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Turkey Creek Cliff Dwelling, AZ

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Guide 22 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Globe > Globe S
3.2 of 5 by 11
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 0.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 0.1 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,208 feet
Elevation Gain 74 feet
Accumulated Gain 74 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 10 minutes
Kokopelli Seeds 0.47
Interest Ruins & Historic
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
30  2017-12-08
East Aravaipa
14  2017-03-28 Steph_and_Blake
14  2015-05-08 kingsnake
23  2015-05-07
Turkey Creek Camping
1  2015-02-07 friendofThunderg
22  2014-12-07
Turkey Creek Wandering
15  2014-11-16
Oak Grove Canyon
8  2014-11-13 AZWanderingBear
Page 1,  2,  3
Author keepmoving
author avatar Guides 34
Routes 206
Photos 1,847
Trips 517 map ( 3,846 miles )
Age 33 Male Gender
Location Portland, OR
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Feb, Mar, Jan
Seasons   ALL
Sun  6:10am - 6:19pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Super short, super easy!
by keepmoving

BLM Overview: The Turkey Creek cliff dwelling is one of the most intact structures of its kind in southeastern Arizona. It was probably occupied for a few months each year by prehistoric farmers around 1300 AD. These people, of the Salado culture, probably collected plants along Turkey Creek, grew corn, and hunted wild animals. Salado farmers disappeared suddenly around 1450 AD.

Hike: This is an extremely short trail that is worth a visit from anyone visiting Aravaipa East. From the trailhead on Turkey Creek, the trail heads north a short ways as it parallels the Road. Soon the trail begins to head more to the Northwest as it approaches the cliff wall that is mostly hidden behind the trees that line the canyon. At the base of the hill the trail encounters an informational sign that explains the history of the cliff dwelling you are about to visit. Past the sign, the trail climbs a series of loose, rocky stone steps with the aid of a guard rail. At the top of the hill, you are greeted with another small sign from the BLM that provides additional history of the ruins & warns visitors to avoid defacing the dwelling. Explore the dwelling and return to the trailhead via the same route.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2012-06-03 keepmoving
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent of 11 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Turkey Creek Cliff Dwelling
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    East Aravaipa
    I had an opportunity to head to Aravaipa for a couple of days and having never been to the east end, jumped at the chance. I now know I prefer this side and will come back for sure. At 3 hrs, it's really not a bad drive to get there and the benefits outweigh a little extra time on the road.

    Thursday night was the coldest of the season statewide, but we were prepared so it turned out to be no problem despite dropping into the 20s. Friday was an exceptional day exploring a couple of miles down Aravaipa and up the geologic wonder of Hell Hole Canyon. It was a real treat. I'd love to see this one with a little bit more water flowing in it.

    After seeing a bighorn up on the cliffs earlier in the day, we spotted some deer as darkness fell. The next two hours proved to be very entertaining!

    We wouldn't have noticed the next critter if not for its glowing eyes as we approached on the opposite bank, wondering what it was. Once we were perpendicular across the creek we shone our headlamps to get a better view. At this point it realized we would not just walk by without noticing it was there and it subsequently repositioned. When that happened both Jon and I caught a glimpse of its silhouette and both had the same reaction simultaneously: tarzan swing! That's a big cat! :scared: It seemed nervous at our presence as we shined our lights directly into its glowing green eyes 25 yards across the river. As is common on our hikes, Jon and I each complimented each other on how large and strong we were -- loudly and repeatedly -- :sweat: while once again heading upstream. Jon noted that our hurried 3mph pace in the dark had suddenly increased to about 4mph! :lol:

    Shortly thereafter a new set of eyes was watching our passage, but these were yellow. Though they sat high above us along the creek, as we got closer we could see it was just a curious raccoon (my first ever az wild sighting!). As we neared the trailhead, a skunk waddled across our path and seemed to be in no hurry to let us by. At this point we were trying to figure out what animal we wouldn't see tonight! Of course we weren't done yet. Next we spotted a gray fox that thought it was hidden and didn't run until it was obvious we knew it was there. Not much later we spooked a herd of javelina, and enjoyed watching the babies fight the current while swimming across the creek their parents had simply walked across. :lol:

    At this point we were happy we would be sleeping indoors for the night and headed back to TNC cabin to meet up with the others and share our stories over a warm fire and some wild fermentation in the coolship.

    The next couple of days included more wildlife sightings including coatimundi, turkey, and bobcat. Apparently there are cool birds here too!

