Saturday, April 5, 2014


Feeling the lure of the wide open spaces in our adopted state, SWMBO and I took a road trip yesterday.  We headed into Prescott, then out White Spar Road and southwest through miles of heavily forested land. There were still scarred areas from a huge forest fire many years ago. On through the small communities of Wilhoit, Peeples Valley and Yarnell, which is becoming an antique haven.

Incidentally, many towns are named for people.  Prescott was named for the historian most well-known for his book The Conquest of Mexico, William H. Prescott.  He was a lawyer in Boston and never visited the town that bore his name.

Peeples Valley is named for a successful prospector, A.H. Peeples, the leader of a group that discovered Rich Hill, a gold deposit in 1863.

Yarnell was named for another prospector, Harrison Yarnell, who discovered the Yarnell mine in 1873.  Half of this town was destroyed by a fire that took the lives of 19 firefighters last June. But homes are being rebuilt and the small community is fighting back from the tragedy.

Just outside of town, Yarnell Hill descends 1,300 feet in four miles. The views are spectacular.

The trip down the mountainside on a divided highway is winding and could make one nervous.  High, rock-covered ledges on one side and sheer drops for hundreds of feet on the other of the narrow road.

I know.  I don't have any pictures of that road and its hazards.  I was driving.  Okay?

Anyway we crossed the plain below and journeyed on to Wickenburg, our destination for the day, and the Desert Caballeros Western Museum, which was featuring an exhibit of artworks all done by female artists.  No photography allowed but I can tell you the quality of the work was excellent.

After lunch and a little tour around town we headed for home.  I told you the highway coming down Yarnell Hill is divided but heading back before it divides the driver is confronted with this seemingly impossible situation.

It doesn't look like there is any way over that mountain range but the road turns to the right and skirts the highest peaks.

Arizona was formed by volcanic eruptions in the distant past and one can't help wondering about them as miles of tumbled boulders are passed.

By the way, that's a Saguaro cactus in the foreground.  The flower which forms on the top of the stalks is the official state wildflower of Arizona.

Recalling the view from the top of the hill, imagine what the occupant of this southwest-ward facing structure has.

Taking the Kirkland cutoff back to Prescott eliminates much of the winding roads as it travels through the tiny communities of Kirkland and Skull Valley.  The topography is different also.

By the time we returned home we had covered about 150 miles.  In coming days I'll show you some of what we saw in Wickenburg and a surprise encounter in Skull Valley.


Steve said...

Thanks for the tour. I had trouble with the photos opening. Just my ISP I'm sure. They opened fine the second time.

Stephen Hayes said...

An interesting landscape, so different from what we have here near the Oregon coast.

Tom Cochrun said...

A great tour. Must have been a fun day. Looking forward to more.

Judy said...

Sounds like a nice day. I want to see that exhibit too.

Keith Harris said...

Great post, Bruce! I once drove this road: I was younger and braver (sillier?) then!

Catalyst/Taylor said...

OMG Keith, that would have been too much for me. I've driven several times a road east of Phoenix up into the Superstition Mountain region that is somewhat like that but I think "your" road is much scarier. Especially that bridge!

Lowandslow said...

Interesting. What is that big rectangular facility in the valley, visible from the mountain top? A prison?

Catalyst/Taylor said...

We think it's a huge feed lot for cattle.

Should Fish More said...

Nice pictures, road trips to and around the SW are great at this time of the year. I'm currently watching snow flurries.

Sharon Anck said...

I went last weekend to see that very same art exhibit at the Desert Caballeros Museum and I have to say I was so impressed. The show really is quite spectacular and I highly recommend it. It's worth the drive.

I'm very familiar with all of these photos. When my friend David had his cabin in Yarnell, I used to travel that road quite often. I've even been in that house at the top of the hill. It was for sale at the time and the owner was showing it. Makes me wonder who bought it and what it looks like now.

Thérèse said...

I am sure you could find a decent picture of a Saguaro cactus for the people visiting your blog, non? :-) :-)
The views you are showing are beautiful.

Catalyst/Taylor said...

Oui. Some time in the days ahead.

quilteddogs said...

We just missed each other. I was there the last weekend in March for a concert. We also went to the Hassayampa River Preserve. Have you been? Loved the women's art at Desert Caballeros. I wonder when they will let a woman into the Cowboy Artists of America.

Catalyst/Taylor said...

Haven't been to the Preserve. Sounds like another trip.

As for those cow-BOYS . . . the women are equally as talented, it would seem from this show.