Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Cienegas Nature Preserve, Arizona Spring 2017

                  Q at the Union Pacific trestle train watching late in the day

This past Spring I discovered a gem about 40 minutes east of Tucson called Cienegas Nature Preserve. The preserve combines many of my passions into one area including train watching, hiking, and riparian areas.Since my first visit with Q I have been back multiple times. The main entrance point is at the Gabe Zimmerman Davidson Canyon Trailhead on Marsh Station Road. This trailhead is one of the main access points for the Arizona Trail in this area as well as providing access to trails that run along Cienegas Creek. The Union Pacific operates on two tracks in the area so there are many locations to view trains in the area. For train watchers the best place to watch trains is just passed Gabe Zimmerman where trains cross Cienegas Creek on a large trestle. Be sure to not walk on the railroad tracks and always expect a train.

The Pima County regional Flood Control District acquired 4,000 acres in order to preserve and protect a perennial  stream as well as biological resources in the area. Because of the mission at Cienegas, Pima Country requires visitors to acquire a permit which is free of charge. There are also regulations that seek to preserve the stream including dogs having to be on leash, no campfires, no shooting and no camping.   (Information from http://webcms.pima.gov)
                            Cienegas creek and lush riparian vegetation

                              Q and I watching freight train while walking in preserve

                                  Cool tree along bank of creek


                               Another cool tree

                          Westbound stack train crossing trestle. Eastbounds take lower track.

Tonto National Monument April 6, 2017

                           Artifacts at upper dwelling

Directions and General Information: Tonto National Monument is located off of Highway 188 near Roosevelt Lake about 15 to 20 miles north of Globe, Arizona. The monument was created to protect two Salado cliff dwellings. The lower cliff dwelling is accessible by a 1 mile round trip hike. The upper cliff dwelling is accessible by guided tour only September through April.  I visited Tonto in early April because it was one of their final weekends that the tour to the upper dwelling was offered before summer. The upper cliff dwelling has less damage which is one of the reasons it is accessible only by tour. During the summer the trail is not shaded and really hot for visitors. If you go the entrance fee is $5 per person but all Interagency passes are accepted. Presently the trail to the lower dwelling is only open from 8 am to 1 pm but the visitor center is open until 5 pm.

History of the Salado Peoples: Prior to 1250 CE the Ancestral Pueblans (Salado People)  migrated from the Colorado Plateau and the Mogollon Plateau in search of a permanent and stable homeland. They settled in the Tonto Basin because of its abundance of water and wild game. From about 1250 to 1450 the Salado People created irrigation canals to create crops, harvested wild plants and hunted game. Around 1450 the climate changed negatively effecting the Ancestral Pueblans. The region became more arid with a falling water table and there were more prolonged droughts. During certain months of the year catastrophic flooding damaged the irrigation canals rendering farm land useless. By 1450 the Salado people began to move to out of basin. (Information from www.nps.gov)
               Me at the upper cliff dwelling

                  Blooming Hedgehog cactus

                         Lower cliff dwelling

                          Upper cliff dwelling

                   Upper cliff dwelling

                  Trail to upper cliff dwelling, about three miles round trip

                      Upper cliff dwelling with Roosevelt Lake in back ground

                  Looking out toward Roosevelt Lake; upper cliff dwelling

                   Rock overhang; upper cliff dwelling

                   More rooms at the upper cliff dwelling

             Looking toward Roosevelt Lake on trail to upper cliff dwelling