 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 7
arizona’s first cowboy movie star was
actually a cowgirl. Dorothy Fay Southworth, a
native of Prescott, went off to Hollywood in
the 1930s and soon became a leading lady in
Westerns. After becoming a movie star, she
married her leading man, Tex Ritter, in Prescott
on June 14, 1941. Their son, John Ritter, was a
popular television actor who died in 2003.
—Marshall Trimble, Arizona State Historian
Caught in the Act
you can’t get away with anything
anymore. Consider the rock squirrel in
the Tonto National Forest just doing
his job — digging. Consider the families
of ringtails (left) and coatimundis, the
happy chatterers related to raccoons.
They were just doing some traveling
in the Saguaro National Park, and,
without so much as a “Quiet on the
set,” hidden cameras clicked.
Don Swann, biological technician
with Saguaro National Park, east
and west of Tucson, explains the
camera work as a “nonobtrusive
way of getting really solid data.”
Cameras located in remote areas of
this and other parks are tripped by
animals breaking an infrared beam
of light. The photographs provide
an inventory of the resident and
Interesting finds include the
prevalence of mountain lions in the
park and the photographic sighting
of the elusive Mexican opossum.
Recently, another traveler also
found his puss on camera. A jaguar
tripped a motion-sensitive camera set
up south of Tucson. The four-legged
star wearing spots moved on, never
hearing the applause of those who
saw the film.
Jay-Six Welcomed JFK
the jay-six ranch near Benson in southeast
Arizona hosted some very interesting guests. One-time
owner Jack Spieden and his wife, Caroline,
welcomed celebrities like author Thornton Wilder
and Sen. Barry Goldwater, as well as another
famous politician, John F. Kennedy (right). During
a break from college in 1936, JFK and his older
brother, Joe, spent the summer at the couple’s
ranch, building an adobe house that served as a
ranch office. Spieden often referred to that building
as “the house that Jack built.”
(ABOVE) THE JOHN F. KENNEDY PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY, BOSTON; (BELOW) CRAIG R. BERGMAN THIS PAGE, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: KEVIN KIBSEY; NOMA BLISS; JOBETH JAMISON
Please Your Palate in Prescott
prescott college’s Crossroads Cafe serves from-scratch, locally
grown organic food with a twist: A designated staff forager
gathers unusual greens to complement the cuisine. Students
grow some of the produce at the college’s experimental
sustainable-agriculture facility, Wolfberry Farm, located in Chino
Valley, 20 miles north of Prescott. This year’s crop includes
cucurbits — squashes and melons adapted to the dry, windy
climate of the region.
The cafe, which spreads the word to “think globally and eat
Santa Cruz County Is for the Birds
the inference that santa cruz county has gone to the birds
is not a criticism; it’s a compliment. Birds are a major factor in a
tourism campaign to draw visitors to the state’s smallest county.
The area was already a hot spot for birders who like live action,
and now bird sculptures have been added to the mix.
Ten avian artworks have been spread across the county at
resorts, offices and parks as beacons that direct visitors to places
of interest. The sculptures vary in species from roadrunner to
owl, and in dimension from a life-sized dove to a hawk attached
to a 15-foot steel beam. Materials used in the sculptures include
scrap-metal, clay, bronze, tin and ceramics.
David Voisard’s The Birdwatcher (above) is a whimsical work
crafted from rusted car parts purchased at junkyards. It stands
at the Amado Territorial Inn. On the other end of the spectrum
looms Marlene Knutson’s The Magnificent Turkey Vulture, a
delicate bronze head mounted onto a body covered with copper
feathers. It’s in the lobby of Esplendor Resort in Rio Rico.
A sign giving directions to the next bird accompanies each
sculpture, and maps of the “trail of the birds” are available at
visitors centers and resorts throughout the county. Bird sculpture
fans intent on seeing all 10 works can make the trek in about
three hours if they don’t dawdle — but only for the time being
because the tourism council plans to add another five birds
within the next two years.
Information: Tubac-Santa Cruz Visitor Center, (520) 398-0007;
locally,” is decorated with recycled
brick from Tubman’s, the tiny cafe
formerly located on its site, and
small colored-glass medicine
bottles recovered in
excavation of the historic
Sisters of Mercy Hospital.
True to its mission of
providing experiential education
in eco-cuisine, the cafe employs
25 Prescott College students as
it serves healthy and affordable
food to the college and
Information: (928) 350-
don’t drive state route 75 east of Safford without stopping at the
historical marker at Milepost 392. It honors Felix B. Knox, who died near
there in 1882.
Accompanied by his wife, a hired driver and the driver’s wife, mother
and child, Knox was headed from New Mexico to Clifton, with a stop in
between at York Ranch. He was warned of Apaches ahead, but insisted
on continuing. A short distance west of the ranch the Indians opened fire.
Knox grabbed his rifle and told his driver to turn the wagon around
and flee. Knox’s intention was to hold off the renegades and save his
family, but he was shot in the head.
Out of respect for his valor, the Apaches did not mutilate his body.
According to one account, his body was found neatly laid out, hands
folded on his chest, with a silk handkerchief draped over his face and held
down by four carefully placed pebbles.
Knox’s profession: cattleman and gambler.
—Leo W. Banks
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 9
n To order a print of this photograph,
see page 1.
PEAK EXPERIENCE Blanketed by
an early snowfall, the San Francisco
Peaks tower over aspens dressed
for autumn in the Hart Prairie area
of Coconino National Forest.
robert g. mcdonald
n To order a print of this photograph,
see page 1.
10 o c t o b e r 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 11
utumn approaches, arousing our instinct to search for color
in Arizona’s backcountry, but there’s more to the season than
the hues of turning leaves. While exuding solitude and the
shimmer of golden aspen leaves, back-road trips also give us
a chance to see deer, elk, antelope, turkeys and other wild
birds—and the promise of adventure.
In helping develop the Arizona Highways Book Division’s latest book—The
Back Roads—being released in October, I traveled back roads all across the state.
One of those trips brought me to the Hannagan Meadow Lodge, where 32 years
ago with my wife, Margo, and son, Greg, I began one leg of an 18-day trip that
looped through Arizona. This leg stretched from Hannagan Meadow in Apache-
Sitgreaves National Forests over some 70 miles of back roads to Fort Apache and
Whiteriver on the White Mountain Apache Reservation.
Perhaps it’s the scenic diversity of this trip that lodged it in my memory.
The route’s visual delicacies include roads winding under a canopy of ever-greens
and across meadows, the turning aspens, the reds of trees and other
vegetation along mountain streams and lakes and the blooms of mule’s ears,
mullein, devil’s claw and cinquefoil. Like a first love, an adventurer never
forgets such a trip.
Many of Arizona’s higher elevations rival their New England counterparts
in their multihued array of fall color beginning in late September, exhibiting
lovely cloaks of golds, oranges and reds until early November. So, follow along
with us on Arizona’s back roads to experience one of Mother Nature’s most
NEW ENGLAND GETS MOST OF THE ATTENTION THIS
TIME OF YEAR, AND RIGHTFULLY SO. STILL, ARIZONA
HAS PLENTY OF PLACES TO GET A GREAT DOSE OF FALL
COLOR. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS READ THIS STORY, PILE
INTO THE CAR AND HIT THE ROAD. E BY BOB ALBANO
San Francisco Peaks
Winding around the San Francisco
Peaks through Hart Prairie, Hochderffer
Hills, Lockett Meadow and Schultz Pass,
this route brims with gold. Along the
way, there are hiking trails and picnic
Begin in Flagstaff at the junction of
U.S. Route 180 (Humphreys Street) and
Historic Route 66. Drive northwest on
U.S. 180 for 10.8 miles to Forest Service
Road 151. Turn right (north).
