Burro Creek Bridge Picture of the Week

I had been asleep for an hour when Queen Anne finally came to bed last night. She nudged me until I almost woke and snapped, “What?”

“It’s raining,” she gleefully said.

I rolled over, pulled the covers up, and tried to go back to sleep while grunting, “Harrumph.”

“It’s pouring,” she persisted.

“Why are you waking me?”

“You’re snoring,”

I was too sleepy to recall accurately what happened next, but I think she bumped her head because she went to bed and didn’t get up till morning. I swear that’s the actual conversation we had last night.

This year’s monsoon season is unlike the drought that we had last year. We’ve been enjoying a week of cloudy skies, isolated showers, and last night’s low was under 70°. It wasn’t that pleasant autumn-like 68° where you can throw open the doors and windows. It was 68° with 95% humidity—which is cool only if you have gobs of air blowing at you—aka swamp cooler. But still, we have a decent river flowing down the street out front and the Red Sea in our backyard. The two trellis vines out front that have spent last year imitating Paul Rubin’s death scene in Buffy the Vampire Slayer—are already sprouting fresh green shoots.

All in all, it’s been a good monsoon so far, and they say there’s more to come. I lament the wasted rainwater flowing down the streets. There should be a way to capture some of it and store it for a (forgive me) non-rainy day. The runoff flows down the washes and eventually into the Gila River, where the Gila Bend and Yuma farmers use it for their crops.

I’ll bet if I revisited Burro Creek—last week’s featured image—it would look like a proper creek instead of a string of puddles. I’m not going to risk a possibility of getting caught in a flash flood. Arizona has a Stupid Driver law now, and with my luck, I’d be the first person to get billed for my rescue. Instead—as I promised last week—I’ll turn the camera around so that you can see what’s downstream.

Burro Creek Bridges - A pair of future freeway bridges cross Burro Creek before Greenwood Peak.
Burro Creek Bridges – A pair of future freeway bridges cross Burro Creek before Greenwood Peak.

The subject of this week’s image is a pair of freeway bridges over Burro Creek, waiting for Interstate 11. Don’t be fooled into believing that this is an empty highway. U.S. 93 is normally a bustling traffic corridor. It’s just that my image was taken just after dinner when the freight drivers are still belching in truck stops.

You can see a couple of other things in the photo and another hidden by the bridge. First—under the bridge—are the deep pools in the creek. They’re wet all year round, so they have small fish in them. The minnows are useless to anglers, but they support a colony of Great Blue Herron that nest along the canyon walls.

Along the horizon is the 4,339 foot high Greenwood Peak. I have another shot of this mountain that was featured in a January 2020 post. During that month, Anne and I drove over the pass to the mountain’s left and, at the bottom, we found the road blocked by water flowing in the Big Sandy River. In that article, we remarked how the slopes of the Poachie Range were covered with saguaro and pinion pines growing next to one another.

Finally, what’s hidden behind the bridges is the Burro Creek Campground. It’s smallish with quiet camping spots until a loaded semi drives over the bridge’s expansion strips—the noise echoes along the canyon walls like Gilbert Godfrey with a megaphone. However, if you’re into history, the campground’s access road is the original two-lane highway that winds its way down the canyon, crosses the creek on a  low bridge, and then ascends the north face.

You can see a larger version of Burro Creek Bridge on its Web Page by clicking here. I have to come up with a creative idea for August, so please come back and see what I’ve come up with. For now, I’m going to don my galoshes and go stomp in some puddles.

Until next time — jw

Burro Creek Canyon Picture of the Week

There is the phrase Grand Canyon State on every Arizona license plate—it’s our state slogan. I find it ironic that the biggest thing we brag about is something that eroded millions of years ago. Sure, we have the World’s biggest hole in the ground, but there are many other sights in Arizona that we can be proud of.

I think that the slogan can have two meanings. First is obvious; the Grand Canyon State—we’re the state where the Grand Canyon is. The other interpretation that I see is; the grand canyon state—meaning that we’re a big state with lots of canyons within it. It’s true. We have pretty canyons all over the state. There’s the big ditch, of course, but there is also Canyon de Chelly, Salt River Canyon, Oak Creek, Madera Canyon, Sabino Canyon, and too many others to list here. Actually, I looked for a comprehensive list like the one I found for our mountains, but it alluded me.

Burro Creek Canyon - An awesome view that most people miss because they're in a hurry to get to Vegas, or back home.
Burro Creek Canyon – An awesome view that most people miss because they’re in a hurry to get to Vegas or back home.

