SONORAN DESERT TO PHOENIX
USA Road Trip: Days 15-16
Thursday April 11 Friday April 12, 2019
Casa Grande – Globe – Paysun – Phoenix
Soon after leaving our hotel we discovered that Cada Grande is home to large ancient ruins located a few miles out of town.
The Casa Grande National Monument has the largest of the ruins which stands at four stories high and over 60 feet long. It is the largest known structure built by the Ancestral People of the Sonoran Desert who’ve occupied the area for over a thousand years. The Casa Grande was built around 1350 and abandoned 100 years later. Incredible ingenuity of its inhabitants, building irrigation channels and thriving in such a hostile environment. It is still a mystery as to why the site was abandoned but one theory suggests that it was never meant to be a permanent settlement as the inhabitants were on a longer spiritual journey.
We spent a couple of hours at the site, incredible to see the contrast with its modern surrounds. It was a wonderful action by Government to have the site protected and preserved for future generations.
From Casa Grande we headed eastwards out of the desert and into the Tonto National Forest around Globe and Miami. On the way we passed the huge Pinto Minining region around Miami. It is home to Americas largest copper mine which until recently was owned by BHP Billiton. Globe was an interesting town. A mix of architectual styles in the old town with some quite interesting buildings that suggest a much more prosperous past.
In Globe we stopped briefly to have a look at another archeological site, Besh-Ba-Gowah (a place of metal). It is a 200 room pueoblo built on top of a ridge, developed nearly 900 years ago and occupied for over 300 years.
From Globe we turned back north towards Payson on Route 188. A most beautiful drive in mountainous country passing by the enormous Roosevelt Lake on one side and Saguara cactus lined hillsides on the other. We stopped at Payson for the day.
We didn’t see much of Payson, leaving on Friday morning on our way to Camp Verde for our last archaeological site visit before we returned to Phoenix.
Friday weather was a little mixed, between Payson and Camp Verde we had sunshine, followed by rain then snow before returning to sunshine. All without a huge change in elevation.
At Camp Verde we visited the Montezuma Castle National Monument. It is an awesome five floor structure built into the natural limestone caves along Beaver Creek. It was a beautiful site and great to visit on such a beautiful warm and sunny day. The castle is ideally located close to water and protected from summer heat and warmed by the winter sun. Like Casa Grande, the Montezuma site was also abandoned, around the same time. Such a rich history which we found absolutely fascinating.
The small town of Casa Verde looked very interesting. The old parts of town were like a western movie set.
By Friday afternoon we were on our way to Phoenix zooming south along I-17. Our road trip was coming to an end and time to turn our attention to preparing for the hike.
We also needed to resolve the dispute with AT&T over their incorrect issuing of the original phone card in San Francisco. After two hours dealing with AT&T staff in a store in Phoenix and then over the phone we made some progress but are no closer to having the problem resolved. To add to our frustration we booked into a shocker of a hotel in Phoenix for Friday night. Probably the worst mismatch between photos and reality. So grateful that we booked for only one night.