Continue on FR 151 for 12 miles to
Forest Service Road 418. Turn right
(east) and go 16.4 miles to Forest Service
Road 552 and turn right for an optional
trip to Lockett Meadow below Sugarloaf
Peak. Return to FR 418, and turn right
for a 2-mile drive to U.S. Route 89. Turn
right (toward Flagstaff). Drive 1.7 miles
to Forest Service Road 420, Schultz Pass
Road, and drive west to 180. Turn left to
return to Flagstaff.
SHADES OF AUTUMN Ferns and aspens paint the landscape with brilliant shades of
orange and gold in the Kachina Peaks Wilderness (right). Located in the Coconino National
Forest, the wilderness area encompasses 18,960 acres and offers numerous trails for hiking
and horseback riding. tom till
n To order a print of this photograph, see page 1.
CONTRASTING COLORS Golden aspens radiate against the shadowy backdrop of the
San Francisco Peaks (below). nick berezenko
ROBERT G. MCDONALD
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 13
IN THE WOODS The charred remains of a fir tree stand
next to a grove of quaking aspen trees ablaze with fall
color on Escudilla Mountain. jack dykinga
n To order a print of this photograph, see page 1.
MOREY K. MILBRADT
14 o c t o b e r 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 15
BLAZING BEAUTY The sun sets on a shimmering
golden aspen in the Escudilla Mountain Wilderness.
MUTED REFLECTION Evening falls on Hulsey Lake
and Escudilla Mountain (right). At an elevation of
8,600 feet, the lake is a popular ice-fishing destination
in the winter. randy prentice
n To order a print of this photograph, see page 1.
Alpine to Escudilla Mountain
f you want to experience high elevations, make
this short drive from Alpine to Terry Flat and
Escudilla Mountain. When you reach Terry Flat,
a huge meadow just off the brow of Escudilla
Mountain appears, and you’ll be above 10,000
feet. You may find yourself huffing and puffing if you go for a walk,
but it’s worth the effort. The hiking trail up Escudilla Mountain is
one of the most beautiful in Arizona, and the dense aspen forest in
the first mile turns golden during the first weeks of October. A high-clearance
vehicle is sufficient for this trip.
Begin in Alpine at the junction of U.S. Route 191 and U.S. Route
180, and continue north on the combined U.S. 191-180 for 6 miles
(between mileposts 420 and 421) to Forest Service Road 56. Turn
right (east). There’s no sign on 191-180 marking the turnoff, but there
is a turnoff lane. Immediately after the turnoff, Forest Service signs
label the dirt road as 8056, indicating Hulsey Lake at 2 miles away
and Terry Flat at 5.
About 1.3 miles along FR 56, a road to the left leads a quarter-mile
to Hulsey Lake.
Continue on FR 56 past a junction with FR 56A (which leads to
Watts Creek) for 3.7 miles to a fork. Bear right for a 6-mile loop drive
around Terry Flat, staying left at upcoming forks except the one that
occurs at 4.3 miles along the east side of the loop. Bear right there. At
5.5 miles along the loop, there’s an entry point for Escudilla National
Recreation Trail 308. At 6 miles you’re back at the start of the loop for
a return to 191-180. Turn left to return to Alpine.
16 o c t o b e r 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 17
HANDLE WITH CARE Schott’s
yuccas spread their daggerlike
leaves in a sea of red maples. One
of nine species of yucca in Arizona,
Schott’s yucca leaf fibers are used
to make mats, baskets, cloth, rope
and sandals. robert g. mcdonald
n To order a print of this photograph,
see page 1.
18 o c t o b e r 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 19
FLOWING INTO FALL
In the Chiricahua Mountains,
the South Fork of Cave Creek
(left) flows past bigtooth
maples adorned in autumn
colors. A popular bird-watching
area, this Cave
Creek tributary is home to
more than 300 species of birds.
VISION IN GOLD Bigtooth
maple trees form a colorful
canopy over the South Fork of
Cave Creek (right). Closely
related to sugar maple trees
found in the northeastern
United States, the bigtooth
maples can also be tapped for
syrup in late winter. paul gill
n To order a print of this
photograph, see page 1.
ou’ll venture briefly into New Mexico to
reach the town of Portal at the mouth of
Cave Creek Canyon in the northeastern
quarter of the Chiricahua Mountains. At
drive’s end, you’ll explore a “wonderland
of rocks,” as the Chiricahua National Monument is sometimes
The Chiricahuas are a sky island, the term applied to a
mountain rising from a desert-and-grassland floor. Animal
life here includes a huge variety of birds, including elegant
trogans, hummingbirds and blue mockingbirds, and all sorts
of mammals ranging from black bears, mountain lions, bob-cats
and gray foxes to deer, raccoons and chipmunks. In these
mountains, autumn brings out the reds and yellows of maples,
sycamores, Arizona cypress, cottonwoods and, of course,
Portal is a delightful village with a cafe, lodging and an art
Begin in New Mexico at Exit 5 on Interstate 10. Turn south
onto U.S. Route 80 and drive about 28 miles to Portal Road
(also called Forest Service Road 42) and turn right (west).
Alternate start: From Douglas, Arizona, drive about 51 miles
northeast on State Route 80 (through Rodeo, New Mexico) to
the Portal Road turnoff and turn left (west).
Go west on Portal Road for 7 miles to Portal and turn left at
the junction of FR 42 and FR 42B.
Follow 42 for about 21 miles to State Route 181, about 4
miles east of its junction with State Route 186. Turn right for
a brief ride to the entrance of Chiricahua National Monument.
The road ends in about 13 miles at Massai Point.
Backtrack to the junction of State 181-186 and turn right
onto 186 for a 35-mile drive to Interstate 10 in Willcox.
Portal to the Chiricahua National Monument Y
20 o c t o b e r 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 21
ON THE RIM Golden aspen leaves signal the season’s
arrival along the East Rim of the Grand Canyon in the
Saddle Mountain Wilderness (left). The wilderness area
covers close to 40,610 acres of rugged terrain and contains
numerous trails for day-hiking, backpacking and cross-country
skiing. paul gill
n To order a print of this photograph, see page 1.
f you’re wondering where Mother
Nature spends most of her time, this
is it. The Canyon, the fall weather, the
quiet . . . there’s nothing quite like the
North Rim and its 44-mile parkway.
From Flagstaff, take U.S. Route 89 north for 110 miles
to U.S. Route 89A (about 25 miles south of Page). Go west
on U.S. 89A for 55 miles to Jacob Lake. The scenic drive
starts on State Route 67 at Jacob Lake and continues for 30
miles to the entrance of Grand Canyon National Park on
the North Rim—the Rim itself is 14 miles farther south.
Named for Jacob Hamblin, a Mormon pioneer known as
the “buckskin apostle,” Jacob Lake is the home of the old-est
existing ranger station in the United States. It’s worth
a look. From Jacob Lake, the road heads south for a few
miles through a gorgeous stand of ponderosa pines and
quaking aspens. Moving on, the plateau gradually rises to
a point where the Douglas and white firs take over. These
dense, mixed-conifer forests are an ideal place to spot
wildlife. Be on the lookout for mule deer, wild turkeys,
Kaibab squirrels and maybe even a California condor.
Continuing south, the forest changes again near Crane
Lake. Here, Engelmann spruce and subalpine firs rule the
roost. Perhaps even more enjoyable, though, are the large
grassy meadows. If you haven’t taken any photos up to
this point, get your camera ready—this is where the deer
and the antelope play. Eventually, you’ll cross into the
national park, which features dozens of hikes, picnic areas,
the Grand Canyon Lodge and, of course, one of the seven
natural wonders of the world. No wonder Mother Nature
spends so much time here. —Robert Stieve
North Rim of the Grand Canyon I
22 o c t o b e r 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 23
A CHANGE OF SEASON Aspens in various
stages of changing color mingle with
evergreens on the East Rim of the Grand
Canyon in the Kaibab National Forest.
n To order a print of this photograph, see page 1.
