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On Walkabout In: Arizona’s Southeastern Desert

My wife and I woke up the next morning in our hotel in Wickenburg, Arizona after a long day of driving from Las Vegas via Hoover Dam.  Wickenburg was a nice little town not to far from Phoenix that was surrounded with nice Arizona desert scenery which of course included lots of saguaro cactus:

I have been all over the world, but the saguaro cactus continues to be one of the most unusual plant species I have ever seen.  I just love the Arizona desert views with these gigantic cactus:

These cactus only grow in the Sonoran desert that includes central and southern Arizona, a small part of California, and the Mexican state of Sonora.  Much like the Joshua Trees also found in Arizona and California the sagauros are also very slow growing.  For example the arms on these incredible cactus can take 75 years to grow.  The older saguaros are believed to be about 150 years old.  The saguaros grow to incredible sizes to include the tallest saguaro near Cave Creek, Arizona outside of Phoenix growing to a height of 45.3 feet.  That is just incredibly tall, but unfortunately this cactus collapsed in 2005 due to a fire started by lightning.

Anyway we left town and were now following Highway 60 towards Phoenix and just absolutely enjoyed the desert scenery:

We planned on taking Highway 60 to Phoenix and then continue on the highway past Phoenix to Globe, Arizona.  From Globe we would then turn on to Highway 70 to take us to New Mexico and out ultimate destination of El Paso, Texas:

Of course along the way to Phoenix we were entertained by the various shapes an sizes of the saguaro cactus:

We eventually got to Phoenix and I didn’t stop to take any pictures because I have been to Phoenix many times since I went to college in Arizona plus the fact we were driving through rush hour traffic.  However, Phoenix is a nice town, but in increasing year the drug related violence has been increasing which is unfortunate.  It has gotten so bad that Phoenix is now the nation’s kidnap and ransom capitol.

It is sad to see such crime overtaking a nice metropolitan city like Phoenix.  Anyway we continued through Phoenix on Highway 60 and once out of the city we were once again rewarded with some beautiful desert scenery:

It was still pretty early in the morning and the last colors of the sunrise I thought made a nice back drop for this lonely windmill out in the desert:

In this part of the desert there was actually very few saguaro cactus visible and instead many varieties of smaller cactus littered the desert floor:

Further down the road we came to the city of Gold Camp that lies at the base of the rugged mountains that Highway 60 would cross to take us to Globe, Arizona:

Passed this town Highway 60 then winds up the mountain side through an incredibly scenic red rock canyon:

On the canyon’s floor I was able to see the small creek that has cut out this canyon over the years:

Once on top of the mountains the highway passes through the relatively small town of Globe which has a population of about 7,000 people:

Globe is a old mining town whose economy continues to be depended on the mining industry which is evident by the number of strip mined hillsides in the area.  Globe is also home to many Native Americans since the town is adjacent to the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation.

At Globe we then turned on Highway 70 which took us straight through the Indian reservation.  The terrain along the highway is mostly all high desert shrub with many snow capped mountains in the distance:

It is not evident driving along Highway 70, but the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation is one of the poorest Indian reservations in the nation.  There is a casino on the reservation, but the remoteness of this area probably makes the profits from this casino quite limited.  Something of historical interest about this reservation is that the Apache chief Geronimo once called this land home.

For those interested PBS has an excellent series on Native Americans titled “We Shall Remain“, which shows that the Apache today actually do not have a high opinion of Geronimo which I was surprised about.  This is an absolutely excellent series that I plan on buying.

Anyway, looking at the terrain it was easy to imagine Geronimo and his men hiding out from the US Cavalry in these rugged mountains:

Eventually Highway 70 passes through the small town of Safford, which sits adjacent to the mountain with the largest vertical relief in all of Arizona:, the Pinaleno Mountains:

This mountain range rises over 7,000 feet above the floor of this desert valley and is really quite a site with its snow capped peak.  From Safford the highway continued on to New Mexico and to our ultimate destination of El Paso, Texas.

Next Posting: From New Mexico to El Paso