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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Cibecue Creek, AZ

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Guide 41 Triplogs  11 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Globe > Globe NE
4.5 of 5 by 24
Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 3.1 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,900 feet
Elevation Gain 220 feet
Accumulated Gain 240 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 - 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 4.3
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Perennial Waterfall & Perennial Creek
Backpack TBD
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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9  2017-04-09 friendofThunderg
25  2017-04-01 Uncharted
19  2016-11-11
Bonita and Cibecue Creeks
4  2016-10-29 urbanform
15  2016-05-01 chumley
9  2016-03-13 Digital_Sherpa
13  2016-03-03 gmaclachlan
8  2016-02-07
Salt River Canyon - US60 Crossing
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Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,834
Trips 4,261 map ( 21,471 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
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Reservation Fort Apache
Preferred   May, Jun, Jul, Sep → 10 AM
Seasons   Late Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:10am - 6:19pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Flippin' Awesome!
by joebartels

Likely In-Season!
With the exception of much challenge, few adventures compare to this one. It's likely you'll go home with a smile on your face. I must have been lucky. There wasn't another soul in the canyon. The weather was perfect and so was the water.

There is no official trailhead. Just a ramada, a flipped over restroom and a sign telling you everything you can't do marks the start of this trail. I used "Canyoneering Arizona" to find this trail. The book says it's seven miles down the river road to Cibecue Creek. This is incorrect, it's only four. As there isn't any signage it was a little confusing. So just remember. When a creek crosses the road coming out of a side canyon after four miles that's the right area. Also, more importantly the book mentions "swimming hole". Swimming is prohibited in all Reservation waters, according to the sign and special use permit.

Follow the creek upstream for 1.5 miles to the pounding waterfall. In the beginning you can follow the left bank. It alternates back and forth too many times to count. The creek never got more than knee high to the falls. With one exception. There is a wall to wall pool after mid way. You can find a slip though the boulders on the left. Tons of river debris may make the narrow slot a challenge after big storms.

The further you go the better it gets. Clear blue green pools get wider and the canyon narrows. A couple tiny cascades and a few large boulders add to the experience. Be careful in the creek. Stepping out of the creek proved to be more slippery than in the creek. I saw only one fish the entire trip. It was about four to five inches long and zipped right by me.

It seemed like more than a mile of travel to the waterfall. Then again the going is slow in and out of the creek. Every corner I kept thinking it must be coming soon. Then I realized it didn't really matter as the scenery was awesome.

The last turn to the falls is almost worth the trip alone. The canyon bends back and forth. Clear water pools look perfect. The canyon cuts into the walls and it gets narrow. You can hear the pounding of the falls ahead. Okay, so swimming is not allowed as mentioned above. So I won't go into that. Oh yeah, exploring beyond the falls is not allowed without a guide. It doesn't really matter though, there's plenty to consume in the mile you're allowed to explore. Anyhow have fun and be safe.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2000-08-17 joebartels
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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 14 deeper Triplog Reviews
Cibecue Creek
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Bonita and Cibecue Creeks
Veterans Day weekend provided off, so we headed out to the Gila Box for what was supposed to be a chill backpacking trip. The posted route is of our route north (one-way).

We left the Valley at 7a.m. The drive went by fast, but that last 5 miles on the road to Bonita Creek is slow and uncomfortable, to say the least. We arrived at 11a.m. and the creek was still super high from a recent flood event, which I verified with the stream gage data. Unfortunately, this made trekking on the banks and in the creek very difficult. Walking in the creek was very muddy and the water was deep. Walking on the banks was straight bushwhacking, every step of the way. Even with long sleeves and pants, my arms and legs were bleeding in the first few hundred meters. This was definitely not the greatest backpacking trip I've been on. We didn't make it to our planned destination (junction with Midnight Canyon) on Friday night and pitched the tents on a grassy-ish bank near the creek.

