Being busy with “life” (boooo) since returning from our 7-week Canadian adventure this summer, we hadn’t been camping in two months and were feeling the itch! Safford, Arizona, in the southeastern part of the state filled the bill, with an easy 3-hour drive to Roper Lake State Park. Delightfully stormy weather provided for astonishingly different sunsets each evening!
A downtown Safford “Salsa Fest” drew our attention, but besides the salsa competition, car show, music stage, vendors and more, the coolest thing was a sidewalk chalk art competition with truly astounding entries!
Who knew you could buy sidewalk chalk in colors like wisteria, pink flamingo, and macaroni & cheese?
There were other kinds of cool art on the way to Roper Lake … horse made of horseshoes, anyone?
Our #1 goal was to explore Mt. Graham, rising dramatically from the desert floor to become the tallest mountain in Southern Arizona at 10,717 feet.
The journey takes you from cactus-studded Sonoran desert to forests of pine, spruce and fir at 10,000 feet along the 35-mile Swift Scenic Trail. You experience the ecological equivalent of driving from Mexico to Canada all in one leisurely afternoon on this sky-scraping, switchbacking mountain road!
We parked at Shannon Campground and hiked the Arcadia Trail to the Heliograph Trail to the tippy top of the mountain, where we found a historic 99-ft lookout tower and cabin. The tower is still functional and is occupied during the fire season. We climbed partway up the tower (before we got scared) and had a picnic lunch. The views were amazing!
Isn’t the campground ranger’s tent cute? It really looks like logs and stones!
Back at Roper Lake State Park, there are many delights! Including spacious campsite #14 …
complete with raccoons! I missed the photo of actual raccoons, but here are their footprints outside our RV door. They sure got Sprinkles all hot and bothered!
The park’s “island” has green grass, BBQ grills, picnic tables, and a swimming beach.
A natural hot springs feeds soothing mineral waters to the campground’s “hot tub.”
The huge fenced doggie play area even has a swing for human relaxation.
And of course, the beautiful lake with thousands of migratory birds and critters was spectacular.
At sundown, the birds would all be squawking at once in an ear-deafening concerto! So cool!
Most importantly, the campground had “THE TREE.” What tree? The tree that surely inspired Philip’s brother Michael to paint this painting many years ago in South Carolina!
Can’t you just see the connection here? The “Tree of Inspiration” was right outside our RV door.
Heading home through Globe/Miami, AZ, we had heard that one simply must stop at “La Cocina de Casillas,” most commonly known as The Burger House. This is a misnomer since they have maybe one burger on the menu, and the REST of the menu is all mouth-wateringly good, authentic Mexican food. A don’t-miss, for sure!
Bella and Sprinkles loved Safford, but their next adventure will be “less mountains” and “more sand” as we’re off to the beaches of Oceanside, California during Max’s fall break week. Catch you then, as we catch some waves!
See you next time, Roper Lake State Park!