J A N U A R Y 2 0 0 8
TALIESIN TURNS 70 • SKIING THE NORTH RIM • PIE TO DIE FOR
Favorite Road Trip
Havasu Falls, see page 16
25of the State's
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 january 2008
Whether it’s witnessing a gunfight in Tombstone or
slipping down a wintry slope in Flagstaff, we offer
plenty of weekend getaways. Get the scoop on where
to go and what to see in every corner of the state with
our online Trip Planner. Plus, see how winter beauty
touches Arizona’s diverse landscapes in this month’s
slide show — get it all at arizonahighways.com.
WEEKEND GETAWAY: Heat up your weekend
and travel Southeastern Arizona’s Salsa Trail.
EXPERIENCE ARIZONA: Find out what’s happening
this month with our calendar of events.
Photographic Prints Available
n Prints of some photographs in this issue are available
for purchase, as designated in captions. To order, call
866-962-1191 or visit arizonahighwaysprints.com.
2 EDITOR'S LETTER
4 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
5 THE JOURNAL
Frank Kush talks ASU football, the Rock
Springs Café sells pies that take the cake,
and the Hotel Weatherford rings in the
new year with a giant pinecone. Plus, Hugh
Downs reveals his favorite place in Arizona.
52 BACK ROAD ADVENTURE
Beaver Creek Country: It’s in the middle
of nowhere, which is a good thing, and
so is the diversity along this beautiful
back road in Central Arizona.
56 HIKE OF THE MONTH
Honey Bee Canyon: Birds, bees
and spectacular views of the Santa
Catalinas are among the highlights
on this hike in Southern Arizona.
SOFT ROCK Hunkered down by a rock of similar size and coloration, a young cottontail rabbit does what
it can to avoid dinner plans with one of its many predators. See story, page 24. Photograph by Tom Bean
FRONT COVER A hint of a rainbow hangs in dust-laden, late-afternoon storm light
over Grand Canyon’s Havasu Falls. See story, page 16. Photograph by Kerrick James
n To order a print of this photograph, see information on opposite page.
If you’re interested in visiting Havasu Falls for more than a weekend, sign up for one of two photo workshops:
May 15-19 or November 16-20. For more information, call 602-712-2004 or visit friendsofazhighways.com.
BACK COVER Melting in morning sunlight, a fragment of ice clings to its fragile hold on a saguaro
spine in the Tucson Mountains west of Tucson. See story, page 24. Photograph by Thomas Wiewandt
14 Weekend Getaways
If you’re looking for an excuse to hit the road this year,
and maybe learn something along the way, look no
further. This month, we feature 25 of the state’s best
weekend getaways. Buckle up, and drive safely.
by kelly kramer
24 White Space
There are people around the country — we won’t
name names — who think of the Arizona landscape
as nothing more than a giant hole in the ground
surrounded by sand dunes. They think there’s only one
season, and snow is unheard of. Of course, if those
folks would ever set foot here, they’d see that Arizona
is the most beautiful place in the world, and when
it comes to snow, we can certainly hold our own.
36 Seventh Natural Wonderland
In the meadow, there are a couple of things you can
do: You can build a snowman and pretend that he
is Parson Brown, or you can slap on a pair of cross-country
skis and hit the trail. We suggest the latter,
in particular, at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
The snow-covered meadows are spectacular, and the
backdrop is out of this world.
by michael engelhard photographs by kate thompson
42 The High Life
Living in the little towns of the White Mountains
isn’t for everyone. The extreme elevation means
chilly winters with lots of snow, and in the off-season,
there’s no one around. It’s cold and it’s
quiet. Nonetheless, there are a few hearty souls who
wouldn’t live anywhere else.
by tom carpenter photographs by david zickl
48 Wright From the Start
Seventy years ago this month, Frank Lloyd Wright
began unveiling what many consider to be his most
impressive work ever. Taliesin West was designed as
a home and a school, and seven decades later, it’s still
going strong — young architects from around the
world continue flocking to North Scottsdale to learn
their trade in a compound created by the master.
by lawrence w. cheek photographs by david h. smith
by Robert Stieve editor’s letter
january 1. This is when
it all begins. No more Mr.
Goodbars. No more iTunes.
No more sitting on the
couch and watching reruns
of The Muppet Show. It’s a
new year, and things are
going to be different. That’s the theory, anyway
— until reality settles in and resolutions fall off the
wagon. Sometimes, though, whether it’s a result of
determination or dumb luck, big things do begin on
the first day of the year.
Think about January 1, 1962. That’s when The Beatles
auditioned for Decca Records in London. They weren’t signed
— Decca signed Brian Poole & the Tremeloes instead — but so
what, the Beatles irruption was under way, and music would
never be the same again. Television changed on January 1, too.
Nine years before The Beatles, in 1951, the Zenith Corporation
of Chicago tested the first-ever version of pay-per-view. It was
embryonic, but for a buck, movie-lovers could sit in their living
rooms and order Homecoming, which starred Clark Gable and
Lana Turner. It was light years from HDTV, but still.
Like music and television, magazines turn pages as well, and
when they do, the transition usually takes place in January.
Arizona Highways is no exception. As you’ll see, our first issue
of 2008 features a few changes. The biggest shift is in what we
call the “front of the book” — those pages that come before the
Most noticeable is a new department called The Journal,
which is a series of pages dedicated to the things this
magazine has been mastering for 83 years — history, nature,
photography. It goes beyond that, though. In addition, we’ll
be using The Journal to spotlight some of the best restaurants,
diners, hotels, inns and B&Bs around the state. Also, at your
request, we’re bringing back our “things to do” page, which
highlights some of the most interesting events, workshops and
festivals of the month. There will be people in The Journal, too
— some you’ve heard of; others, probably not. Our goal with
this section is to tell you as much as we can about the people,
places and things that make Arizona so interesting. There’s a
lot to cover, and The Journal is where we’ll start.
Another new addition is our Contributors department. You’ve
seen these in other magazines; we’re including our version
because we’re proud of the writers and photographers who
share their handiwork with us every month. More importantly,
we want you to learn a little bit more about them — where
they’re from, what they might have experienced on a particular
photo shoot or interview. …
These are just a few of the changes. Coinciding with the
additions to the magazine is the launch of our new Web site.
Among other things, you’ll find a “trip planner,” several blogs
and details about our upcoming amateur photo contest. The
site also offers a lot of archival
information, including a guide to
some of our favorite hikes. Check
it out at arizonahighways.com.
Of course, along with all the
new things, both online and in the magazine, there are plenty
of old standbys. Just look at the images in White Space, this
month’s portfolio — it’s vintage Arizona Highways, thanks
to the excellent work of Peter Ensenberger, our longtime
director of photography. Interesting people (see The High Life),
adventure (see Seventh Natural Wonderland) and history (see
Wright From the Start) are part of the equation, too. These are
the kinds of feature stories you’re used to getting, and these are
the kinds of feature stories you’ll continue to get. You’ll also get
a healthier dose of “service journalism” — stories that serve as
a how-to guide for exploring the state. This month’s cover story
is a good example.
Weekend Getaways, by first-time contributor Kelly Kramer,
details 25 of the state’s best adventures. Some you can experience
in a couple of hours, and others will take a day or two. Either
way, there’s something in there for everyone. And really, that’s
what we’re striving for with each issue of Arizona Highways.
Whether you live in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, or Woods
Canyon Lake, Arizona, we intend to make this magazine your
primary source for learning about the Grand Canyon State.
That’s our resolution to you. Time will tell what happens with
the iTunes and Mr. Goodbars, but when it comes to Arizona
Highways, we have no intention of falling off the wagon.
— Robert Stieve
Despite the remote nature of
the White Mountains, there are
some people who actually live
there. See The High Life, page
42. Photograph by David Zickl
JANUARY 2008 VOL. 84, NO. 1
Publisher WIN HOLDEN
Editor ROBERT STIEVE
Senior Editor RANDY SUMMERLIN
Managing Editor SALLY BENFORD
Associate Editor PAULY HELLER
Book Division Editor BOB ALBANO
Books Associate Editor EVELYN HOWELL
Editorial Administrator NIKKI KIMBEL
Director of Photography PETER ENSENBERGER
Photography Editor JEFF KIDA
Art Director BARBARA GLYNN DENNEY
Deputy Art Director SONDA ANDERSSON PAPPAN
Art Assistant DIANA BENZEL-RICE
Map Designer KEVIN KIBSEY
Production Director MICHAEL BIANCHI
Promotions Art Director RONDA JOHNSON
Webmaster VICKY SNOW
Director of Sales & Marketing KELLY MERO
Circulation Director NICOLE BOWMAN
Finance Director BOB ALLEN
Information Technology CINDY BORMANIS
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Or visit arizonahighways.com
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VICTOR M. MENDEZ
ARIZONA TRANSPORTATION BOARD
Chairman Joe Lane
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Members Delbert Householder, Robert M. Montoya,
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Barbara Ann “Bobbie” Lundstrom
International Regional Magazine Association
2006, 2005, 2004, 2002, 2001 Magazine of the Year
Western Publications Association
2006, 2004, 2002, 2001 Best Travel & In-transit Magazine
Society of American Travel Writers Foundation
2000, 1997 Gold Awards Best Monthly Travel Magazine
For more coverage of the Grand Canyon State, check
out Arizona Highways TV, an Emmy-award winning
show hosted by former news anchor Robin Sewell.
For broadcast times, visit arizonahighways.com and
click Online Extras.
Arizona Highways® (ISSN 0004-1521) is published monthly by the
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Produced in the USA
highways on tv
2 j a n u a r y 2 0 0 8 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 3
C O N T R I B U T O R S
As an Arizona
native who loves
to hit the road
with a cooler
full of Red Bull,
has a firsthand
her home state’s
diversity. Not everyone, however, has the
same comprehension. “Many people look
to California or other neighboring states for
a taste of adventure,” she says when asked
about this month’s cover story (see Weekend
Getaways, page 14). “They’re unaware of
Arizona’s unlimited options — from desert
excursions to cool retreats in the White
Mountains. What’s even more surprising is
the number of Arizonans who have never
been to the Grand Canyon. Even if you’ve
already been there, it’s a place you should
return to over and over again.” Kolb Studio
at the Canyon, the Rosson House in Phoenix
and the London Bridge in Lake Havasu City
are among the many getaways we feature
this month. And so is Hart Prairie Preserve,
which is where Kelly’s headed as soon as
she stocks her cooler. “Just the thought of
relaxing beneath a Bebb willow is enough for
me to get in the car and head north.” Kelly
Kramer is a Phoenix-based writer. This is her
first story for Arizona Highways.
writer Larry Cheek
knows a thing or
two about Frank
— not in the way
one of Wright’s
friends might un-derstand,
but in the way that someone who’s
been researching the man and his legacy
for a very long time does. “I’ve been writing
about Wright and his Arizona work for more
than 20 years,” says Cheek, who penned this
month’s feature on Taliesin West (see Wright
From the Start, page 48). “I thought I knew
the subject pretty well, but while working
on this piece, I learned for the first time that
Taliesin West was built without the benefit of
a foundation.” Although Cheek had nothing
but good things to say about his most recent
experience with the Frank Lloyd Wright folks,
the relationship has been historically rocky
— as an architecture critic for the Tucson Citi-zen
from 1978 to 1987, Cheek wrote often
about the cultish aspects of the fellowship,
which didn’t sit well with Wright’s devotees.
Now the architecture critic for the Seattle
Post-Intelligencer, his work has also appeared
in Architecture, Sunset and the Los Angeles
Times Magazine. His memoir, The Year of the
Boat, will be published in April.
As an avid skier,
about the physi-cality
on the North
Rim of the Grand
Canyon (see Seventh Natural Wonderland,
page 36). She was, however, surprised by the
sheer cold during the expedition. “At night, I
would leave my cameras and lenses outside
in a sealed bag to keep them away from the
condensation in my tent, and I had to sleep
with all my camera batteries at night to keep
them warm,” she says. “On exceptionally cold
mornings, my lenses would still frost over be-cause
of the moisture from the previous day.”
Kate goes on to say that the expedition battled
constantly changing conditions, but she was
prepared after skiing every other evening
for a month prior to the trip near her home
in Dolores, Colorado. In addition to Arizona
Highways, Thompson’s work has appeared in
National Geographic Adventure and National
Geographic Traveler, as well as the book
Lasting Light: 125 Years of Grand Canyon
Photography by Stephen Trimble.
Zickl is no
given that his
appeared in Time,
Business Week, Forbes and New York
Magazine. Sure, much of Zickl’s work for this
issue of Arizona Highways was centered on
portraits of people who call the White
Mountains home (see The High Life, page 42),
but that doesn’t mean the work was any less
challenging. “Getting everyone’s schedule in
order was pretty difficult, especially since I
wanted to shoot them at either sunrise or
sunset,” Zickl says. “Not to mention — I
stood in some very cold water in the Little
Colorado River for more than an hour to get
the perfect shot of Chip Chipman, a well-respected
fly-fisherman in the White
Mountains.” Even though Tom Carpenter, the
Flagstaff-based writer who wrote the story,
thinks that living in the White Mountains
might be paradise, David Zickl is content to
stay at home in Fountain Hills with his
In case you hadn’t heard, Arizona Highways recently won six international
magazine awards, including a gold medal for art direction (kudos to
Barbara Glynn Denney, our extremely talented art director) — the awards
were given by the International & Regional Magazine Association. In
addition, four of our books recently received first-place awards from the
Arizona Book Publishing Association. And there’s more. Congratulations
also go out to our siblings at Arizona Highways TV, who recently won four
Emmys — Robin Sewell and her team do a remarkable job of showcasing
the state. Hats off to everyone involved; you’ve made us all very proud.
