Yesterday, we made the decision to drive to the mountains today. We talked about camping in the Superstition Mountains and after some research we figured, Why not. It seems that these mountains are really the only place around Phoenix (that we found anyway) that you can BLM camp. Some people on Facebook had also told me that you can camp up there...so away we went to the Superstition Mountains. It seemed like it took us all friggin' day to get up there...oh wait it did! Even with them being about a half hour away from where we were staying at the Lone Butte Casino, it took us the entire day to drive up there. We haven't been getting too early of a start on our day these days...it's been nice to sleep in and do what we need to do, not rushing and all of that. And yes, my emotional attitude is nothing to contend with either these days...it takes time people! ツ Anyway, by the time we got in our exercises, soccer ball kicking and brunch it was a little later in the day than we had anticipated but figured we'd be up in the mountains in no time anyway, so we just ran with it. We were on the Interstate for a few miles and hit bumper to bumper traffic, not due to rush hour, due to them closing off the Interstate for the next 3 exits...okay. We took back roads to Interstate 60 and from there it was smooth sailing.
We drove through the town of Apache Junction, the town that sits at the base of the Superstition Mountains, and kept on the road to where the BLM camping is...or so we thought! It's a beautiful drive through the Tonto National Forest. You drive on a two lane road, one lane going in each direction, sometimes the road is straight and there's tons to look at and at other times the road is dangerously curvy, narrow and twisted and yours truly is hanging on for dear life! The mountains have a million cactus of all kinds along bushes, shrubs and trees...it's crazy to see so many "wild" cactus!
We stayed on this road, for what seemed like (especially to my stomach) 20 miles...but I really only think it was like 5 or 7, less than 20 minutes! We saw a pull-off with a parking lot and decided to pull over and make a decision about what we were going to do. We pulled off at Canyon Lake Vista, a gorgeous scenic view of the mountains and Canyon Lake...but that's all it was, just a view.
Since it was so late in the day, we thought we would drive back down the mountain (same way we came in) and see if we missed something...anything, that looked even close to BLM land to camp for the night, because it didn't really look promising the way we were going. So, we drove back down.
We passed a campground called Tortilla Flat...that was closed for the season and another campground...that was also closed. Even if they were open, they were still paid campgrounds and if you know anything about us, we don't pay to camp! We did more driving and more turning around, heading down dirt roads only to find fences along them with no entry.
[caption id="attachment_3777" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Seems like such a "waste"[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3778" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Fenced in...or fenced out?[/caption]
We found this one turn off that seemed like the most promising out of everything we had done today, but we were wrong (once again) about that. Talk about mega traffic; foot and vehicle. This was the place everyone came to hike into the Superstition Mountains!
[caption id="attachment_3779" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Pretty awesome![/caption]
The trail, First Water Trailhead, dead-ended us into a parking lot. At this point in the day, it's about 5:00 p.m., the sun is setting, all the hikers are walking off the trails back to their vehicles and here we are, just getting here! haha We thought, "Why not at least walk down onto the trail a little ways just to see some things."
We walked down the trail about 100 steps, the sun crept behind those mountains so fast, it turned pretty darn chilly so we walked back to the van. When we got to the trailhead, we saw not only hikers but also two Sheriff's trucks as well. They don't call these mountains The Superstition Mountains for no reason, a lot of people (especially the ones that go off trail) get lost...and are never found out here. We were sure the Sheriff's were there for everyone's safety.
[caption id="attachment_3780" align="aligncenter" width="300"] A BIG place![/caption]
Okay, well now we are sitting in the parking lot of this hiking trail with nowhere to camp for the night! We make the decision to just go back to the casino and do more research on these mountains and BLM places to camp....what else can we do!? We hit up a Taco Bell on our way back, we're both famished and don't want to even think about what we're going to make once we're back in the casino lot. It seemed like Taco Bell didn't really have their "act together" either because they gave us more food than what we had ordered, not noticing it until we were a few loaded grillers in and many miles down the road! I guess it all evens out somehow, right!? haha Even though I could have taken an attitude adjustment early on in the day, it still was a good day. We were able to see the beautiful Superstition Mountains and see what was available...er, not available to us for dispersed camping, as well as a day out of the casino lot and on the road. When we got back to Lone Butte, we took a walk through the casino, (we had not done that yet). It's a really nice place inside, smoky but nice. Now we're back in Joon, ready to call it a day and veg out to some tele in the fort.
[caption id="attachment_3783" align="aligncenter" width="225"] The Lot Loners[/caption]
I hope you all found your way today!