With the realization that we travelled three miles yesterday in five hours, we decided to just return back to the vehicle. I was a little disappointed we didn't get to see midnight canyon, but my feet were soaked and cold by this point, and I didn't care where we were going as long as I could take my boots off soon. We made better time on the return, arriving back at the vehicle in three hours. It was only 12:30pm, as we began the rough drive out, so we decided to to salvage the day. Originally, the plan was to drive over to Gillard Hot Springs and spend the night there on the banks of the Gila. But we chose to continue through Clifton and Morenci along highway 191. Wow, what an incredible drive! The San Francisco River in Clifton is one of epic historical and ecological value. Highway 191 then follows the ridgeline all the way through Hannagan's Meadow, and then on to Alpine. And the sunset seemed to follow us the whole way. We spent the night at a friend's cabin just outside of Pinetop.

After mandatory breakfast burritos at Eddie's Country Store, we drove down highway 60 to the Salt River and hiked to Cibecue Falls. The Creek was flowing higher than base flow. I saw the USGS/SRP stream gage and told the group about the comprehensive hydrologic models that SRP uses. After the hike, I walked down to the confluence with the Salt. This River is crucial to Arizona. This view and this hike certainly redeemed all my mixed feelings about the high-water Bonita Creek.
Cibecue Creek
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This was a beautiful experience. I highly recommended it! I want to reiterate the important details about this hike:

#1) The dirt road to drive in does have some areas of sheer cliffs on the side and an SUV is recommended. You could probably do it in a car if you have higher clearance than average. You do have to cross a creek in your vehicle unless you take one of 2-3 available parking spots that appear immediately before the creek crossing to your left. You can park in one of those spots and start your hike by crossing the creek on foot, since you have to do that about 10-15 times during the hike anyway. But there is more parking if you simply drive across the creek, which is the normal parking area. It seemed like it could fit about 20 vehicles.

#2) The permits are for Noon to Noon. 24 hour pass. $15 per person (adult). We actually waited until Noon to enter the reservation just in case. I'm not sure how important that is.

#3) There is some trash along the hike. We didn't bring a garbage bag. I usually try to bring a trash bag to haul out trash that I discover. If you have the desire to, please bring a bag and help us all clean up the place a bit. I brought back some water bottles that we found and a few cans in my pack.

#4) Don't go after a rain, I read reviews online that said the water is much more brown/mucky after a rain. You also don't want the water to be too high. We were up to our knees a few times and hiked in October.

Cibecue Creek
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Had an adventure Sunday feb 7th, exploring canyons and chasing waterfalls. I found a few spots on the map, couple of seasonal waterfalls and then some known perennial waterfalls, that I wanted to visit. Altogether around 750 feet of waterfalls.

fist stop 2 am at a frozen 250ft seasonal waterfall because who doesn't like hiking around icy sheer cliff faces in complete darkness?
It was Saturday night clear skies and almost the new moon.
I began hiking my hike soon Hearing the sound of a running creek I began to get very excited. Hopping along the rocks in the icy creek bed my anticipation built, and soon enough right in front of me the creek disappears into complete blackness. I carefully walk to the icy edge of the waterfall knowing one mis-step my life would be over. Shining my headlamp down I can see absolutely nothing because it only shines 120 feet not even half way to the bottom of the waterfall. Looking across I can see a faint cliff face that looked like it would be a good vantage point to view the fall.
I thought it would be an easy hike over, but it turns out hiking in the pitch black on the edge of cliffs is a bit of a challenge as it helps to be able to see where you are going. My destination ended up being a narrow rock spire that jetted out from the canyon sides. I had just enough room to sit on the edge and set up my tripod and take a few pictures. Not seeing much I could hear the sound of the falls, the wind howling, and large chunks of ice breaking off the falls and crashing into the waters below.
Definitely not the safest thing but it was quite the rush and a good start to the next 24 hours of adventure!

