May 29 2015
You drive through the juniper-covered hills, and suddenly, there it is: the Salt River Canyon, formed by thousands of years of a river cutting to the geologic core.
The canyon, one of the most beautiful places in Arizona, is about 40 miles northeast of Globe on U.S. 60. On the drive to its steep and twisting expanse, you'll pass the mining towns of Miami, Claypool and Globe.
Here are places to explore along the way.
Besh-Ba-Gowah Archaeological Park: Ponder the past at the ancient village of Besh-Ba-Gowah, once home to more than 300 hunters, gatherers and farmers who flourished in the area for hundreds of years.
Sometime, though, during the 14th century, widespread drought spurred ever-increasing competition for food and water, which led to social upheaval and mass migrations. By 1400, the village was effectively a ghost town.
Details: 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays from July 1-Sept. 31. Open daily the rest of the year. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. 1324 S. Jesse Hayes Road, Globe. $4-$5. 928-425-0320, www.globeaz.gov/visitors/besh-ba-gowah.
Seneca Lake: This pond offers good fishing. Sunfish and channel catfish are stocked in summer; brown and rainbow trout are stocked in winter. You'll need a San Carlos Reservation permit ($10) to fish or even drive around the lake. Buy a permit at the Express Stop gasoline station, 1501 E. Ash St., Globe, 928-425-3911.
Details: 928-475-2343, www.sancarlosapache.com/Attractions.htm.
Salt River Canyon Viewpoint: Stop at this pull-off at the top of the canyon for outstanding views of the gorge. You may be moved to do more than look. To hike beyond the overlooks on the north side of the river, you'll need a permit from the White Mountain Apache Tribe. Cost is $15; you can get one online.
Don't miss: Irene's Real Mexican Food. This unassuming eatery is the place for Mexican food in Globe, with tasty enchiladas, flavorful red-chile burros and tortilla chips drizzled with butter if you like.
Details: 1623 E. Ash St. 928-425-7904.
Total miles: From central Phoenix to the bottom of Salt River Canyon and back is about 270 miles. Take Interstate 10 east to U.S. 60. Go east to Globe, then north to the canyon.
This article was originally published in The Arizona Republic.