24 o c t o b e r 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 25
ROBERT G. MCDONALD
HIGH COUNTRY Aspens line the
highway south of Alpine in the White
Mountains (top). Surrounded by the
Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests,
Alpine sits at an elevation of 8,050
feet. laurence parent
AUTUMN SNOW An early snowfall
dusts a forest road (left) near Hannagan
Meadow in the Apache-Sitgreaves
National Forests. laurence parent
Hannagan Meadow to Fort Apache
egin at Hannagan Meadow Lodge and turn left
(north) onto U.S. Route 191. Drive 8.4 miles to
Forest Service Road 26, turn left (west) and drive
9.6 miles to a junction. There, a sign indicates that
FR 26 has come to an end, and the East Fork of the
Black River is 3 miles to the right (north) on Forest Service Road 24.
Turn right onto FR 24. When you reach the East Fork, a sign indi-cates
that a road leading off to the right (east) goes to Buffalo Crossing
Campground. Continue across the East Fork bridge on FR 24 for another
0.1 of a mile to a junction with Forest Service Road 25.
Turn left (west) onto FR 25; at 1.1 miles beyond the junction, you’ll
cross the West Fork of the Black River flowing across a broad meadow.
Continue for another 2.5 miles to a junction with Forest Service Road 68
on the right. FR 68 leads to the West Fork Recreation Area, and if you
have time, it’s worth the hour or so it’ll take to visit the area and return
to the junction of 68 and 25.
If you skip the side trip, continue westward on 25 for 2.8 miles beyond
68 to Forest Service Road 72 and turn right (north). Now, you’ll mean-der
for 6.5 miles through Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests to Forest
Service Road 116.
Turn left (west) onto FR 116, and in 1.1 miles you’ll cross onto
the White Mountain Apache Reservation and pass a signed turnoff
for Reservation Lake. (Before traveling on White Mountain Apache
Reservation back roads, you’ll need to purchase a reservation permit,
(928) 338-4385.) Bear left at the turnoff and you’re on Indian Route Y20
traveling south. In 3 miles you’ll pass a turnoff on the left for Drift Fence
Lake, and another mile brings you to a turnoff on the right for Hurricane
Lake. Continue on Indian Y20 for 4 more miles to an intersection with
Indian Route Y55. Turn left to visit Pacheta Lake (a four-wheel-drive
vehicle is recommended for the leg to Pacheta), or turn right for a 34-
mile drive to Fort Apache and Whiteriver.
26 o c t o b e r 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 27
ONCE UPON A TREE Submerged eons ago in mineral-rich
water, the once-living tissue of an ancient tree has been replaced
in petrification by silica from dissolved volcanic ash and tinted
red from hematite, yellow from iron hydroxide and green from
chromium, appreciated as a close-up composition by inventor-turned-
photographer Bill Atkinson.
28 o c t o b e r 2 0 0 7
ill Atkinson sees the world through different eyes. An
inventor, designer and thinker, he built a darkroom at the age
of 14 and began to print photographs — at first black and white,
then color. His mother had given him a subscription to Arizona
Highways four years before, in 1961, and Bill, a native Californian,
cites the photographs he clipped from the magazine as early
inspirations for his lifelong fascination with both photography
and the outdoors. In the early 1970s, Bill found another avenue
to explore: the world of the computer. Attending college in San
Diego, he became friends with a visual arts professor named
Jef Raskin, who encouraged Bill’s experiments in computer-animated
film, among them one that showed the movement
of air pollution through the Los Angeles area. Bill went on to
do graduate work in neuroscience, making the first computer
animation of the human brain, one that’s still used in medical
schools today. He then signed on with a new company near his
California hometown — Apple Computer. Bill designed much of
the interface for the Lisa computer, along the way inventing the
pull-down menu commonly used. He went on to work on the first
Macintosh computer, creating many of its programs. But when-ever
he could, he headed outdoors and made photographs. And
not long after becoming a full-time photographer in 1995, Bill
found his way to Arizona. “In 1999,” he recalls, “while I was pho-tographing
the Arizona landscape at Petrified Forest, I became
intrigued by the colors and shapes hidden inside the rocks.” He
began to collect specimens bought at rock shops and events
such as Tucson’s annual Gem and Mineral Show, perfecting
techniques of lighting and scanning that bring the lens of his
camera ever deeper into the secret world of stone, processes to
yield images that take on the appearance of abstract paintings
and invite long study and meditation.
SIGNS OF LIFE A vein of carbon — associated
with vegetable matter — streaks like black
lightning through the vivid hues of this sample
(actually, just one inch across) indicating that
petrification is not entirely complete.
editor’s note: Bill Atkinson’s book, Within the Stone: Nature’s
Abstract Rock Art, BrownTrout Publishers Inc., 2004, presents 72 of
the artist’s best photographs that include his unique images of petrified
wood as well as varieties of stone from around the world.
Photographs by Bill Atkinson By Gregory McNamee
30 o c t o b e r 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 31
CLEAN-CUT BREAK Though
nearly as hard as diamonds and
rubies, petrified wood’s cylindrical
quartz content (right) is also brittle,
causing it to break cleanly as though
sawn when subjected to intense
pressure, such as the uplifting of
the Colorado Plateau.
DEBARKED AND DEBRANCHED
Despite the barklike appearance of a
petrified stump’s outer layer (below),
in reality, branches and bark of
petrified wood fall off soon after
the tree dies.
THAT’S HEAVY, MAN Petrified
wood (far right), with its nearly solid
quartz content, weighs roughly 150
pounds per cubic foot.
32 o c t o b e r 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 33
ROCK SOLID Much petrified wood is used in gift-related
items such as jewelry and coffee-table
curiosities. But, inspired by his photographic subjects’
bold patterns and colors, Atkinson says, “These rocks
are the art, not what man makes of them.”
34 o c t o b e r 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 35
A skittery writer
hotels SOmeBODy sAID BOO
IN THE STILL OF THE NIGHT
A ghostly glare glows from the streetlights in
front of Prescott’s Hassayampa Inn. Some say
that Faith, the inn’s resident ghost, makes her
presence known to guests — especially those
who choose to stay in the room where she
spent her 1927 honeymoon.
BY ROGE R NAYLOR
PHOTOGRAPHS BY R ICHARD MA ACK
36 o c t o b e r 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 37
woke shuddering, cold as the shady
side of a tombstone. Now, this was
the paranormal confrontation I expected
at the Copper Queen Hotel in Bisbee.
Because I requested the hotel’s most-haunted accom-modations,
the staff installed me in 315, the Julia Lowell Room.
A prostitute from the early 1900s, Julia favored 315 when plying
her trade at the Copper Queen. Sadly, after being rejected by
the man she loved, Julia took her own life. Today, her restless
spirit lingers, as the story goes, appearing most often to male
guests. She smiles and whispers and even dances seductively
at the foot of the bed.
Now I seemed to be in her ghostly crosshairs. Only the pres-ence
of the departed could cast such an eerie chill, could freeze
the very marrow of . . . wait a minute.
False alarm. Turned out it was just my wife’s icy feet pressed
against me. Poor kid forgot to pack her sleeping socks and she
suffers worse circulation than the Tofu Weekly in cattle country.
I shouldn’t have been surprised. Ghosts don’t like me.
I swoon for historic hotels. Grande dames like the Copper
Queen, the Hassayampa Inn in Prescott and the Hotel Monte
Vista in Flagstaff reveal the splendor of their youth in elegant
bone structure and graceful lines. They’ve been lovingly restored
after some hard times and now blush with character, charm
and, since no history comes without a dollop of tragedy, ghost
“I believe we have seven ghosts,” said Copper Queen night
clerk Candace Stewart. “But they’re not scary. They’re very
polite and like to keep to their own agenda.”
