Sunday, February 22, 2015

Roosevelt Lake,Tonto Nat. Monument, and Natural Bridge

From Tucson, it was a nice ride up Route 77 towards Globe, Arizona.  That was our mail pickup spot and, as it turned out, our pickup spot( at a Fry's grocery store )for the campground tickets.That is a Tonto Pass to the campgrounds in the Roosevelt Recreation Area among others in the Tonto National Forest.  Our camping will be ------are you ready for it?------$3 per night with our senior pass.

With our tickets, it's about 30 miles up Route 188 to the campground.

Nice, large, level, widely spaced sites in the Jack Rabbit Loop of the Windy Hill Campground.

The sunset above is from our site and Jan is enjoying the view down to the lake.

Eustis is enjoying the view as we travel on Route 188 to the visitor's center.

The road follows the man made Roosevelt Lake north to the junction of Route 87.

Across the street from our campground is the Tonto National Monument(Cliff Dwellings).  The cliff dwellings are at least 1,000 feet above our campsite.

Lady Blue takes us part of the way and the rest is a good climb.

Nice view though.  Our campsite is straight ahead, not too far from the water.  See it????  Neither can we.

Remember, you can click on pictures to enlarge them.

You can see dwellings in the cave as we hike up.  There are people on the trail in front of us.

The sunspot is due to the angle of the camera, not your computer.

This tribe settled along the Salt River before Roosevelt Lake(named for Teddy) was made. It was about 1,000A.D.

Why way up in the caves?  Cooler in the hot summer, protection from severe summer storms, and also natural protection from raiding Indian tribes.

Some of the structures have been lost, but you can see how they used Mesquite sticks and also Saguaro sticks to form an upper level for sleeping.

This cave may have housed up to 60 members.

The tribe farmed the lower levels with cattle and vegetables such as corn.

As you can see, they had a commanding view of the valley.  This was also a way for them to communicate with other villages in the line of sight.  Okay-------now, can you see Lady Blue in the parking lot?
And yes, our campsite is still straight ahead.
Another way of looking at it.  This is a telephoto shot from our campsite up to the dwellings(towards the left).

After a few wonderful days, we decide to head a little north.  Following Route 188, we pass by the Roosevelt Dam and the new bridge( circa about 1990's).  The old road went right across the dam.

Jan is enjoying using the new camera!!

Along the way are a number of Tonto exits for picnic areas and camping.  This area is quite popular for campers--using the Tonto Pass.  Note that there are some big rigs here with trucks and boats.  The easy access to the lake makes it a drawing card.

Route 87 takes us into Payson, Az.  We have climbed from about 2,000 foot elevation to over 5,000 foot elevation.  At the top of this plateau , the town of Payson is a center for all that happens within a hundred miles or more.  A pleasant town that has just about everything you could need.  We found a Notary Public, a dump station, good gas price, and more.
During the summer they have rodeos. There is also a rebuilt version of the Zane Grey cabin.
For those who are too young, Zane Grey wrote novels in the early 1900's , based in Arizona ,that were beloved by readers all over the world.  His stories contributed to movie success of names like Shirley Temple, John Wayne, and Tom Mix. This link gives a lot more information Zane Grey info .
The picture above is our site at Houston Mesa campground in the Tonto National forest.  Note that we are way above the high desert vegetation.  There are tall pine trees, cedar, juniper ,and some hardwood.  The elevation also made for a cold night--in the 20's. We know----no sympathy from the minus zero degree temps in New England.

Just north of Payson, the road narrows and one of the attractions is the Tonto Natural Bridge.

Lady Blue willingly climbs even higher and then we enter the road to the Natural Bridge.

The sign says 14 per cent Grade!!
No problem !!!????? Eustis looks worried.

In case the family was wondering what might be here.

Click and enlarge.  This section of the Tonto along Route 87 and the Route 260 made note of bear sightings and bear attacks.  Quite active in this area.

This picture above shows the view into the natural bridge from above.  Note the couple at the bottom of the picture to give you an idea of the size of this arch.  This was formed over thousands of years by water dissolving the minerals and washing them away.

This is a view from below.  The story indicates that a prospector discovered this arch while trying to hide from chasing Apache.  He liked it so much he filed a squatters rights claim and then invited his nephew and family in 1898 from Scotland.  They had to lower their possessions by rope and burros from the mountains down to the valley.

It's February, and even at 5,000 plus feet the Manzanita bushes are blossoming.

Spring is here!!

Not only Manzanita, but some familiar Cherry blossoms are to be seen.

Hey, Spring is officially here in less than one month.

Don't worry Eustis!!!

WE will not need the burros to climb out.  Lady Blue is able to climb the 14 per cent grade back up out of the valley.
We will have to treat her very nicely for the next few days.  Good job Lady Blue.

And yes, there were no other RVs down in the valley.

After the Natural Bridge, we came back for a few days to Windy Hill at Roosevelt Lake.  Hard to leave views like this from our new site.

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