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 5
P E O P L E R E S T A U R A N T S L O D G I N G P H O T O G R A P H Y H I S T O R Y N A T U R E T H I N G S T O D O
4 j a n u a r y 2 0 0 8
firstname.lastname@example.org dear editor
After four short visits to your beautiful
state, and subscriptions to Arizona
Highways since the 1950s, I love them —
the state and the magazine. Recently,
your Arizona Babe Ruth 14-year-olds
came to Glen Allen for the Babe Ruth
World Series. I felt like I was rooting for
the home team. The Arizona boys ended
the seventh inning with an awesome
double play to win the World Series. I
hope your boys and fans enjoyed my
wonderful state as much as I’ve enjoyed
yours — mostly through Arizona
Betty Kirby, Glen Allen, Virginia
Storming the Castle
I was very impressed with your article
[Mystery Castle of the Desert, October
2007]. It was very interesting to both my
husband and me. My current husband
has been in Arizona since the late 1960s,
and didn’t know that the Mystery Castle
was here. I’ve been here since the 1980s,
and I didn’t know it was here either. I
recently called out there and talked to Ms.
Gulley about the Mystery Castle, and she
told me that we could come out to visit
in October. Thank you for enlightening
us to something that we haven’t seen.
Ursula Chamberlin, Youngtown
Caught Up in the Raptor
I enjoyed your article about the black
hawks [Bird of Paradise, September 2007],
and noted that there are very few of
them left. Having just read the article,
you can understand how surprised I
was to find one on top of a power pole
in northeast Tucson. As I was washing
my truck, a large shadow came over me,
and when I looked up, I saw a sight very
close to the photo you display on page
40 of the September issue. I keep a pair
of 10X binoculars in the truck, and
what I thought I saw was correct. The
hawk had the same white band on the
tail, and was very dark in color. It flew
to a nearby power pole and proceeded
to have lunch on some small animal it
had caught. Had I not just read the
article by Sam Negri, I would have
missed out on this rare treat.
Dale A. Swiss, Tucson
Regarding the article on black hawks, my
husband and I have seen a pair of them
with a little one in north-central Phoenix
while taking our early morning walks. We
haven’t seen them recently, but in the
spring, we would see and hear the other
birds calling to each other and flying
toward the trees to protect their young
or themselves as the hawks flew around
the neighborhood. We’ve also seen
mockingbirds fending them off their nests.
The black hawks are such beautiful birds!
Thanks for this article.
Marie E. Sanchez, Phoenix
Shipped Off to Siberia
First, permit me to take the liberty of
suggesting that you get out your world
atlas; I want to show you the country
where my letter comes from.
Kazakhstan is a very large country
located in Central Siberia, 2,000 miles
from west or east, in the middle of
Russia. How often do you get letters
from a place that far from Arizona?
I have been among your happy
subscribers for almost a decade, very much
enjoying each beautiful issue. However,
I have never paid a single cent (or tenge
in our currency) for my subscription.
Sounds rather odd, doesn’t it?
This has been made possible due to
one very special person, David P.
Harrison, president of Medical
Resources International. His home is
near Baltimore, Maryland.
Thanks to Mr. Harrison and your
marvelous Arizona Highways, a lot of
Kazakh people, especially hundreds of my
students, their families and friends, have
become familiar with many interesting
facts about Arizona in particular and the
United States in general.
Mr. Harrison is rather well-known
here via his 1995 Humanitarian Aid
Project for the people of Semipalatinsk
(the former Soviet nuclear testing area for
40 years). He made many friends living in
our city of 240,000 for a year managing
the distribution of over 60 tons (worth
$6,200,000) of medicine and medical
supplies to an area larger than France,
Germany, Italy, Austria and Belgium
taken together, multiplied by two.
We suspect that Mr. Harrison has
provided Arizona Highways issues and
subscriptions to other people as a lovely
information gift about his country … for
years! Surely, this generous gentleman
deserves something for his most welcome
efforts on all our behalf. Perhaps you
could publish this letter in your Letters
to the Editor section of Arizona Highways.
Olga N. Anastasova, English teacher,
Editor’s Note: Consider it done, Olga. On
behalf of everyone at Arizona Highways, thank
you, Mr. Harrison.
Of the many fabulous autumn pictures in your
October 2007 issue, Robert G. McDonald’s
photographs of the San Francisco Peaks dusted
with an early snowfall and framed by golden
aspens, and the Schott’s yuccas against a
background of vibrantly red maple leaves in the
Chiricahua Mountains were simply awesome!
Russ Butcher, Tucson
If you have thoughts or comments about anything in Arizona Highways, we’d
love to hear from you. We can be reached at email@example.com, or
through the post office at 2039 W. Lewis Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona 85009. For
more information, visit arizonahighways.com.
sure, the new year is all about looking ahead,
but January also is a perfect time to look back with
a drive along Historic Route 66. En route, get your
kitsch in Holbrook at the Wigwam Motel — a village
of concrete teepees surrounded by vintage cars.
n For more information: 928-524-3048.
frank kush was a maker of men. For
more than 20 years, he roamed the sidelines at
Sun Devil Stadium, leading the Sun Devils of
Arizona State University to a record 176 wins
— including two conference titles — and only
Although the latter part of Kush’s tenure at
ASU was marked by some controversy, his
imprint on the school’s football program
remains. Kush — now the Sun Devils’ director
for football development — is the man behind
the team’s modern-day training camp, Camp
Tontozona, as well as the man for whom the
stadium’s playing field is named.
According to the coach himself, much
of his success is due to the camaraderie his
teams developed during the time they spent
at Camp Tontozona, the university-owned
property near Payson where the team spends
the latter part of each summer.
“Our first year at Camp T was in 1959,”
Kush remembers. “Tanner Brothers was
building a road from Payson to Kohl’s Ranch,
and I asked them if they could clear space for
a football field. They did. And the coaches and
I planted all the grass seed for that field.”
Although it took some convincing to get
the university, the Board of Regents and the
NCAA to approve Camp T as the Devils’
summer home, Kush made it happen. And
he did it because the place reminded him of
Pennsylvania, his childhood home.
“When I played football, my high school
purchased the Pittsburgh Steelers’ camp
because it had been flooded out,” he says. “They
bought it and straightened it up. I was just in
pig heaven when we went there.” Why? Having
come from a family with 15 children, Kush was
delighted to have a bed of his own and three
square meals a day. “We had water beds long
before anyone had water beds,” he adds.
Today, Kush spends much of his time
raising money for ASU’s football program, but
he rarely misses any home games, particularly
this season, as the team celebrated its 30th
year in the PAC-10.
“Initially, I was opposed to ASU leaving the
Western Athletic Conference and moving over
to the PAC-10,” Kush says. “But then I learned
from Coach Dan Devine that we could recruit
some of the players that the California schools
didn’t take. We really wanted great players,
so we moved them over from California. The
program has really come a long way since then.”
Indeed it has. But that’s not to say that Kush
has forgotten the good old days.
“I still remember the first game I
coached in Sun Devil Stadium,” he says.
“We played West Texas and we beat them.
We went in there and just gave them the
finger.” — Kelly Kramer
January means “bowl season,” and
for ASU’s former head coach, the
Sun Devils are always top of mind.
P E O P L E
C E L E B R I T Y Q & A
while the waitress was slicing
the large triangle of blueberry pie, the
mouth of the lucky customer was begin-ning
to water. By the time she took a bite,
her taste buds were doing somersaults.
That’s how good a piece of pie really is at
the historic Rock Springs Café.
Your mother’s pies might have the same
effect, but she can’t keep up with this place
in terms of volume. If you’ve never been,
Rock Springs Café is located along Inter-state
17, about 45 minutes north of Phoenix.
Chances are, you’ve driven by and never
noticed. Next time, spoil yourself and take
the Rock Springs exit.
The pies at the café are something spe-cial.
That’s why folks from around the state
and beyond travel to the desert to get a
piece. Or two. Or three. Prices range from
$3.50 a slice to $12.95 for an entire pie. In
all, the café sells nearly 55,000 pies a year.
Some are sold online, but if you have the
option, it’s worth the experience of buying
them in person.
Nestled among a saloon, gift shop, bed-ding
store, tattoo parlor and various jewelry
stands, the café itself is as interesting as the
pie. It’s the pie, however, that draws the
crowd. Picking out a flavor is the tough part.
“A lot of people come in for the Jack
Daniels pecan pie,” says Tom Balcom, the
café’s general manager. That’s not the only
option, though. The café offers more than
a dozen varieties featuring ingredients
such as nuts, fresh fruit, crèmes and even a
famous meringue topping.
Although pie is the main draw these
days, the site was originally used as a stage
stop, Indian encampment, and watering
hole for miners, drovers and sheepherd-ers.
In 1924, a hotel and general store were
opened, marking Rock Springs’ first com-mercial
According to Balcom, more growth is on the way. “There
will be a petting zoo for children and also some festivals,” he
says, “including a Halloween festival in October.”
n The café is open Sundays through Thursdays, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.;
Fridays and Saturdays, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more information,
call 623-374-5794 or visit rockspringscafe.com.
— Ashley Macha
Rock Springs Café
If you’re looking for a piece of pie that takes the cake,
head to the middle of nowhere, just north of Phoenix.
R E S T A U R A N T S
by Dave Pratt
AHM: If you were trying to
convince your pals in New
York that Arizona is one of
the most beautiful places in
the world, where would you
HD: I’d take Easterners to the
Rim of the Grand Canyon, there
being nothing else in the world
like it; I’d like to show them the
rocks in the Sedona area; I’d
also take them into some of the
wilderness areas north of New
River Mesa on horseback to
view petroglyphs of long-vanished
AHM: If you were making a
road trip to Sedona, which
would you choose: a Mus-tang
convertible or an RV?
HD: Probably an RV. With the
convertible, if it were summer,
the heat and the ultraviolet light
might be a disservice to my
passengers. The sunshine is
glorious — only Saudi Arabia
can boast more — but no point
in overdoing it.
AHM: When you travel
around the country, what do
people ask most about
HD: Weirdly, I find a great
number of people ask about
rattlesnakes! I’ve had to remind
some of them that more people
are killed by lightning in Arizona
than by rattlesnakes, and
nobody has asked if I have a
lightning rod on my
— Dave Pratt
is the host of
the “Dave Pratt
in the Morning”
show on KMLE
107.9 FM in
Of course we have a recent photo of Mr. Downs,
but we couldn’t resist this classic from the ’70s.
Christina Wiles, Rock Springs Café.
6 j a n u a r y 2 0 0 8 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 7
8 j a n u a r y 2 0 0 8
ringing in the new year means more than confetti,
conga lines and cosmopolitans at the Hotel Weatherford
in Flagstaff. All three are available, of course, but the main
attraction is a massive pinecone, which drops from the sky at
midnight on New Year’s Eve, closing the book on another year
and kicking off the anniversary of the historic hotel.
By Arizona standards, this place is old — the doors were
opened to the public on January 1, 1900. The man who made
it happen was John W. Weatherford, who also built one of the
first roads to the top of the San Francisco Peaks. After rolling
into town in the late 1800s, Weatherford took a look around
and looked away. There weren’t any options for a decent night’s
sleep. So, he started work on what he hoped would become a
“civilized oasis in the Wild West.” Mission accomplished.
According to an early review in The Coconino Sun, Flagstaff’s
local paper at the time, the Weatherford was “first class in
every aspect.” No doubt, that’s why guys like William
Randolph Hearst, Teddy Roosevelt and Nicholas Kramer have
called it a night at the hotel. The list of notables is long, but
they weren’t all there for short visits.
Zane Grey, for example, spent several months at the hotel
writing Call of the Canyon. It’s a great book. What’s more, his
detailed descriptions of the interior of the hotel led modern-day
renovators to some original fireplaces that had been
covered with plaster and hidden in the walls.
Another long-term resident was landscape artist Thomas
Moran, who spent many nights at the hotel in the early 1900s.
He was there working on his watercolors of Western land-scapes.
His artwork put food on his table, but it also helped
persuade Congress to preserve the Grand Canyon as a
national park. Good work, Tom.
A lot of good things have come out of the Weatherford, but
like many old hotels in this country, it wasn’t always a hotel.
Over the years, the building has housed Flagstaff’s first tele-phone
exchange company, a number of restaurants, a theater,
a radio station and a billiard hall. It’s also survived fire and a
planned demolition. Today, it’s one of the few places where
you can spend a night in downtown Flagstaff, and it’s defi-nitely
worth a visit, especially if you can make time for a few
beers on the second-floor balcony, which wraps around two
sides of the building and overlooks Leroux Street.
The rooms are nice, too, in a historic kind of way. They’re
small, and the bathrooms are even smaller, but they’re clean,
the hot water is hot, and the cold water is cold. Quaint and
cozy, that’s what to expect when you lock your door.
The lobby, with its winding staircase and wooden phone
booth, is along the same lines. When you walk in, you’ll get
an instant sense of stepping back in time. As you’ll see, there’s
no mistaking the Weatherford for a Four Seasons, and on New
Year’s Eve, there’s no mistaking Flagstaff for Times Square, but
those are selling points.
Indeed, there are plenty of reasons to visit Flagstaff this
time of year — the snowboarding, the skiing — but on
December 31, the main event is the great pinecone drop.
n For more information, call 928-779-1919 or visit
weatherfordhotel.com. — Robert Stieve
There are plenty of reasons to visit Flagstaff
this time of year. One of the best is the annual
pinecone drop at the Weatherford.
