White Mountain of Arizona (Part 2)

July 05, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

As you probably know, the summers in Phoenix are pretty brutal, and as a result, nearly every weekend there is a mass exodus of a fair amount of the 4.57 million Phoenicians to the cooler parts of Arizona.  For four weekends in a row, I joined that exodus and explored some of the lesser known areas of the state, including Sycamore Canyon, the Mogollon Rim, the small town of Alpine, Hannagan Meadow, and the East Fork of the Black River.

This was an incredibly awesome journey with plenty of photo opportunities and successful way to beat the heat of the desert!  Please bear with me as I write one of my more wordy blogs.  In fact, I thought I'd break it up into 2 parts.

I spent two weekends deep in the White Mountains of Arizona, near the small town of Alpine and the tiny lodge known as Hannagan Meadow.  One weekend was spent in hotels, while the other was over the 4th of July holiday, in a secluded camping area known as Horse Springs.  Seriously though, finding a campground with open spots on 4th of July weekend (the most popular travel weekend of the year) is nearly impossible, so you can imagine how far off the beaten path we had to travel!  In this case, my Brother Dave and I went about 260 miles east of Phoenix, 65 miles southeast of Pinetop-Lakeside, AZ and about 20 miles southeast of Big Lake in order to find an open spot, but we were rewarded with seclusion and nice cool temperatures.  Actually, I woke on July 4th to 47 degrees while the folks down in the Valley faced a 110 degree day!!

Hear are few pictures from the two weekends in the White Mountains... The Road Less Traveled along the Devil's Highway near Hannagan MeadowThe Road Less Traveled along the Devil's Highway near Hannagan Meadow

Including one of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever witnessed... Sunset at Sierra Blanca LakeSunset at Sierra Blanca Lake

Near the East Fork of the Black RiverNear the East Fork of the Black River Apache Railroad Trail near Big Lake in ArizonaApache Railroad Trail near Big Lake in Arizona

These next 2 pictures have a story behind them.  I was hiking (alone) on a trail called the Clell Lee Ski Trail.  I was the only car parked at the trailhead and I never saw another person along the 4 mile journey.  I came upon the gorgeous meadow below, which was about a mile long and a quarter mile wide.  I found a near perfect shady spot to lie down a take a little siesta.  As I closed my eyes, I heard from right across the meadow, a pack of wolves howl!  Needless to say I no longer felt the desire to nap and hiked my butt right outta there.

Near Hannagan MeadowNear Hannagan Meadow Unnamed Trail in the Blue Range Primitive AreaUnnamed Trail in the Blue Range Primitive Area

The wildlife up in the area is incredible.  I love watching and photographing the Elk.  Amazingly enough, the original species of Elk in Arizona (Mirriam's Elk) were hunted to extinction back when the US Army was attempting to gain the upper hand on the American Indians by eliminating their food source.  Very sad.  Later, in 1913, Yellowstone Park was giving away Rocky Mountain Elk to anyone that would come get them.  Some wonderful individuals from Arizona took up the offer and transplanted 30-some Elk back into Arizona.  Today the number of Rocky Mountain Elk in Arizona number over 35,000.  Here are a few of them.

Elk Herd near AlpineElk Herd near Alpine Sunrise along the Devil's HighwaySunrise along the Devil's Highway The East Fork of the Black RiverThe East Fork of the Black River Three Forks near the Black RiverThree Forks near the Black River Camping at Horse Springs along the Black RiverCamping at Horse Springs along the Black River

This was only about 50 yards from our campsite!  Gorgeous.

East Fork of the Black River at Horse Springs CampgroundEast Fork of the Black River at Horse Springs Campground

Here is the very peaceful, beautiful, and picturesque Hannagan Meadow.

Hannagan MeadowHannagan Meadow Hannagan MeadowHannagan Meadow

On the way home, on both weekends, the drive included the Devil's Highway, which is a stretch of road that drops over 5,000 feet in elevation over 70 miles and, get this, 460 turns without hardly a single guardrail!!  It is an absolute thrill ride.  The Devil's Highway got it's name because it used to be called State Route 666.  It is now known as Route 191 or the Coronado Trail, named after the Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado who explored the area in 1540 on a quest to find the Seven Cities of Cíbola.

Can't wait to go back for more adventures!


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