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Eagle Creek, AZ
mini location map2012-08-28
45 by photographer avataroutdoor_lover
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Eagle Creek, AZ 
Eagle Creek, AZ
Car Camping avatar Aug 28 2012
Car Camping
Car Camping3 Days         
 no routes
1st trip
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Ok, got a Big Cup of Coffee? :sweat: This was quite the Trip!!! :y: Just to set it up a little, so you understand why we ended up there. Chad was starting a brand new job the following Monday and wanted to get one last good Camping Trip in. Kinda of a last hoorah, so to speak.

Finding what we wanted to do and actually being able to do it, turned into quite the process. 1st choice: Chiricahua National Monument. Nope, the entire Monument was closed due to a severe Flash Flood that damaged the Park and took out more than half the Campground....
2nd Choice: Springerville via New Mexico and the Cat Walk. Nope, Cat Walk is still closed due to the Whitewater Fire. 3rd Choice: Silver City, NM, the Gila Cliff Dwellings and the Gila River. Nope, apparently, the Gila Cliff Dwellings and TH's in that area close whenever it rains during Monsoon Season due to concerns of Flash Flooding....Hmmm.... :x : rambo : ](*,)

Apparently, ever since Chad has taken up serious Hiking, he's been brainfarting :doh: and has completely forgotten about Eagle Creek. The Light Bulb went off two days before I was due to be down there, and that became our Destination....Chad sold me on it as a higher elevation (cool temps), very Scenic area, with a sweet Creek. :D It also didn't hurt that few HAZers have ever posted anything on this area, so I felt like we were treading "new ground" so to speak....Besides those reasons, Chad had bigger, better, reasons for going there....

Chad's family actually "homesteaded" that area, several generations ago, and were prominent ranchers in the area. Chad's Grandfather lived there and his Mother grew up there, as well as other numerous relatives..(Too many to count) Chad spent his childhood summers in the area, but hadn't been back there in the last 10 years. Alot of the "homesteads" are still there and are still owned by various members of Chad's family. So this Trip became a Trip down Memory Lane for Chad and a very Sentimental Journey..... :) 8)

Soooo, Monday night, the 27th, I leave for what turns out to be a 5 hour drive down to Safford. Spent two hours on Highway 70 on the Reservation, just outside of Bylas, where apparently someone decided to hit a couple of people walking down the Highway and then drove off. I knew something was up when Reservation PD passed me doing about 150 MPH just before Bylas, (I never had time to even start to pull over), and then just after Bylas, an Ambulance went by. Rounded a corner and was the 5th car eastbound to stop. By the time they opened the Highway, there was over 100. Highway 70 was closed in both directions for 2 hours while we watched 2 Life Flight Helos touch down on the Highway and then take back off.

Finally got to Safford and my standard "just sack out for the night" spot on the Road to Nowhere Overlook, about 1:00 A.M. Got up the next morning, and drove back down to pick up Chad and begin our adventure. As you can only imagine, Chad was stoked!!! :GB:

As we were driving through Clifton, we noticed that the Clifton Cliff Jail was "open". So, of course, we had to stop and check out the inside. We didn't get a chance to see the inside, the last time we were through, so we had to take advantage. It was pretty interesting.... :sweat:

Continued up the Coronado Trail through the Morenci Mine. Noticed a very old and interesting looking Cemetery on a Hill across from the Mine, but decided to wait and check it out on the way back. Hit RWStorm's HL Saddle for some nice Photo opportunities and then continued driving the twisty, turny Coronado Trail, to the Eagle Creek turnoff.

Eagle Creek Road is 22 miles from the Coronado Trail to the end. At the end, there is locked gate. Beyond the gate is the 4 Drag Ranch (We met the Rancher on his way back from a Cattle Drive, we chatted quite awhile with him later.) On the Public side of the locked Gate is the Honeymoon Campground. It only has four sites, two of which have a Restroom. But the Primo site is at the very end, and is right on Eagle Creek. We camped there our second night, after our Hike. It was awesome....

But I get ahead of myself... :sweat: The drive in on Eagle Creek Road was very Scenic and there were alot of stops for Photos. Lots of open Country with Sunflowers and Baby's Breath lining the Road edges and filling the expanses....The Road itself is a good gravel Road, however, you cross Eagle Creek 5 times and these are pretty big crossings. You would have to be very brave (or stupid) to do these Crossings in anything that's not High Clearance. If it wasn't for the Creek Crossings, a car could easily drive this Road. We arrived in the area of Chad's family Homesteads and drove back and forth the last 6 miles or so, checking them out. The Escape got a pretty good breakin/workout on some of these little side excursions... :sweat: I think it thought it was a 4x4 there for awhile... :o We found his Grandfather's Homestead and made our Camp in what used to be his old Orchard, next to Eagle Creek. It was a great spot and Chad set up his tent right underneath a huge Sycamore. Explored the Creek a little. Lots of fresh Bear prints in this area. Had a nice Campfire, and we fell asleep that night, to the sound of Locusts, Crickets, and a babbling Creek. I think we were both possibly anticipating a possible Bear visit that night, but it didn't happen, at least while we were conscious.... :(

Got up the next morning, packed up, and drove to the Honeymoon Campground, which was also the TH for our Hike for the day. (Separate Triplog) We decided to spend that night at the awesome Creekside site there. It worked out great, as we didn't have to go anywhere, once we got back from the Hike. Another beautiful spot, with the practically full Moon rising, lighting up the Sky above and the sounds of the Creek, 20 feet away....Another nice Campfire, relaxing and then we both sacked out pretty well....Chad woke up to the wonderful song of the Rancher's Hounds the next morning... :sl: I love a Hound Dog's bay, but I think Chad had a differing opinion.... :D

Got moving and reluctantly broke Camp. It was hard to leave this place, but will return and it won't take 10 years... :lol: With the exception of the local Ranchers and a couple of hunters on ATVs (most likely also locals, since they didn't appear to be camping), we had this entire Eagle Creek Valley all to ourselves, including the Honeymoon Campground. 8) On the drive back out to the Coronado Trail, we stopped again, numerous times, at the old Homesteads, at his Mom's one room Schoolhouse, and just along the Road for more Scenic Photo Ops. This is indeed a very cool area!!! Serious History, large Scenic Vistas, and awesome Camps!

Hit the Coronado Trail and stopped a couple of places on the way back to Safford. One of these stops was the Cemetery/Graveyard on the Hill across from the Morenci Mine. I feel a little strange taking "Grave" pictures of people I don't know. I almost feel like I'm intruding on these final "resting" places, but the significant History here will prompt me to post a few sites and dates...

Finally got back to Safford to drop Chad off and head up into the Pinalenos for Part II of my Camping Trip. I really enjoyed Eagle Creek, thanks Chad for finally remembering it was there and sharing it all with me. It's a Great area and I look forward to returning.... :y:

I apologize in advance. This is going to be a Photo Bomb! Too many things to see and take Photos of, both Historic and Scenic. Just can't seem to weed it down to a manageable number... ;)
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Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty & well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out & proclaiming, "Wow What a Ride!"
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