L O D G I N G
sixteen years have passed since Arizona Highways
published a how-to book on photography, so expectations
run high for the spring release of our newest book, Arizona
Highways Photography Guide: How & Where to Make Great
Photographs. The book, which is an exploration of photogra-phy
in the Arizona Highways style, brings together 14 of our
most respected photographers — seasoned veterans who
share their tips, techniques and favorite Arizona locations.
Indeed, the book’s list of contributors reads like a “Who’s
Who” from the pages of our magazine: David Muench, Jack
Dykinga, Gary Ladd, LeRoy DeJolie. … Although the book
is billed as a guidebook revealing the secrets of the pros, it
also includes detailed directions to the beautiful places that
inspire their collective passion for Arizona. And, of course,
it’s lushly illustrated from cover to cover with the kinds of
photographs you expect from the world’s leading publisher
of scenic landscape photography.
But it doesn’t stop there. Here’s a sneak peek at what makes
this unique book appealing to photographers at every level:
It opens with a stunning portfolio chock-full of large, high-quality
reproductions as only Arizona Highways can do them.
Next, “The Basics” section presents an overview of the most
recent evolution in digital photography — whether you’re
poised to switch from film to pixels or trying to master cut-ting-
edge equipment and software, this section will help get
you there. And, because good technique consists of more
than just learning to use the latest gear, four of the book’s
chapters stress the art of photography.
For example, the “Composition” chapter, which lays out
the steps to refine your compositions and take full advantage
of every lighting condition, will help you capture the world
around you in new and creative ways.
The “Types of Photography” section explores the nuances
of photographing your favorite subjects: landscape, wildlife,
people, events, architecture, travel and adventure. Specialists
in each photographic discipline explain how they approach
their subjects and how they maximize their success rates in
No doubt, many of you will be tempted to go directly to
the “Places for Photography” section, which is where our
photographers guide you to more than 70 of their favorite
spots around Arizona. With more than 300 years of knowl-edge
and experience among them, they reveal the special fea-tures
at each destination and divulge secrets to capturing the
essence of these hidden locations in peak light and season.
By the way, several key deadlines were missed in the pro-duction
of our new book — it caused some delays, but we
wanted to make sure the book was worthy of the Arizona
Highways name. And we believe it is.
As you’ll see, it’s packed with great information, some of
which we’ll share with you each month on this page — look
for photography tips taken from the book.
We kick off the series this month with expert advice on
photographing the Grand Canyon from longtime Arizona
Highways contributor and veteran photo workshop leader
Gary Ladd (see below).
— Peter Ensenberger,
Director of Photography
P H O T O G R A P H Y
For more than 80 years, this
magazine has been showcasing
the best photographers in the world.
In our upcoming book, you’ll learn
how they operate.
Point Imperial is the highest point
on the Grand Canyon’s North Rim.
It stands at 8,800 feet. Sunrise
and early morning — other than
stormy weather — offer the best
times to photograph this area.
Most times the camera points
southeast toward Mount Hayden
and the maze of side canyons
beyond. Because there’s little room
at the main overlook, I usually try
to arrive early to claim a decent
spot, an important point if you’re
working with a tripod. Views to
the north and northeast up Marble
Canyon and on to the Paria
Plateau are also appealing in early
morning light. Take a long lens
for this view and consider using
a polarizing filter — the angle is
just right for summer morning
photography. — Gary Ladd
P H O T O T I P
For more photography tips and information, visit
arizonahighways.com and click on “Photography.”
Mount Hayden from Point Imperial
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 9
in the late 1800s, rail
travel included many of
the hazards that plagued
the rest of the West: train
robberies, buffalo stampedes,
Indian raids and a shortage
of supplies — should a
locomotive break down
in the middle of nowhere.
Perhaps the greatest threat
to rail passengers, however,
was the lousy food served
along the train route. Facing
rough country was one
thing, but facing a plate
of rancid bacon and week-old
coffee served by filthy
waiters in even filthier
surroundings bordered on
terrifying. Even for non-germaphobes.
Fred Harvey changed
all of that when he opened
his eating and hotel
establishments, known as
Harvey Houses, along the
Santa Fe Railroad, which
stretched from Kansas
to California. And while
Harvey’s menus boasted the
freshest and finest dishes in
the West, the success of his
restaurants was due largely
to the troops of fresh-faced
young women he employed
— the Harvey Girls.
In 1889, Harvey placed an
ad in a newspaper: “Wanted
— young women, 18 to 30
years of age, of good moral
character, attractive and
intelligent as waitresses in
Harvey Eating Houses on
the Santa Fe Railroad in
the West. …” The ladies
answered. With few job
options outside of teaching
or the family farm, many
saw Harvey’s ad as a chance
for adventure, and they
came from Boston, Chicago
and Kansas City to find their
fortunes — and husbands
— in the Wild West.
Today’s businesses have
nothing to do with Fred
Harvey, who pioneered
corporate training programs
when he mandated specific
rules for the Harvey Girls.
Doing their jobs the “Harvey
Way” meant following
a strict code of conduct
that addressed everything
from their style of dress
to the way they served
the customers. All Harvey
Girls wore identical black
uniforms, the same hairstyle
and crisp white pinafores.
What’s more, Harvey didn’t
allow gum chewing, nail
polish, makeup or jewelry.
And the women signed work
contracts that stipulated
they wouldn’t marry as long
as they were employed as
Harvey Girls. But that didn’t
stop many from husband-hunting.
humorist Will Rogers said of
the Harvey Girls, “… they’ve
kept the West supplied with
food and wives.”
In all, Fred Harvey
operated 84 Harvey Houses,
including seven in Arizona.
And even though rail travel
isn’t as popular as it was 100
years ago, Harvey’s influence
can still be experienced at
two of his finest Arizona
establishments: El Tovar at
the South Rim of the Grand
Canyon and La Posada in
n Information: El
Tovar, 888-297-2757 or
La Posada, 928-289-4366
— Sally Benford
Among other things, our January 1958 issue featured a piece on the
Sombrero Playhouse in Phoenix, the city’s first stage theater — Kirk
Douglas, Mickey Rooney and Imogene Coca performed there in the
1950s and 1960s. We also did stories on bird photography and
Arizona’s future as “America’s Rose Garden.”
H I S T O R Y
The Harvey Girls
They weren’t allowed to hunt for husbands,
wear makeup or chew gum, but Fred Harvey’s
“girls” made a mark on the West.
Prim and proper Harvey Girls await the next train passengers
to arrive at Winslow’s La Posada, circa 1910.
y ears ago in arizona highways
T H I S M O N T H I N H I S T O R Y
In the early morning hours of January 28, 1903, the
Southern Pacific’s Sunset Limited passenger train
heading west to Tucson collided head-on with the
eastbound No. 8 Crescent City Express near Esmond
Station, killing at least 14 passengers and employees
and sparking a huge fire that could be seen for miles.
The city of Phoenix recorded its heaviest snowfall ever
on January 21 and 22, 1937, when 1 to 4 inches of
snow fell in the city and didn’t melt for several days.
In 1868, Thomas Hunter brought the first herd of
cattle to graze in the Salt River Valley.
10 j a n u a r y 2 0 0 8 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 11
snakes tend to scare people. Especially when the
word “boa” is included in the name. The rosy boa (Lichanura
trivirgata), which is found in the rocky deserts of Western
Arizona, is one of the smaller members of the boa and python
family. It reaches a length of about 3 feet, which makes it a
midget compared to its giant relatives, the reticulated python
of Southeast Asia and the anaconda of South America, both
of which can exceed 30 feet in length.
All boas share one trait: They kill by constriction. Rosy
boas eat mostly small mammals, which they catch through
entrapment. The technique is to enter an active rodent den
and lie in wait for its occupant to return. When it does,
strong jaws lined with sharp, curved teeth lash out in the
dark and secure the rodent long enough for the snake to
wrap its powerful coils around the food and squeeze.
Each time the doomed victim breathes out, the grip is
tightened. Death is by suffocation. When the prey is dead,
the snake’s coils slacken and the rodent is swallowed whole,
transferring its energy to the snake as one link in the food
chain. Suppertime over, the boa might remain underground
for a few weeks digesting its meal, using the den as a ser-pent’s
ultimate “bed and breakfast.”
Boas, whose North American ancestors date back 35 mil-lion
years, are Arizona’s most primitive snakes. Nonpoisonous,
thick-bodied and slow, they’re desert dwellers, and like their
cousins from around the world, they’ve become targets of
the pet trade. In the early ’90s, the Arizona Game and Fish
Department began a population study in Western Arizona to
determine if rosy boas warranted protection from collecting.
After two years, the study yielded heartening news: Rosy
boas are more plentiful than suspected. Their habit of
spending so much time underground in rodent dens makes
them appear scarce, but they’re not. Nevertheless, because of
the snakes’ popularity, limitations have been placed on
collecting, and they’re protected from international trade.
Mother Nature helps their cause, as well. Because the boas’
“rosy” or “butterscotch” coloration blends in so well with the
desert habitat, detection by collectors or predators is difficult.
— Marty Cordano
Although it’s not as big as its cousins in the
Amazon, Arizona’s ancient snake is more than
capable of squeezing the life out of its prey.
N A T U R E
While a barrel cactus isn’t a good source of liquid if you
run out of water in the desert — the juice inside is
unpalatable — the plant can lead you to water. A barrel
cactus leans to the south, so it serves as a natural
navigational tool, sometimes called a “compass cactus.”
ARIZONA STATE LIBRARY
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 13
classic roadsters, manly
muscle cars, shiny sedans,
slick and sexy sports cars …
these are just some of the
highlights at the Barrett-
Jackson Auction, which was
first billed as the “Fiesta del
los Auto Elegance” in 1967. In
1971, the fundraiser evolved
into a classic auto auction,
and today, it’s considered the
“world’s greatest car collector
auction,” an event that
attracts high rollers, celeb-rities
and automobile enthu-siasts
from around the world.
In 2007, the auction drew
more than 250,000 attendees
and earned $112 million as
1,250 cars went on the block.
This year’s event takes place
January 12 to 20 at West-
World in Scottsdale, and
promises to be just as excit-ing
with cars such as the one-of-
a-kind 1963 Pininfarina-bodied
(above) up for bid.
n Information: 480-421-6694
T H I N G S T O D O
The Winter Games
it’s man and dogs against nature at the Sixth Annual
White Mountain Winter Games. This month, members of
the Arizona Mountain Mushers compete against one another,
guiding dogsled teams through a snowy 3-mile course at
Sunrise Park Ski Resort — this is Arizona’s version
of the Iditarod. Races take place on consecutive days,
January 26 and 27, along with other winter activities
in the region. In nearby Pinetop, canines put on a
show of strength during the Snow Dog Weight Pull,
with dogs tugging more than 1,000 pounds in three different
weight classes. In addition, children show off their mushing
skills during the kids dogsled
race. If that’s not enough
winter fun, bundle up and
take a sleigh ride along
pristine mountain trails at
nearby Blue Sky Stables, or
hit the slopes at Sunrise for
a dash through the snow.
n Information: 928-368-4515
they take wing from
Siberia, Alaska and Canada
every winter and head for the
sunny skies of Southeastern
Arizona. Each winter, thou-sands
of sandhill cranes
migrate to Willcox,
which celebrates their
return January 17 to 20
with the 15th annual
Wings Over Willcox
(WOW) Birding & Nature
Festival. The festival’s location,
Sulphur Springs Valley, is home
to a wide range of flora and
fauna. But birds take center
stage this month as WOW
offers a host of activities, such
as sunrise sandhill crane-viewing
tours and daylong
hawk stalks. Last year, more
than 120 species of birds were
viewed, and 28,500 sandhill
cranes flew in for the festival.
n Information: 800-200-2272 or
Shop online at shoparizonahighways.com or call our toll-free number
800-543-5432 to take advantage of this offer (use media code 581).
You can also visit our retail outlet in Phoenix, 2039 W. Lewis Avenue.
Offer expires January 31, 2008. Discount applied automatically during checkout; shipping and handling not included. Cannot be combined with any other offers.
Special Scenic Collection
Discover Arizona’s most valued treasures with the Scenic Collection. For a limited time,
you can purchase all five books in the collection at a 20% savings. #ASCOL $51.00.
The stars will be out on Mars Hill at
Lowell Observatory’s Martin Luther
King Star Fest on Sunday evening,
January 20. After watching a
presentation on the current night
sky in the John Vickers McAllister
Space Theater, view
winter’s welkin through
a variety of telescopes
set up around the
observatory’s campus in
Flagstaff. If bad weather prohibits
stargazing, indoor programs will
proceed as scheduled.
n Information: 928-774-3358
A small town in the Sonoran
Desert seems like an odd place
to look for fine art and fine
wine, but both are
in abundance this
month at the Carefree
Fine Art and Wine
Festival, January 18
to 20. Billed as Arizona’s largest
wine-tasting event, the festival
features fine wines from around
the world, and more than 160
artists show 5,000 masterpieces
in a wide variety of media.
n Information: 480-837-5637.
FRANK ZULLO JEFF KIDA
DON B. & RYAN B. STEVENSON
12 j a n u a r y 2 0 0 8
14 j a n u a r y 2 0 0 8 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 15
if you’re looking for an excuse
to hit the road this year, and
maybe learn something along the
way, look no further. what
follows are 25 of the state’s
best weekend getaways.
buckle up, and drive safely.
PHOTOGRAPH B Y KERRICK JAMES
16 j a n u a r y 2 0 0 8 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 17
No matter what direction you go, there’s a good
chance you’ll end up 180 degrees from where you were. Few states, if any, offer the kind
of diversity that this one does, and knowing where to go can be a little overwhelming.