Our stop this week along Highway US 93 is Burro Creek Canyon. The view of the canyon is spectacular, but it’s hard to see from the road. The bridges over the chasm are short, and the walls are high, so unless they’re in a semi-truck, most people don’t get to see over them—a gripe I share with the new bridge at Hoover Dam. The highway department didn’t build a scenic overlook, and you’re not supposed to walk across the bridge. You can take in the vista in my shot by parking in an unmarked lot accessible from the northbound lanes. Then, a short hike up a trail will get you to the south wall.

Canyons have always been important to Arizona travelers because you usually find water in them. After all, that’s how they were carved. Burro Creek is one of those exotic desert waterways that always has water (in normal years). As you can see in my shot, a couple of surface pools reflect the blue sky even during our extended drought. That makes the creek a reliable water source for wildlife, cattle, and even the wild burros that are pervasive in western Arizona.

I’ve considered adding canyons to my projects list. There’s enough subject matter to fill another of my book fantasies. However, my to-do list already has mountains, old towns, historic hotels, deserts, farms, Colorado Plateau, and the Grand Canyon on it. How do I prioritize them? Where would I ever find the time to photograph them all? I’d have to clone myself because my time is getting short, and the list keeps growing.

You can see a larger version of Burro Creek Canyon on its Web Page by clicking here. Next week, I’ll turn the camera around for a nice look in the other direction.

Until next time — jw

Burro Cliffs Picture of the Week

In my effort to bring you photos from this month’s Aquarius Range Project, I returned to the scene of the crime last week and explored more of the Mohave County mountains. According to my trusty DeLorme Gazetteer, there are two roads—meeting my requirements—that cut through the Aquarius Mountains; the Trout Creek Road that I covered over the past couple of weeks and a second road called Burro Creek Crossing, which is nine miles south of Wikiup.

If you’ve ever driven to Vegas on US 93, then you’re familiar with the twin bridges spanning a 400’ canyon at Burro Creek. It’s one of the few desert creeks that run all year. Its headwaters are at the foot of Mount Hope on the San Louis Baca Land Float No.5—the Spanish Land Grant I mentioned last week. From there, Burro Creek flows in a canyon between Goodwin Mesa and Bozarth Mesa, under the bridges, and eventually into the Big Sandy River and Lake Alamo. There are several places the roads cross the creek; at the campgrounds on Highway 93, and Six-Mile crossing are two of them that I’ve made. Six-Mile is the ford you make on Burro Creek Crossing Road.

Burro Cliffs at dawn.
Burro Cliffs – Not far from Highway 93, Burro Cliffs rises from Box Canyon as you drive up Burro Creek Crossing Road.

Immediately after turning off Highway 93, Burro Creek Crossing begins to climb into the Aquarius Mountains. The first few miles it runs along the south wall of Box Canyon and past a small mountain-like structure called Burro Cliffs—the subject of this week’s photo. The sun had barely cleared the horizon when I got there and bathed the hills in a warm yellow color. The light’s low angle pulls out the luscious curves in the mountain while the vertical walls of basalt show as dark fortresses along its flank rising from Box Canyon. I liked the backlit trees along the ridgeline in the foreground, so I included them for detail, contrast, and scale. What appears as bushes are Palo Verde and Mesquite reaching 10-20 feet—well over a person’s head.

After I took this shot, I continued along the road to Burro Creek crossing, and guess what I found there. Burros! I saw about a dozen of them along the way. That’s the only wildlife I saw on this trip (besides the dead snake in the road that was killed by a roadrunner). The wild burros have become a systemic problem in Arizona. Spanish prospectors first abandoned them in 1690, and each subsequent generation of prospector had contributed to the situation by releasing them after their claims ran dry.

Most people find them fuzzy and cute, but the burros don’t have a natural predator. They aggressively defend their young and will gang up to chase off a big cat. They can survive by eating anything and everything. Unlike deer, antelope, and bighorn that eat grass shoots, the donkeys pull the plant right out of the ground; roots and all—try that on your lawn. They kill trees by stripping off the bark and branches as food. According to BLM, Arizona has four times the amount of burros that the land can support. I think Shrek should have clubbed Donkey in the first reel and we would all live happily ever after.

You can see a larger version of Burro Cliffs on its Web Page by clicking here. Be sure to come back next week when we set off for another adventure exploring more Arizona back roads.

Until next time — jw

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