February 29, 2012

2/22/12 - Apache Trail to Tonto NM

From Apache Junction, we headed out AZ 88, nicknamed Apache Trail, to go to Tonto National Monument.  That's the short way--about 50 miles.  Frommer's Guidebooks call it the "best scenic drive in Arizona".  (We liked Oak Creek Canyon near Sodona better.)  The last 22 miles of the highway (ha!) are unpaved, a dusty washboardy narrow dirt road through the mountains. 
There were lots of one-lane bridges.

Wild flowers were starting to bloom.

There were 3 lakes along the way:  Canyon, Apache and Roosevelt.  Roosevelt is my favorite.
Once we got to Tonto NM, I realized I'd forgotten to make reservations to tour the upper cliff dwelling.  (Oh, well--we're not going back!)  We walked up the paved 1/2 mile trail to the lower cliff dwelling, through the saguaro & cholla.  There were more wildflowers along the path.

We could actually go into some of the rooms in the cliff dwellings built by the Salados. 

We drove home the long way--George wasn't at all interested in eating more dust on the Apache Trail!

Links for more pictures:    Apache Trail pics             Tonto Natl Monument pics

February 19, 2012

2/17/12 – Lost Dutchman SP

We're in the land of legends--the land of old mines, old prospectors and even older tourists traipsing across the desert to look for lost gold.  If there's gold in them thar hills, everyone wants to find it!  Of course, the government plans on getting their share, so the Lost Dutchman Mine in the Superstition Mountains is on Forest Service property. 

The ranger at this Arizona State Park suggested we hike the Treasure Loop Trail.  She also suggested that we do it counterclockwise because the steep part of the trail was easier going up than going down.  I thought we’d parked near the east side, but apparently my fallible sense of direction failed once again because we were near the west side.  And even though I took a picture of the trail map, I didn’t actually look at the part where it proclaimed “YOU ARE HERE!” 
So we went up the down side, stepping aside for all the people coming towards us.  None of them had found the mine so we had high hopes. 
It's very difficult to look for lost mines when the desert is so green.
At one point I thought we'd found it--that gold in the poppy fields was very distracting.

George thought we should go this way.

This formation is called Praying Hands--apparently it takes more than just a hunk of rock in a prayerful position to help locate a gold mine.

At Green Rock, we headed back down--down the up side against traffic.  Then somehow we followed the wrong part of that trail because we ended up in the parking lot right where we started.  (Maybe it's a vortex?)

Of course, we didn't find the lost mine.
But I might not even tell you if we did...