Friday, March 17, 2017

Boondocking and Sightseeing in Cottonwood Arizona


How did they construct this almost 1,000 years ago?

As the temperatures in southern Arizona start climbing into the upper 80’s and low 90’s snowbirders head north in droves. This week we joined the migration to cooler climates. Vowing to slow down and enjoy this journey we reviewed our route to take full advantage of the sights along the way.

As we left Tucson the temperature was 84, by the time we passed through Phoenix it topped out at 94. Not good as we were planning on boondocking off of Bloody Basin Road (34.296318, -112.138756)  south of Camp Verde. One thing I really don’t like is boondocking in heat to the point you cannot sleep at night. Luckily as we climbed the mountains north of Phoenix on I-17 the temps started dropping into the lower 80’s with a nice breeze.

Now one might think boondocking someplace called Bloody Basin would not be a great idea but it was not too bad. Maybe a 6 on a scale of 1-10. Mainly because there was only one spot where we fit and even that was a little rough. That and all the trash people leave in these areas. Why can’t people clean up after themselves?!?!? If not for the trash we would have given it an 8.
The next day we drove a short 45 minutes to the town of Cottonwood where we camped on some free 14 day BLM area on Thousand Trails Road (34.668865 -111.96154). There are several camping areas on the road that are clean and big rig friendly. If you are in the area we would recommend this spot over the Bloody Basin Road area.
The main reason we stopped in this area was to see some of the ancient ruins. We were fascinated by some of these ruins after seeing them in other peoples blogs. When we saw that there were several on our way north we made plans to stop and see several. The first three we stopped and saw were  Tuzigoot, Montezuma Castle and Montezuma Wells.
All three were interesting, some of  these ruins were inhabited dating back to as early as 700AD.  Of the three Montezuma's Castle National Monument was the most impressive. With an entrance fee of $10/person you can walk the short loop near the ruins.




Occupying a cliff recess 100 feet above the valley floor this 20 room 5 story structure was believed to have been built between 1100 and 1300AD. It is fascinating to look at these structures and think that they were constructed almost 1,000 years ago with very primitive tools.

Montezuma Well National Monument (free) is a sink that was formed when the roof of an underground water cavern collapsed creating the lake. Early inhabitants (1050) created irrigation ditches to water their crops.
The well with the ruins in the upper left corner




Another ruin near where the water flows out of the well

The Arizona Sycamore trees here are huge!
Tuzigoot National Monument ($10/person) has 87 ground floor room site along the Verde River built between 1000 – 1400AD. Absolutely incredible!




With the afternoon temperatures reaching into the mid 80’s we walked each of these ruins before noon each day so we weren’t leaving the dogs unattended in the rig during the afternoon heat. One afternoon we took them to Black Canyon Day Use Area. This was our first time we have had Dakota in the water. We were told that she loved water but up to this point we have not let her in as we did not want to deal with a wet dog in the rig. Since it was so warm and she would dry quickly we let her loose and she went absolutely crazy!!!! She ran and jumped into the river like she was one of those dock jumping dogs you see on TV. From that point she swam continuously for almost an hour. Swimming, getting out running around and running back in. She was like a little kid.
We threw the dummy a few times and both Dakota and Daisy would race to it to see who could get to it first. Dakota won most of the time. On one occasion Dakota swam right over Daisy and it took what seemed like several seconds for Daisy to surface again. In actuality it was probably one a second but she popped up like a bobber and continued on after the dummy.


Speaking of Dakota, we had an interesting incident when all four of us woke up the other day. Barb and I woke up to the sound of urumff, urumff, urumff.......When we figured out what it was we all jumped up (Daisy included) just as Dakota started throwing up near Barb's pillow! Luckily she sleeps on a large towel and I was able to scoop up the towel before anything soaked through. Talk about a rude awakening! 
Of course to trip to a large town is complete without checking out the local brewery! That Brewery located in old Cottonwood is very small and quaint. They don't serve any food but had a nice variety of brews. None of them made the top of our favorite brews but it was nice to quench our thirst.


Our goal for this area complete we are headed down the road to check out another place we have had on our list for a couple years. As the song says it should be "such a fine sight to see...."

24 comments:

  1. Those are some very interesting sites...hope to explore them one day. And it looks like you found a mighty fine Flight to cool you off! Look out for that girl in the flatbed Ford...

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    1. The nice things about these sights is that you can see 2,3 or more in a day. They are easy access and relatively short hikes. Definitely worth visiting.

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  2. Those ruins are something. We sure enjoyed them a couple of years ago. The State Park Homlovi Ruins is a handy campsite to visit Winslow. Don't miss doing a day trip to Walnut Canyon NM. It was pretty cool. We saw that in November http://kastlejourney.blogspot.ca/2016/11/walnut-canyon-national-monument.html

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    1. We are going to hit Walnut Canyon sometime this week and will check out your blog on it!

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  3. Cottonwood is one of our favourite areas. Don't forget the funky town Jerome. Didn't know Daisey was a water dog too...cool! Safe travels!

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    1. We just might have to take Daisy out with us next time we go duck hunting but most of the ducks are as big as she is!

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  4. Great pics of the ruins and it boggles the mind to imagine the hours of labor and being high up on a ledge while doing it! Fantastic! We were in Black Canyon in February but missed the monument, definitely going back to see that.
    Totally relate to the gag sound from a dog, gets you outta bed faster than a fire alarm everytime :)

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    1. Once Dakota started gagging we were all scrambling to take cover. Daisy jumped up and looked at us like we were crazy!

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  5. Great post! Will add these sites to our "must see" list! Loved the pics of D&D swimming!

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    1. We are headed to the Lake Powell area in the next few days so there will be more swimming opportunities in their future!

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  6. I would have loved watching Dakota enjoying the water. What fun for the dogs:) So glad I finally got to meet them:)

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    1. They were happy to meet you (and your treats) too!

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  7. That's great that Dakota loves the water! All three of our goldens would start spinning in circles when the caught their first whiff of it. I would've never guessed that Daisy was a water dog...that's really cool! I wonder if she'll follow Dakota's lead and jump off the dock...

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    1. Daisy would be more of a dock plop, I don't think there would be much jumping involved!

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  8. It looks like you have taken my advice and purchased shorts. Way to go! It also looks like Dakota is fitting just fine and Daisy is the dominator. It looks like I will have to find some breweries.

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    1. Actually those are pants with legs that zip off but it got so hot I could not stand it any more!

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  9. We really enjoyed the Cottonwood area. We stayed at the state park just outside of town but will keep that boondocking spot in mind for the next time. As Steve & Diane mentioned Jerome is a cool old town worth a visit.

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    1. Even your rig would fit into the area that we were in.

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  10. Thanks for posting the GPS coordinates for the BLM area at Cottonwood. Dropped them in Google Earth. I'll add that to the list of possible stops.

    Really enjoy reading your blog.

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    1. Thanks Mark, we are going to include the coordinates as we come across new boondocking locations.

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  11. We've camped all around there as kids and many times since with family living nearby. I'll bet Dakota was nuts! A Lab that hasn't been in water for months?!

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    1. We are planning on heading up to Lake Powell from here so there are more water opportunities in her future!

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  12. Rude awakening...I would say so! funny reading. Thanks for the information on the cliff dwellings, we may check it out on our way back east next month.

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    1. Definitely recommend Montezuma's Castle and Walnut Canyon ruins.

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