Saturday, June 27, 2015

Red Rock Crossing

     Red Rock Crossing is, according to the good folks around Sedona, the most photographed spot in all of Arizona.  And whether that boast is an absolute fact or not, one thing is certain – Red Rock Crossing is certainly one of the most beautiful places in all the American Southwest.
    Red Rock Crossing is easily accessible and a part of the Crescent Moon Picnic Area which acts as the gateway to this idyllic sanctuary that symbolizes the very spirit of Sedona.  It is here that people from all over the world come to enjoy a family picnic serenaded by the sounds of a babbling stream, come to take their own perfect photos of Oak Creek as it flows in front of magnificent Cathedral Rock, come to cool off or fish in one of the many shallow swimming holes, come to visit the nearby vortex or come simply to enjoy hiking within one of the most picturesque landscapes found anywhere in the world.
    Artists with their canvas upon their easels facing Cathedral Rock are also a common sight.  So too are bridal parties aligning themselves just right so that their first wedding photo features Red Rock Crossing as the backdrop.
    Hollywood long ago discovered Red Rock Crossing. Between 1923 and 1973 some 60 movies used the spectacular beauty of this Arizona oasis as their movie set.  When cowboy movies were America’s passion, Red Rock Crossing was abuzz with film crews and Hollywood legends.
    Cathedral Rock is a holy place to the local Native Americans that once lived in this high desert paradise.  It was a home of their gods and the birthplace of first man and first woman.  Mystical healing powers and cosmic energy are said to be very strong here.
    Any time is the perfect time to get out and visit Sedona’s Red Rock Crossing.  It is a very popular destination so plan to arrive early in the day.  Each season of the year brings a special charm to the land and the warmth of summer is the best time for those who enjoy getting wet as the cool waters of Oak Creek slowly meander by.  Who is to know, Red Rock Crossing just might become your most favorite place too to spend time photographing, relaxing and refreshing in all of Arizona.   

Beautiful Red Rock Crossing, Sedona, Arizona

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Where Are All The Saguaro Flowers?

    We have been photographing the flowers and fruits of the saguaro cacti in the Anthem and New River, Arizona area for over 10 years now.  Many of our best pictures of saguaro flowers and their scarlet red fruits are posted on this blog.  Yet something is very different this Spring of 2015 - so many saguaro cacti that in years past were covered with beautiful, cream-colored flowers are totally flowerless this year.  At least half of the cacti we have photographed in past years have no flowers at all on them this year.  Why - we can only speculate.
    Maybe it is just a cycle and this year saguaros just did not produce flowers.  Maybe since the desert in this area received rain in every month since December 2014, that constant rainfall sparked something within the saguaros that didn’t result in flower production.  Maybe the warm temperatures of the past winter somehow prevented the cacti from blooming this year.  We do not know the reason for so few saguaro flowers in this spring of 2015 but we sure do miss them.
    In a year when there were not as many saguaro blooms, here are a few of our 2015 best…

Four, beautiful bloom on the morning of June 9, 2015

The same four blooms now closed on the morning of June 10, 2015

Notice the drop of nectar

This flower is closing after its night of bloom; taken about 10:30am

Love our woodpeckers

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Cool Places In The Rim Country

    As the heat of summer returns to the Valley of the Sun, many of us are beginning to look for a cooler place to escape the hot summer temperatures.  Lucky for us the Mogollon Rim is only a short drive away and is always a guarantee of cooler weather and more rainfall.
    Here are five Rim Country communities that offer cooler weather and great recreational activities for all the family. 

    Williams, Arizona – only a 2 ½-hour drive from the Valley, this Rim Country town is the southern Gateway to all the attractions of the Grand Canyon.

Where to stay:  The Lodge on Route 66 is our favorite and is within walking distance of all the downtown attractions. 

What to do:  Drive the 54 miles to the Grand Canyon being sure to stop and enjoy the Planes of Fame Air Museum as well as Bedrock City along the way.  Or, ride “The Train” to the magnificent views of the national park.  Visit Bearizona or hike to the top of Bill Williams Mountain.  Enjoy all the shops found in downtown Williams along Historic Route 66.

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     Payson/Pine/Strawberry – only a short 60 -minute drive from the far East Valley, these three Rim Country towns offer limitless recreational activities.

Where to stay:  We enjoy the Up the Creek Bed and Breakfast in Strawberry but many hotels, unique B&Bs and charming cabins are available.

What to do:  You can hike, mountain bike or horseback ride for over 800 miles on the trails of the Tonto National Forest. The swimming holes of the East Verde River and Fossil Creek are really popular during the summer months.  Visit the Rim Country Museum, home to Zane Grey’s Mogollon Rim cabin.  Enjoy the beauty of the fern grotto at Tonto Natural Bridge State Park. 