    I'm a fan of wildernesses. Some are more wilderness-y than others. I've only been to Aravaipa three times, but I think it's one of Arizona's truly wild wildernesses and a wildlife gem. FWIW, we did not see a bear. ](*,) Maybe next time! :)

    A little dull. Sycamores were solid rust. Some cottonwoods still had a lot of green, others had some nice yellows, and some were mostly bare. Walnuts were prime yellow. Ash hadn't started yet.
    Turkey Creek Cliff Dwelling
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    After establishing our campsites at the Fourmile Campground about a 1/2 mile south of the booming (ha!) town of Kolondyke, we drove out to the east trailhead for Aravaipa Canyon. 4x4 is recommended, but you could probably get there in any pickup truck - or at least given the current road conditions. Beware that there are numerous creek crossings along the drive. We jumped out, threw on some old tennis shoes, and headed south on the clearly signed Turkey Creek in search of the cliff dwelling. It was a very pleasant, very easy hike which involved zero route-finding (you simply walk upstream), plenty of shade, crossing through Turkey Creek several times, and an opportunity to be a kid again and have fun on a rope swing. :D You can't miss the cliff dwelling as there's a large sign down by the creek. A short, semi-steep climb gets you to the cliff dwelling. It was not difficult to imagine why peoples of the Salada culture made a seasonal home here...plenty of water, not too hot, abundant wildlife. We would heartily recommend this hike after the 3.5 hour drive from Phoenix. I should add that the Fourmile Campground was very clean, offers flush toilets and running water, and is a bargain at $5 per night ($2.50 for Golden Age passholders). Just be sure to take your own toilet paper as it wasn't always stocked. Another camping option is on the banks of Turkey Creek. While we hiked Turkey Creek, you can actually drive it at least as far as the cliff dwelling. There were several primitive campsites along the way that looked very nice, especially if the temps are high.
    Turkey Creek Cliff Dwelling
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    5am departure from Pima.
    Very scenic drive into the East entrance during sunrise.
    7am entrance into Aravaipa.
    Downstream to Hell Hole Canyon and in up to the spring/hanging gardens.
    Back upstream to Turkey Creek and a visit up to the cliff dwelling.
    Overcast all day, water felt great, lots of greenery with hints of autumn to come.
    Wildlife - 7 javelina (with young), 1 deer, 1 bobcat, 20 vultures, 2 hawks, 1 ring-neck snake, many creek fish, 1 heron, 10,000 caterpillars, 1000 butterflies, insects of all kinds & a very unpleasant amount of biting mosquitoes.
    Solid 9 out of 10 trip (1 point deduction due to the mosquitoes).
    Turkey Creek Cliff Dwelling
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    The drive from Pima, over the pass above Cottonwood Canyon, past the radar towers, down to Klondyke Rd is simply spectacular. I enjoyed the drive from Globe down to Thatcher, and later along Cascabel Road ( [ photoset ] ), but this was even better. My favorite, so far, in Arizona. Like Randy said, just bladed, so doing 35-45 is not a problem. (Except for slowing down on some curves, in case someone was coming the other way.) I assume the speed limit is 35? :-k

    I checked the Fourmile Canyon Campground, but Randy wasn't there, so I continued further west into Aravaipa Canyon. I spotted my very first wild turkey not too far from the Salazar Family Church. :y: I was able to get a picture. As I drove away, despite the tires crunching gravel, I could hear multiple other turkeys gobbling.

    I stopped at the church, which was unlocked. It was a real Catholic church, complete with altar, pews, stations of the Cross, etc. In a bit of disrepair inside, but still very interesting. Who would have said Mass in a family church? My wife is in Lourdes, with her sister who has cancer real bad, so I said a prayer for her. :pray: I signed the guestbook -- real name, Haz alias would not have been appropriate -- before leaving.

    Randy showed up as I was parking at the Aravaipa latrine / info kiosk. I had worn my shorts, as my hiking pants were so muddy from the day before, so before we started out, I switched back into the filthy pants. :yuck: My SUV could have made it the 1.5 miles to the Aravaipa TH, at the mouth of Turkey Creek, but no further. Though not technical, heading up Turkey Creek is strictly high clearance.

    Calling this a "cliff dwelling" is unfair to places like the Tonto Cliff Dwellings. Turkey Creek is more like a Salado condo. Seriously, You could not fit more than a family in there, and there's no real sign of any outlying structures.

    But, it is a lush area, and would make for good camping. :)

    Drive Video: ... s4Ng
    Salado Condo Video : ... hvgA
    Turkey Creek Cliff Dwelling
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    Turkey Creek Wandering
    Continued from the Turkey Creek - Eastern ridge triplog...

