Monday, February 18, 2013

Roosevelt Lake and Tonto National Monument

My first camping trip of the year in the books. Its one of the bonuses of living in Arizona; you can camp and backpack year round. This trip was strictly car-camping, with a little bit of hiking and fishing mixed in. We camped about 100 yards from the beach on Theodore Roosevelt Lake (which is actually a reservoir) in Tonto National Forest. It was a beautiful camp with great lake views, and surrounded by barren desert peaks, the highest among them covered in snow. 

Roosevelt Lake camp
I wish I could report that I caught a bunch of fish, but unfortunately I was skunked, which seems to be occurring with more frequency the older I get. In fact this was the second trip in a row I didn't catch anything. Luckily the trip up to Tonto National Monument was a huge success. The impressive cliff dwelling were built from siltstone in a huge cave by the Silado peoples around 1300 AD. 

Lower ruins
Lower ruins - Tonto National Monument
Unfortunately I could not get the picture I wanted. From this angle the light wasn't right, and the Park service is very strict about keeping people on trail, so I couldn't photograph it from a different direction. But still, I wanted to show you what the ruins look like, because they are just really cool.

Close-up of a room in the lower ruins
The lower ruins have 19 rooms. The much bigger upper ruins boast 40, but the park strictly controls access to it. The only way to see it is by a Ranger guided tour, and you have to make reservations in advance. From the photos I've seen of the upper ruins, it would definitely be worth the extra effort to see them.

View of Roosevelt Lake from the Lower Ruins trail.
 Roosevelt Lake is the biggest lake entirely within the state if Arizona, but like I mentioned before, its actually a reservoir created by damming the Salt River. Its crazy how much we humans can alter the earth's landscape, but as much as I dislike it, I cant help but be impressed with what we can accomplish.

Roosevelt Dam
Roosevelt Dam (lakeside view)
 Overall it was fun trip. Car camping can be a really good time, but I cant help but long for a little more solitude. Hopefully I can get out backpacking soon. Sarah and I are talking about a possible backpack/or camping trip in Saguaro National Park this weekend. Either way I am always happy when I can get away from the city and enjoy the peace of mind that one can only get from the outdoors.

Mountains just after sunset. View from our camp.

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