Many regions of the United States are extraordinary for their diverse climate and topography. California comes to mind, as well as the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Northwest. But many people don’t consider the Southwest region as being more than desert. Yet, Arizona displays varied scenery, wide-ranging climate and awesome beauty, rivaling if not exceeding any other place. In fact, many parts of Arizona are so magnificent, in their various ways, that they challenge the capacity of human sensibilities to experience them in all their glory and richness.
Consider Phoenix for instance. Hiking in Phoenix and environs is arguably some of the best hiking in the southwest. From lush Sonoran Desert vegetation to picturesque mountain ranges it’s easy to see what attracts hikers to this corner of the world. As you gaze upon towering saguaros and beautiful sky island mountain ranges in the distance, you will understand why hiking in Phoenix should be on every adventurer’s travel bucket list.
Today’s article is the first in a series of 5 incredible Hiking in Phoenix adventures we highly recommend. First up: Devil’s Canyon
Hiking in Phoenix Reflections On Devil’s Canyon
Down, down, down, into the heart of the still, wild canyon we descended, rappelling 60 feet into what is reportedly Arizona’s largest plunge pool. Accompanying us was a lovely, trickling spring-fed waterfall, spilling its precious cargo into the seemingly bottomless pool below. The view from atop a few moments earlier was breathtaking and dizzying, inspiring nothing short of awe. In the distance stood the canyon, resplendently green and dazzling in the late afternoon sun. The canyon walls cast dramatic shadows and there were hundreds of rhyolite hoodoos comprising the cliff sides. Saguaros and other quintessential Sonoran Desert vegetation were scattered among the reddish brown rock.
Check out this cyber journey of a trek through Devil’s Canyon:
Devils Canyon can be explored via a splendid five-mile roundtrip hike, for those who prefer not to partake in a thrilling, but technical canyoneering adventure.
Before we reached the famed Five Pools, the canyon scene was more sylvan and soothing; sporting a riparian forest so dense that sunlight rarely touches the ground. We observed Canyon Tree Frogs hopping about, blue gills racing through the cool dark pools, crayfish, garter snakes, Sonoran Mud Turtles and a rich assortment of birds including red-tail hawks, canyon wrens and ravens. This is Devil’s Canyon, an inviting paradise second to none, set amidst the blazing desert. The canyon is located just 50 miles east of the city of Phoenix.
However, a foreign-owned mining company called Resolution Copper (RCM) operates a mine at the end of Magma Mine Road and they want to expand their operations. The canyon is currently being threatened by a proposed land swap which would allow RCM to extract ore from 7,000 feet below the surface, destroying the water table and the rich biodiversity that exists within its realm. The mine’s operation would also cut-off access for all who treasure this area. The local nonprofit organizations (Queen Creek Coalition and Friends of Queen Creek) have been organized to help preserve the area, but the mine continues to garner support from pro mining Arizona legislators. The site planned for mining is precious for its beauty as well as its history.
The name of Apache Leap, an impressive cliff adjacent to Devil’s Canyon, comes from an event which took place back in the nineteenth century when Apache families threw themselves off the cliffs to avoid capture by U.S. troops.
It is unthinkable that Devil’s Canyon and surrounding environs can be destroyed so that a company could extract copper, which in any case is unlikely to be in short supply. Instead of destroying it, we should make the canyon and Oak Flat a National Monument.
How to help: Please send a letter to your representative and/or the President about why you oppose the land swap and why you believe Oak Flat and Devil’s Canyon should be preserved. We also encourage you to contact Raul Griljalva (https://grijalva.house.gov/contact-raul) the only legislator opposed to the land swap and tell him how much you appreciate his dedication to supporting conservation in Arizona, and for upholding a Presidential Order that goes back to 1955.
For more information about this issue, check out this comprehensive website by Earthworks. Moreover, Arizona Highways recently published an excellent article, The Battle for Oak Flat, representing the San Carlos Apache point of view of this area’s wealth of spiritual, cultural and environmental significance.
Let’s do our part to preserve this wonderful and amazing ecological jewel and oasis in the desert known as Devil’s Canyon!
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