I love the night but nothing beats a bright warm sun! After my night photography adventures I drove to a scenic vista pull off on the side of the HW so I would have a great view for the sunrise. Getting to sleep around 4, I awoke in a daze around 5:30 to loud country music! Why person did you decided to pull up next to me and blast music for an hour? Couldn’t you have parked anywhere else? or at least like better music? I have no idea but I was too unconscious to do anything about it at the time. I got up around 7:30 to soak in the sunrise, then start my drive down a long dirt road to another seasonal waterfall. Stopping next to the river along the way to cook some breakfast and sing songs with my Father. Ended up having such a sweet time leaving me in tears feeling extremely loved, cared for, and accepted. Moments like these are what I live for. Peace that I can’t even understand! The eggs were delicious too.

Next stop another seasonal waterfall
Out of all the falls I visited that day this was my favorite. The falls cascade down 450ft of powerful and almost majestic looking cliff faces, I had so much fun climbing up this waterfall, I took a shower in the fall, bathed in its pools, laid out on the rocks soaking in the sun and took a nap listening to the relaxing sounds of the falls.
After my nap I hiked down and started off the the next waterfall I wanted to visit that day.

Next stop Lower Falls of Cibecue Creek, many of you might recognize this spot because it's a popular swimming hole in the summer months.
Even though it is winter time and the water was very cold, the flow was very strong due to snow melt so I really wanted to see the falls raging! I got to the trail-head later in the afternoon giving me just enough time to hike in and out in time to get to a vista to watch the sun set. That’s if I started then but I decided to rest first as I was feeling my last two adrenaline filled hikes on top of little sleep. I hit the trail a little after 5 with my watermelon in hand. The canyon views are very striking; I really love this part of AZ. I knew with the creek so high I would not be able to stay out of the water. On the first crossing the water didn’t feel too cold but with each crossing it seemed to get colder. I got to the falls just as the sun was setting; it was quite a powerful scene. The falls demand respect, its roar amplified by the narrow slot canyon walls that the water carved. The flow was so strong the fall was split into 3 separate falls, creating a 2 ft wave at the base and a good amount of foam on the water. Just me and the bats there to soak it all in.
The hike back proved to be a challenge in the dark, not being able to see the bottom of the creek and having numb feet from the cold. What’s a good adventure without challenge? I’d definitely do it again!
On my way out I had one more waterfall to visit. Apache Falls are very easy to get to, not too far off the HW, but is one of the few waterfalls in AZ that is in a river not a creek. It is an impressive fall because of the size and the amount of water flowing over them (especially after snowmelt).

Snowmelt swells the river to a roar as she winds through the towering majestic canyon walls, a sight only the stars can fully take in.
Cibecue Creek
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Just wanted to update others on permits, since we ran into a couple issues. We went to Sportman's Warehouse in Mesa to purchase permits, as we decided somewhat last minute that this was going to be the destination. They informed us that their machine had broken back in September, and it had been picked up to get fixed and never returned. The lady told us we could get permits closer to the destination, which I assumed meant the Globe area. Quickly Googled Black/Salt River Special Use Permits to find an alternate location and several convenience stores/gas stations were listed. We picked up what we thought were the correct permits (they were called Black/Salt River Special Use Permits) from Express Stop in Globe and ended up paying $25 each. However, I realized when we returned home that they were for the adjacent San Carlos Reservation. I am guessing we had the wrong permits, so I am glad we didn't get stopped anywhere. I would definitely recommend just purchasing online from the White Mountain Apache website.
Cibecue Creek
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The family and I wanted to get out of town for the day so we took up this hike. We parked before the creek and walked across to the trail head. The first thing that caught our eye was the huge canyon walls, for some reason I was enamored by them.

The hiking was fun we took our time and crossed the creek back and forth quite a few times. I climbed the gaging station to play around, but the cable cart was locked up :( Our son was having a blast wading in out out of the pools in the creek.