An agenda that did not include me. After rolling clear of the
tundra toes, I tumbled back into dreamland and snoozed the
night away with nary a goose bump raised. Instead of standing
on end, my hair reclined like it hadn’t a care in the world. It may
have been the least spooky night I ever experienced.
Recently at the Hassayampa Inn in Prescott, I luxuriated also
without incident in the Balcony Suite, called Faith’s Room. In
1927, a honeymooning couple checked into the Hassayampa Inn.
The husband went out for cigarettes and never returned. Three
days later, Faith, the despondent wife, climbed into the bell
tower and hanged herself. Some say she appears today floating
through the room and down fourth-floor hallways. The scent of
lilac follows her. Sometimes she weeps. She disapproves when
things are moved around.
After an early encounter, Renae Bell, Hassayampa’s director
of housekeeping, never enters the room without announcing
herself to keep on Faith’s good side.
“That’s a very active room. One couple came downstairs
demanding to know if the hotel was haunted,” said Bell. “When
the husband took a shower he felt someone washing his back.
He started to say something to his wife but saw that she was
still sitting on the bed. Another time a man was in the shower
and got out to find his clothes all laid out for him. Faith really
favors the men.”
Great. Not only am I unpopular with ghosts in general, the
flirty ones don’t find me attractive.
Hoping my luck would change, I checked into the Hotel
Monte Vista in Flagstaff where even no-nonsense John Wayne
saw a ghost. For sheer number and diversity, the Monte V’s
roster of spooks stacks up against anyone’s.
Photographer Richard Maack, general manager Saffron
Coons and I huddled in the low-ceilinged lounge swapping
ghoulish tales. We were one painted van and a talking dog shy
of a “Scooby Doo” episode.
Besides the crying baby that once chased Coons and a main-tenance
man out of the basement, there’s the woman who rocks
by the window in 305, the murdered prostitutes who waken
guests in 306 with chilling glares, the phantom bellboy (spotted
by Wayne) who knocks on doors and declares “room service” in
muffled tones, and my favorite, the bank robber.
In 1970, three men robbed a bank and stopped at the Monte
Vista lounge to celebrate, although one had gotten himself shot
during the getaway. While toasting newfound
wealth, the wounded man died. Now,
numerous bar patrons report being
greeted by a cheery voice proclaiming,
I love that optimism. Here’s a guy
who made mistakes, sure, yet his spirit
seems content. He doesn’t menace,
doesn’t make bottles fly around the room.
He just delivers a jolly salutation and loiters, as if hoping some-body
will buy one last round.
In the name of research, I spent the evening haunting a
barstool. Sadly, I heard not a peep from my invisible drinking
buddy. On the spine-tingly side of midnight, I climbed the nar-row
stairway to my room, each step groaning like a herniated
First thing I noticed upon entering, a bottle of shampoo I
had placed on the tub now lay on the floor. Gravity? Maybe. Or
maybe someone from the Other Side deliberately waited until I
was out, then wafted in to visit. That would be appropriate.
Ghosts don’t like me.
The sun sets on the
Copper Queen Hotel
(above) in Bisbee, while
an empty chair awaits
another victim — uhh —
guest in the Hassayampa
Inn’s Room 426
SOMEBODy SAID BOO SOMEBODy SAID BOO SOMEBODy SAID BOO SOMEBODy SAID BOO
Cottonwood resident Roger Naylor has witnessed strange and unexplained
events in the past. On this trip, however, it was all restful nights and
Experiencing banging doors and moving furniture on previous photographic
excursions for Arizona Highways helped prepare Richard Maack and crew
for further ghostly contingencies at Arizona’s haunted hotels. This time, a
spectral gentleman at the Copper Queen Hotel provided aromatic evidence
of his presence by the smell of cigar smoke wafting from the second-floor
haunted stairway during the photo shoot. Maack lives in Phoenix.
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 39
Hazy afternoon light adds an eerie ambience to the
exterior of the Copper Queen Hotel (right), where it’s said
that seven ghosts reside.
HORDES OF ORBS
Light filters through the windows of the bar at the Copper
Queen Hotel (below) making it appear that floating white
orbs, which some people believe are spirits from the
afterlife, fill the room.
WE’LL LEAVE A LIGHT ON FOR YOU
The Hassayampa Inn’s “haunted” Room 426 (top) sits innocently empty.
Some guests and employees have reported seeing an apparition float
down the hotel’s fourth floor hallways.
WATCH YOUR STEP
At Bisbee’s Copper Queen Hotel, some guests say they feel a presence
and smell cigar smoke in the empty stairwell (left).
Who knows if the Hassayampa Inn’s resident ghost, Faith, still sees her
reflection in the mirror of Room 426 (above, right), where she spent her
honeymoon 80 years ago?
The Copper Queen Hotel
Location: 11 Howell Ave., Bisbee.
Additional Ghosts: A cigar-smoking man, often detected
by the aroma of his stogie; a former female employee
who helps out during busy times by watching the front
door; a family dressed for winter; and a curious little
boy, usually seen, and played with, by other children.
Additional Information: (520) 432-2216;
Location: 122 E. Gurley St., Prescott
Additional Ghosts: A man lost in thought lurking
near the lobby fireplace, a man in a top hat who
sits at the bar and the night watchman who
makes late-night rounds jiggling door handles.
Additional Information: Toll-free (800) 322-1927;
SOMEBODy SAID BOO SOMEBODy SAID BOO SOMEBODy SAID BOO SOMEBODy SAID BOO
40 o c t o b e r 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 41
BE OUR GHOST
A warm fire greets guests and ghosts in the beautifully
appointed lobby of the Hassayampa Inn.
42 o c t o b e r 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 43
Innocent cherubs (top) watch over an elevator at Flagstaff’s
Hotel Monte Vista.
ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK
Purportedly, a spirited waltzing couple sometimes occupies the
dance floor of the Hotel Monte Vista’s lounge (above).
Western film legend John Wayne reported having a close encounter
with a ghost in this hallway (right) at the Hotel Monte Vista.
SOMEBODy SAID BOO SOMEBODy SAID BOO SOMEBODy SAID BOO SOMEBODy SAID BOO
Explore more spooky spots at arizonahighways.com
by clicking on the “Haunted Arizona Guide.”
Hotel Monte Vista
Location: 100 N. San Francisco St., Flagstaff.
Additional Ghosts: A little boy who wanders the halls, a
waltzing couple seen on the dance floor of the lounge and
the “Meat Man,” a longtime boarder who died in his room
and was known for hanging raw meat from his chandelier.
Additional Information: Toll-free (800) 545-3068;
44 o c t o b e r 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 45
turn. Despite its architectural defiance, the maroon-trimmed
castle, much like its inhabitants, is in har-mony
with everything around it — so much so that it
almost hides in plain sight. Inset with a hodgepodge
of story-rich tiles, colorful glass and unusual trinkets,
the pale stones are stacked into fairytale shapes, each
designed to maximize daylight, shadow and stunning
views. The castle stands not just as a bastion of Boyce
Luther Gulley’s creativity — it’s a testament to his fru-gal
genius. That 1948 Life magazine story boosted the
fledgling roadside attraction to “must see” status. But
the whole story is best told by Mary Lou herself — not
just during the daily castle tours that the octogenarian
still helps conduct, but also in her 1952 book titled,
My Mystery Castle. What began as a diary ultimately
became a Mark Twain Award-winning memoir.
“I just wrote it like I lived it,” says the feeble but feisty
and funny Mary Lou. In the castle’s main house, she
sits amid her treasures of stuffed animals, priceless
family heirlooms, a “pet rock” collection, and portraits
of both her and her father, thumbing the well-worn
pages of her book. “It’s the way I felt about things.”
