Gila Box, West Side – May 4 & 5


 Traveled via Black Hills Scenic Byway to Safford 

In the morning, we packed up again. We followed the rest of the Black Hills Scenic Byway to Highway 191. 

The byway traveled through some beautiful areas of desert. 

There were cows throughout most of the drive. We stopped a couple of times at informational roadside stops. One discussed the Morenci Copper Mine. Even though we were miles away from Morenci, you could still see the mine from here. 

 It is the beige spot near the center. 
We stopped in Safford, AZ to run a number of errands and to do laundry. I don’t recommend doing laundry at the Sterling Laundry unless you really enjoy watching FOX news. It was clean and sanitary, but totally devoid of personality and full of TVs playing FOX news.
Since we needed to return to Safford in the next day or two, we decided to go back into the Gila Box area to camp. On our way to the campground, we saw a Coati cross the road in front of our vehicle and head up a canyon. 

Coatis in the southwestern deserts

This time we went to Riverview campground on the western side of the Gila Box. We found an equally nice campsite here. 

It had a great view of the river.   

And the cliffside.


They are big lots. As usual, there were only a couple of other people camping there.


We took a short stroll around the campground before fixing dinner and calling it a night.
The next morning, we went out for a short hike. We had seen what looked like a cable bridge across the river and to see if we could find it. We walked down a trail to the river. We passed by a cable and basket contraption to carry supplies to the other side of the river, but it was locked up tight, and it wasn’t what we had seen anyway. We followed the river until we found what we had seen on our drive in yesterday. It turns out it was a pipe with a cable suspension support. 


We turned around and followed the river upstream. We reached the part of the river with the cliffs that we saw from our campsite. The river was too deep/swift for us to consider crossing the river. We watched the bank swallows come and go from their mud nests on the cliffs.


We picked up the Cottonwood Trail and continued our hike. We walked along the Gila River and then Bonita Creek. 


We eventually reached the Bonita Creek Wildlife Viewing Area.


After sitting a bit and having a snack, we were packing up to go when I spotted something furry walk by a small gap in the trees and heard some noises that didn’t sound like birds. We waited a bit more and were about to give up when we noticed the rocks above the trees moving. It was two groups of coatis that were coming up out of the trees. There were probably close to two dozen of them in total. They so we’ll match the rocks that it was difficult to see them unless they were moving. One group moved away while the other stayed put for a bit looking under the rocks and vegetation. They were too far away to photograph. It was very exciting.
After seeing the coatis, we headed back to the campground through the desert part of the trail. 


We talked to a couple of our neighbors. We had a nice quiet night. 
We headed out the next morning afte making a brief stop in Safford.

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