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2016-12-27  
Pinacate Schuk Toak VC and trail, SO
mini location map2016-12-27
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Pinacate Schuk Toak VC and trail, SO 
Pinacate Schuk Toak VC and trail, SO
 
Hiking avatar Dec 27 2016
tibber
Hiking0.75 Miles
Hiking0.75 Miles
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1st trip
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desertgirl
I had decided on our drive back from Rocky Point we should check out the El Pinacate Preserve Visitors Center which is approx 13 miles north of town (13 miles from the northern most traffic light) and 4 1/2 miles west off the highway. It was named one of the "13 Natural Wonders of Mexico" in 2008. I've driven by the area many, many times but now they have an off the grid visitor center and some interpretive trails http://cometorockypoint.com/pinacate-re ... tion-stop/. There is also a loop drive you can do but we didn't have time for that today.

The VC is self-sustaining built in the middle of the lava beds. We went in and looked around and paid our $5 fee per person; thank you Mia. Out the back are two interpretive trails; we took the geological trail. There are numerous interpretive signs along the way and of course the awesome views including three peaks; Pinacate, Carnegie and Medio. This area is one of the most significant visible landforms in North America seen from space. A volcanic system, known as Santa Clara is the main part of the landscape. El Pinacate receives less than 4 inches of rain per year and is the hottest part of the Sonoran Desert. The reserve is over 1.7 million acres :o .

After enjoying this nice little hike, we went in to view the video about El Pinacate y Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve. It was a great movie but the coloring could stand to be updated. They talked about the great loop drive you can do and there is even camping available. Needless to say, this is on my "Must do" list. In the area there are over 540 species of plants, 40 species of mammals, 200 of birds, 40 of reptiles, also amphibians and freshwater fishes. There are threatened endemic species as sonoran pronghorn, bighorn sheep, gila monster and desert tortoise. The pictures of the glyphs were very impressive as the glyphs themselves seemed to be more sophisticated than what we are accustomed to seeing.

There is another hike you can do close by but we didn't have the time so we just had a "leftovers" picnic, this time with sunshine, under the nearby ramadas. As usual on a Rocky Point stay, there's always too much food. Some other interesting facts about the area:
  • The reserve has the highest concentration of "Maar" like craters (calderas) in the world. (I believe azwandering bear saw one this past week).
    Its volcanic shield has more than 500 cinder cones, lava flows, streambeds, alluvial fans and mountain ranges of basalt, tuff and granite.
    The Gran Desierto de Altar is the LARGEST active dune field in North America.
    It is the most biologically diverse desert in the world.
    This place gave rise to the Tohono O'odham (Papago).
and here is a video from our visit: [ youtube video ]
and this includes pictures from the drive toward Phx [ youtube video ]
_____________________
For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination.
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.
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