That’s where we come in. This month, we’ll tell you about 25 of the state’s best getaways.
Some you can experience in a couple of hours, and others will take a day or two. Either
way, there’s something in here for everyone. As you’ll see, we’ve divided the state into five
regions, which should help you figure out where to go and when. In addition, there’s a
mix of Mother Nature, museums and miscellanea. So, if you want to hike in the mountains,
head to Hart Prairie near Flagstaff. If you’re looking for a dose of history, head to the
Rosson House in Phoenix. And if you just want a good glass of wine, head to Callaghan
Vineyards in Elgin. Of course, we’ve only scratched the surface, but it’s a start.
Here’s the thing about Arizona:
1. La Posada Hotel & Gardens
When it comes to great dames in Arizona history,
famed architect and notorious chain-smoker Mary
Elizabeth Jane Colter ranks near the top of the list, having
designed six of the most famous structures on the Grand
Canyon’s South Rim — Bright Angel Lodge, Desert View
Watchtower, Hermit’s Rest, Hopi House, Lookout Studio
and Phantom Ranch. But the real jewel in Colter’s crown
was La Posada Hotel in Winslow. Commissioned by Fred
Harvey, this “last great railroad hotel” was built in 1929
to accommodate travelers on the Santa Fe Railway. And
despite a four-decade closure from 1957 to 1997, the
newly renovated La Posada is known today as a must-see
for Arizona travelers, thanks in large part to its charming
hacienda heritage, elegant dining in the Turquoise Room
and accommodations so comfortable you’ll think you’ve
died and gone to Winslow.
n For more information: 928-289-4366 or laposada.org.
2. Havasu Falls
Water is sacred to the Havasupai people — that’s not
surprising, considering their name means “people of
the blue-green waters.” What is surprising, however, is
that the water for which they’re named isn’t surrounding
an island in the Caribbean — it’s right here in Arizona.
Thirty miles west of Grand Canyon Village, Havasu Falls
(see our cover) beckons to adventurers looking for a quiet
hike to a waterfall that sparkles with colors cast by the
concentrated limestone in the falls’ waters and the traver-tine
ledges that surround the base of the cascade. Because
of the reservation’s remote location in the bottom of the
Grand Canyon, only 25,000 visitors a year make the trek,
and that’s good news for hikers, who can enjoy the 10-
mile hike from Hualapai Hilltop to Havasu Falls — and its
brothers, Navajo and Mooney falls — in relative solitude.
n For more information: havasufalls.net or
LA POSADA HOTEL
18 j a n u a r y 2 0 0 8 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 19
3. Kolb Studio
Grand Canyon National Park
As far as photo subjects go, there’s perhaps none as spectacu-lar
as the Grand Canyon. Maybe that’s why the brothers Kolb
— Emery and Ellsworth — decided to settle there in the early
1900s, building a cave in the Canyon wall that served as both
darkroom and living quarters. Eventually, the Kolbs built per-manent
structures to house themselves and their photographs,
but after a falling out in the 1920s, Ellsworth lost a coin toss
and was forced to move to Los Angeles. Today, Kolb Studio is
considered one of the points of pride at the South Rim. Among
other things, it contains an exhibit venue, an information center
and a bookstore, which features a tribute to the Kolbs’ photogra-phy
of mule riders at the Grand Canyon. Open year-round, the
studio is operated by the Grand Canyon Association, a nonprofit
n For more information: 800-858-2808 or grandcanyon.org.
4. Navajo Interactive Museum
In Navajo culture, the number four is sacred, and it’s symbolic
of the four directions and the four seasons. So, it’s only natural
that the Navajo Interactive Museum would pay tribute to the
revered integer in both design and subject matter. Visitors to the
museum begin in the east, exploring Navajo constellations in
the Emergence Theater. From there, visitors travel south, then
west, as they take in a full-scale hogan, stories of Navajo origin,
rug-weaving patterns and Navajo design. Ultimately, the tour
ends in the north, the direction associated with evaluation and
assessment. The museum, which first debuted during the 2002
Olympics, reopened in June, and now includes a Navajo Code
Talkers Museum and a trading post.
n For more information: 928-640-0684 or explorenavajo.com.
5. Hart Prairie Preserve
Bebb willows aren’t just any ordinary willows. In fact, they’re
uncommonly rare, particularly in Arizona. But at Hart Prairie
Preserve, a 245-acre Nature Conservancy property near Flagstaff,
you’ll find an abundance of the scarce saplings, along with wild-flowers,
elk, deer, porcupines, prairie dogs, and enough birds
to keep your binoculars occupied for hours. You might also
encounter wild mushrooms and countless other flora and fauna,
especially if you decide to stay for more than a day — a historic
lodge and guest cabins provide plenty of space to kick back and
enjoy the scenery. What’s more, from mid-May to mid-October,
guided nature walks traverse the prairie, and photography semi-nars
occur throughout the year.
n For more information: 928-774-8892 or nature.org.
6. L’Auberge de Sedona
If you’re a fan of babbling brooks, the symphonic rustle of
wind through trees or the splendor of a thousand red rocks,
you might become the No. 1 fan of L’Auberge de Sedona. Tucked
away on 11 acres along the banks of Oak Creek, L’Auberge is to
Sedona what Sedona is to Phoenicians — a serene retreat far
from the hustle and bustle of city life. And with 31 private cot-tages,
an award-winning restaurant (L’Auberge Restaurant on
Oak Creek) and a spa menu that includes creek-side treatments,
it’s a weekend getaway that doesn’t require much effort, unless,
of course, you’re game to hike along the hundreds of trails that
surround the city, from Bell Rock to Apache Mountain.
n For more information: 800-905-5745 or lauberge.com.
7. Pine-Strawberry Walking Tour
As Mormon pioneers settled parts of Arizona in the 19th cen-tury,
many of them found shelter in the shadow of the Mogollon
Rim, and particularly in the tiny hamlets of Pine and Strawberry.
Modern-day visitors to the area can retrace the pioneers’ steps
along the Pine-Strawberry Walking History Trail. A little bit
rambling and a whole lot rustic, the trail meanders along Pine
and Strawberry creeks, where original settlement homes, the
Strawberry Cemetery — the final rest-ing
place of at least seven souls —
and the original LDS church still
stand in tribute to the area’s first
n For more information: 928-476-
3547 or pinestrawhs.org.
8. Verde Canyon Railroad
When you discover a copper mine,
you’d better find a way for people to find
it, mine it and make you millions off of
Manifest Destiny — at least that was the
philosophy behind the construction of the
Atlantic & Pacific Railroad back in 1882, when Jerome was at
the pinnacle of the copper boom. Although miners have long
stopped venturing to North-Central Arizona, the Verde Canyon
Railroad remains, passing regularly between Clarkdale and the
ghost town of Perkinsville on modern adventures that feature
wine tastings, “Ales on Rails” and “Starlight Tours” evening
rides. Seasonal adventures celebrate the state’s extensive color
palette — from black hawks and great blue herons to thousands
of vibrant wildflowers.
n For more information: 800-320-0718 or verdecanyonrr.com.
As the oldest school structure in Arizona, Strawberry Schoolhouse (right) offers
visitors a glimpse into the region’s history. Photograph by Nick Berezenko
NORTH - CENTRAL ARIZONA
20 j a n u a r y 2 0 0 8 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 21
11. Lighthouse Replica Tour
Lake Havasu City
Starship 2010 isn’t what it sounds like. In fact, it has nothing
to do with intergalactic travel — it’s just an aquatic means by
which visitors to Lake Havasu can tour the city’s eight light-house
replicas. So, too, is the Southwest Desert Magic. And even
though the lighthouses that dot the shores of Lake Havasu are
far smaller than their East Coast counterparts, they’re still per-fectly
useful, guiding watercraft — big and small alike — into
safe harbor. Just in case you needed another excuse to hit the
water, this is it.
n For more information: 928-680-4713 or havasuboattours.com.
12. Cibola National Wildlife Refuge
During this time of year, there’s no reason for a goose to stay
in Canada — it’s too cold, too wet and generally too unpleasant
for the fine-feathered fowl to endure. That’s why most Canada
geese migrate, and why a lot of them end up at Cibola National
Wildlife Refuge. Located amid the desert washes of the Lower
Colorado River, the refuge is home to countless species, both of
the four-legged and finned variety, which makes hunting and
fishing the main draw for this U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-managed
property. Take note, though: Cibola Lake and adjoining
lands are closed to the public between Labor Day and March 15.
n For more information: 928-857-3253 or fws.gov.
13. Cattail Cove State Park
Lake Havasu City
In the world of camping enthusiasts, having a little water
around your campsite is the equivalent of having an ocean view
suite in Maui. That’s what makes Cattail Cove State Park so
spectacular. Twenty-eight of the park’s 61 campsites are located
right on the banks of Lake Havasu, meaning that swimming,
boating, fishing, waterskiing and a whole slew of other water
activities are at arm’s length. Plus, the park offers a number of
other amenities, including picnic tables, grills, restrooms with
showers, a boat-rental facility and a boat-launch ramp. There are
also plenty of hiking opportunities, including the 1.5-mile-long
Whytes Retreat Trail, which winds along the lake for views of
the Whitsett Pumping Station and Parker Dam.
n For more information: 928-855-1223 or pr.state.az.us.
14. Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Lake Mead Area
Arizona’s ecosystems are far more diverse than you might
imagine, and three of them — the Great Basin, Mohave and
Sonoran deserts — meet at Lake Mead. Ecosystems aside, the
lake, which was home to several Native American cultures
about 10,000 years ago, is also a great place to play. Whether
you’re a hiker, sightseer or photographer, Lake Mead is a haven
for nature-loving explorers. And with countless acres of clear
blue water, it’s also a great place to rent a speedboat, a paddle-boat,
kayak or canoe. But boaters beware: Current low water
levels can lead to exposed, unmarked reefs, so pay attention and
avoid night excursions or high-speed adventures.
n For more information: 702-293-8906 or nps.gov/lame.
15. London Bridge
Lake Havasu City
The tiny Western Arizona city of Lake Havasu owns the original
London Bridge — no kidding. The acquisition occurred in 1962,
when Londoners discovered that the historic overpass was crum-bling
into the Thames River. Lake Havasu City founder Robert P.
McCullough decided to bid on the bridge at auction and won,
spending a grand total of $7 million to transport it to Arizona in
1968. And that was no easy feat — it required the absolute disman-tling
of the bridge, stone by stone, and shipping across approxi-mately
10,000 miles. By 1971, however, the bridge was completely
reconstructed, and it’s been a point of interest ever since.
n For more information: 800-242-8278 or golakehavasu.com.
9. White Mountain Bluegrass Festival
The White Mountain Bluegrass Festival combines the best of
banjos and blue skies for one wholly entertaining experience.
Now in its 18th year, the festival spans two days in August,
and is packed with bluegrass and folk bands. In fact, recent
performers have included Lost Highway, The Mill Creek Boys
and Whistle Stop. There’s enough food to feed armies of cowboy-hatted
toe-tappers and plenty of children’s activities, workshops
and other attractions, too. Plus, it takes place at Hon Dah Resort
and Casino, which means two things: The slots are just a few
steps away, and camping is plentiful.
n For more information: 800-573-4031 or
10. Sipe White Mountain Wildlife Area
Chances are that grey foxes, badgers and pronghorn antelopes
don’t often make an appearance in your backyard. And if they
do, you either live in a rural area or in a zoo. But at Sipe White
Mountain Wildlife Area, all of the aforementioned critters are a
dime a dozen, along with ground squirrels, mule deer, skunks
and chipmunks, as well as a whole flock of birds — from golden
eagles and osprey to broad-tailed hummingbirds and mountain
bluebirds. Managed by the Arizona Game and Fish Department,
many of the area’s 1,300 acres are open to hiking, horseback rid-ing,
cycling and picnicking — just don’t feed the foxes.
n For more information: 928-367-4281 or azgfd.gov.
NORTH-CENTRAL ARIZONA continued
LONDON BRIDGE 15
LES DAVID MANEVITZ
22 j a n u a r y 2 0 0 8 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 23
16. Arizona Biltmore Resort
Frank Lloyd Wright loved the Arizona desert so much that
he designed several famous structures in the Valley of the
Sun, including the famed Taliesin West. But Wright is also
well known for his 1929 design contributions to the Arizona
Biltmore Resort, a Central Phoenix landmark and haven for
well-heeled travelers. Snuggled up against the base of the
Phoenix Mountains Preserve, there are several reasons the 738-
room resort is known as “the jewel of the desert,” among them
a championship golf course, gorgeous pools, elegant dining and
a deeply steeped sense of tradition and history.
n For more information: 800-950-0086 or arizonabiltmore.com.
17. Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park
January is the best time to visit Boyce Thompson Arboretum,
when the skies are typically clear, the air is typically crisp and
the specialty gardens are always in bloom. Founded in the
1920s, the arboretum was the brainchild of mining magnate
Colonel William Boyce Thompson, who discovered the numer-ous
uses of plants during a rugged mission trip to Russia in
1917. Today, the arboretum encompasses approximately 320
acres, and humbly hosts plants, trees and cactuses indigenous
to the desert, as well as plenty of wildlife, a hidden canyon and
enough pretty scenery to burn through an entire memory card.
n For more information: 520-689-2811 or pr.state.az.us.