Surprisingly we did not see much wildlife except for one loan squirrel and a bright red cardinal. The creek is such a beautiful place we enjoyed every turn. There is a cool little cave that the water must have carved out as some is very cool, the water is clear with a greenish blue tint to it. I could hear the water fall just before we made it around the last turn. The waterfall was was awesome. I took my day pack off and we relaxed here for quite some time, had some fun and enjoyed the water.

The hike back was uneventful but I did a cool refection picture in one of the pools. Overall we always have fun when the family and I are hiking together :)
Cibecue Creek
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I haven't posted for awhile so I thought I would check in with a special recent trip. I finally visited Cibecue Creek. Of all the places I've been throughout this state, I'm frankly amazed it took me this long to come hear. The upper grotto waterfall is very unique and special. Although the creek along the way up had it's moments, they all fall short of the last 1/4 mile. That's where the money is. The entire experience is well worth the $15 price of admission. I went during the week on a rather cool day so I had the entire place to myself. That's just how I wanted it. While driving out at the end of the day I was blessed with a scrumptious view of the Salt River at Mule Hoof Bend that was simply perfect. Really fun trip.


Warning: This canyon is particularly dangerous during summer monsoon months. The upper watershed for Cibecue Creek is very large. Flash floods from the upper watershed can be violent and happen with little notice in the lower canyon. Sun shining at the TH and along the lower hike route does not guarantee safety. Anyone within a 1/4 mile of the upper grotto waterfall (official hike end) would not likely survive a large flash flood. Take great care in analyzing local weather data prior to planning a visit during monsoon season. *See below link for current and historical USGS stream flow data within Cibecue Creek. ... 0065,00060

Cibecue Creek
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We were sort of in the area and I needed to check this one out.

The 4 mile long drive off of Rt 60 was accessible for any vehicle. But......
** Note ** Unless you have 4 x 4, Do NOT try to cross the creek to get to the TH. Park on the east side of the creek and walk across. You are going to get wet anyway. The creek is not deep, is covered in small rocks and looks easy to cross, but you WILL sink and get stuck. I read the Tibber/Snakemarks triplog were they got stuck and had to get towed and there was another non-4 x 4 Toyota that was stuck trying to get back across while we were there. Luckily Joe talked me into parking before crossing.

Now, the hike... We started about 2:30p and there were 7 or 8 vehicles at the TH, so we expected a crowd. Luckily for us, we passed everyone of them leaving, as we were going to the falls.

There are use trails for the majority of this hike on both sides, but why not just walk through the water.

The whole hike was real picturesque, but turning that corner and seeing the falls and that Blue water...BAM!. Quite the site... pictures do not do it justice. We cooled off for a bit and the made our way back to collect the truck.

A long drive out there, but something that needs to be seen.

Video == :next:
Cibecue Creek
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Another August trip here with my son, Nick... this time he brought his girlfriend, Alex. A recent transplant from Michigan, she was suffering through her first summer here and jumped at the chance to join our water adventure. I love playing tour guide to those who are new to AZ. Experiencing their first-timer awe and excitement gives me the opportunity to see old places through new eyes and it helps to remind me never to take this incredible landscape for granted. She was so impressed simply from the 2+ hour drive to get there, the trip was a success before the hike even began. "WOW!" would be the word of the day.

With all of the recent rain, I was afraid the creek water would be muddy like last year. When the Salt River came into view as we drove in, it looked like melted chocolate. There was so much mud in the water that it was creating new islands as it settled out. Although I knew this was no indication of the creek conditions, I mentally prepared for the worst just in case. But, the Universe smiled on us and as we neared the end of the dirt road, I could see clear water merging into the muddy Salt - the exact opposite of the situation last time. In spite of the Salt River looking like a fast moving mudslide, the creek was fairly clear and completely inviting. We wasted no time getting our feet wet.

