Continuing in our series of 5 awesome Arizona Day trips you can take in the Southwest, today’s article focuses on a backcountry swimmer’s dream and a true example of Paradise Found: Wet Beaver Creek.
Located on the western escarpment of the Mogollon Rim, the perennially flowing Wet Beaver Creek Wilderness is nothing short of paradise found. Draining an area of 250 square miles, Wet Beaver Creek descends more than 5,000 feet in its 30 mile tumble to the Verde River. What makes this stream particularly appealing for hikers is that it’s a backcountry swimmer’s dream; no fewer than twenty five plunge pools (25 to 75 yards across) must be negotiated. Although a day hike is very enjoyable, the entire wilderness can encompass a 2 or 3 day backpacking trek, providing an unforgettable adventure for both young and old.
Wet Beaver Creek, from start to finish, crosses the divide between the Colorado Plateau to the north and the Basin and Range country to the south. If completing the entire journey, a hiker will trek from verdant ponderosa pine forest at the rim to Sonoran Desert and descend through five geological formations: Basalt, Kaibab, Toroweap, Coconino and Supai.
On a beautiful early fall day, a group of us started our day hike on the Bell Trail in the popular lower end of Wet Beaver Creek. The walk started out mellow and flat but after a mile, the scenery become increasingly colorful. Red Supai sandstone rock formations comprised the rim of the canyon and the walls steepened. We reached the famous Crack, an amazing swimming hole cut out of the Supai formation.
Continuing upstream, true adventure began. The rugged character of this riparian wilderness revealed itself as we splashed, waded and swam across huge plunge pools. The forest canopy thickened and red rock outcrops soared overhead. We swam through a huge pool which was especially charming; a balanced rock towered above us.
At our lunch spot and turn-around point, we scrambled to a remote prehistoric Indian Ruin. Wet Beaver Creek lies within the ancestral lands of the Sinagua culture and archaeologists are still investigating evidence of their prehistoric occupation at Wet Beaver Creek. The Sinagua were hunters and gatherers, utilized extensive irrigation systems and were believed to be the first to trek and swim the length of Wet Beaver Creek. Throughout the Verde Valley, Sinagua rock art and extensive ruins are abundant. Nearby Montezuma Castle National Monument and Montezuma Well are outstanding examples.
When it comes to the Top 5 Arizona Day Trips to take, an exploration of Wet Beaver Creek is an astonishingly beautiful trek and well worth the time and effort. To view highlights of this epic adventure, turn up your speakers and enjoy this three minute video. Happy trails!
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