The next morning we took a route that took us east of Roosevelt Lake and through the Tonto National Forest. It provided us with some really wonderful views.
We crossed over the Salt River and climbed into the Sierra Ancha mountains.
There is a 200 plus mile cliff wall that runs from about Phoenix to the New Mexico border called the Mogollon Rim. Technically, it is an escarpment at the edge of the Colorado Plateau. It is mostly composed of sandstone and limestone and can reach up to 2000 ft in places. It makes for some very dramatic scenery. The Mogollon Rim supposedly inspired the writings of Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour.
Forest Road 300, also known as the Rim Road, follows along the top of the Mogollon Rim. We stopped at the Mogollon Rim Visitor’s Center to find out more about it. Unfortunately, they were closed until Memorial Day and had no useful information posted or available. But there was a nice view.
It was a little early to stop, but we were ready to get out and stretch our legs. We kept our eyes open for nice campsites. At around 7,000 feet above sea level, the area is a very popular destination in the summer to escape the heat. Camping is only allowed in designated campsites. After driving around one that was mostly just a big dirt patch with picnic tables, we opted to follow a side road and found the Mogollon Campground. Mostly it was a side road with campsites on both sides. We chose one on the rim side with a fantastic view.
It wouldn’t have been a good choice if we were in a tent since there was a lot of wind. In our hard sided, four seasons camper, it was a fantastic site. There was a full humming bird feeder on a tree near the back. There were also numerous elk hoof prints across the back of the campsite.
Once we were settled in, we went out for a hike along the edge of the rim for a bit. The wind was pretty fierce. Even though we weren’t really in the desert anymore, it still seemed like all the plants had thorns. So we went a little further in and found an established trail going in generally the direction we wanted to go. There were a number of markers on trees, including grey diamonds, chevrons, flagging tape in a variety of colors, and other such things. We ran across one trail that was marked by flagging tape in white with blue spots (I’ve never seen any like that before) and reflectors that had been written on.
You can just make out the fire tower in the distance.
We eventually reached it to find that it was very securely locked up and long unused.
We turned around and headed back following trails going in the general direction of our campsite. Eventually, we ran out of trails going that way, so Jon lead us back to the campsite going cross country.
We had a nice dinner and quiet night.
The next morning, we followed the Rim Road the rest of the way. We stopped several times to admire the view.
Once we had climbed down off of the rim, it started to snow lightly. We were passed by a number of Forest Service trucked marked with “Hotshots”, a fire fighting division of the National Forest Service. We assume they were heading to a practice exercise. There certainly weren’t any fires around this year, but this area was hit hard by forest fires in 2002.
The rest of our trip out of the area was uneventful. Except for passing a couple of people wearing surgical-type masks that were tromping around the woods near their sedan. Very strange.