2021: Winslow to Superior, AZ – A Southwest Odyssey

Dear Isaac and Maia,

I didn’t blog last night because I had to make a study guide for my students and go to a work meeting this AM. But, that is not to say that yesterday isn’t worth blogging about. It was a day of new roads and places! I love my treasured and time-tested places but I also like a day of surprises.

The Mogollon Rim with the low desert in the distance

We started the day in Winslow – which is famous only for the song about standing on the corner and a flat bed Ford in Winslow, AZ. It was just a Motel 6 for us there.

Tonto Natural Bridge, AZ

Our adventure took us south on AZ Hwy 87. We stopped and had pie for lunch in a town named Strawberry. A few miles later, we came to Tonto Natural Bridge State Park. I had seen this on the map when I planned the trip but was unsure if I wanted to stop. Our real destination was the Sonora Desert and Tonto National Monument. Both are near the Tonto National Forest – but they aren’t that close and they have very different ecosystems. The Natural Bridge is not in the Sonora Desert, but it is close to the Mogollon Rim – or drop-off from the Colorado Plateau to the low desert.

Weird looking geology at Tonto Natural Bridge

So, I decided to stop because I figured the dogs would like a little exercise and we had another 1-2 hours for our final destination. There are a lot of natural bridges in the Southwest. The ones I have seen are made of sandstone. These ones were different. They were once lava and then sat under the sea, then more lava. Yes, there is sandstone but the texture and plant growth is different. It almost looked like mud that had been slung – very 3-d.

Another picture of Tonto Natural Bridge State Park

After that, we began to drop rapidly into the Sonoran Desert. I get a kick out of the drive down every time – it is like a roller coaster ride or something to me. Maybe it is because I moved to Phoenix once and it makes me feel empowered to break away from my normal surroundings. I love it when the big saguaro cactus start popping up in the window.

Saguaro cactus in front of Roosevelt Lake

Eventually, we branched off on AZ Hwy 188 into the Tonto Basin area. I didn’t realize that Roosevelt Lake was on this road. It was a big lake in the middle of the low desert ecosystem. Kind of cool scenery. This is part of the Salt River Valley – we crossed further east on the way back up the plateau today.

Hike up to the ruins at Tonto National Monument

Tonto National Monument was just across from the lake. It was dog friendly and paved. We hiked up and up to the top of the hill where the Salado Indian ruins are located. They reminded me a lot of Mesa Verde. The ancients lived on the Salt River about 1300 AD – so they were neighbors to the Anasazi and other ancient Native Americans.

Another hike picture – definitely not Colorado!

It was a beautiful hike up the hill through the cactus. Kachina and Moki kept up well despite if being almost 90 degrees. Sazi road in her carrier. So far, my favorite photo from the whole trip is of the ruin from the top of the trail. The dogs can’t go in the dwellings – but that was fine.

The ruins at Tonto National Monument

Then, we headed another hour towards our hotel in a town called Superior, about an hour from Phoenix. It is pretty rocky country where there is copper mining. Everyntime I stay in one of the little copper mining towns, the motels are very different. They look more like multi family dwellings than hotels. The rooms are very creative and homey. This one was creative, which added to the trip.

Hot Sazi chilling with the saguaro cactus

Love, GMH

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