18. Canyon Lake
The land around Tortilla Flat is anything but. And thanks
to the prevalence of mountains near this tiny town — just 45
miles east of Phoenix — there are also several waterways that
lure boaters and fishers for days of outdoor fun. Canyon Lake
is one of them, and even though it’s the smallest of the Salt
River Project lakes, you certainly shouldn’t underestimate the
underdog. In fact, there’s a designated swimming area, three
picnic sites and a campground on-site, as well as a fully loaded
marina. But the real feather in Canyon Lake’s cap is its ample
fish population, from walleye and largemouth bass to crappie
and channel catfish.
n For more information: 480-288-9233 or canyonlakemarina.com.
19. Desert Caballeros Western Museum
Despite the tremendous growth of the Phoenix metropolitan
area, one desert community has worked hard to maintain its
rustic Western identity. That’s why Wickenburg is the perfect
place to house the Desert Caballeros Western Museum, a tribute
to the way the West was won and the role Arizona folk played
in its settlement. The museum features more than 400 works
in its permanent collection, including pieces by famed cowboy
and Native American painters and sculptors. But the museum
isn’t just a museum — it also sponsors such excursions as the
“Going for the Gold Mining Adventure” tour in February, and
the “Ghost Town Adventure” tour in March.
n For more information: 928-684-2272 or westernmuseum.org.
20. Rosson House at Heritage Square
Sheltered by the high-rises that occupy downtown Phoenix,
Heritage Square pays homage to part of the city’s original town-site
with a series of restored, early 20th century homes. Among
them is Rosson House, a 2,800-square-foot Eastlake Victorian
home that was built in 1895 and features 10 rooms and five fire-places.
Although the Rosson House was occupied by a number of
residents of “block 14” during Phoenix’s early days, it’s a museum
today, offering visitors from all over the world a glimpse into
days gone by. Docent-guided tours are offered five days a week,
every hour on the half-hour, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
n For more information: 602-262-5070 or rossonhousemuseum.org.
21. Arizona Inn
It’s safe to say that if you were a friend of Eleanor Roosevelt’s
in the 1930s, you were probably a fairly important person. At
least that was true of Isabella Greenway, Arizona’s first congress-woman
and a good friend of Mrs. Roosevelt herself. But beyond
her first-lady familiarity, Greenway was also an advocate for
Army veterans, which is why she sponsored construction of the
Arizona Inn in 1930. You see, Greenway’s furniture factory faced
an uncertain future after the stock market crash of 1929, so the
entrepreneuse decided to build a hotel, thus creating demand
for furniture and saving the jobs of her veteran friends. Today,
the inn hosts countless visitors each year — and the furniture
is quite fine.
n For more information: 520-777-0308 or arizonainn.com.
22. Flight of the Cranes
In January, there are a lot of wings over Willcox — and we’re
not talking about airplanes. We’re talking about sandhill cranes.
Thanks to large quantities of water that pool in town between
January and March, approximately 25,000 of the birds bed down
for the night in the wetlands, resulting in an overwhelming
cacophony of squawks when the birds take off at sunrise. During
the annual Wings Over Willcox celebration, bird-watchers can get
their fill of feathers, whether on their own or on a guided tour.
n For more information: 800-200-2272.
23. Callaghan Vineyards
When it comes to fine wines, most people think immediately
of California, or, better yet, France. But give Kent Callaghan and
his family a chance by sampling one of their $4 wine tastings, and
you’ll be associating Syrah with Southern Arizona in no time.
Since 1990, the Callaghans have been working to produce some
of the finest blends this side of the San Andreas Fault, including
Tempranillo-based Spanish blends called “Padres” and Buena
Suerte, a blend of Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The wines are special because the earth in Elgin is sandy and
calcified, and it contains a lot of iron, tinting it a deep red. But
good soil is nothing without good people to tend it — and the
Callaghans are just that.
n For more information: 520-455-5322 or callaghanvineyards.com.
24. Ramsey Canyon Preserve
Seventeen varieties of hummingbirds are known to exist
west of the Mississippi, and of those, 14 varieties make their
home in Ramsey Canyon, a Nature Conservancy property just
east of Sierra Vista. It’s not exactly clear why, but given the way
two deserts and two mountain ranges converge in the canyon,
it wouldn’t be surprising to discover that the buzzing birds are
there for the blossoms. Indeed, the Sierra Madres and the Rocky
Mountains meet in Ramsey Canyon, as do the Sonoran and
Chihuahuan deserts, which means there are plenty of Mother
Nature’s creations to gander — from mountain lions and rattle-snakes
to the aforementioned hummingbirds and bats. The
scenery is best viewed from the Hamburg Trail, which runs
parallel to Ramsey Creek. Guided tours are offered three days
per week, March through October.
n For more information: 520-378-2785 or nature.org.
25. Cochise County Cowboy Poetry &
When you’re surrounded by the Chiricahua, Mustang and
Mule mountains, it makes sense that you’d host a cowboy fes-tival
— after all, it’s all about ambience. So that’s exactly what
the town of Sierra Vista does. From February 1 to 3, Sierra Vista
will host its 16th annual Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival, and
people will come from all over the country to listen to tales of
life on the range and songs about good horses, good women and
even better whiskey. Why? Because this festival isn’t about cel-ebrating
city slickers; it’s about celebrating honest-to-goodness,
dyed-in-the-wool cowboys and cowgirls.
n For more information: 520-249-2511 or cowboypoets.com.
FLIGHT OF THE
CANYON LAKE 18
Kelly Kramer is a Phoenix-based writer who loves to hit the road in her
Xterra. This is her first assignment for Arizona Highways.
ROBERT G. MCDONALD
24 j a n u a r y 2 0 0 8 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 25
There are people around the country — we
won’t name names — who think of the Arizona
landscape as nothing more than a giant hole in the
ground surrounded by sand dunes. They think there’s
only one season, and snow is unheard of. Of course,
if those folks would ever set foot here, they’d see
that Arizona is the most beautiful place in the
world, and when it comes to snow, we
can certainly hold our own.
24 j a n u a r y 2 0 0 8
26 j a n u a r y 2 0 0 8 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 27
Mystic Rock Even softened by snow and winter
mist, 800-foot-tall Spider Rock forms a commanding
presence as one of Canyon de Chelly’s most sacred
Navajo sites (page 25). Photograph by Claire Curran
Last Light Snowy ponderosa pines stand in blue-tinged
shadows, while the San Francisco Peaks reflect
the setting sun. Photograph by Robert G. McDonald
28 j a n u a r y 2 0 0 8 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 29
Icing the Cliffs Shadows hug the
interior walls of the Grand Canyon below
Yavapai Point as morning clouds linger over its
sun- and snow-laden upper reaches (left).
Photograph by Chuck Lawsen
Cape of Cold Spiny, snow-flocked
ocotillo skeletons bear little resemblance to
their springtime presentations as tall, green,
leafy canes topped with red flamelike blooms.
Photograph by Thomas Wiewandt
30 j a n u a r y 2 0 0 8 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 31
Pastel Sea Bathed in pastels from the
rising sun, an ocotillo in snow (left) appears like
crystallized seaweed on a frosty ocean floor.
Photograph by Thomas Wiewandt
Still as Stone With virtually no underbrush
available for cover, a cottontail rabbit (below)
tucks itself into a furry ball and tries to avoid
detection by its natural enemies.
Photograph by Tom Bean
A Patch of Blue Clearing storm clouds
lift over Hannagan Creek (right), leaving behind
a thick and pristine blanket of winter white.
Photograph by Edward McCain
32 j a n u a r y 2 0 0 8 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 33
Opportunity, Please Knock!
Constantly on the prowl, an opportunistic coyote
explores a mountain meadow near Flagstaff in
search of food. Photograph by Tom Bean
34 j a n u a r y 2 0 0 8 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 35
The fine lacy look of the Sonoran Desert west of
Tucson rarely lasts for long following a snowfall.
Photograph by Thomas Wiewandt
36 j a n u a r y 2 0 0 8 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 37
THROUGH THE WOODS A skier
explores the Walhalla Glade Trail. In
January, the average high temperature at
the North Rim of the Grand Canyon
hovers around 3 degrees.
In the meadow, there are a couple
of things you can do: You can build
a snowman and pretend that he is
Parson Brown, or you can slap on a
pair of cross-country skis and hit the
trail. We suggest the latter, in partic-ular,
at the North Rim of the Grand
Canyon. The snow-covered mead-ows
are spectacular, and the back-drop
is out of this world.
BY MICHAE L ENGE LHARD PHOTOGRAPHS BY K AT E THOMP SON
38 j a n u a r y 2 0 0 8 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 39
Elsewhere, openings in the trees expose Toroweap Formation
ridges and pinnacles perched atop raw-boned Coconino sand-stone
scarps. To the northeast, a thick broth spills across the
Painted Desert, barely contained by the glow of Vermilion and
A true Götterdämmerung — a dawn stirred by sullen gods, a
scene Wagner himself could not have staged better.
It comes as no surprise that the Grand Canyon, and the North
Rim in particular, inspired heroic nomenclature. Geologist
Francois Emile Matthes, a naturalized American born in
Holland and charged with producing the Canyon’s first topo-graphic
maps, named the locale of our weeklong ski tour.
In Nordic mythology, Valhalla was the “Hall of the Slain,”
abode of the god Odin (also called Wotan), and paradise for
warriors killed in battle. Still veiled from our sight, this frosty
otherworld juts from the main rim east of the visitors center,
flanked by Bright Angel Canyon. Like a misshapen lobster claw,
it pinches the Colorado River where it swings from a north-south
to an east-west orientation. Theories to explain the river’s
crookedness or the remnant plateau speak of headward erosion,
drainage reversal, rate of uplift… but nobody knows for sure.
More certain are the steep-pitched routes from Cape Royal
— the mesa’s southernmost tip — down Unkar Creek into the
inner gorge that gave Ancestral Puebloan farmers access to
permanent water and soil fit for corn.
As the cloud screen dissolves, Kate’s partner joins us at the
overlook. Andy is along for companionship and some Arizona-style
skiing, but he’s also carrying a heavy load: camp gear and
photographic equipment in a search-and-rescue sled. Both are
thrilled at this winter wonderland opportunity, because, nor-mally,
they experience the Canyon differently — as river guides
more than a mile below.
Snow conditions looked iffy two days earlier. Our original plan
was to drive the trucks from Jacob Lake as far as possible on the
unplowed road. Expecting bottomless drifts, we piggybacked
two snowmobiles that would get us to the park boundary,
beyond which they’re not permitted. To our surprise, we were
able to drive the trucks where we needed to go.
In DeMotte Campground’s broad meadow, two coyotes were
sniffing for gophers along a brown south-facing bench. A Forest
Service sign spelled out the fire danger — Low! After our shut-tle
drivers left us by the roadside, we began rigging the sleds and
putting on our skis. Silence poured in, amplified by the trickling
of water down ice-rutted macadam.
Geared up, we crossed asphalt patches and jokingly followed
the yellow centerline. We slowed on the downhill, compelled
by blacktop that threatened to stop us dead and strip our skis’
bottoms. Icy stretches provided zero traction. Curves in the
shade — untouched by afternoon sun — required trail breaking.
Windfall forced us to scramble, 50-pound sleds in tow. Seduced
into the brush, we foundered in snow sumps, thigh-deep in
powder. Nightfall surprised us near a thawed, sopping campsite.
The following morning, tent stakes were stuck in the frozen
Was this climate change, or simply bad timing? I’d attempted
this trip the previous year, but after waiting in vain until mid-
February, I returned home to Alaska to a place where I can ski
from my porch until Easter. A week later, the North Rim was hit
with 3 feet of snow.
The next day, we skied Walhalla Glades — a peninsula form-ing
one of the lobster claw’s pincers — to peer into the gorge’s
Redwall limestone wound. The Canyon was spitting fat flakes at
us from below. Snowmelt from the peninsula’s edge filters
through porous Kaibab limestone, gushing from cliffs at Cheyava
Falls, which feed Clear Creek, a tributary of the Colorado River.
At the edge, we stood over a mountain lion print. Snow, as
clumpy as cottage cheese, quickly filled in the paw’s outline.
Without warning, lightning pulsed, followed by thunderclaps.
A nearby ponderosa stood cored, a black cleft running down its
spine. Lightning kindles most wildfires on the North Rim, and
electric storms can strike any time of the year. Under another
salvo, we hurried to camp to cook dinner.
The Norse gods are smiling at Roosevelt Point. After a night of
freight-train gusting that had me fretting about “widow makers,”
the Rim shines like a bride beneath puffy clouds. Airborne frost
flickers in imitation of sequins, and the snowline descends to the
top of the Redwall formation. Pine stumps and charred trunks
near the brink betray elemental forces at work — fire and wind.
Etched in white, the landscape resembles a copper engraving.
Navajo Mountain bulges across the void, miles away. Blue
Moon Bench, Shinumo Altar and a crosshatching of dirt roads
on the South Rim mark the plateau, which unrolls into the flat
distance. Even the squirrels that chewed a hole in one of the
food bags can’t dampen my spirit.
Taking advantage of the fresh dusting, we decide to leave our
tents and sleds and push for Cape Royal, a 20-mile round-trip.
The new snow cover keeps a perfect record of creatures that
passed through the night. Cottontail, mouse and squirrel tracks
stitch the surface. A bobcat stepped “in register,” carefully placing
hind feet into the depressions left by its front paws, in typical cat
behavior. Coyote prints intersect those of some rodent, leading to
a pink stain in the snow. I cut a swath of my own through the fluff
and eventually spook the trickster as he crosses the road.
Leapfrogging with Andy and Kate, I get into “the zone” — a
condition known to and craved by every cross-country skier.
