Have you ever woken up late on a Saturday and were disappointed that an adventure was going to be out of the question? Well, fear no more. I have a wonderful trip that can be done in only half a day.
It began just as I have said. I had enjoyed a great night out on Friday and now it was Saturday. I was paying the price of my good time by waking up at 10:30 am. Disappointment set in. I really wanted to go on an adventure.
I decided I probably had time to make a quick buzz up to Flag (Flagstaff) for a lunch. I would have to pretend that Interstate 17 was an exciting path.
Soon I was traveling north along with many others. All of us were making a beeline up to the cool air. It was quite a sight, watching several SUV’s jockeying for position on the ascent up to Sunset Point just outside of Phoenix.
After passing the rest stop, I continued on. All the while, I kept thinking if I just had more time I could veer off I-17 and head down a dusty trail. That’s when I remembered the small town of Cherry. Cherry was a stopover for stagecoaches and travelers going between Fort Whipple in Prescott and Fort Verde in Camp Verde. The road today covers the same trail used in Arizona’s early years. I knew the town was just west of the Interstate.
When I came to exit 278 I made my decision, lunch in Flag would have to be another day. I traveled down State Highway 169 for about six miles. Once I spotted the sign for Cherry I turned right and headed north. Basically, the mostly dirt road parallels Interstate 17 and is in good enough condition, weather permitting that is, for passenger cars to make the trip.
At first, the terrain revealed low bushes with mountains surrounding you at almost every turn. Then the bushes give way to tall pines. There are several pullouts along the roadside where campers could be spotted. The sunlight flickered through the trees casting shadows along my path.
Shortly afterward the pines disappeared and cottonwoods could be seen. I found myself inside a canyon. There were a few homes dotting the area. I was in Cherry. The Cherry Volunteer Fire Department truck marked my location. Cherry causes you to reconsider your decision to live in a big city. The simple life of dirt roads, the changing colors of the cottonwood leaves and the warm feeling of knowing all of the people around you envelopes you as you look around the tiny town. The word “charming” comes to mind.
After going through town, the road begins its climb up the mountain. The road is winding with steep drop offs, so proceed cautiously. In late October, the mountainside looks like maple syrup is sliding down the ravines. The colors of the trees are a brownish golden hue.
The first vista that looks to the north is where you must stop and pull over. You will want a camera for this sight. The view includes, starting in the west, the Mingus Mountains and the town of Cottonwood. As your head begins to move to the east, the red rock canyons of Sedona will make ones eyes pop. Then dead center in your line of sight is the Mogollon Rim with the San Francisco Peaks showing off their snow-capped tops. Continuing your turn, the town of Camp Verde with the Mogollon Rim as it backdrop is in the east. Talk about a panoramic view. This is it! It is a view that sums up the state – impressive.
When I finally got back into my truck and began down the trail again, I discovered that there were several more opportunities to stop and take in this expansive view. I know I keep repeating myself but the view is amazing.
After dropping down off the mountain, you arrive in Camp Verde Valley. The dirt road bumps right into State Highway 260. Take a right and head east and within minutes you will see Interstate 17. From here it is a quick hop, skip and a jump and you are back in Phoenix.
I think after you make this adventure you will have to agree that it is the ideal trip to take, especially if time isn’t on your side. However, if you do have a whole day don’t pass it up. You can always sample a tasty treat at DQ in Camp Verde at the end of your drive and then head home.
Until next time, experience Arizona by taking an Arizonan Adventure.