Salt River Canyon

Last week we made a 400-mile circle (rectangle?) in 13 hours. We started in northwest Phoenix, went south to US 60 East, and had breakfast at Bernard’s Coffee Station in Globe. Besides a restaurant on the west side of Globe, Bernard’s seemed to be the only non-fast food place open at 7:30 on a Sunday morning. We’re glad, because we each had a short stack of pancakes stuffed with fresh fruit. Great coffee, too! Because I was driving, we missed the turn to US77/60 and got all the way to the Apache casino before realizing it.

The road through the Salt River Canyon from Globe to Show Low is 87 miles long and is supposed to take about 2 hours, but it took us longer because we stopped lots of times at scenic overlooks in the canyon and later in the pines near Show Low. There are no services along this road. Of course there is a rest area that is closed, this being Arizona after all.

We passed on through Show Low, staying on US60 till we turned northwest towards Little Mormon Lake. The lake seemed to be only a swamp and probably would have been dry except for this being the monsoon season. We went back to Show Low, had a small rest stop at the Show Low City Park, and started towards Payson on Route 260. There are lots of RVs and semi trucks on this road, but that didn’t spoil the fresh (and chilly!) pine air.

We went south on the road that goes to Young and then took a road that said Overlook 3 that had no overlook within 3 miles. It was a washed-out, edge of the rim, single lane dirt road suitable for 4-wheel drive, but my little Scion did all right. Pete was able to turn the car around at a slightly wider part and we spent a while walking around and relishing the absolute quiet and chilly fresh pine air.

We stopped in Payson for a late lunch. When we left the restaurant we got soaked by a downpour, fulfilling Pete’s birthday wish to be involved in a gully washer. It rained much of the way from Payson to Fountain Hills, with storms in the distance when we had clear sky. Unfortunately, there really aren’t any scenic overlooks on the US87, and on a Sunday afternoon in the summer the RV traffic heading back to the Valley was a bit scary.

We left the house at 6am and got back at 7pm. We drove through several reservations and national parks and mountain ranges. We went to 6400 feet high and back again to 1100 feet. We went through low desert, a miniature Grand Canyon, high plateau, mountain pine forests, spiky mountains and eroded curvy mountains. We agreed that the next time we go the same route, we’ll take at least a month for the drive.

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