The banks were muddy (as always, I suspect) and there was only one other set of human footprints, along with those of his obviously large dog. There were a lot of animal tracks - raccoon, coyote, black bear, cow (what?!). Several cow pies later, I was thinking how hilarious it would be to see a cow walking around in here. The only way in or out of the creek was via the road we came in on and it seemed like an odd place for a cow to be. There were lots of deep pools filled with small fish that would nibble our legs if we stood still too long (creepy).

When we reached the falls, we discovered that it was already occupied by a group of four - ducks. They were 'playing' - racing back and forth in the frothy water in front of the thundering falls. We watched with much amusement for 15 minutes until they tired of our scrutiny and sped off down the creek, skimming the water in a half run/half fly that was even funnier.

On our hike back out was when I spied the bear tracks that were heading toward the falls. I'm glad I didn't see them earlier on our way in, as I would have been compelled to spend the entire hike on orange alert instead of having fun.

Aside from the two suspicious looking men we saw sitting in a parked truck near the turn off from the highway on our drive in, we saw no other people or vehicles all day.

Great trip! :y:
Cibecue Creek
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I usually enjoy a hike more the second time I do it. On the first pass through unfamiliar territory, sensory overload and the greater need for navigational awareness causes me to miss a lot of other details that are better appreciated in subsequent visits. But then, sometimes your first impression of a place is so glorious that it sets the bar impossibly high for future success...

Arriving at the creek, my enthusiasm abruptly tanked when I saw the velvety, chocolate milk colored water, thickly saturated with sticky mud. I had my son with me and at the same time I said, "Oh, #%@!", he said, "Oh, COOL!" Talk about different perspectives! Being a fairly recent transplant from the cooler and much wetter Pacific Northwest, he was more than sick of roasting alive in the scorching desert and just the simple fact that he was standing in cool liquid caused him to be delirious with joy. My disappointment over the situation was lost on him as he rushed ahead into the frothy, brown waters. ~ sigh ~ I guess sometimes you gotta look at things through someone else's eyes to reconnect with reality. He was thrilled enough for both of us, and since that was my primary goal in coming here, the trip was already a success.

But, oh the mud! With zero visibility in the water, caution was King and the going was painfully slow at times. Fortunately, there were enough opportunities for land travel to keep up a decent overall pace. And, I have to agree, cool liquid is also King (regardless of hue or viscosity) and we took advantage of every opportunity along the way to drop our packs and submerge. But, nothing prepares you for what's around that last bend. Muddy or not, the falls are still awesome and well worth the price of admission (which is still $15).

There has been some discussion over the distance to the falls and I am pleased to be able to settle that debate... sort of. I had the brilliant revelation of putting Lithium Ultimate AA's in my GPS instead regular or rechargeable batteries, thinking that the 'enhanced' power might be able to pull in a signal. This was (nearly) a complete success and I had a perfect GPS track all the way to the falls. When we stopped to enjoy a long break there, I tucked my pack under the deep alcove where my GPS continued it's 'journey' without me, logging an additional 2.5 miles of wild spaghetti which obliterated the track with nonsense. Luckily, I had the presence of mind to set a waypoint before it went haywire, so I have the co-ordinates for the falls (see last photo in set). The actual distance to the falls (as a smooth line drawn on a TOPO map) is just over 1.5 miles. The distance you must hike to get there is somewhat greater, depending on conditions. In our blind, serpentine trek for the best route, we logged 1.85 and it took us over 2 hours (but, we goofed off a lot).

Note: Unless your ride has wings, the 4 mile dirt road going in is currently impassable at the creek's confluence with the Salt River. The drop-off from the bank is enough to bottom out a monster truck and the creek is a minefield of giant boulders that you can't avoid (no, I did not try it). Parking would be along the road wherever you could squeeze in without blocking it.
Cibecue Creek
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The time quoted here is 6.5 for the hike that includes about an 1.15 hour for various breaks (lunch, photo-stops, brief swiking) and an hour at the Falls PLUS the 1 hr 45 min hike from Cibecue Creek Trailhead to US 60.