Arms and legs start to move as steady as pistons, working in sync
It’s morning on the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, and as I poke my head through the flap of my tent, I find the campsite
muffled by cloudbanks. Already, Kate, our photographer, hovers near the edge, eager to capture the light of morning with her
camera. By the time I’ve wriggled into my ski pants and started the coffee, there’s movement in the abyss. Wet shrouds drag
across ponderosa pine-clad slopes. Where the fabric thins, sun bleeds through in an amorphous smear.
FEET FIRST A misty panorama drops away below the Natchi
Canyon Overlook (left) on the Canyon’s North Rim.
OUT OF BOUNDS A small sign reminds skiers to stay within the park
boundaries on the Arizona Trail (below).
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 41
… a dawn stirred by sullen gods, a scene
Wagner himself could not have staged better.
with my lungs. I submit to the detached rhythm of push-glide,
push-glide until it becomes effortless. Cloud rags drift through
trees, and I consider racing them. Endorphins flood every cell.
At last the mind stills, cleared by the sighing of wind in pine
needles, the hissing of skis, the tapping of white-bibbed nut-hatches,
the rasping of Stellar’s jays. Unbroken, the trail’s ribbon
stretches ahead, spawning illusions of being first and alone,
obliterating the tarmac, as well as the presence of companions.
Brightened by aspen groves, the forest appears mature and less
ravaged here than near the storm-beaten viewpoints.
But our bliss can’t last. As we lose elevation, as the sun climbs
and we approach the rim, we run into bare spots again. Sticky
snow gloms onto our skis, pine duff as well, and possibly topsoil.
Andy, who forgot his wax kit, applies a stick of butter — to no avail.
Reluctant to twist ankles, we ditch our gear and continue on foot.
Past the Cape Final turnoff we come upon the remains of a
small pueblo inhabited between a.d. 1050 and 1150 by Kayenta
Anasazi, likely ancestors of the Hopi. Low walls trace a dozen
rooms, hearths, garden plots and az fire pit. Archaeologists
unearthed four human skeletons with grave goods here: ceramic
vessels, a bracelet of shale and turquoise beads. A 1930s survey
yielded close to 100 sites scattered across the Walhalla Glades.
More were discovered along Unkar Creek, all the way to its
delta, one of the inner Canyon’s most densely populated areas.
Warm air rising from the chasm lengthened the growing season
on the plateau. Mule deer and piñon nuts provided protein for
commuters between the river and the Rim.
I’ve been scanning the woods for one of their secretive deni-zens,
but other than zipper tracks leading to and from pine trees,
I haven’t seen a sign. Then, from the corner of my eye, when I
least expect it, I see the flash of a bushy tail — an impression of
weasel swiftness. A Kaibab squirrel dashes across sunlit snow,
pursuing a mate. The tassel-eared, black-bellied rodent is
endemic to the North Rim and Kaibab National Forest, sepa-rated
from its cousin — the more widespread Abert’s squirrel
— by topography and millennia of divergent evolution.
The supercharged creature is a link in one of nature’s amazing
webs of interdependency. It digs up and nibbles on truffles, the
fruiting bodies of fungi that attach themselves to the rootlets of
ponderosas. Passing through the squirrel’s digestive tract, the
spores are deposited throughout the forest, accompanied by a
bonus package of fertilizer. The fungi in turn assist ponderosas
with the absorption of nutrients and water from the soil.
Pinecone seeds, buds and the inner bark from twigs make up
the bulk of the squirrel’s diet — the little chatterboxes also find
shelter in ball-shaped nests built from the trees’ materials.
Toward afternoon, we reach Angels Window, pried open in
a limestone fin by freeze-and-thaw cycles. It frames a toffee-colored
slice of the Colorado River. The vegetation is that of the
upper Sonoran life zone. Cliffrose. Sagebrush. Currant.
Sapsuckers have mined a Utah juniper trunk as if riddling it
with buckshot. Atop the natural arch, a thin coating of frost
covers piñon boughs, and the wind cuts through layers of cloth-ing.
Looking at the fractured rock strata that unravels from this
point, I can’t help but admire those who farmed up here, then
trekked down to Unkar Delta in sandals braided from yucca
fiber, urged by snow flurries, carrying toddlers, pots, mats, deer
skins, water, provisions and a summer’s memories.
Late in the day, we return to our cached skis. Our shadows have
grown gaunt. Oblique rays throw individual snow granules into
relief. Chickadees let go of the day with plaintive two-note calls.
By the time we reach Roosevelt Point, alpenglow ignites the rim.
During our five days of skiing, we encountered water in its
many forms: as sleet, slush, firn, graupel, powder, rime, hoar. As
clouds. Evaporating. But never enough in the crystallized dry
form that makes skiing so spectacular. As if to mock us, Odin
and his cohorts dump loads of perfect snow on the North Rim
as we head home, and we almost become snow-bound.
n For more information on skiing the North Rim, call the Kaibab Plateau
Visitor Center at 928-643-7298, or visit nps.gov/grca or fs.fed.us/rs/kai/.
MAGIC MOMENT As a storm
clears near Roosevelt Point, red rock
formations of the Grand Canyon
come into view (opposite page).
FRESH SNOW A cross-country skier
(left) pulls an expedition sled along the
snow-covered road leading into the
Walhalla Plateau on the North Rim, where
archaeologists discovered more than 100
farm sites dating from A.D. 1050 to 1150.
RAW DEAL After a long day of skiing,
Andy Hutchinson (below) inspects the
blisters on his weary feet.
Michael Engelhard is a wilderness guide and the author of two books. He
lives in Alaska, where six months of snow are considered normal.
Kate Thompson says there’s never a dull moment while working on a story
like this. Extreme weather always presents interesting challenges — fogged
lenses, frozen fingers. … She’s learned to expect the unexpected and
always keeps a good sense of humor as a secret weapon.
Living in the little towns of the
White Mountains isn’t for everyone.
The extreme elevation means chilly
winters with lots of snow, and in the
off-season, there’s no one around. It’s
cold and it’s quiet. Nonetheless, there
are a few hearty souls who wouldn’t
live anywhere else. Meet them.
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 43 THE HIGH LIFE By Tom Carpenter Photographs by David Zickl
44 j a n u a r y 2 0 0 8
LLiving in paradise isn’t easy. If it were, everyone would
live in the White Mountains, a place that combines stunning
natural beauty, water, wide-open spaces, cold winters, busy sum-mers,
and a connection to the land that’s deep and abiding.
The White Mountains of Eastern Arizona rise like a hunched
back at the southern end of the Mogollon Rim. Actually, it’s
more like a region of high ground than a mountain range.
Still, two mountains do protrude like a pair of shoulder blades.
Mount Baldy, with an elevation of about 11,400 feet, ranks as the
second-highest peak in Arizona (second to Humphreys Peak
near Flagstaff), and it’s the spiritual and emotional core of
the area for the White Mountain Apaches. Nearby Escudilla
Mountain, elevation 10,912 feet, stands about 30 miles east of
Mount Baldy, and is among the top five highest peaks in the
state. Both are magnets for moisture — while Arizona averages
less than 12 inches of rain annually, some areas in the White
Mountains get more than 36 inches a year.
Every winter, moisture gathers in heaps of snow. In the spring,
it melts and flows to the rest of the state via rivers and creeks
with names like the Little Colorado, the Black, the Blue, the
White, the Silver and the Salt.
The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests comprise much
of the region. The western and southern edges lie within
the White Mountain Apache Reservation. Several communi-ties
dot the White Mountains area landscape: Alpine, Eagar,
Greer, Hannagan Meadow, Heber, Lakeside, McNary, Nutrioso,
Overgaard, Pinetop, Show Low, Snowflake, Springerville, St.
Johns and Vernon. A tally of 2000 census figures put the popula-tion
of the White Mountains at approximately 32,000.
A Man Who Loves to Fish
Chip Chipman and his wife, Penny, have lived in Nutrioso
since 1997, when Chip retired after 20 years of teaching special
education at Fowler Elementary School in Phoenix. “We were
looking for a house with a good barn for the horses,” Chip says.
“We bought it in 1995, and moved here when I retired. We’ve
lived here ever since.”
The town of Nutrioso, according to Penny, “has 230 full-time
residents, and 500 during the summer months.” She smiles as
she describes it as “a bedroom community for Springerville.”
Penny, a retired nurse, is originally from upstate New York.
Chip comes from Maine and three generations of lobster fisher-men,
and there’s still a hint of New England in his voice after all
these years in the West.
Chip is a gentle, patient man with an infectious smile. Friends
convinced him to try the fishing-guide business, and over the
years, that business has grown with his renown. He’s been
FISHIN’ CHIP Fly-fishing guide Chip Chipman gets his feet wet in the
trout-filled West Fork of the Little Colorado River (preceding panel, pages 42
and 43). “I like the solitude and the ambience of being in mountain streams,”
he says. “Trout live in beautiful places.”
RANCH DRESSING Brian and Brenda Crawford (right) are dressed for
the part outside their home and barn in the Sipe White Mountain Wildlife
Area, where he’s the manager. Perks of the job: surveying elk by horseback
and spotting wildlife.
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 45
46 j a n u a r y 2 0 0 8 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 47
featured on television, and his fishing columns are popular
throughout Arizona and New Mexico.
“Guiding comes in bunches,” Chip explains. He stays busy
from first thaw until late fall. When the streams start to freeze
and the guiding business dwindles, he and Penny like to go on
cruises. When they get back to Nutrioso, Chip serves as the
director of fly-fishing at the Greer Lodge. He also guides and
conducts fly-casting lessons through his business, Arizona
Mountain Fly Fishing. This is a man who loves to fish, and if
you want to find him, chances are he’s hip-deep in the East Fork
of the Black River, getting ready to land another one.
Her Grandmother Was Mollie Butler
The South Fork of the Little Colorado River flows through the
MLY Ranch in a low canyon that’s barely visible south of State
Route 260 between Greer and Eagar.
Sug Peters runs the ranch with her husband, Bobby. Her
father started calling her Sugar when she was young. “I didn’t
know I had another name until I went to school,” she says. Her
parents were Vince and Helen Butler, and her grandmother was
Mollie Butler. The Molly Butler Lodge in Greer opened its doors
in 1910, when Mollie and her husband, John, welcomed hunters
and fishermen who wanted to tap into John’s skills as a guide.
The lodge is still in business.
Other than her time away at school, Sug has lived in the area
her entire life. She attended a one-room schoolhouse in Greer.
“I wasn’t old enough to go, but in the state of Arizona, you have
to have seven kids to keep the public school open, and they
only had six.”
Her parents sent her to live with “Grandma,” Mollie Butler,
in Greer. “I was in first grade and my cousin Dick was in eighth
grade,” she says. “We rode this little old white horse named
Speck from Grandma’s up to the schoolhouse. We’d get on him
and ride him bareback to the school, and then we’d turn him
loose and he’d go home back to Grandma’s house — right in
front of the lodge there was horse pasture. Then we’d walk home
Sug married Bobby in 1972. “It was love at first sight,” she
remembers. “We both loved the outdoors, loved to hunt. That
was a really wet year. It rained and rained and rained and rained,
and one day the rain turned to snow, and big flakes came down
and the snow built up and by October 31 or so, there was 4 feet
of snow on the level at the Alpine Divide. We’d been deer hunt-ing
every day. The snow was too deep to hunt, so we said, ‘Well,
we’ll go get married.’ ”
They have four daughters and four grandchildren. Bobby is
a contractor during the week and a musician on the weekends.
Sug retired from teaching kindergarten in Springerville after 25
years, and stays busy running nearly 100 head of cattle on their
ranch and managing two cabins, which they rent to people who
want to get away from it all. The older of the two cabins was
built in the 1870s.
Sug and Bobby are typical of the folks who live in the White
Mountains. Through Bobby’s contracting business, they benefit
from development, but they also see the impact it has on the
land they cherish.
Sug explains: “When I was kid and lived on the mountain
with my dad in a cow camp, we could be there for days and
maybe see the sheepherders way off, or the Apache cowboys
would come over because some of their cattle was on us, or
we’d go over to their camp and get our cattle.” Otherwise, the
mountains were vacant.
“I guess, unfortunately, I grew up thinking we owned the
whole world. It was our place and our responsibility. My dad
was the best caretaker the world ever had. He was awarded sev-eral
times — cattleman of the year — for the way he looked at
the land, and the long term, and how things need to be and how
you could protect them. I guess I soaked up too much of it.”
“I Had a Blessed Childhood”
The Sipe White Mountain Wildlife Area makes up a piece of
the White Mountains’ “promised land.” Brenda Crawford lives
there with her husband, Brian, an employee of the Arizona
Game and Fish Department. He’s also the
manager at Sipe. Her parents, Norm and Peg
Mead, spent their honeymoon in the White
Mountains in 1947. The newlyweds settled in
Mesa, but were determined to find a way to
make the White Mountains their home away
from home. In 1954, they launched a visi-tors
guide to the area called Arizona’s White
“My parents had no idea how to begin, but
they were young and optimistic,” Brenda says.
“That first issue had so many mistakes, a local
English teacher held a contest for her stu-dents
to see who could find the most errors.”
The guide improved dramatically the second
year, and continues to be one of the best pub-lications
focusing on the White Mountains.
“I had a blessed childhood,” Brenda says.
“We spent every summer up here selling
advertising and going on excursions for sto-ries.”
Even today, Brenda still writes stories
and sells advertising for the guide, and her
father and brother continue to publish it.
Order the Meatloaf
The “meatloaf axiom” is applicable even
in the White Mountains. Simply stated: “If
a restaurant has the nerve to put meatloaf
on its menu, the discerning diner is obliged
to try it.” When Pauline Merrill, the owner of the Rendezvous
Diner in Greer, puts meatloaf on her menu, the diner definitely
isn’t disappointed. Like everything else she serves at her rustic
little restaurant, the meatloaf is homemade and delicious.