Now, with the verdant sprawl of a golf course nip-ping
at the property boundary and modern amenities
just a few blocks away, it’s hard to imagine the Mystery
Castle once made for truly hard living, especially for
two women who had previously been surrounded by
the cool climate and creature comforts of Seattle. Then
there were just creatures: coyotes, scorpions, spiders,
centipedes and snakes, to name a few. The summers
were scorching and the winters were bone-chilling.
The castle was dirty and lacked running water, elec-tricity
and plumbing, though none of that seemed to
deter the interest of conniving local landowners, law-yers
and bandits making their way through the desert.
While Mary Lou had always dreamed of owning
a castle, the reality proved much different. Her diary
reflects a heartbroken but hopeful young woman who
had to grow up quickly.
“Yeah, we had adult voices out here, believe me.
Real loud ones sometimes,” Mary Lou recalls with
a chuckle. They’d shout: “Get off my property, or I’ll
Worried for Fran and Mary Lou’s safety out in
the savage West, Mary Lou’s grandmother Florency
Bradford dispatched longtime family friend Frank
Herberger from Minnesota to the Mystery Castle. He
helped run the place and served as a sort of protector
against the many elements, especially local landown-ers,
working against the Gulley women. He helped
Mary Lou grow a thick skin by teaching her to shoot
a rifle and to stand her ground.
The combination of lots of misery and little money,
however, made Mary Lou consider shooting her gift
horse of an inheritance in the mouth.
But her mother encouraged the damsel in distress
to persevere. An enterprising lady, Fran decided to
turn their new home into a tourist attraction to make
“Fran was the idealist and dreamer, and I was the
child of hard earth. It was she who viewed the Castle
with the eyes of an artist’s family,” Mary Lou wrote in
her book. Fran once told her, “I have a psychic feeling
it will grow on you.”
It didn’t just grow on her. Today, Mary Lou is
synonymous with her father’s opus. “I think down
deep inside that I would have stayed no matter what
because this was all I had of my father. I hardly knew
him,” she says.
Boyce Luther Gulley built the Mystery Castle, and
ever since its rightful heir assumed the throne, people
have come to experience the story for themselves.
“I like to write about what I know,” says Mary Lou.
“I think that’s why I got the award for [the book] — be-cause
it was true.”
Her book, which inspired a 1999 Emmy award-winning
documentary, has been out of print for the
past two decades. But Mary Lou, who has arranged
for her historic landmark to live on through a founda-tion
after she’s gone, hopes the humorous and gifted
account of her extraordinary life as a desert “princess”
will find its way to a new generation of readers very
soon. Publishers are considering a reprint, and movie
studios are pondering a film, which could turn the
South Mountain sight into a goldmine. In the mean-time,
the priceless Mary Lou Gulley and her Mystery
Castle keep gaining interest.
In 1948, a writer and a photographer from Life
magazine sought treasure in the Arizona desert — and
found it. Awaiting them at the base of South Mountain
was a peculiar fortress they’d been hearing about,
crafted from colorful rocks, flagstone, discarded mate-rials
and homemade mortar. Outside, balconies and
towers with mismatched windows caught distant
views of a budding Phoenix. Inside, the 18 cavernous
rooms and dungeon, complete with a trapdoor, were
filled to the railroad tie-rafters with dust-laden knick-knacks,
scraps and strange junk.
Stranger still were the people they encountered: a
mother and daughter, standing in front of a homemade
sign offering $1 tours of
the Mystery Castle.
The ensuing Life arti-cle
told of Boyce Luther
Gulley, an aspiring archi-tect.
Gulley lived with
his wife, Fran, and daugh-ter,
Mary Lou, in Seattle,
Washington, until he
in 1929, when Mary Lou
was just a toddler. Not
wanting to burden his
family, he disappeared.
For years, the devas-t
ated mother and
their errant patriarch to
be dead. Many years
later, bitter word came
that, indeed, Boyce had
died, but not right away and not from tuberculosis.
He’d shaken TB in Arizona and built his daughter a
castle, but died of cancer before he could show it to her.
Upon discovering that her father had left her a castle,
Mary Lou, then a teenager, charted a one-way course
to the desert, like Boyce himself had done. She and her
mother would spend the rest of their days overlooking
the Valley of the Sun, while overseeing what would
become a popular tourist destination.
Imagine a historic home tour, a secondhand store,
an antiques shop, a museum and an Old West movie
studio all rolled into one, and you can begin to con-jure
the experience of the Mystery Castle. Inside the
black iron gates, the soul of an artist whispers at every
OF THE DESERT
Near South Mountain in Phoenix,
a father’s last gift keeps on giving
Location: 800 E. Mineral Road, Phoenix.
Getting There: Take Central Avenue south to South Mountain.
Turn left onto Mineral Road, just before the entrance to the
South Mountain Park/Preserve, and continue to the castle.
Hours: Tours, Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.,
October through mid-June, depending on weather.
Travel Advisory: Only the main part of the castle (Mary Lou’s
living quarters) is equipped with air conditioning. Depending on
the season, the rest of the castle can produce extremes of hot
and cold. Dress appropriately, wear sunscreen and bring water.
Tours may be contingent on Mary Lou’s health. Call in advance.
Additional Information: (602) 268-1581.
Before she visited the Mystery Castle, JoBeth Jamison was told
that Mary Lou Gulley had been ill, and her devoted helpers
feared she wouldn’t last much longer. That was more than two
years ago, and it was JoBeth who, after spending an afternoon
under the spell of Mary Lou’s gifted storytelling and relentless
humor, almost died — laughing. Jamison lives in Sedona.
Extraordinary lives, wonderful stories and a magical place
provided intriguing subjects for Richard Maack’s camera and an
enjoyable couple of days wandering the grounds of the Mystery
Castle. He lives in Phoenix.
BY JOBETH JAMISON PHOTOGRAPHS BY RICHARD MAACK
HIDDEN IN THE HILLSIDE An early
example of eco-minded mansions,
the Mystery Castle blends into the
South Mountain foothills (left). Inside,
armored “guards” keep watch over
the cellar where Boyce Luther Gulley
buried treasure for his daughter to
find after she had lived in the castle
for one year. More than 50 years later,
Mary Lou Gulley (above, right with
her prize-winning memoir) still
occupies the main house.
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 47
DEATH flails wild and unpredictable, shimmies rubber-legged
and twitchy, hopelessly beyond the reach
of the beat. Death, it occurs to me, couldn’t carry
Fred Astaire’s cummerbund. THE PIRATE, however,
not only cuts a rug, he carves it into eye-catching shapes.
With a nurse and a cheerleader spinning around him in tight
orbit, the pirate wheels across the dance floor with
a sultry grace, the envy of everyone watching.
PERCHED ON the dark cusp of Halloween, the town
of Jerome bristles with Death, pirates, ghosts, ghouls,
guys in dresses, wizards, witches, creepy
(like there’s another kind) clowns
and hordes of other
Night of th Dancinge Dead
Jerome jiggles and shines as Halloween Capital
BY ROGE R NAYLOR
PHOTOGR APHS B Y J IM MAR SHAL L
DEATH DANCES LIKE A MAN WITH SQUIRRELS IN HIS PANTS.
SHEER MADNESS At Paul & Jerry’s Saloon in
Jerome (above), which opened in 1887, the pool
table turns into a vortex of skeletons and goblins on
Halloween night. A pirate (right) stands on Broad
Street as passersby search for spooky fun.
‘Ooh, I want to dance, but I’ll have to
take off my tail first.’
‘...everybody likes to party
in a haunted
onli n e For more Jerome adventures, visit arizonahighways.com and click on “Getaway.” A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 49
Location: About 110 miles from Phoenix.
Getting There: From Phoenix, drive north on Interstate 17
for 75 miles to State Route 260 at Exit 287. Turn left (west) onto
State 260 and drive 14 miles to Cottonwood. In Cottonwood, turn left
(west) onto State Route 89A and drive 10 miles to Jerome.
