Sierra Vista, AZ
October 19 to October 31
On Friday, October 19, I leave Elephant Butte Lake State Park in New Mexico headed for Sierra Vista, AZ. It is about a 300 mile drive so I plan to take two days. I don’t like to drive more than about 200 miles in a day. I had thought of stopping at the Texas Canyon rest area where I had stopped last year on my way to Tucson. Doing some research, I find a BLM area that is about 15 miles north of I-10. I don’t mind stopping in rest areas but the traffic noise can be pretty bad. Also they generally fill up with semis. The 15 mile drive off the interstate is worth the peace and quiet for the night.
This part of eastern Arizona is in the Chihuahua Desert. The large cacti such as the saguaro, organ pipe, and senita aren’t found in the Chihuahua. There are lots of cholla cactus, agave, and creosote bush.
About a quarter mile off the highway, there is a large camping spot that is fine for an overnight. With all the rain in October the dirt road is a little wet. I turn off the highway then walk the road in to the camping spot. The surface is well packed except for a spot right at the turn off from the highway which I was able to drive through with no problem. I am able to park level so I don’t need to unhitch.
The sunrise Saturday morning is beautiful. However it looks like rain is imminent. I want to get off this dirt road before it rains so I get an early start. My drive today is 95 miles to the Quail Ridge RV Resort in Huachuca City, AZ. There isn’t much available as far as public lands camping around Sierra Vista, so I have to stay in an RV Park. Quail Ridge is a basic park, I am not sure what would qualify it as a resort! It seems this word is used pretty loosely by RV parks. The rates are fantastic though. A full hookup site is $13 per night with electric included. Or $10 per night plus 16 cents/KW for electric used. The 12 days I am here, the electric was $12 without running AC.
One evening a severe storm comes through with lots of rain, hail up to 2 inches and up to 60 mph winds. I was pretty scared as I don’t know how a travel trailer would stand up to winds that strong. And 2 inch hail I’m sure would damage my roof and probably the solar panels. I thought of going to the clubhouse, but decided to stay in the trailer. Thankfully, the worst cells passed north and south of me. I was surrounded by water and a few things I had under the trailer blew around. But no damage.
I’m about ten miles from Sierra Vista, which is a good sized city. I have several items I want to take care of while I’m here. When I purchased the truck tires in Cortez, I had a vibration. I returned to the Goodyear store and they re-balanced the tires but this didn’t correct the vibration. The store said the tires were good and it may be caused by the drivetrain or suspension and I should get the truck inspected. There is a Ford dealer in Sierra Vista. They checked the drivetrain and suspension and found nothing wrong. They tried to road force balance the tires but found that three were too out of round to balance. So I actually have three bad tires! It’s pretty annoying that Four States Tire in Cortez was unable to diagnose that the tires were bad and I had to pay to have them checked. There isn’t a Goodyear store in Sierra Vista, so when I get to Tucson I’ll have to go to a Goodyear to get the tires replaced under warranty.
There is quite a bit to do in this area. One day I drive to the town of Bisbee, about 40 miles away. Bisbee started as a mining town. Now it has an eclectic, hippie kind of vibe. The event it is most known for is the Bisbee 1000 Stair Climb – I missed it by a week, drat! The town is built in Tombstone Canyon. Many homes are built up on the sides of the canyon and have steps leading up to them, thus the stair climb.
Several blocks of the main street have lots of historic buildings with very interesting architecture. The museum has a couple of brochures for walking tours that provide details.
These stairs were very steep!
Bisbee is a fun place to visit with lots of good restaurants. The town of Tombstone, of gunfight at the OK corral fame, is on the way home. I knew it was going to be pretty touristy, but even so I was still disappointed in it. Those in the east may remember the Six Gun Territory tourist attraction. That’s what I was reminded of. It seemed kind of fake. I walked the couple blocks and then left. It was late afternoon and I was ready to get home. The only thing really of interest to me was the old courthouse which is now part of the Arizona State Parks system.
About 40 miles northeast in Texas Canyon is the Amerind Museum. The museum has beautiful artwork and archaeological exhibits relating to the indigenous peoples of the southwestern US and northern Mexico. Their annual fall festival is on Saturday, October 27th so I choose that day to visit. In addition to touring the museum, there was a Native American musician playing the flute and other traditional instruments. Also there was a group of dancers from the Navajo nation presenting several traditional dances. Both were very beautiful. They requested that photos not be posted on the internet, so I’m respecting that request. The museum as well does not allow photography of any exhibits. So not much to show as far as photos. The museum was excellent though with great artwork and photography exhibits in addition to lots of artifacts. It is well worth the visit and if you are there for the fall festival, even better. They also have other events throughout the year.
The museum is on the former FF Ranch in Texas Canyon. I did take a short walk along one of the ranch roads. Texas Canyon is notable for its rock formations. If driving along I-10 through the canyon, it is worth stopping at the rest area to take in the beautiful scenery.
Another highlight of this area is the Nature Conservancy’s Ramsey Canyon Preserve in the Huachuca Mountains. The canyon is one of the premier birding areas in the southwest, known particularly for the large number of hummingbirds. This time of year though, the migrating birds have left. The main appeal now is the colors of the hardwood trees in the riparian area of the canyon. The Nature Conservancy is somewhat unique among conservation organizations, in that they use their funds to purchase outright critical lands and habitats for preservation in perpetuity. I support them as much as I can, and recommend them if you desire to give financial support for conservation.
There is a mostly level walk along the creek with interpretive signage. The trees are beautiful, particularly the large sycamores. The day was overcast so not the best for photography.
There are a few remaining historic structures dating to the early 1900s.
These lizards were hanging around the visitors center sunning themselves. I think they are collared lizards, but not positive on that.
There is also a trail leading up into the mountains to a lookout over the canyon. It’s about 2 miles one way.
This tarantula was walking right down the middle of the trail. Glad I didn’t step on him and crush him.
There is more hiking and some other things I want to do while here. But I am concerned about driving too many more miles before getting the tires taken care of. So I decide to cut my stay here short. On Thursday, November 1, I leave for Tucson. I definitely want to return to Sierra Vista again, perhaps in the spring time.
There were a couple pretty sunsets while I was here. Love Arizona sunsets 🙂