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USA 2007
Adventures in Arizona and New Mexico
Week 1 Week 2 Week 3


Saturday, 5th May, sunny
On the plane to Phoenix, Arizona
Accommodation: Best Western Apache Junction

On Saturday, 5th May, we boarded a plane from Düsseldorf via Atlanta, Georgia, to Phoenix in Arizona where we arrived in the early evening, local time. We picked up our rental car, a Jeep Liberty, and drove approximately an hour to Apache Junction where we had booked the Best Western Apache Junction Inn ($62 + Tax AAA Rate, nice breakfast area with do-it-yourself waffles).

Sunday, 6th May, sunny, 28 °C
Apache Trail - Saguaro NP West
Accommodation: Comfort Suites Sabino Canyon, Tucson
Miles driven: 255

We were up early, left at 7:20 a.m. 10 minutes later we arrived at the ghost town Goldfield, then we took on the 48 miles long unpaved Apache Trail to Lake Roosevelt. We had a prickly pear ice-cream at Tortilla Flat and the prickly pear cactuses along the road had pretty yellow flowers. From Globe we took the scenic route via Miami and Superior (Scenic Route) to Florence. We visited the Casa Grande Ruins and it was still early enough to see the western part of the Saguaro National Park which I had already visited with my aunt and uncle in 1991, but I didn’t remember much from that time.

This time the giant Saguaro cacti were in bloom. We did the Desert Discovery Trail, drove the Bajada Loop Drive and hiked the short Valley View Overlook trail and up to the petroglyphs on Signal Hill. Watched the sunset from Gates Pass. We checked into the  Comfort Suites Sabino Canyon hotel in the eastern part of Tucson for three nights ($79 AAA Rate per night for a large room with kitchenette, nice inner courtyard, good continental breakfast.

Monday, 7th May, a.m. partly cloudy, p.m. cloudy, 31 °C
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum - Saguaro NP East
Accommodation: Comfort Suites, Tucson
Miles driven: 79

Next day we visited the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum ($12 each), which is mostly a zoo. After spending 5 hours here we drove to the eastern section of the Saguaro National Park (1 hour across town). We did the Loop Drive and hiked the Loma Verde Loop (~4 miles in under 2 hours). The cacti in the western part of the Saguaro NP are more impressive, but the eastern part offers more options for hiking. Unfortunately the sky was grey this afternoon, so there was no chance of a nice sunset. Went back to the hotel for their happy hour.

Tuesday, 8th May, a.m. sunny, p.m. cloudy 31 °C
Pima Air & Space Museum - Catalina Highway
Accommodation: Comfort Suites, Tucson
Miles driven: 120

This morning we went to see the Pima Air & Space Museum ($10,75 with AAA discount) where among others the aircraft of John F. Kennedy is displayed. We spent a bit more than an hour. Afterwards we went to find the Tanque Verde Falls in the eastern part of Tucson but they were dry at that time of year. In the afternoon we drove up the Catalina Highway, 26 miles to Mount Lemmon high above Tucson. It was almost snowing at the top! Back down in Tucson we did a tram tour ($5) in Sabino Canyon. Quite hot in the sun down here, fire danger was "high". Saw a rattlesnake crossing the road at one of the tram stops! Met with two folks from the USA travel community at Appelbee’s for dinner.

Wednesday, 9th May, sunny, 30 °C
San Xavier Mission - Madera Canyon - Tombstone - Bisbee
Accommodation: Larian Motel, Tombstone
Miles driven: 171

Our first stop today was at San Xavier Mission, then we drove to Madera Canyon where we hiked the Natural Trail as a 2.7 miles loop. This is a bird watcher's paradise. We even saw a few hummingbirds. From the road we saw a few deer. Via unpaved Box Canyon Road we reached Tombstone, just in time for the re-enacted gunfight of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday at the OK Corral at 2 p.m. ($7,50). We checked into the Larian Motel just across the road from the historic centre ($69 + tax, not bad). Being in Tombstone is like being in a Wild West movie. In the late afternoon we drove to Bisbee, an old mining town before returning to Tombstone for the night. For dinner we went to The Depot Steak House, then for a drink with live music in Big Nose Kate Saloon.


Thursday, 10th May, sunny, 29 °C
Chiricahua NM - Steins Ghost Town
Accommodation: Holiday Inn, Deming
Miles driven: 213

This morning we got on the road at 6:45 a.m. Via unpaved roads to Gleeson, Elfrieda and Rucker we reached Chiricahua National Monument after 68 miles at 8:15 a.m. We parked at Echo Canyon Trailhead and hiked Echo Canyon, then via Sarah Deming Trail up to the Heart of Rocks. A beautiful Sonoran Mountain Kingsnake crossed our trail! We learnt later that it's not poisonous. Via Big Balanced Rock Trail and Mushroom Rock Trail we were back at our car after 5 hours (15 km). Here is a description of the Echo Canyon Trail and Heart of Rocks Trail. We left the park at 2:30 p.m.

Via Apache Pass to Fort Bowie we reached the interstate I-10 and after a short stop at the ghost town Steins we reached Deming at 5 p.m. (6 p.m.New Mexico time). We got a room at the Holiday Inn ($60+Tax).


Friday, 11th May, a.m. sunny, p.m, cloudy, 29 °C
City of Rocks - White Sands NM
Accommodation: Motel 6, Alamogordo
Miles driven: 230

We were ready to go at 9 a.m., but when we got to the car park we noticed we had a flat tire! We called up Alamo, then we got it repaired at Big O Tires for  $10 and within 30 minutes!

We drove to the City of Rocks ($5 per car). It took an hour to get there. We climbed through the rocks and met another snake that seemed to be more afraid than we were. It fled up a tree...  At 12:15 p.m. we drove back the road to Deming. At 3 p.m. we reached Alamogordo and checked into Motel 6 ($39). We went for a early dinner at Applebee's.

At 4:30 p.m. we entered White Sands National Park. We walked the Dune Life Nature Trail and the Interdune Boardwalk and drove the 8 miles long Dunes Drive to its end that was still covered with sand from a flooding in the last autumn. Then we hiked a part ot the Alkali Flat Trail across the white gypsum dunes into the Heart of the Sands. Unfortunately it was rather cloudy and we had to wait for the sun to return. At least we hardly had any wind which can be a pain at this time of year in the dunes. With some rain in the distance we got rewarded with a beautiful rainbow. We stayed until sunset at 7:45 p.m. before we returned to Alamogordo. We didn't happen to see any of the Stealth Fighters that can sometimes be seen in this area. Occasionally the park gets closed for missile tests. Details can be found here .


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