The Cibecue Creek hike is NOT a 2 mile round trip. I'm not complaining, I'm just saying. From the various research we have read, it looks like the trip is 2.5 miles ONE way.... which is great because it's worth every tenth :) . Kat's GPS figuring is 2.65 miles to the Falls.

It was a great day, slightly warm at times, but tolerable; especially on the way back when we had so much shade. We started around 10:45AM, had lunch around 1, headed to the Falls at 1:45, reaching the Falls at 2 (we didn't realize we were that close). We swiked at the Falls for an hour, though it didn't seem like it was that long, and then headed back about 2:50. We stopped again for some swiking at the south turn for about 15-20 minutes arriving back at the trailhead around 5:20.

If you haven't figured out what "swiking" is it is swimming with hiking boots... therefore, not technically swimming cuz after all, who swims with hiking boots on :D . Anyway, this is a great hike even though there are a couple places you can get sucked in by the gooey mud, it is a relatively easy creek hike. Your feet do stay wet most of the time. It appears to have rained a few days prior because of the amount of mud close to the shore. There are lots of little cascading waterfalls that meander over and through various size boulders. We didn't see much in the way of wildlife and saw only 6 other humans.

Of course, as you probably have gathered from Suzaz's photoset, after the hike we had a little problem getting across the creek to the road. The creek bottom, as noted by other triplogs, is a little slippery with all those rocks but the kicker for us was the mud that started to suck us in as we were crossing up the other side. We lost our momentum and then just ended up spinning one back tire then the other in an attempt to gear our way out.

Susan suggested she would hike out. Kat & I after considering and then nixing the idea of jacking up the vehicle to clear out some of the rocks below the rear axle, we decided to stick together and head out for help. So at 6:15 or so we gathered water, headlamps and cell phones to make our way to US 60. Kat put on her rocket shoes and was off like lightning to get to the road before we lost total daylight. She flagged down a driver (she arrived about 15 minutes ahead of us) and then we walked to the closed rest area (at the southside of the Salt River Canyon bridge) to flag down one more person to make sure someone else was aware of our plight.

At about 8:45ish, Mike from DPS pulled up. The first and second drivers we had flagged down had indeed made the calls for us. (There is NO cell service on this part of the reservation). While we waited for the tow truck and talked to Mike, we observed the incredible star-lit sky and thought about how lucky we were... ya, Kat later said, "lucky to stay one step ahead of disaster" :scared: . I wouldn't say disaster exactly but at the time, it felt like it could turn into one.

Our tow truck driver, John, was told in error that we were broke down so brot a long flatbed truck. Nonetheless, he got us out in short order so that we could arrive home by 1:30AM for Susan, 2:00AM for Kat and 3:00AM for me - a 22 hour day. I cannot remember the last time I've been up that long.

Great hike for the summer. The drive from Gold Canyon is pretty as well. The road down to Cibecue Creek is a bit rough. We never did get to the place we wanted to take our sunset pictures... maybe next time. ;)

Permit $$
• Some areas are closed to access from Labor Day to April 1st, read about it in the link provided below.
• Permits, closures and regulations at White Mountain Apache Tribe < Cibecue, Black River, Salt River, etc.
Sunrise Park Resort

Map Drive
FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

To Cibecue Trailhead
From Globe head north for about 40 miles on US60. Continue to where US60 goes down into the Salt River Canyon. Just after it crosses the river there is a dirt road on the left(west), take it. In a very short distance the road forks. Take the right over the cattle guards. Continue on this for about 4 miles to Cibecue Canyon. Be very careful in the first couple miles down. The edge of the road is a sheer cliff and is washed out in spots. Not to mention small boulders fall from above. It seemed rather dangerous, but what do I know. You know your there when a side canyon appears on your right. This is Cibecue and it flows right over the road. There's no need to cross the river but there is more room on the other side if it's real busy.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 130 mi - about 2 hours 39 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 143 mi - about 3 hours 7 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 192 mi - about 3 hours 27 mins
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