Pauline was born in Springerville and graduated from Round
Valley High School. She first came to Greer in 1982. “When I
was in high school,” she recalls, “I’d come here and work as a
server at the Molly Butler Lodge.” She continued to work as a
server until about six years ago, when she seized the opportu-nity
to buy a diner of her own.
“I don’t need tons and tons of money in order to be happy,” she
says. “As long as I can pay my bills and live in Greer, and I’m
able to provide the people who work with me a decent living,
[that’s all I need]. I know what it’s like to be on the other end of
the line where you’re a server making 10 bucks in tips per day,
and you still have rent to pay and you’re raising kids.
“The best thing about living in Greer is the beauty of it,” she
says, as her faces lights up. “I wake up every day — I live on the
side of the mountain — and every day is like ahhh. There’s not a
day goes by that isn’t incredibly beautiful. I’ve been out here for
more than 20 years, and it never ceases to amaze me.”
DINNER BELLE Pauline Merrill presides over her Rendezvous Diner, housed in one of Greer’s
oldest buildings, constructed in 1909. The décor, including beveled glass windows, remains much as
it was when the restaurant launched 30 years ago.
FAMILY TIES Sug Peters (above) and her sister, Wink Crigler, run two ranches in the White Mountains, Wink’s X Diamond Ranch and Sug’s MLY Ranch,
named after their grandmother, Mollie Butler and her MLY brand.
The “meatloaf axiom” is applicable even in the White Mountains.
Simply stated: “If a restaurant has the nerve to put meatloaf
on its menu, the discerning diner is obliged to try it.”
Tom Carpenter lives in Flagstaff. He understands high-altitude living, and he’d
move even higher if he could.
David Zickl lives in the desert community of Fountain Hills, so standing in the icy
waters of a high mountain stream was a cool, refreshing shock to his system.
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 49
Drop almost any architect into the unfamiliar, seem-ingly
hostile environment of the Sonoran Desert, and his or her
instinctive reaction will be to design something defensive —
something to fend off the scorching sun, keep the critters at bay
and swaddle the building’s occupants in a wrap of psychological
comfort by reminding them of a softer, more civilized land.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s reaction, which began taking shape in
the desert north of Scottsdale 70 years ago this month, was noth-ing
of the sort. It was nothing of any sort ever seen before.
Taliesin West had no antecedent in the history of architecture,
and even in Wright’s own career the only rehearsal for it was a
cluster of tentlike cabins built nine years earlier south of Phoenix.
Taliesin West is not only Wright’s most original work, it may also
be his greatest — fearless, beautiful, embracing a whole philo-sophical
world and bonded almost spiritually to its setting.
“Taliesin West, to me, is a place that came right out of his gut,”
says Vernon Swaback, a Scottsdale architect who apprenticed
with Wright in 1957, and lived in the Taliesin Fellowship for
the next 22 years. “What he wrote later was just concocted to
explain it to the public. I think the desert just spoke to him, and
he created something right for it.”
Wright first visited Arizona from Wisconsin in 1928 to “consult”
on the textile block construction of the Arizona Biltmore. Albert
Chase McArthur, who had begun his career as a draftsman in
Wright’s Oak Park, Illinois, office in 1907, was the architect.
Wright’s Olympian ego rendered him spectacularly unsuited as a
consultant to anyone, and the relationship lasted just four months.
The elegant guest cottages are likely Wright’s design; the main
building is McArthur’s. More significantly, Wright’s first Arizona
winter led to a relationship with another hotel developer, Alexander
Chandler, who hired him to design a world-class resort on the
southern slope of what is now Phoenix’s South Mountain Park.
Wright and an entourage of family and draftsmen returned
to Arizona in 1929 to design the hotel. Instead of renting apart-ments,
they quickly cobbled together a desert camp that Wright
called “Ocatilla,” misspelling the name of the spidery, flower-ing
shrub (ocotillo) that flourished on the site. It consisted of
15 wooden cabins with asymmetrical white canvas roofs and
scarlet flaps in lieu of windows.
Wright claimed to love the “agreeable diffusion of light” that
the translucent canvas afforded, but it also was an economic
necessity — he was broke, as usual. Still, the cabins accom-plished
something that no non-Indian architecture in the
Southwest had done before: They harmonized with the land
by abstracting nature’s own forms, the pointy ridgelines and
slopes of the camp’s mountain backdrop.
The resort erupted from Wright’s pencils as nothing less than
a complete design vocabulary and ethic for desert architecture,
but the stock market crash of October 1929 demolished Chandler’s
fortune. The hotel wasn’t built, Wright saw only $2,500 of his
$40,000 fee, and local Indians — Wright assumed this, at least
— carted off Ocatilla’s remains for shelter or firewood.
But a potent seed had germinated. Camping in the desert for
five months had infused Wright with that “gut” feeling for the
landscape. “The spiritual cathartic that was the desert worked
— swept the spirit clean of stagnant ways and habitual forms
ready for fresh adventure,” he wrote. That adventure would be
Back in Wisconsin, Wright contracted pneumonia during the
winter of 1935-1936, and a physician told his third wife,
Olgivanna, that if he would migrate to Arizona every winter it
would prolong his life by 20 years. Because Wright was already
68, this was either kindly optimism or eerie prescience. (He
lived 23 more years, the most productive of his life.) The follow-ing
December, the Wrights trundled to Phoenix to prospect for
land, and in January 1938 they bought acreage at the foot of a
small mountain 10 miles north of Scottsdale. The isolation was
essential; Wright reviled cities as “vampires,” “tumors” and
“monster leviathans.” No utilities or water? No problem. Wright
hired a driller to sink a well — the gamble paid off at the fright-
SUBLIME DESIGN Taliesin West and its pool — intended for putting out fires
and other practical purposes, including cooling the desert breezes — form
triangles that mirror the shape of the peaks behind. “The desert abhors the
straight, hard line,” Wright said.
Seventy years ago this month, Frank Lloyd Wright began unveiling what many consider
to be his most impressive work ever. Taliesin West was designed as a home and a school, and
seven decades later, it’s still going strong — young architects from around the world continue
flocking to North Scottsdale to learn their trade in a compound created by the master.
BY L AWR ENC E W. CHE E K : : : PHOTOGR APHS B Y DAV I D H . SMI TH
50 j a n u a r y 2 0 0 8 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 51
them 8 inches.) Taliesin West is decidedly no green building;
electricity bills in summer are so high — about $10,000 a month
— that the Fellowship is thinking about buying a fuel cell to
generate its own power.
Even if he were here today, and had absorbed a bit of the 21st
century’s conservation consciousness, Wright would be unin-terested
in these complaints. Taliesin West was a demonstration
of an ethic that remains as radical today as it was in 1938. A
building, Wright was showing us, shouldn’t be a refuge from
nature. It should be a means to enhance human interaction
with nature. Quality of life isn’t a function of comfort, it’s about
richness of experience.
Here’s an example: The drafting studio’s roof is translucent.
Originally canvas, today’s acrylic panels admit a similar quality
of light. When a cloud lazes across the sun, the mood of the room
suddenly changes, like one of those startling major-to-parallel-minor
key shifts in a Schubert sonata. Most architects, then or
now, would say that light in any workroom should be controlled
and consistent. But spend an afternoon in Wright’s studio, and
you begin to think differently: Maybe work should be affected
by emotion and a connection to the cadences of nature. We are
not, after all, machines.
Until his death in 1959, Wright talked and wrote incessantly
about “organic architecture,” but his words and sentences could
seem maddeningly slippery. Taliesin West, however, stands as
an example of precisely what he meant. It’s the complete integra-tion
of architecture, nature and human life — so complete, in
fact, that it’s not a matter of architectural style at all. It’s an entire
philosophical system, a Utopia both aesthetic and social.
This is why Taliesin West, despite its universally admired
beauty, has had little influence on the way we’ve built Arizona
over the last 70 years. A few architects and builders have learned
from the way it physically relates to its landscape. Tucson archi-tect
Les Wallach’s Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Superior
doesn’t look anything like a Wright building, but it folds into its
site with consummate respect and grace. Loews Ventana Canyon
Resort in Tucson, designed by FHMB of San Francisco in the
early 1980s, echoes the craggy character of the mountain behind
it, much as Wright might have done it. But these are isolated
examples. Wright’s admirers and disciples believe Taliesin West
could, and should, exert more influence.
Swaback, now an architect in private practice in Scottsdale,
orchestrates Taliesin West’s transformation from a kind of living
museum to a center for inspiration and study centered on
Wright’s ideas. During his two decades with the Fellowship, he
alternated between the original Taliesin in Wisconsin and the
winter camp in Scottsdale. The experience left him with the
“unquenchable desire” to look for ways to integrate life, work, archi-tecture
and nature, he says. And considering the world’s increas-ing
population and dwindling energy supplies, Swaback adds,
“The notion of embracing the fact that you’re going to be affected
by weather is something that’s ahead of us somewhere.”
Arnold Roy, who still lives in one of the apartments at Taliesin
West and conducts his own architectural practice in Wright’s
drafting studio, says his life has been immeasurably enriched by
living in an environment “where there’s beauty everywhere you
look.” And something deeper. “It’s been an opportunity to reflect
and think about how things might be in the world if people had
the courage, as Mr. Wright did, to act on their ideas.”
n Taliesin West is open daily except holidays for docent-guided
tours; costs range from $10 to $35. For more information, visit
franklloydwright.org or call 480-860-2700, ext. 494.
ening depth of 478 feet — and wired the fellowship back in
. . . BRING SHOVELS, RAKES, HOES, AND ALSO HOSE. EIGHTEEN
DRAFTING BOARDS AND TOOLS… OIL STOVES FOR COOKING
AND HEATING, WATER HEATER, VIOLA, CELLO, RUGS NOT
IN USE AND WHATEVER ELSE WE NEED.
Wright set up the drafting tables on the site, drawing on brown
butcher paper to cut the glare. His “boys,” the apprentices in his
private architecture school, provided most of the construction
labor. Everyone, Mr. and Mrs. Wright included, camped onsite.
Apprentice Cornelia Brierly, decidedly female but regarded as
one of the “boys,” recalled that packrats would whisk away her
jewelry, trading the shiny pieces for pebbles. Mustangs would
brush against the tents in the night, and mountain lions would
slip into camp to drink water. “One dry summer during the war,
when our buildings were still quite open, a starved cow wandered
into the open-air kitchen and ate the ration books lying on the
counter,” Brierly said. “The story made the newspapers as the best
excuse offered to the Ration Board for the loss of a ration book.”
Wright never conceived of Taliesin West as a luxurious winter
retreat. It was a camp, intended to provide modest shelter from
the elements while remaining quite open to landscape and sky.
There were no glass windows until 1945 — the living quarters
had canvas flaps, and the great drafting studio was essentially a
pavilion, open to the sun, bugs and dust. It was also an experi-mental
laboratory for his ideas about architecture and the desert.
He ordered changes incessantly.
“You could almost hear his brain whirring,” recalls Arnold Roy,
who joined the fellowship in 1952. “He’d say, ‘Boys, let’s do this!’
And the concrete would fly.”
The compound’s design grew out of its site, literally and meta-phorically.
As perhaps befits a camp, there was no foundation
— the buildings rest on the natural caliche just beneath the
desert sand. (Caliche, a natural deposit of calcium carbonate
common in deserts, essentially is cement.) For the walls, Wright
had his “boys” raid the site for its colorful quartzite boulders and
mine the arroyos for sand.
Wright would orchestrate the precise placement of the boul-ders
in the plywood forms, and then concrete would be poured
around them. The walls cost almost nothing and harmonized
exquisitely with the surrounding landscape. Frugality was
ever the watchword.
Once a wall was in place, the apprentices
would break down the forms and reuse them. “When the
pieces finally got too small, we’d burn them in a 50-gallon drum
to keep warm,” Roy recalls.
In a typical trumpet blast of grandiosity, published in An
Autobiography, Wright wrote, “Our new desert camp belonged to
the Arizona desert as though it had stood there during creation.”
But this wasn’t an empty boast. Taliesin West is perhaps more
intimately connected to its landscape and environment than
any building on Earth.
It doesn’t only adopt texture and color from its surround-ings.
Its wedgelike forms abstract the mountains around it. The
horizontal grooves in its walls evoke the erosion lines in desert
canyons, and also create interplay of sun and shadow. The fin-like
trusses elbowed over the drafting studio give the entire
compound a defensive posture, like the body armor of a horned
lizard, and yet on a winter evening when pink streaks rake the
sky overhead, the armor melts into the heavens. This precisely
reflects Wright’s vision of the desert as a duality of intense hos-tility,
is ready to fight everything else,” and
ineffable beauty, “all beyond reach of the finite mind.”
Of course the compound was, and is, dysfunctional. The
roofs leaked in the 1930s — after many modifications they leak
today. (The rain gutters in the Wrights’ living room run inside,
under the ceiling.) The big redwood crossbeams of the pergola, a
dramatic walkway between the drafting studio and garden court,
were originally only 6 feet high — taller people were continually
ducking and bumping. (After Wright’s death, the “boys” raised
ARCHITEXTURE Taliesin West faces southwest to capture the sunset, which
sets aglow the local amber rock and rose-painted redwood. Wright chose the
color to echo the hue of light on the desert floor.
SHAPE SHIFTER Wright advocated “the destruction of the box,” achieved by
moving structural support in from the corners, thereby allowing corners to
visually disappear. He even folded rigid chair frames to create “origami” seats
(above), as seen at Taliesin West.