Lodging: Connor Hotel, toll-free (800) 523-3554;
www.connorhotel.com. The Jerome Grand Hotel, toll-free
(888) 817-6788; www.jeromegrandhotel.net. Ghost City Inn,
toll-free (888) 634-4678, (928) 634-4678; www.ghostcityinn.com.
Dining: The Asylum, a self-described “restaurant on the fringe,”
doesn’t require guests to wear straightjackets, (928) 639-3197;
www.theasylum.biz. The Haunted Hamburger dishes up juicy burgers
and sandwiches along with flavorsome views, (928) 634-0554.
Belgian Jennie’s Bordello Bistro & Pizzeria specializes in Italian food,
(928) 639-3141; www.belgianjennies.com.
Things to Do: Re-creating tales from Jerome’s violent past,
the Jerome Historical Society conducts a ghost walk, (928) 639-1066;
www.jeromehistoricalsociety.org. The Asylum Restaurant is lavishly
and ghoulishly decorated the entire month of October and celebrates
with a party on Halloween night, (928) 639-3197; www.theasylum.biz.
The Volunteer Fire Department holds a Halloween Dance
the Saturday before Halloween, (928) 649-3034; www.jeromefd.org.
Get soulful during the annual Halloween dance at The Spirit Room,
(928) 634-8809; www.spiritroom.com.
Additional Information: Jerome Chamber of Commerce,
(928) 634-2900; www.jeromechamber.com.
We’ve gathered in the community center
known simply as Spook Hall for the annual Volunteer Fire Depart-ment
Halloween Dance, a Jerome tradition for more than three
decades. All night a weird funky scene unfolds with snippets of
brain-jangling imagery hinted at during strobe flashes. Is that
Eddie Munster smooching Snow White? No way that’s going to
cheer up Grumpy.
Edgar Allan Poe’s grand-nephew, Matthew Poe, donating his
time as bartender, pours me a glass of Coke. I tip a buck because
I don’t want him sealing me into a makeshift tomb in his wine
cellar. Ha! I bet he never tires of hearing that one. The band
launches into a scorching version of a Stevie Ray Vaughn tune,
and a woman behind me says, “Ooh, I want to dance, but I’ll have
to take off my tail first.” It doesn’t strike me as the least bit odd.
I hit the moon-splashed streets where a zombie, a chicken and
Spiderman are having a smoke. I swing into Paul & Jerry’s Saloon
for a game of pool. A guy with a hatchet lodged in his head
trounces me. Any idea how embarrassing that is? I drown my
sorrows with another Coke. The guy who serves me used to be
mayor. A leprechaun shovels quarters in the jukebox while a man
wearing a bathrobe cracks a skeleton’s back. Welcome to Jerome.
Unless you’re 8 years old and going door-to-door scoring sack-fuls
of sugary swag, this is the best Halloween experience in the
state. Other towns celebrate Halloween; Jerome marinates in the
joyous indulgence of it.
“It’s never too late to have a happy childhood,” proclaims
Jerome resident Deborah Mongeon, adorned as a bouquet of
roses. “That’s what brings people to Jerome in the first place, the
creative energy and freedom to be yourself.”
Spackled into the seams of the steep slope of Cleopatra Hill,
Jerome teeters more than a mile in the air. The vertical burg
established boomtown credentials back when the copper mines
churned out a billion dollars’ worth of ore. In the 1920s, some
15,000 toe-clenched residents sneered at gravity long enough to
call Jerome their home.
Yet the blasting in the mines and the network of underground
tunnels took a toll as buildings collapsed and others slid down
the hill. World War II marked the last copper boomlet, and
already Jerome was falling into disrepair. When the last mine
closed in 1953, the citizens scattered — all except a few dozen
hearty and ornery souls who stayed put. They formed a historical
society and began patching the scars and knitting the bones of
this tumbledown town. They also declared Jerome a ghost city.
During the 1960s, Jerome experienced a counterculture
renaissance — a polite way of saying hippies moved in. They
snapped up real estate on the cheap, opened shops, restaurants
and art galleries and most importantly, injected Jerome with the
relaxed, carefree vibe still prevalent.
Tombstone, another former mining camp-turned-tourist des-tination,
bills itself as “The Town Too Tough to Die.” Jerome’s
motto, if they ever bothered to adopt one, would probably run
along the lines of “Dead, Schmed. Let’s Party!”
When residents resurrected the fire department in the early
1970s, they threw a dance to raise money. These days the sprawling
block party engulfs the town. Crowds flock to the festivities with
many reserving rooms for the next Halloween before checking out.
“Almost all the buildings have ghosts or ghost stories. And
everybody likes to party in a haunted town,” says fire chief Terry
Molloy. “Something about wearing a costume lets people get a
little crazy. Not that they need an excuse around here.”
Indeed. We’ve roared past midnight into the wee hours. On
the street, Wonder Woman clomps past me in red platform boots
complaining about aching feet and the fact that she’s dated every
eligible man in town. A harem girl laments bygone days when
someone — perhaps in the throes of spirits more liquid than
ethereal — would always try climbing the flagpole.
I encounter a pack of big-coiffed Elvises sporting matching
jumpsuits waiting to squeeze into the Spirit Room where another
band rattles the rafters. Every year all seven of them drive from
Phoenix just to seize this night.
“We look forward to this for months,” a female Elvis confides.
“This is the only party that matters.”
SLITHERING CELEBRANT Three
partiers dress up the night with a
scary creature that can slither its
way to the festivities.
WICKED FUN Eight witches lean over the railing
and offer tricks and treats to fellow revelers.
ALL SHOOK UP Seven Elvises
sporting matching jumpsuits
(right) travel from
Phoenix every year to
partake in Jerome’s
NO VACANCY The Jerome
Grand Hotel (below)
originally built as a hospital
during the town’s copper
boom, now provides hotel
accommodations and fine dining
at the Asylum Restaurant, one of
wine-lovers’ favorite places.
The Invisible Man (left),
who is really a woman,
strolls into Paul &
Jerry’s Saloon, turning
If Cottonwood resident Roger Naylor could relive his childhood, he would go
out every Halloween dressed as his childhood hero, Bugs Bunny.
For photographer Jim Marshall of Scottsdale, experiencing Halloween in the
streets of Jerome was the eccentric “mother of all parties.”
50 o c t o b e r 2 0 0 7 along the way by Roger Naylor illustration by Joseph Daniel Fiedler
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Give the Gift of Arizona . . .
out of the evening shadows, a
humpbacked gopher staggered toward me. Or was it
a skunk with a peg leg? Maybe a chuckwalla loopy from
too much sun? Squinting into the failing light, I could only
make out some ungainly critter-shape wobbling awkwardly
across the yard.
One of those riotous post-monsoon sunsets lured me out to
the patio. I watched the sky fill with mad, startling swirls of
color, like Van Gogh emptying his pockets at the police station.
Then with the veil of dusk spreading, I saw what seemed to
be a two-headed packrat lurching toward me. Finally, the
suspense pulled me from my chair, and I crept through the
twilight for a better look.
Great jumping cholla! Suddenly I felt like Jeff Corwin
going nose-to-nose with dangerous wildlife. At my feet was a
tarantula hawk with a spider the size of a cantaloupe in tow.
Tarantula hawks are 2-inch-long, fearsome wasps. The
females hunt tarantulas with up to 7-inch leg spans, tracking
them by smell and immobilizing them with a potent sting.
The wasp drags the spider back to a burrow, lays an egg on
the spider’s abdomen and plugs the burrow with soil. Upon
hatching, the larva feeds on the spider, eventually bursting
forth and devouring it. And get this: The sting does not kill
the spider. The hapless arachnid remains paralyzed, but alive,
while all this unfolds.
