This one was the end result of a nice Saturday trail ride that ended up in a little canyon called Red Creek. The water was flowing down the center of the creek bed….just enough to cool off the 90°+ day.I was amazed at how high the water can actually get. We saw brush debris well over 6 feet up the bank and in the trees. (This was in a section of the creek that was about 60′ across with bedrock walls.) I don’t think I would like to have my Jeep in there when that wall of water came through. They don’t call them flash floods for nothing!
Although difficult to see, this is the Verde River in Arizona at the point where the Sheep Bridge, built in 1943, once crossed the river. The local sheep herders built the bridge so that they could move their flocks back and forth across the river and gain access to the cooler mountain grazing in the summer months.
This is the original structure that anchored the bridge on the West bank of the Verde River. It was originally built from heavy timber, and was soon reinforced with concrete to better secure the bridge. It was made entirely by hand tools. No heavy machinery was used.
The old bridge was taken down in 1989 and this new steel suspension structure was put up in its place. I wish I had been able to see the old bridge before it was removed.
A view straight down the new bridge. If memory serves me correctly, it is a bit over 400′ in length.The Sheep Bridge is located in the Tonto National Forest.
Red Creek – December 1999
I returned to Red Creek Canyon in December with my off-road buddy, Joe Ruby. It was part of a two day (over night) Jeep trip that we took (nice to have some vacation time stashed away for such events!). We got to the creek with less than a couple of hours of daylight left. About a mile from where it joins the Verde River, we found a great spot to call it a day and set up camp. We picked a gravel bar that had built up during the last flash flood. Around a nice camp fire, Joe and I discussed differentials and gearing, tires, t-cases, you name it, I think we covered it. At 11:30 PM, I climbed into my Jeep, parked just 3′ from the flowing water, and listened to it until it lulled me to sleep.
Got the fire going as the sun was going down and the night air was setting in.
We found ice, 3/4″ thick, on a small pool of standing water the following morning.
The canyon walls block out the direct sunlight as we break camp and head
down stream towards the Verde River the next morning. Notice the lack of
anything that looks like a trail. I was able to test my new Tomken gas tank
skid plate many times on this run. It did a GREAT job! Many portions of the creek
were significantly worse than this. Most of these in this picture are about 10″ ~12″ high.
Red Creek meets the Verde River. Many of the trees still have quite a few leaves left.
Looking downstream from where I was standing when I snapped the above picture.
Joe climbed up on a bedrock outcropping and snapped a picture of me
and our two Jeeps.
By the way, did you know that your kindly US Forest Service is currently
trying to close 347,000 miles of Jeep trails, just like the Red Creek Trail?
Write your congressman and tell them we want these trails left open so we can enjoy our land.