    Turkey Creek was similar to Oak Grove Canyon, it just didn't have the real tight winding feel of Oak Grove. Probably due to more and faster water flow in Turkey Creek over thousands of years?? Whatever, it was enjoyable and easier with more hard-packed sand area and less of the huge boulder hopping of Oak Grove. Still, each has its own pros and cons.

    And then we encountered an expansive grove of huge Sycamore trees displaying slightly after-peak colors but it was such a peaceful spot. It brought back those memories of fall days... wind blowing through the trees, the whispers of the falling leaves along with the odd rustling of the fallen leaves of an intermittent breeze. It was peaceful enough to take a break but after numerous photos we continued on, hoping to see more of the same. Nothing quite like it, but there was still plenty to see and experience.

    The only thing to spoil it all was the need to hit the road for the 4-hour drive back home. So, alas, we turned back. After all, on the drive out Tracey wanted to see the Turkey Creek Cliff Dwellings (whoops, make that dwelling singular) which after all our visits to the numerous cliff dwellings in Utah this single unit was a bit of a let-down for Tracey.

    On the drive out past the Turkey Creek/Aravaipa TH we noticed two vehicles (one a Subaru) with bright orange warning stickers on it for failing to display a permit. Since we'd seen Wendy standing by a Subaru on the way by on Saturday, I thought of waiting for Wendy's post and commenting on the nice new sticker she was sporting, but Tracey provided the reality check that Wendy's group was at the other TH.
    No vehicles were there on the way out so Wendy, we hope your gang had a great time in Aravaipa!

    I'm posting all 23 photos from this part of the hike with this triplog.
    See my Turkey Creek - Eastern Ridge photoset/triplog for the rest of the photos and east ridge video.

    One video:
    A typical Fall day in a grove of Sycamores
    Turkey Creek Cliff Dwelling
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    We camped in Turkey Creek for two nights to explore Aravaipa Canyon. Before heading back to uncivilization, we thought it would be nice to hike up Turkey Creek. The 4x4 road makes it an easy hike. The weather was perfect. Trees were turning, especially the plentiful sycamores and black willows along this canyon. The Salado cliff dwelling was of course a must see item for this trip anyway. Having been to Mesa Verde earlier this year, it was interesting to see how the Salado version of cliff dwellings varied from the Anasazi.

    Took the road to where it climbs up and out of the canyon and turned back for camp. It's along drive back to north Phoenix, but a stop in Miami at Guayo's for some superb Mexican (try the green chili cheese crisp) made for a good way to celebrate a great trip.
    Turkey Creek Cliff Dwelling
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    Awoke early from our Turkey Creek campsite to a chilly 35 degrees.
    Needed to warm up so I took an early morning stroll up the road and up to the cliff dwelling for sunrise. I believe this was the first time I have ever watched the sunrise from inside a cliff dwelling!
    Returned back, woke the yeti, broke camp then drove to the end of Turkey Creek for our Aravaipa hike.

    Being Preston's first time up the canyon, I would like for him to tell the story (he is a much, much better writer than I).

    I'll just say, every trip I make through this canyon just blows me away!
    This really is a special place, and a place I will visit many more times.
    Turkey Creek Cliff Dwelling
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    Rolling into Safford on Sunday morning, I picked up Chad and we were soon off on the long drive to the eastern end of Aravaipa. Driving past the Aravaipa trailhead into Turkey Canyon offered a brief glimpse of the beauty that lay in store for us the next day. We parked near the Turkey Creek cliff dwelling and set off on foot on the road. The road hike ended soon and we were boulder hopping up Oak Grove Canyon below massive cliffs of buff colored conglomerate, well guarded by a continuous stand of cottonwoods and sycamores. Water and then a flowing stream gradually appeared as we moved slowly up the well shaded canyon, which included an unexpected bigtooth maple patch. Chad found some great photo ops, while I sloshed my way through the creek a bit farther to Jackson Spring and the two rock towers near point 3828'. We soon regrouped and made our way out of this sliver of paradise onto the dusty route of the Turkey Creek road once more. "Hey, let's check out the Rug Road", so we did, climbing out of the canyon up god-awful, undercarriage wrecking rock steps onto a pleasant, open ridge which offered a great view of the surrounding area. I managed to slip and fall on my ass, a victim of this savage, treacherous old road. Eventually we made it back to my truck, where we partook of the ice chest then made the short walk up to the cliff dwelling. Hiking back down, we set up camp nearby, next to an old corral in the creek bottom, and waited for darkness to arrive. Once it had, we returned to the cliff dwelling for some night photography experimentation. The evening was concluded with a colorful, roaring campfire, fire grilled quesadillas on fresh tortillas from the tortilleria in Willcox, birthday cake, and a pottery firing experiment. It had been a great day. The next day, Aravaipa awaited...
    Turkey Creek Cliff Dwelling
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    I had not been out to the Aravaipa area in almost 3 years so I was very excited about this overnight trip! Preston picked me up in Safford and together we traveled out to the canyon with a few scenic & historic stops along the way before arriving at the mouth of Turkey Creek around noon. After a short drive up the creek, we picked a campsite for the night then threw on the packs for our afternoon hike.....

