To be fair to Jim Brown, I admit that when we first arrive in Gold Canyon he introduces us to a couple of very tame and scenic journeys in the area. We did not know at the time he was lulling us into complacency about the upcoming rattlesnake hunt.
On our first local expedition with Jim, we explore the Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park. Just a few miles east on Hwy 60 from our campsite, this park is a gem in the desert. The paved park trails meander through gardens planted with a variety of native and non-native plants. I am glad to see some blooming flowers and to enjoy a few spots of leafy shade!
A Glimpse Inside the Arboretum
For our next day trip, Jim directs us to Hwy 88 along the Apache Trail National Scenic Byway to Tortilla Flats. First we stop at Goldfield Ghost Town for some touristy sightseeing. Next we lunch at Tortilla Flats, a popular watering hole built in the remains of an old west town. After fording a river, we negotiate a dusty, sometimes single lane path out to Apache Lake and beyond.
Hwy 188 puts us back on pavement and passes Tonto National Monument. Here we pause our travels long enough to make the vertical climb up to see the cliff dwellings a few hundred feet above us. Jim chooses to observe our climb to the dwellings from the comfort of a bench at the visitor center. Gasping for breath and assaulted by the jumping cacti halfway up the trail, we wonder why we didn’t follow Jim’s lead this time.