Safford and San Carlos Lake (Coolidge Dam)
Fri, 2 Apr 2004
Safford has the best Chamber of Commerce I've ever seen - not only all the usual brochures on businesses and local/regional sights but also a great little bookstore with travel and nature guides, and then a large room of many exhibits on the area including dioramas of the areas prehistoric and pre-European invasion, info on birding, rockhounding, etc, plus a little picnic area! "Gila Outdoors", a backpacking, camping and rock-climbing store nearby, had topo and forest maps and info on camping.
The BLM Office also was very helpful with information and maps on camping areas. // Then we drove #70 towards Globe. The San Carlos Apache area displays the usual signs of reservation poverty, which is always hard for me to see. Garbage everywhere along the road and around the houses. The turnoff to San Carlos Lake #3/170 goes through scenery with grand vistas, the first sedimentary rock mesas we've seen on this trip, saguaros, which we hadn't seen since the Tucson area, and end! Its up at San Carlos Lake (Reservoir), which has PLENTY OF FREE CAMPING on its west end. Picnic tables with shades in some areas, with grills, portable toilets and garbage cans. No facilities in other areas just dirt roads and pull-offs.
Incredible big views out into the distance. The mountain ranges all around are really impressive and we came to the area when cool winds were blowing and dramatic storm clouds > forming in many directions. Seems to be primarily a fishing attraction. Strong winds meaning plastic garbage blown around sticking to the mesquite trees, which have budded out here and are a lovely spring green. We spent some time picking up bottles, cans and plastic, using our new improved pick-up tools we got in Quartzite - but really the job was quite overwhelming. But the grand views make up for it. I had a hard time getting Bill to take the side trip off #70 since he wanted to push on to Globe ("Let's tuff it out," he said, and I said "Why?") But really I could tell he was exhausted and I am so glad we took the chance and found free camping. Hope the cooler temps last for another day or so.
Love, Bill & Helga Olkowski