Crawls Backward (When Alarmed)

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Offroading on the Tonto National Forest's Great Western Trail in Arizona

I just returned from my yearly holiday trip to the desert (or is it dessert, we eat enough of it...) to visit my relatives and sibling.

My sibling's husband has this muy cool Jeep Wrangler JKU (2010 I think, with the 3.8 engine).  You can see it has a lift (Terraflex, 3") and 35 inch tires (BFG KM-somethings).  He goes offroading a fair amount.

This year we went on the Great Western Trail in the Tonto National Forest.  This is a nice, easy-to-moderate difficulty trail located about 45 minutes north of Phoenix.  Very well kept, and popular with many folks.

Here's the road and scenery just a couple miles south of the forest.  It's always breathtaking to see the expanse of land and clear skies.

The trail is pretty straightforward, but a good navigator is always advised.

Here's ours sniffing out what direction to go.

Here's the trailhead.  The gates are locked with combination locks - you can procure a monthly combination from the Park Service.

I really love the National Parks.  Most of them are extremely well-kept and interesting.  In this case, you can experience the scenery up-close.  The folks who use the park are very respectful in terms of carrying out their trash and not doing harm to the natural environment.

This is typical of the upper part of the trail.  Wide, flat gravel road and lots of brush and saguaro cactus.

This ravine is part of the Salt River.

You'd think "desert" is all sand, but there's a lot of green here.

I believe this stretch is about 1500 feet above sea level.

Saguaro cactus as far as you can see.  These tall succulents (like that?) are upwards of 50 years old.

The trail winds down into a valley and then back up.

Here it gets a bit narrower and more rocky, but it's not difficult driving.  Well, at least in the proper vehicle.

The JK in its element.

The temperature was in about 68F (20C) and cooler in the shade, just perfect.

There are a lot of nice pulling-off spots along the trail to admire the scenery or take in some lunch.  We passed a bow hunter in full camo gear on an ATV going the other direction!

We also came upon this group of horsemen (horsepeople?) with three dogs.  A great place to ride.

Our navigator went bananas over the horses.  She had never seen a horse before!


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