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Aravaipa Canyon
November 18-21, 2015
by Michael Humphrey

Eight brave souls have decided to go backpacking in Aravaipa Canyon. (Quy, Chip, Nancy, John, Andy, Carol, Lin, Michael) We left Phoenix and drove to Pima, Arizona, for lunch, it is a little past the turn off for Aravaipa. We had a good lunch at Juanita’s and then we were off to the Four Mile campground. We then drove on a dirt road for 30 miles to the Four Mile Campground and set up our tents. There were a couple of persons already camping there, but still plenty of sites. We then decided to check out the road to Aravaipa Canyon and the Cliff Dwellings at Turkey Creek. The road crossed the creek a few times in the 16 miles from the camp to the entrance to the canyon. We needed 4 wheel drive to get to Turkey Creek and Andy’s vehicle did not have it. We got Andy turned around and I continued to Turkey Creek to check the road. We did not go on to the Cliff Dwelling at Turkey Creek, because the road was bad and most of the group had turned around. The campground does not have tress, so it would be hot in the summer time, but with running water, flush toilets, sinks and paper towels; it is very nice in the fall.

We get up the next day and repack all our stuff into our backpacks. This was a cold night; looks like mid November may have been a little too late.

Tenting tonight, on the old camp ground.

The temperature got below freezing, as you can see from the frost on the tent. We stopped at the main trailhead and left Andy’s truck there. We then noticed a turkey crossing the road, so we got its picture.

Now let’s talk turkey.

We then continued on to the trailhead and parked the last two trucks in a nice spot. It is now time to get our feet wet, because the trail is Aravaipa Creek for a lot of the distance.

The trail is Aravaipa Creek.

The names of the canyon that we pass are interesting: Parsons, Hell Hole, Paisano and Booger canyon. The creek bed is easy walking for the most part with only a few slippery parts, it is good that all the hikers have walking sticks. We have lunch at Hell Hole. When we exit in a couple of days we will go explore Hell Hole some more. Most of these canyons are only passable for the first 100 yards and then become a jumble of boulders. As we continue on down the creek we find a window in the rock.

Rock Window
Autumn Leaves

We set up our camp a little before Booger at a nice open and flat spot. There is plenty of fall color.

The next day we decide to continue on down Aravaipa creek to see what wildlife we can find.

This is the Aravaipa Trail.

We go past Horse Camp, Virgus and Javelina Canyon. It is interesting how next to the creek we have nice large sycamores and cottonwoods, but higher up is cactus.

Cactus Hill

We have lunch at Painted Cave Canyon. At the west end of Aravaipa the canyon turns into more of a slot canyon. The walls get right down to the stream bed here.

It turns into a slot canyon.
Hiking the west end of Aravaipa Canyon.

The next day it is time to pack up the tents and get ready to exit this bountifully place. We get back to Hell Hole, were we drop our packs, so we can explore. We then continue up the canyon to where Hell Hole becomes a slot canyon.

Hell Hole becomes a slot canyon.

This is not a narrow slot, you cannot reach across and touch both walls at one time. This canyon winds back and forth, so after about 0.5 miles we call it quits and head back. We have lunch here and then continue on back to the trucks. We get everyone and everything back into the trucks and drive back to Globe for supper. It is nice to have a hot meal, with a wash room after three days in the back country.

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updated June 17, 2017