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     Kohl’s Ranch Lodge/Tonto & Christopher Creeks Area – The historic Kohl’s Ranch Lodge along Tonto Creek is only 20 miles east of Payson. 

Where to stay:  We suggest the Kohl’s Ranch Lodge but this is also great camping country along Christopher Creek, Bear Flats or Woods Canyon Lake.  When you camp out in this part of Arizona, you see the brilliance of the nighttime sky undisturbed by city lights.

What to do:  fish for trout or simply hike along the banks of these refreshing mountains creeks; search for fossils at the Kohl’s Ranch Naco Paleo Site; visit the Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery; relax and read that long delayed book while listening to the wind in the pines and the “babbling of the brooks”; enjoy a few s’mores over a crackling, evening campfire.

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     Bison Ranch Resort, Overgaard - The Bison Ridge Resort is found higher in Rim Country some 150 miles from the Valley and in the small town of Overgaard.

Where to stay: The WorldMark Bison Ranch Resort is a great family escape in Arizona’s Rim Country.  Both cabins and condos are available to rent. 

What to do:  At the resort enjoy the catch and release fishing pond, tennis/basketball/sand volleyball courts, swimming, billards and fitness center.  Resort is only 5 miles from the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest with limitless fishing, hiking, biking, and ATV activities.

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     Greer – even though it is almost 230 miles from Phoenix, there is no place to discover the cool Rim Country like the small community of Greer.  At an elevation of 8,300 feet, even the July/August mornings in Greer are down right chilly.

Where to stay:  We suggest the historic Molly Butler Lodge or rent a cabin through the Greer Cabin Keepers. The cabins of the X-Diamond Ranch located just off the mountain but right next to the Little Colorado River are special.

What to do:  go fishing in the Little Colorado River or Big Lake, hike, bike, ATV or horseback the hundreds of miles of trails; discover the towns of Springerville-Eagar; photograph all the diverse wildlife found in Rim Country; visit the nearby Native American ruins of Kinishba, Little Bear or Casa Malpais; just get out and relax!

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Bill Williams Statue, Williams, AZ

Bedrock, AZ

Up The Creek B&B, Strawberry, AZ

Fern Grotto, Tonto Bridge State Park

View off the Mogollon Rim

Woods Canyon Lake

Bison Ranch

Fishing in the Little Colorado River, X-Diamond Ranch

Big Lake

Kinishba Ruins, Whiteriver, AZ

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Fabulous Ruins Near Sedona

       The whole world seems to be very aware of the natural beauty and recreational opportunities found in and around the northern Arizona community of Sedona.  The beautiful red rocks mountains with their miles of hiking and jeep trails, fresh running streams with deep fishing holes and even cosmic vortexes have been attracting families to this natural paradise for nearly 1000 years.
       For here too in this red rock county, less than 20 miles from downtown Sedona, a group of Sinagua Indians built two large red rock pueblos and lived within them between 1125 – 1300 CE.  Known today by their Hopi names of Palatki and Honanki, these two spectacular ruins lie within five miles of each other and are just waiting for visitors to come and enjoy their ancient beauty.  
     Both sites are designated heritage sites and are managed by the U.S. Forest Service and the Red Rock Pass Program. Both sites, as are all ancient ruins and historic sites, are under the protection of the 1979 Archeological Resource Protection Act.
    Tours of Palatki, whose name means “Red House”, now only occur with a site docent due to the condition of the ruins and some recent destructive graffiti.    Three ¼-mile trails lead from the parking lot to a site over-look, the cliff dwellings themselves and a nearby alcove that protects many ancient petroglyphs and pictographs.
    Reservations to visit the Palatki Heritage Site are highly recommended, as tour groups are limited to 15 guests.  So too are a good pair of walking shoes.   A small visitor center is also located on the Palatki site.
    The nearby Honanki Heritage Site is believed to have been the largest Sinagua community in the Verde Valley. Visitors to Honanki are still welcome to walk into and among the ruins; a site steward is at the site but there are no docent tours.
    Honanki, whose name means “Bear House” is accessed by a short/easy, 1/8-mile trail from the parking area.  Over 30 ground floor rooms are located under the overhanging cliff.  Spectacular glyphs of Kokopelli the flute player, spirits, animals and ancient hands remind visitors of those who have gone before.
    The ruins of Palatki and Honanki are both located in an area known as Loy Canyon.  The gravel roads are wide and well maintained.  Both sites are open daily.  Photography opportunities will be abundant.  A Red Rock Pass for vehicles is required at both sites.
    Spring has arrived once again in and around Sedona so why not make this the time to get out, enjoy the beautiful weather, the abundance of wildflowers along the roadside and the two marvelous ruins of Palatki and Honanki.   Be sure to take your camera for you are going to really want to remember this Arizona trip!

A real Kokopelli

Ancient hands...