It’s a cruel end for the tarantula. So naturally I sprinted
inside for my camera. Not for me, but for the kids — all two
dozen of them — who would want to relive every gruesome
My sister teaches third grade in Cincinnati, and when I
travel back for a family visit, I speak to her class about life in
the desert. A good lecturer always gives an audience what it
wants and, in the case of that squirmy crowd, they want gross,
gory and, above all, scary. They listen politely for a few minutes
about the wonders of the saguaro cactus and the stark majesty
of the landscape. After that I’d better whip up a rattlesnake for
them, or at least a horned lizard that spurts blood from its eyes.
(Yes, in Arizona, we have those, too.)
Fortunately, I am loaded with rattler stories and reel them
off at the slightest provocation. Tales of my Gila monster
encounters bewitch even the most jaded video-gamers among
the class, who sit popeyed, ears pricked like coyote pups.
Mountain lions, bobcats, bats, black widows, giant desert
centipedes and killer bees enthrall these jelly-faced cherubs
from the Midwest. They squeal with delight over dung beetles
and love scorpions. But nothing elicits the chorus of “Coool!”
and “Ewww!” like tales of tarantulas, the spiders that crawl
right out of horror movies and into their imaginations. Now,
even more menacing than tarantulas, they can hear about the
wasps that hunt them.
By this time in their young lives, the kids have had the
“big talk” with their parents. Not that “big talk.” The other
“big talk,” about how there’s no such thing as monsters. No
bogeymen, or closet-lurking ghouls or tentacled aliens hiding
under the bed just waiting to grab wrists or ankles dangled
carelessly over the side. Everything that goes bump in the
night gets explained away. Yet these young souls are not quite
ready to buy into that mundane reality.
Then I come along, with my tales of poisonous lizards
and winged beasts dragging huge paralyzed spiders off into
the darkness, and they are vindicated. It’s okay to be scared
It’s okay because whether they have four, six, eight legs or
none at all, monsters do exist, even if only in an exotic faraway
land known as the desert.
in the Night
52 o c t o b e r 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 53
hike of the month
Designated Trail 106 in
Forest Service trail guides,
its top allows visitors an
eagle’s look at the breadth of
the Verde Valley. The view
includes the blossoming
town of Cottonwood, the
famous red cliffs of Sedona
to the east, the San Francisco
Peaks on the north, and far
out amid the mist, a grand
panorama that probably
encompasses 30 miles of
I’ve always considered this
view one of the best in the
state’s central region. It offers
a different thrill every few
moments, depending on the
weather and the season.
My trip came in mid-
September, just days before
the colors of Mingus’ maple
and oak trees turn the
whole mountain into a
picture book. But evidence
of fall abounded. Yellow and
purple wildflowers dotted
the meadows, and I saw
patches of light gray on the
green of the mountain slopes.
I knew those grays would
soon explode to the brightest
oranges, reds and yellows.
At the peak, I enjoyed
watching a rainstorm
develop over the valley, first
with occasional flashes of
lightning splitting the sky,
then with the arrival of
bulging black clouds as the
storm dropped its payload
onto Flagstaff. With beams
of sunlight streaming
clouds, it looked as if the
old town was getting a
lecture from on high.
Recent rains had brought
thick greenery to the slopes
at my feet. But the colors
changed as the landscape
plunged to the valley floor,
going from money-green to
sun-washed tan and a very
pale pink — more evidence
of the impending fall.
Even as I descended
from the trailhead and felt
the embrace of the cliffs
around me, the Verde Valley
still looked vague and
unfathomable, hardly a place
of booming growth. But that
changed again when the
intermittent sun found the
steel of a passing vehicle, and
threw back a sparkle of light
like a wink from civilization.
Don’t try enjoying these
sights while walking. The
narrowness of the trail won’t
permit it, and neither will
the tight switchbacks, which
paperclip off the mountain’s
east side in quick succession.
The View Point Trail
offers a number of boulders
on which to sit and let the
day pass, a nice respite.
But if you’re like me, and
have wobbly legs, this
isn’t optional. The trail’s
down-slope, at 1.9 miles, is
moderately challenging, at
least in comparison to the
return hike, which can be
The Forest Service warns
that the View Point Trail
descends sharply for the first
three-quarters of a mile. At
1.35 miles, the trail intersects
with Trail 105A. After this,
Trail 106 descends more
gradually and ends on Forest
Service Road 413. Hikers
interested in looping back
to the Mingus Mountain
Campground area can do so
along Trail 105A or Trail 105.
The uphill portion turned
my legs to railroad ties, and
I had to stop several times
to catch my breath. The
elevation at the trailhead
hovers around 7,600 feet,
and at the trail’s bottom,
where it intersects with FR
413, the elevation is 6,000
feet. That climb can leave
any desert dweller
struggling in the thin air.
But the views make the
effort worthwhile, even for
those facing old age without
wings and a crash helmet.
the last time I visited
Mingus Mountain in Prescott
National Forest, I saw crazy
people jumping off its highest
cliff. They were hang gliding.
To the best of my knowledge
they landed safely, although
I didn’t stick around to peer
over the edge and see for
myself. I feared the whirling
wind would hurl me over the
side, too, without benefit of
wings and a crash helmet.
This time, even with
scant wind blowing, I kept
thinking of those hang
gliders as I hiked down View
Point Trail from the Mingus
Especially in its early going,
the trail descends at a sharp
angle, and a good rain had
I defy anyone to attempt
this plunging, slick, rock-strewn
course with bifocals
and not imagine taking a
false step into eternity.
But isn’t that whiff of
danger part of the fun? by Leo W. Banks photographs by Morey K. Milbradt
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.
Length: 1.9 miles, one-way.
Elevation Drop: The trail drops 1,600 feet from top to bottom.
Payoff: Spectacular views.
Location: On Mingus Mountain, between Jerome and Prescott.
Getting There: Drive north from Phoenix on Interstate 17 to Camp Verde,
then take State Route 260 northwest to Cottonwood, a total of 106 miles.
From Cottonwood, take State Route 89A west up the side of Mingus
Mountain to Jerome and follow it through town. This paved, winding road
peaks at 7,023 feet. Turn left onto Forest Service Road 104 and drive 2.5 miles
on this climbing dirt road to a four-way stop at the Mingus Mountain
Campground. This intersection is .2 of a mile past the entrance to the Mingus
Mountain United Methodist Camp. The View Point trailhead is located off
the parking lot straight ahead.
Travel Advisory: Always carry plenty of water, at least 1 gallon per day per
person. This trail is popular in the spring, summer and fall.
Additional Information: Prescott National Forest, Camp Verde District, (928)
MORNING HERALD Dawn peeks
over the Bradshaw Mountains,
casting a warm glow that drapes the
Verde Valley in north-central Arizona.
SEE FOR MILES The town of
Cottonwood glitters into view below
the aptly named View Point Trail in
Prescott National Forest (above).
B L ACK HIL L S
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 55
back road adventure
sometimes you should
cut corners, and a good one to
cut is from Rock Point on the
Navajo Nation to Sweetwater,
then on to Pastora Peak. Not
the fastest route, but it does
showcase the unending vistas
of Navajoland with a detour
to folk art and a vivid culture.
At Rock Point, where the
red rock-faced trading post
is the gas station, laundry,
grocery store and post office,
my husband, Richard, and I
take U.S. Route 191 a short
distance to Indian Route 35.
Paved for the first 7 miles, the
road climbs a mesa and then
turns to dirt. The red rock
country fades to the south,
and we wind through washes
and over flat grazing lands
scattered with occasional
Navajo homes and traditional
hogans. We often see horses,
cattle, sheep and roping
arenas since livestock is the
chief source of income here.
Indian 35 is a fair-weather
road. It’s a beautiful fall day,
and we make about 25 mph.
