Camping in the Forest: Wild and exciting

Coconino National Forest Travel Blog

 › entry 35 of 71 › view all entries

It has been a few years since I went camping: camping is one of the activities I enjoy beside hiking, mountain climbing, travel, dancing, photography to mention but a few. Of recent years, I have let life take a hold of me and some of the very things that uplift my spirit I let fade away. My friend and I had talked about hot springs a while and I had mentioned my trip to Banff coming month. Curt and I hash, hike, camp, travel and enjoy many more activities than many friends I have, so he suggested we go camp and hike the Coconino National Forest while promising a magical time at the hot springs. I did not know what to expect bu tin my mind, I could only relate to the hot springs in Lake Bogoria (Kenya) where I went many years ago.

First sign after almost 20 miles of driving on the dirt road
Curt talked about this place like no other, so my excitement built and I decided why not. I took my back pack, my hiking gear including hiking boots and swim suit (which Curt had initially indicated would not be necessary, I did not care to ask or know more about what he meant: men have strange minds if you know what I mean). A pair of jeans for the journey, a wrap and made the trip to Gilbert which would be our starting point : Curt was driving.

We left Gilbert later than we had planned because I arrived late: Curt had intended to have us on the road by 9:30 a.m. but we did not hit the road until a little aftter 11:00 a.m. The freeways and interstatres were a little busier than usual (I guess the summer ahead and the bad economy had limited people's vacations to more basic things like camping?), besides the construction there were no traffic delays and we rode on smoothly to Capm Verde.

We made a lunch stop at Camp Verde at the subway where we ordered a meal including fresh sandwich, a bag of chips and a drink of our choice. We took less than thirty minutes at the roadside shopping center since our goal was to arrive at the campgrounds and set camp before sunset as well as be able to hike to the hot springs.

It was a little after one in the afternoon when we began the off road journey down to Coconino National Forest and the Verde River  hot springs: a 26 mile trip took us a littl over an hour and a half because of the road. The road is a safari of it's own but the landscape is breathtaking indeed. The dirt road was busy with many families who had packed their cars and were heading to their favorite camp site down the forest while others wer eheaded for the trek and hiking trails deep within the forest.

Our tent
  We encountered many dirt bikers along the road, some riding so carelessly my heart leaped each time one went passed us. The condition of the road (gravel and sharp turns with blind spots) did not seem to deter the dirt bikers on their mission to conquer the forest trail. Curt himself drove like the road made no difference to him, driving a little over 45 miles on what I would call the death rift, I held tight to my seat for about 6 miles of the down hill drive to the river base, stopping only occassionally to snap a photo of the breath taking views ahead of us.

The Forest is as beautiful as it is breathtaking, the view from above as one decends downward towards the river is amazing. I noticed huge power lines originating from the bottom of the forest - originally a power station that was turned off a little over four years ago as a result of complaints from the environmentalists.

Me and my bag od chips and Dr. pepper
The power station tapped into the Verde river supplying electric power to the four districts that make up the forest including  Red rock, Mormon Lake, Mogollon and Peaks districts I believe. Curt told me it was a good thing because it helped relieve the forest of the damage that was being caused by the power plant. A whole lot of politics was involved, none of which I care to know. I'm happy that the forest has been reserved and the river is now growing back the species of fish that were originally lost.

The forest offers many activities including camping (one of the most popular), hiking, trekking, trailling on horse back or bicycle (I only saw one guy - I thought it was daring because it was very hot), the campers go picnicing and fishing along the Verde river and when the mountain tops cap with snow, there is skiing as well.

Lunch stop at Subway in Camp Verde

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain. 

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
First sign after almost 20 miles o…
First sign after almost 20 miles …
Our tent
Our tent
Me and my bag od chips and Dr. pep…
Me and my bag od chips and Dr. pe…
Lunch stop at Subway in Camp Verde
Lunch stop at Subway in Camp Verde
Lunch stop at Subway in Camp Verde
Lunch stop at Subway in Camp Verde
Subway in Camp Verde
Subway in Camp Verde
Road side shops at Camp Verde
Road side shops at Camp Verde
leaving Camp Verde for the Verde r…
leaving Camp Verde for the Verde …
Dirt road leading to Verde river a…
Dirt road leading to Verde river …
What beautiful skies on this day
What beautiful skies on this day
beautiful sky, the sun tryign to c…
beautiful sky, the sun tryign to …
Curt taking a photo of me while I …
Curt taking a photo of me while I…
The Verde river
The Verde river
Curt rturnign tot he car after a b…
Curt rturnign tot he car after a …
A view of the mountains in the dis…
A view of the mountains in the di…
Desert cacti in bloom, beautiful y…
Desert cacti in bloom, beautiful …
Curts Jeep Cherokee 4X4
Curt's Jeep Cherokee 4X4
Me snapping away
Me snapping away
Huge power line transporters from …
Huge power line transporters from…
Desert cacti in bloom
Desert cacti in bloom
Desert cacti in bloom
Desert cacti in bloom
Inspite of this site, the hot spri…
Inspite of this site, the hot spr…
Our neighbours at the camp ground …
Our neighbours at the camp ground…
Cococino Forest signage and inform…
Cococino Forest signage and infor…
Our camp ground space
Our camp ground space
Our tent
Our tent
Verde River
Verde River
Verde River
Verde River
Verde iver and forest beyond
Verde iver and forest beyond
A few campers crossing the Verde R…
A few campers crossing the Verde …
Curt crossing the river
Curt crossing the river
Me crossing the river and afraid o…
Me crossing the river and afraid …
Me crossing the verde river
Me crossing the verde river
Curt arriving on the other side of…
Curt arriving on the other side o…
The Verde river
The Verde river
The Verde river
The Verde river
Me aproaching the shallow end of t…
Me aproaching the shallow end of …
I made it, LOL!
I made it, LOL!
Me crosing the river
Me crosing the river
Me asking Curt not to take any mor…
Me asking Curt not to take any mo…
Second river crossing to the hot s…
Second river crossing to the hot …
Second river crossing to the hot s…
Second river crossing to the hot …
The hike to the hot springs
The hike to the hot springs
Second river crossing to the hot s…
Second river crossing to the hot …
The hike trail to the hot springs
The hike trail to the hot springs
the hike to the hot springs
the hike to the hot springs
The hike train to the hot springs
The hike train to the hot springs
Second river crossing to the hot s…
Second river crossing to the hot …
Second river crossing to the hot s…
Second river crossing to the hot …
Second river crossing to the hot s…
Second river crossing to the hot …
Curt and I on the hike to the hot …
Curt and I on the hike to the hot…
Second river crossing to the hot s…
Second river crossing to the hot …
Second river crossing to the hot s…
Second river crossing to the hot …
The Verde river at the hot springs
The Verde river at the hot springs
Coffee? sure!
Coffee? sure!
Coconino National Forest
photo by: Africancrab