I have to admit, I was pumped to head up to Sedona after flitting back and forth trying to decide if the weather was going to permit us to go more northerly on our way home, as we had originally planned. As it turned out the weather WAS warming up, and it looked as though we would be able to sleep without fear that our pipes were going to freeze. What a relief!
The next thing we had to do was secure a campsite for the next few days. The problem was, most of the suitable campgrounds were full with Snowbirds heading home, or the campgrounds hadn’t opened for the Spring yet. It was a learning curve moment – many of the campgrounds and forestry areas around Sedona and more north didn’t open up until mid April at least.
To solve this problem, the first stop was the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) Office in Phoenix, who would shed some light on free camping spots in the area(or so we had hoped!). As it turns out, it is the Forestry area in the Sedona Region that has jurisdiction (and thus more information )on that.
As luck would have it, the Ranger for the BLM area closest to the area we wanted to go was in his land office while we were there, and he strongly encouraged us to at least go for a hike at Badger Spring off of Highway 17 heading north from Phoenix toward Sedona. We were sure glad we took his advice. After a 30 minute easy hike in along a dry creek bed, we were rewarded with petroglyphs and a gorgeous, bubbling stream with no-one in sight. It was a prized afternoon for both of us, and Oakley loved chasing a stick and paddling about in the cold, spring run off in the river.
After we had had a quick picnic, we headed about 5 minutes farther up the highway to the Ranger’s second recommendation, and our first real boondocking experience, on Bloody Basin Road. Hopefully the name wasn’t foreshadowing the experience we were about to have!
We used a BLM map to locate a legitimate campsite (rocks that formed a campsite ring was a dead give away too!). It felt a little strange to just pull up anywhere that looked like a campsite and pull in for the night. There is a 14 night limit on the sites, and it does take a little getting used to with both the quiet and the sense of “am I safe out here”?? Admittedly, though we didn’t have vehicles passing us often on the road next to us, every time one did (particularly during the dark, night hours), I would hold my breath until I knew they had gone. To think that there a many people who boondock as a way of life!
We stayed four nights out in the middle of nowhere in this boondocking experience, enjoying the views, the rocks and the adventure of it all. Obviously it didn’t take long to feel comfortable in our remote surroundings!
Thankfully, we had bought an inexpensive solar panel that assisted in boosting our electrical availability, and we rationed our water and bought water for drinking. We made out just fine in that area.
One day we drove way, way further down Bloody Basin Road in our 4×4 Tundra to view a small working ranch (who lives so far in the middle of nowhere?!), and to see if we could find the remains of an ancient Pueblo . It was such an interesting experience visiting our first Pueblo where some of the ancient Sinaguan Indians lived around 1400. Just thinking that these ancient peoples fished, hunted, grew crops and lived on the same land in this apparent desert that we were walking on was an incredible feeling. There were remnants of the rooms of the pueblo and shards of red clay pots that had been used outside the pueblo for cooking. Historians don’t know why the people left this region around 1450 but it appears that all of the Pueblos in the area became deserted around the same time.
One unfortunate incident that seemed to be occurring during the time we boondocked on Bloody Basin was an active search by the local Rescue Team for a missing hiker. Early in the morning and late in the evening we would see about 10 -15 Ranger trucks and 4×4’s come barreling down our road in search of a missing man who had not reported back to where he was to be picked up. Hopefully the search was unneeded and the hiker was located safe and sound. At the time that we left, he had still not been located.
On our final day on Bloody Basin, we took a day trip to Montezuma’s Castle National Monument where we saw Cliff Dwellings. AMAZING! The ingenuity that these people had was unreal. There was a stone castle built into the cave in the rock wall, presumably for those with higher status in the tribe, and a number of other rooms within the holes in the wall of the cliff, accessed by ladders. It was a perfect location with a nearby river for water, fishing and hunting of animals who came to the river for a drink. The people also farmed the flat area at the base of the cliffs.
A second interesting viewing for that day was at VbarV Heritage Site. It was an older ranch that had been built with a large cattle operation for its day, but with the drought surrounding the Great Depression, the market for its cattle collapsed and so did the ranch. However, it had a wonderful petroglyph area on a rock wall on its property. Again the Sinaguan Indians lived in this area because it was near to a river for their sustenance.
On yet another day, we drove north to the Red Rock Scenic Byway toward Sedona and were stunned by the vision of the Red Rock Mountains as we approached Sedona. Being the daytrippers that we are, we continued along to the town of Prescott and wandered its centre square viewing all of the shops and restaurants. It was a great stop off point that allowed us to have a super dog friendly patio lunch at the Barley Hound. Since it was International Dog Day – Oakley even got rewarded with a special treat of steak and rice served on a frisbee. Somebody is spoiled!
After the daytripping, the exploring and the taste of the red rocks that we had seen, we all the more eagerly looked forward to arriving in Sedona at our reservations the next day, showering up and hitting the trail running. Look out Sedona, here we come!