Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Montezuma Well, Fort Verde, Coconino Forest, Red Rock, Bell Rock, Sedona and Cottonwood

Arrival at Camp Verde, Arizona on Friday afternoon was followed by a Saturday ride to see the Verde Valley and Cottonwood area sites.  We mapped out a circular route going north to Sedona and back south to Cottonwood.  It was a beautiful day, warm and sunny...

Our first stop was at Fort Verde State Historic Park. This site was occupied b y US Army troops in 1870. The fort's construction was complete in 1973 and was an active military base during the Central Arizona Indian wars. It was abandonded in 1891 and the site was sold in small parcels.  Most of the original wooden buildings were torn down and the scarce wood used again for other purposes.

The "0" mile post marks the beginning of General Crook Trail across the Mongolian Rim. It was a military supply route that connected Forts Whipple, Verde and Apache.  General George Crook, in 1871, along with a small attachment of cavalry reonned the area and created the original trail. (that's what's written on the marker)

These are the only remaining buildings from Fort Verde.
 From Fort Verde, we drove up the road to see Montezuma Castle, but were not successful in getting a place to park..  Before we knew it, we had driven out of the area without getting to see it.  Montezuma's Castle is a 5-story high, 20-room cliff dwelling that was home to the prehistoric Sinagua Indians more than 600 years ago.  The location is on the plain of Beaver Creek in the Verde Valley.  It is among the best preserved cliff ruins in North America. I'm sorry we didn't get to see this. It would have been nice to compare it to the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings we saw some 30 years ago.  Oh well, maybe next time.

From here we drove a short distance along I-17 North and passed a campground that's worth a photo as it is so much like most of the desert campgrounds but could be easily photographed as others are not.

Not our campground, but a typical one along the highway in the desert.
I took this picture just because it was easy to get a shot of the whole thing.

This is typical of most roadside scenery. Taken along I-17 too.

 Our next stop was tosee Montezuma Well.  It is a collapsed underground limestone cavern filled with million gallons of water, flowing continuously in the desert. 

The breeze was so stiff, I had to pull my hat down tightly onto my head.
That's Montezuma Well behind and below.
Montezuma Well is 368' across, 55' deep and sits at an elevation of 3,618 feet.  This picture does not do justice to the site, which was really nice.  There is a lengthy concrete walkway all around the site and Lexie enjoyed the walk. 

From here we really didn't realize just what was in store for us but drove on along Highway 179 into Oak Creek Canyon heading into Sedona.  We entered the Coconino National Forest. This is a steep, narrow, colorful gorge and it is the second most visited area in Arizona.  Suddenly we rounded a curve and saw the beautiful deep red mountains.  What a site!

This part of the highway becomes known as "Red Rock Scenic Road"

I hope these pictures show the beautiful, deep colors of the landscape.

Around the next curve we came face-to-face with the beautiful Bell Rock. A complete surprise.  We pulled into the Red Rock Ranger Station to take a break and a few pictures.

Bell Rock is just to the left of the flag pole.

Looks like we have a new "facebook profile photo" here...

The towns here are as clean as a pin.
That's the bell rock to the left of the roadway.
This area is simply beautiful.

My closest photo of Bell Rock.

More beautiful rock formations...

Still more photos to take....

We came into Sedona, Arizona, situated at the southern end of Oak Creek Canyon. Here the cliffs open and provide a base for exploring the area. There is much to explore here, including other canyons and an extensive, scenic red rock wilderness in every direction. We were surprised at the beauty of this town. 

At 4500 feet, the air was surprisingly warm. 
Really dry but warm.

Buildings blend into the scenery like this one. 
You hardly notice most of them.

I don't know the name of the blooming tree.

In Sedona.
From Sedona, we took Highway 89A southwest to Cottonwood where we were unimpressed with Old Town Cottonwood.  There was nothing there except tourist trap antique shops. 

At the end of the day, we were exhausted and exhilirated at what we'd found.  We stopped for a quick burger and headed back to Camp Verde. Lexie was a tired dog and fell asleep in my lap -- again.

Wearing her cute little desert halter vest.

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