But when it rains, the washes
become roiling streams and
the dirt turns to tire-hugging
mud. After the pavement
ends, we follow the road
past mesas, their top layers
so straight they seem drawn
with a ruler. By contrast, the
bottom layers are convulsed
and vaulted, an indication
of the turbulent geological
history of this peaceful
Another geological clue
is the Carrizo Mountains
to the east. These formed
when igneous rock domed
the overlaying layers of
Dakota sandstone into peaks.
We’ll be near Pastora Peak,
the highest point in the
Carrizos, by the end of this
Approximately 17 miles
later, we reach the Sweetwater
Chapter House, listed as
Totocan or Tohlikon on some
maps or signs. Chapter houses
serve as local government and
meeting places. Sweetwater,
more a scattering of houses
than an actual town, is home
to several Indian artists, who
create jewelry, weave rugs
and fashion witty, whimsical
forms of Navajo folk art.
Mainly carved from soft
wood, the folk art ranges
from dramatic to humorous,
including laughing horses,
fuzzy sheep and wildly
colored carved chickens with
cornhusk tail feathers.
Before the mid-1980s,
only a few Navajos carved in
wood, usually just the Navajo
singer called a hataalii who
performed ceremonies. But
then in 1961, Charlie Willeto,
the unofficial father of Navajo
Folk Art, traded one of his
first pieces for flour and sugar
at the Lybrook (New Mexico)
Trading Post. Today, his early
works sell for more than
We’re lucky enough to
meet up with Ray Growler, a
well-known artist who creates
sheep figures and whose
work graces the Smithsonian
American Art Museum in
Washington, D.C., and the
Heard Museum in Phoenix.
He’s just finished an angora
goat figure that stands about 2
feet high, and he explains his
processes to us. After curing
and tanning the woolly
sheep hide he buys from his
neighbors, he stretches it over
a dried aspen frame, crafts a
face from hide then attaches
Leaving Growler to
his artwork, we continue
east until we come to an
intersection with a four-way
stop. Signs indicate
that Immanuel Mission is
4 miles to the right; Indian
Route 5047 goes straight.
We turn left (north) to stay
on unmarked Indian 35.
The road climbs until we
see 6,627-foot Toh Atin Mesa
(“No Water Mesa”) to the
west, the distant Sleeping
Ute Mountain in Colorado
and the Carrizos looming to
the east. In about 2 miles, we
pass a road on the left with
a sign indicating it leads to
the Sweetwater Word of Life
Reaching pavement at U.S.
Route 160, we turn left .3 of a
mile later for a sidetrip to Red
Mesa Trading Post. Obviously
named for the nearby
mountain, the store sells
loops of yarns for weavers,
turquoise jewelry, yard goods,
snacks and gasoline.
Heading back east on
U.S. 160, we move through
a landscape dominated by
the Carrizo Mountains.
Approximately 10 miles from
the trading post, we turn
right onto an unsigned, well-used
dirt road. After crossing
a cattle guard, we look to our
left and see a windmill and
water tank about 500 yards
away. In another 1.7 miles, a
green house with red trim sits
on the left.
Rising steadily, we are out
of the grasslands and into the
piñons and cedars in 2 miles.
Although the road becomes
rough, we see parked
vehicles. Some Navajos
have risked the rocky road
to come here to pick piñon
nuts, a staple of the Ancestral
Puebloan (Anasazi) diet.
A LIGHT TOUCH Sunlight
warms the interior of a small
Puebloan ruin near Rock
Point on the Navajo Indian
Reservation. Some believe
that the Puebloan culture’s
ruins are the best-preserved
ruins in North America.
ON TO ROCK POINT In the
distance, Toh Atin Mesa catches
morning’s first light. Ephedra
plants line the well-used
roadway that steers a northeastly
path toward Rock Point.
54 o c t o b e r 2 0 0 7
by Janet Webb Farnsworth photographs by Robert G. McDonald
A fair-weather road
runs through Navajoland
56 o c t o b e r 2 0 0 7
Today, many Navajos sell the
piñons along the roadside and
to trading posts.
We pass a rock spray-painted
with the words,
“GAS AND FOOD 1
MILE” — obviously a joke.
The remote area doesn’t have
facilities, but the scenery
is worth the trip. The
road now takes to serious
climbing as canyons slice
the mountainside. Patches
of golden aspen and red oak
bushes break the expanse
of pine forest. Several small
herds of deer seem in no
hurry to get out of our way.
Uranium is plentiful in the
Carrizos, but the tribe doesn’t
allow mining. According
to tradition, the Carrizos,
along with the Lukachukai
and Chuska mountains to
the south, constitute a male
figure. The Carrizos form
his legs. The figure helps the
Navajos and can’t fulfill its
purpose if its legs are cut off.
Finally reaching a
communications tower high
on a peak, we can see the
light-colored, uplifted Dakota
sandstone. Blue-green sage has
managed to find enough soil to
root between the rocks. On the
windy peak we study the wispy
clouds called mare’s tails, which
look painted with a fine brush.
The map notes Pastora
Peak at 9,386 feet elevation,
and our GPS unit indicates
9,204. Several of the nearby
points appear to be slightly
higher, so we’re probably
not actually atop Pastora
Peak itself, but the view
encompasses pieces of
Colorado, Utah, New Mexico
and Arizona. In the far west,
the buttes of Monument
Valley guard the northern
edge of the Navajo Nation.
The sun is getting low and
it’s time to get off Pastora Peak
before dark. Backtracking, we
see Navajos loading bags of
piñon nuts into pickup trucks
and pass the track team
from Red Mesa High School
sweating their way up the
steep road. The teenagers are
doing cross-country training,
but we are happy just doing
some cross-country corner
cutting in Navajoland.
NAVAJO SUPERCENTER The red-and-
white Red Mesa Trading Post
serves as a center for Navajo
trading near the Utah border. The
trading post combines a grocery
store, gas station, laundry and
Note: Mileages are approximate.
> Begin at Rock Point Trading Post, located on U.S. Route 191 approximately
15 miles south of U.S. Route 160 or 47 miles north of Chinle.
> Drive north on U.S. 191 for .5 of a mile to Indian Route 35, marked by a
> Turn right (east) onto Indian 35. In 6.7 miles, the pavement ends.
> At 13.1 miles from trading post, cross a one-lane bridge.
> At 16.7 miles from trading post, pass by Sweetwater Chapter House on left.
> At 18.8 miles from trading post, Indian 35 comes to a stop sign at an
> Turn left (north) to remain on 35.
> At 28.4 miles from trading post, 35 comes to an intersection with U.S.
Route 160 at Milepost 450.
> Turn left (west) for .3 of a mile trip to Red Mesa Trading Post.
> Leaving the trading post, turn left (east) onto U.S. 160.
> At .7 of a mile past Milepost 459 turn right (south) onto unmarked Indian
Route 5034. (Note: Indian 5034 begins about .3 of a mile before a windmill
and water tank. Another unmarked dirt road parallel to 5034 runs immediately
south of the windmill.)
> Indian 5034 generally is a rocky road, but it has stretches without a rock base
that become extremely slick after a rain.
> Drive 14.3 miles to communications towers.
> Backtrack on 5034 to 160. Turn right for Teec Nos Pos in 5 miles or left for
Kayenta in 65 miles.
SHADES OF CHINLE Narrow-leaf
yucca plants punctuate the
petrified sand dunes stretching
into Chinle Valley, while sunset
showcases the color bands
permeating the canyon’s landscape.
back road adventure
Warning: Back-road travel
can be hazardous, so be
aware of weather and road
conditions. While in the Navajo
Indian Nation, do not travel
off road, disturb livestock or
visit private residents. Carry
plenty of water and don’t
travel alone. Let someone
know where you’re going and
when you plan to return.
Some travel on the Navajo
Indian Nation may require
permits. Check with the
Navajo Parks and Recreation
Department, (928) 871-6647;
C H US K A MOUNTAINS
Teec Nos Pos
Toh Atin Mesa
CARRIZO MOUNTA I N S
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