Tonto National Monument, the Apache Trail, and SPOOKED by Strange Lights

February 22-25, 2018 (Yes, I’m still catching up from last winter, and now it’s October, and I’m on the road again…too many places to go and see, and not enough time to share them. LOL) *Just be sure to check the dates at the beginning of each post, so you know when each particular travel story took place.

(The Tonto National Forest is located east of Phoenix, and Scottsdale, AZ, and extends North, East, and South of those cities. This is just a rough description of the area for those who are from other countries, such as my family).

After hiking in the White Canyon Wilderness (see the previous blog post, or watch the video on my YouTube Channel) I decided it was time to leave Superior, AZ, and move on. I decided to visit Tonto National Monument for starters.

On the way, I drove through the small town of Miami and found this quaint church. The town itself looked like it had fallen on hard times, and was rather run-down but held promise. I camped that night in the Diversion Dam Recreation Area off Hwy 188, which had boondocking spots available.

2018-0380-Miami, AZ

Onto Tonto National Monument.

I arrived at the monument at around 8:40 AM, and was just in time for the 9:00 AM guided tour to the upper ruins.

The lower ruins are open to everyone, and can be visited without a guide:

After the ruins, I decided to drive up to Apache Lake from Roosevelt Dam, along the Apache Trail.

Theodore Roosevelt Bridge

I’d heard that it was a very narrow dirt road, and could be a little scary in places with sheer drop-offs, so I had to see for myself.

I didn’t find the road to be very scary, but then I’m used to driving Trail Ridge Road and Old Fall River Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. The drop-offs there are much scarier, but I can see how this could be a little scary for folks who are not used to driving such roads. What bothered me the most was the washboard. I really hate washboard and so does Studley Van, he is an old van after all (2001). I drove as far as the viewpoint for Apache Lake (22-miles), where the road turned to pavement and we were suddenly bombarded by hoards of vehicles coming in from Apache Junction, at the easternmost end of the big city metropolis of Phoenix and it’s surrounding sprawl. I didn’t want to be around people, so I decided to turn Studley around and find somewhere to camp for the night.

Apache Lake from the viewpoint

Hover over images to see what they are


That night I camped along some obscure dirt road that led into The Superstition Mountains, and I actually got really spooked!

Now I’ve been camping on my own since 1997, over 20-years at the time of this writing, and only once before have I been spooked by strange lights. These lights were simply unexplainable. They appeared to be quite large, but I couldn’t really tell because it was dark and I had nothing to help me define the distance of them from my camp. Some were in the distance and others seemed to be close by, some were people height and some were high in the sky. All of them were white and could have been headlights on a vehicle, or a headlamp on a human, except they were at various heights from the ground. Some circled around my camp, but most were in the distance. There were a lot of them, I’d say I watched at least 30 of them dance around my camp in the hour or so I was there.

I was actually so spooked THAT I PACKED UP AND LEFT. I returned to the area of the Diversion Dam and camped high up instead of down by the Salt River, where I had a clear view of the sky. I still cannot explain it. I searched the horizon the next morning as I passed that road again for any signs that they may have been lights from the highway or something like that, but it just didn’t add up. I’m still mystified.

In the morning I decided to continue north and had been told that if I visited the Cholla Bay recreation area, I could walk into the campground and take a shower. Afterward, I went and camped along a dirt road on the other side of Roosevelt Lake. I spent two nights there with phenomenal views of the lake and was only disturbed once by a hunter walking down from the hill above with his son, and the occasional truck passing by.

Until next time, bye for now, OH, and if you’re using a phone to read this keep on scrolling down and look for the MORE TO EXPLORE link which will guide you to a huge array of categories and posts from the past that include How-To’s, Tips, Travel, Tales, Travel, Philosophy, Safety, Poetry and more.

Roxy ~ A Nomad for Nature

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2 responses to “Tonto National Monument, the Apache Trail, and SPOOKED by Strange Lights

  1. Beautiful area! Have you been to Marfa TX? It is famous for it’s mystery lights. They were quite impressive. I recently boondocked with a friend outside Winslow and she told me she’d seen unexplained lights a few nights before I got there.


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