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February 17 and 18: Cottonwood

The last two days have been comprised of slow starts to the mornings, good breakfasts, long hikes, and relaxed suppers. We have views from our campsite of the mountains to the west, including the town of Jerome, perched on the mountainside.

Trying to reach Tuzigoot National Monument, we hiked through this beautiful mesquite forest.


Yesterday, we set out on foot to visit the Tuzigoot National Monument, which borders the state park where we are camping. It seems one is not meant to actually access the national site any way other than driving in to the park in a car and going through a gate. After several turns onto trails from which we could see the monument, but could not "get they-ah from hee-yah", we found a trail it seemed would lead us up to Tuzigoot. Within striking distance of the monument, we encountered "KEEP OUT" signs, which we decided we would say we did not see.


We also hiked along the Tavasci Marsh, a cattail marsh located in the Verde Valley.


We ascended a long, dusty gravel road and found ourselves on an interpretive trail. We were not arrested. To make sure all was above board, Glen went into the visitor's center, where he flashed his National Park pass.


Once at the Monument, we were able to explore the many rooms - one of which is even open to walk through.


It is fascinating to imagine all the various native people who made this settlement home, here in the Verde Valley. One can almost imagine active farming by natives and a bustling center of trade and life. It's even more fascinating to learn that folks moved on from this site well before colonization started to take place, with the reason for the vacating of Tuzigoot a topic of speculation.


From Tuzigoot, we could look down on the vast areas that were turned into tailings fields and have been revegetated by the mining companies - I don't know the details of the agreement to do this.


The vast cattail marsh and mesquite forest are visiable from Tuzigoot, along with the riparian area along Verde River.


Showers and a little clothes washing by hand this morning was necessary. It was fine day for clothes drying - in the low 60s, dry and sunny.

Our campsite sits amidst a swath of creosote bush, enough so that we cannot be seen by other campers - nor can we see other campers


After lunch, we set off on Raptor Hill trail. We took the connector to Lower Bones Trail, looping back to the campground - about five miles or so.

Jerome, an old mining town, is carved into the side of Cleopatra Hill.


We enjoyed the vistas and the mix of red rocks and limestone, making for very striking landscapes.

The near view includes a modest canyon, with exposed red rock cliffs.


The dogs were disappointed to learn there were no actual bones on the Bones Trail.


It's Saturday evening at the campground and, even though we are in the mellow tent camping loop, it seems like it might be a little lively here. As I write this, the sky is just darkening and the mountains are black against the grey-blue sky. Jerome comes awake as a faraway patch of twinkling lights on the mountainside. Good night.


8 Comments


Thank you for sharing your experience of hiking to the Tuzigoot Monument. As always, your photos and descriptions are wonderful. Such amazing sights/sounds/smells everywhere you go!

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Mary
Mary
Feb 19, 2023
Replying to

Thanks, Anne. 💓

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“ The dogs were disappointed that there were no bones on bones trail” funny! There’s a nearby place called Sycamore Canyon with a nice trail or two. Also, if you drive up past Jerome there is Mingus Mtn. hike on Woodchute Trail. also a mesquite forest is also called a mesquite bosque. Sleep well!

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Mary
Mary
Feb 19, 2023
Replying to

We hiked Sycamore Canyon on you suggestion a couple years ago, and remember it being quite beautiful. I think I read the trail is closed off due to big washout. Will have to investigate.

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mary.westervelt
mary.westervelt
Feb 19, 2023

Glen, your water comment nails why I was willing to leave the high NM desert in spite of stunning skies, great rock formations, and a color palette I love. No water. Related fact: no topsoil. Dry air that burns the sinuses. But today's photos, plus the description of the laid-back daily schedule and the hikes, can't be beat!

Hope it's a restful night there.

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Mary
Mary
Feb 19, 2023
Replying to

I love so much about the desert around here, but it is hard to imagine overcoming the water issue. I often imagine having a little house here, but then think about how much water would be needed to support the property. Anyhoo...it sure is purdy here.

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glenayers
glenayers
Feb 19, 2023

We brought 2 liters of water with us on our hike, but I was thirsty a minute after we started hiking again after stopping for a drink. It is just so arid here, the ground is dust, the air is desiccating, and the sun and wind conspire to completely dry you out. On top of that, the tap water always tastes just a little bit salty to me, sometimes quite a bit. Mary kept her eyes open for rocks along the trail that had a hollow in them and would serve a watering bowls for the thirsty dogs. Water is Life, especially here in the high desert.

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