    ..... after walking the remainder of Turkey Creek road and rounding the bend at the corrals, we entered Oak Grove Canyon. The route up this canyon was a little rough & slow going at times, but well worth it! Better than expected March greenery along the creek, some dramatic high canyon walls & bends with a few spring flowers here & there. It was very nice!
    After exiting the canyon, we hiked up the Rug Road a couple of miles for the overlooks.
    Man ..... what a rough road only the first mile of this is, I had to 4x4 hike it!
    We then walked back down Turkey Creek road to our campsite at dusk to begin the night activities.

    After sunset, we made the very short hike up to the Turkey Creek Cliff Dwelling for a super fun full moon photography session with the dwelling & stars. Then it was back down to camp for a "colorful" fire, quesadillas & chips, pottery firing (there is just no end to the Yeti's talent) and good campfire conversation. My day ended with full moonlight shining through my tent and visions of Aravaipa Canyon in my head .....

    Thanks Preston for spending my B-Day with me in this most awesome area, Twas a wonderful day!
    Turkey Creek Cliff Dwelling
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    One great trip, that's all I can say! Well, almost...

    Started the trip off great...we get just a couple of minutes from the trailhead down the dirt road to Aravaipa, and someone asks me if I had the permit. Doh! :doh: ](*,) :tt: How could I forget something like that! I called the Safford BLM to cover myself and left a note in the car and everything turned out OK, thankfully. But I had a few people on the trip who made sure I DID NOT forget what happened.

    Second mistake: I didn't bring a spare pair of shoes. Very dumb. This is a hike where a backup set of shoes is ESSENTIAL, because within minutes of starting the hike you will have to cross Aravaipa Creek and your shoes will stay wet from that moment on. Thankfully I at least had dry socks to wear in the evening.

    On day 1 of this 2-day trip we hiked from the west trailhead to Horse Camp, where Bruce and Joe peeled off for the rest of the trip. The other 4 of us on the trip went with me to the east trailhead, then down Turkey Creek to the ruins and back. The ruins were definitely worth the side trip to see, if you are interested in historical ruins.

    We picked a camping spot late that afternoon just outside the wilderness boundary across Aravaipa Creek from the spot where Turkey Creek runs into Aravaipa Creek. After about a half hour of setting up camp, a guy comes along and says we can't camp there because it's private Nature Conservancy land! You gotta be kidding. There was signage there saying it was Nature Conservancy land but the sign only said "NO HUNTING". It didn't say "private property" or "no trespassing" or "no camping"...just "no hunting", so definite finger wag at the Conservancy for bad signage that caused us to waste a lot of precious time. We quickly break camp and a couple of the 5 of us who broke camp first took off ahead to find another camping spot, but the problem was they peeled off and the rest of us didn't see them, so we kept hiking a mile and a half trying to catch up to the two who were actually far behind us...and just before dark we decided we had to just set up camp on our own. It wasn't until midday the next day before we finally found the other 2, at Horse Camp near Bruce & Joe.

    With this trip I officially completed my first segment of the GET :y: Looking forward to getting started on the GET once a few HAZ people finish completing the AZT!

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    High Clearance possible when dry

    To hike
    From the Aravaipa East trailhead, continue 2 miles down the road to the Aravaipa Wilderness Boundary. From there, make a left turn (the only direction you can drive) and follow Turkey Creek Rd. The trailhead is located 1.4 miles up Turkey Creek road and will be on your right. You will know you are close to the trailhead when the road passes through a small corral, at which point the trail is only 500 feet further ahead.

    Note- Turkey Creek is a rather narrow road and you will be guaranteed to obtain some pinstripes!
    page created by ssk44 on Jun 03 2012 12:03 pm
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