CULTURE VULTURE Music, fine dining and dance
comprised 50 percent of Wright’s apprentices’
studies. Every week, he threw a formal dress
dinner in the Garden Room (above) or other
spaces on the property, hosting the likes of
RESCUED ELF Wright salvaged and
replicated concrete versions of sprites from
Chicago’s Midway Gardens, a lavish dance
hall and entertainment center he designed,
which, doomed by Prohibition, was destroyed
ROCK OF AGES Wright
incorporated the area’s
into his design. One glyph, two
interlocking swirls, was deemed
a sign of friendship and became
the symbol of Taliesin West.
Lawrence W. Cheek, a longtime contributor to Arizona Highways, is the
architecture critic for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. His 2006 book, Frank
Lloyd Wright in Arizona, was published by Rio Nuevo Publishers.
After living in Oak Park, Illinois, home of the world’s largest collection of
Frank Lloyd Wright-designed buildings and houses, photographer David H.
Smith enjoys every opportunity that comes his way to walk the hallowed
grounds of Taliesin West.
52 j a n u a r y 2 0 0 8 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 53
the more one-lane
bridges you encounter in the
backcountry, the more fun
you’ll have. I’ve developed
this theory over years of dirt-road
travel, and it’s foolproof.
A one-lane bridge means
you’re in the middle of
nowhere — the best place to
be. It also means water and
stories of days gone by.
Beaver Creek country
northeast of Camp Verde
offers all three, along with
great hiking, visits to ancient
Indian sites, a historic dude
ranch and a picturesque
country boarding school. Best
of all, you can make these
side trips without logging any
extra miles, and you can do
the entire road trip in a
To begin, drive 6 miles
north of Camp Verde on
Interstate 17 to the
McGuireville exit and turn
right onto Beaver Creek Road.
This paved road winds
through rural Rimrock,
where horses populate front
yards and haystacks compete
for space with SUVs.
After 4.2 miles, turn right
into the Montezuma Well
section of Montezuma Castle
National Monument. While
not as dramatic as the castle
itself, which sits a few miles
south, this site is worth a look
for its mystery and beauty.
Getting there requires a
short uphill hike on a paved
trail that offers dramatic
views of the surrounding
country. The well itself is
dramatic, too — a 368-foot-wide
natural limestone sink
with cliff dwellings built into
Ancient Indians, known as
the Southern Sinagua, formed
a thriving community here,
beginning about a.d. 900.
The well provided them
something precious in the
upper Sonoran Desert — an
endless supply of water that
still flows through the sink at
a rate of more than 1.5 mil-lion
gallons a day.
Its source? Scientists have
no idea, but the sound you
hear is most definitely Mother
Nature chuckling as she
keeps her glories beyond us.
While you’re there, be sure
to hike the hill’s back side
down to Wet Beaver Creek.
It’s a short walk to a
wonderful spot, shaded by
sycamore and ash trees, and
hidden beneath hanging
boulders — the water spills
off with all of gravity’s force
from the sink down into the
After leaving Montezuma
Well, turn right onto Forest
Service Road 119 and drive
less than 3 miles to its inter-section
with Forest Service
Road 618A. Turn right and
follow the paved road past
three popular hiking trails —
Bell, White Mesa and Apache
Maid — and Beaver Creek
Campground. After 2.5 miles
— crossing three one-lane
bridges — FR 618A ends at a
modified T-intersection with
Forest Service Road 618.
From there, turn left
Academy, which is the last
thing you’d expect to see in
the middle of the Coconino
National Forest. But there it
is, a private high school of
27 buildings on 180 acres
homesteaded under a grant
from Theodore Roosevelt. In
the 1920s, it became a swank
hunting getaway for Andrew
Mellon, the Pennsylvania
industrialist who made one
of America’s great fortunes
in banking, iron and steel. In
the early 1960s, it became a
Because it’s private
property, the staff asks that
those interested in visiting
call at least a day in advance
to arrange a tour. The beauty
of the campus makes it a
The school sits in a canyon
called the Valley of the Sun,
its western border shaded by
high cliffs dotted with ancient
hunting caves. Beaver Creek,
one of Arizona’s last remain-ing
perennial streams, trick-les
through the canyon. Stone
from its banks was used to
construct the school’s rustic,
lodge-style buildings, some
with timbered ceilings and
chandeliers, and magnificent
The 1.3-mile-long road
from the intersection to the
school has two pullouts. I
stopped at one and hiked
down to Beaver Creek. The
water flowed hard over the
rocks, but not hard enough to
cover them all.
Back at the start of FR 618,
follow the signs to the V-Bar-
V Heritage Site. Accessible
after a half-mile hike, it
consists of a sheltered rock
wall containing more than
1,330 individual petroglyphs
— etchings depicting
everything from snakes and
bear paws to walking,
humanlike figures with
consider it among Arizona’s
best rock-art sites, and some
believe it served as a solar
calendar for the Southern
Sinagua who made it.
I met Ken Zoll there. A
Forest Service volunteer, he’s
been testing the calendar
theory by taking photographs
on the 21st of every month to
Beaver Creek Country
by Leo W. Banks photographs by Robert G. McDonald
BACKCOUNTRY BEND Sycamore,
ash and cottonwood trees form a
double arch framing a one-lane
bridge (above) on Forest Service
Road 618A near Beaver Creek
Campground. The V-Bar-V Heritage
Site (below) contains more than
1,330 exposed petroglyphs and more
It’s in the middle of nowhere, which is a good
thing, and so is the diversity you’ll experience along
this beautiful back road in Central Arizona.
back road adventure
MONTEZUMA MYSTERY Water
flows through Montezuma Well
(right) at a rate of more than 1.5
million gallons a day. Scientists are
unsure of the water’s source.
GO WITH THE FLOW Near
Montezuma Well, water from Wet
Beaver Creek (above) cuts grooves
through red sandstone boulders.
54 j a n u a r y 2 0 0 8 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 55
record how the sun and the
shadow lines frame the wall’s
images. Researchers believe
these images marked time by
telling the ancients when to
plant, for example, or when to
conduct a religious ceremony.
Zoll, a Chicago retiree,
delights in informing visitors
about this evocative place.
“When you explain all this to
people, you can see their
appreciation level rise for
those who created it,” he says.
“These were sophisticated,
Back on the road, follow
618 south 4 miles to
M Diamond Ranch, a
working cattle operation that
also offers trail rides, cattle
drives and rodeos. Most
guests come from Sedona,
less than an hour away, and
owner Peggy Ingham says
that brings some genuine
dudes, many unable to tell a
horse from a load of wood.
Her cowboys work hard to
give them an experience that’s
as authentic as possible,
without making it dangerous.
More than a hundred years
old, the M Diamond still
genuine. Its headquarters, an
old stone home, stand on a
scrub hill above the horse
corrals that greet customers
at the driveway’s end.
Ingham and her husband
bought the place in 1999, and
she pauses before describing
the adjustment from Scotts-dale.
“Let me put it this way,”
she says. “If you like mani-cures,
you won’t like it here.
But we wanted our grandkids
to know things other than
suburbia, such as where their
food comes from, and the
importance of open spaces.”
From the M Diamond,
drive 7.2 miles south on 618
to its intersection with State
Route 260, 5 miles southeast
of Camp Verde. This pretty
stretch of corduroy road offers
long views of flat-topped
mesas and dark hills that
bulge to the sky under
dazzling afternoon light.
The adventurous might try
a side trip on Forest Service
Road 215 into West Clear
Creek Canyon. Rougher and
rockier than 618, this road
plunges into a deep defile
sheltered by tall mountains
and soaring cliffs. The creek
runs between these giants,
decorating its bank-side trees
with the best of fall’s reds,
oranges and yellows. The Bull
Pen Campground sits at the
bottom, 3.1 miles down the
road, where some fine hiking
Including side jaunts, I
drove about 32 miles on this
trip, and crossed at least
seven one-lane bridges. It
reminded me of the late
Arizona writer Sister Eulalia
Bourne, who taught school in
this captivating country. She
wrote, “If you’re looking for a
good time, or it’s health you
seek, or peace and sweet
contentment, just come to
WILDERNESS WONDER Hiking
trails from the Bull Pen Campground
lead to the western edge of West
Clear Creek Wilderness (left) in the
Coconino National Forest.
Warning: Back-road travel can
be hazardous, so beware of
weather and road conditions.
Carry plenty of water. Don’t
travel alone, and let someone
know where you’re going and
when you plan to return.
National Forest, 928-282-4119
Montezuma Castle National
Monument and Montezuma
Well, 928-567-3322 or nps.gov/
Academy, 928-567-4581 or
M Diamond Ranch, 928-592-
0148 or mdiamondranch.com.
The V-Bar-V Heritage Site is
open from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30
p.m., Friday through Monday;
admission is $5. Travelers in
Arizona can dial 511 to get
information on road closures,
construction, delays, weather
and more. az511.gov.
Note: Mileages are approximate.
> Traveling north on Interstate 17 from Camp Verde, take the
McGuireville exit (Exit 293) toward Montezuma Castle National
Monument on East Beaver Creek Road.
> Drive 4.2 miles on East Beaver Creek Road through the towns of
McGuireville and Rimrock to the entrance of Montezuma Well. At this
point the pavement ends, and the road becomes Forest Service Road 119.
> Drive 3 miles to the intersection with Forest Service Road 618. Turn
right onto FR 618 (paved road) and go past the parking area for three
hiking trails — the White Mesa, Bell and Apache Maid trails — to the
entrance of the V-Bar-V Heritage Site, which is 1.9 miles.
> There is a modified T-intersection at this point with a small desert
island in the middle. Turn right to go into the V-Bar-V Heritage Site. To
visit the Southwestern Academy, turn left and travel 1.3 miles to the
> From the campus, backtrack and return the same way. From the
V-Bar-V intersection, travel south on FR 618 for 3.8 miles to the entrance
of the M Diamond Ranch.
> From that entrance, continue south for another 7.2 miles to State
Route 260 and Camp Verde.
TWILIGHT HIGHLIGHT Sunset high-lights
prickly pear cactuses loaded
with fruit at the base of Sacred
Mountain (above), which is said to
glow as daylight turns to twilight.
Wet Beaver Creek
Beaver Creek Rd.
56 j a n u a r y 2 0 0 8 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 57
hike of the month
screech. The haunting
sound, like steam escaping
from a pipe, echoed off the
pewter-colored canyon walls.
I’m no expert on birdcalls,
but I could have sworn it was
the call of a great horned owl.
I looked toward the sound,
but the early morning sun
created dark shadows in the
rocks and I couldn’t see the
This time, the bird’s call
came from behind me. Either
there were two owls, or the
narrow canyon was playing
acoustic tricks on me. Ten
minutes went by, but the
crafty owl had gone silent. I
put my camera away.
I’d started out on the
Honey Bee Trail hoping
to capture the nighttime
predator — digitally, with
6 million pixels — but he’d
beaten me again. Always one
to root for the underdog, I
silently congratulated the
My easy 3-mile round-trip
hike from the town of Oro
Valley’s Honey Bee Canyon
Park began with a gradual
descent into the shallow
Honey Bee Canyon, thick
with creosote, mesquite and
paloverde trees. From there,
the trail veers left, passing the
park’s immaculate picnic
tables, grills and restrooms,
then heads off toward the
me along the short walk to
the sandy wash. The sight of a
15-foot dam, from where I’d
heard the owl’s call, took me
by surprise, because parts of
the 5-mile-long arroyo appear
dry at times. The dam was
built by early ranchers to help
support cattle grazing along
the riparian area that wends
southward from the Tortolita
Giving up on the owl or
owls, I climbed through the
dam’s diminutive doorway —
a portal into a different realm
— to find the previously flat
wash had transformed into a
narrow canyon. I imagined a
summer monsoon sending
torrents of water into the
canyon and looked up at the
deep blue sky to assure myself
that rain clouds weren’t
threatening a downpour. My
apprehension faded after a
few hundred feet when the
wash opened up again,
allowing a spectacular view
of the rugged Santa Catalina
Mountains to the east.
Unwilling to go home
completely empty handed, I
snapped a few shots of a
majestic saguaro guarding the
canyon’s entrance. I retraced
my steps through the dam,
but instead of using the trail,
I walked along the wash,
inadvertently carrying with
me several of the largest devil’s
claw seedpods I’d ever seen.
The wash winds northward,
passing under Honey Bee
Canyon bridge and beneath
brown hills dotted with tall
saguaros — their arms
gesturing a friendly greeting
to all who pass. Three-quarters
of a mile from the
bridge, I stepped over the
toppled remains of another
dam and came to a large
covered with faded
I sat on a natural stone
bench to study the primitive
symbols, the work of villagers
who occupied the area for
eight centuries beginning in
a.d. 450. The rock evoked a
spiritual feeling in me as I
envisioned ancient Hohokam
artists carving their unique
perspectives into its hard
Intrepid hikers often
continue up the wash past a
third dam, but I decided to
retrace my steps to the
parking area. The sight of
others strolling by, combined
with the occasional glimpse
of the new homes lining the
wash, reminded me that this
is a popular urban hike and
an important riparian habitat
— one that could become
compromised if not treated
When I got back to my car,
I took a moment to reflect.
Although I didn’t see an owl
on this trip, I realized that
the exceptional desert beauty
of Honey Bee Canyon is
reason enough to keep me
by Matthew Marine photographs by Randy Prentice
Honey Bee Canyon
HONEY OF A HIKE Hohokam
petroglyphs (above) decorate a
boulder along the Honey Bee
Canyon trail. The Santa Catalina
Mountains (right) provide a majestic
backdrop for a group of stately
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