Tag: Arizona Travel

A Love Letter to Arizona

Dear Arizona,

Look, I’ll just say it – I love you.

I know it’s been a long time coming, and that maybe I’ve denied it in the past.

I’m sorry if I’ve ever called you boring, or unwelcoming, or even threatened to move.

I hope you didn’t take it personally. I was young and foolish when I said all those things and hadn’t taken time to travel or open my eyes to all your wonderful features.

And what would those features be? Well, Arizona, how do I love thee?

Let me count the ways.

  1. I love your industrious, final frontier spirit.

    Somehow you got me enthralled in the mining history of many of our cities. But when you visit a town like Superior and stand amongst century-old brick buildings, frankly, it’s easy to get caught up in the romance of it all. Can you imagine leaving everything you knew behind to move westward with dreams of striking it rich?
  2. I love your ghost stories.

    The Old West was truly wild. It left behind ghost towns, usually settlements that were mining boomtowns abandoned after their mines closed. It also left behind tales of the people who lived here before us and those who may still haunt our buildings’ hallowed halls.
  3. I love your small towns.

    Globe, Kingman, Florence – Arizona has an abundance of small towns. And each of them has its own charm. These are why I hate hurrying on road trips. I always want to stop and see what little gems I can find.
  4. I love your nature.

    From desert to forest to canyon, Arizona’s landscape is beautiful. Add in a dollop of sunshine (though the summers be brutal) and you have the perfect recipe for some great outdoor trips and hikes.

So there you have it, Arizona. I hope you can forgive my past misgivings about you and accept that I’m in it for the long haul.

Yours Truly,

Want to discover your love for Arizona? Explore with us.

A Hike Worth Hollering About: Tanque Verde Falls

It’s rare for us Nightborn Travel gals to pass up a chance to hike. On our recent trip down to the Ol’ Pueblo (or Tucson, as normal people would call it) we decided to venture out to Tanque Verde Canyon for our first time hiking Tanque Verde Falls.

View from the top of the trail – close to the trailhead.

This trail is located east of Tucson, just barely outside of the city – maybe 15 to 20 minutes. Take note that the paved road leading to the trailhead becomes a dirt road, so take that into consideration if your vehicle isn’t suited for dusty and slightly bumpy (but still driveable) terrain.

A comically angry-looking cactus near the creek bed. You’re welcome.

The hike itself is only about 2 miles long, but if you want to actually make it to the falls, there’s one BIG thing to take into consideration, and that’s water. Should you bring it? Yes. But also, has it rained lately? Because if it has, the creek along the trail will be running and while it will be beautiful, it will make your hike to the falls less of a hike and more of an… attempt.

Mmmm, sweet brown rainwater. (We did not drink this water, nor do we endorse drinking this water.)

Why am I telling you this? Because it’s exactly what happened to us. We made it about halfway up the trail before a mini-waterfall blocked us from going forward. We talked to a couple locals who told us that if the creek is dry or at least more of a trickle, you can scramble your way up the falls.

The mini-waterfall that hike-blocked us.

And here’s another thing to consider, the trail going down to the creek bed is relatively easy going, but from there on you’ll be encountering rock pile after rock pile and some times it will feel less like hiking and more like bouldering.

Rocks on rocks on rocks.

That being said, the area the trail is in is wonderful and the falls are said to be worth seeing, so there’s a pretty good chance we’ll be back. And, keeping what you’ve read in mind, we’ll hope you visit, too (if you’re not a big hiker, it’s a great little spot to find a rock along the creek and relax).

Happy hiking!


Cave Creek Hiking: Go John Trail

There is alot of variety to Cave Creek hiking, and Go John Trail is one well known trail in this area. It was previously showcased by Sweat Magazine as reader’s choice best hike.

go john trail

Sonoran desert from Go John Trail (c) ABR 2018

General Information

Location: Cave Creek Regional Park
Run By: Maricopa County
Fee: $6 per car
General Difficulty: 2.5 (1 being easiest and 5 being hardest)
Round Trip Length: 5.4 miles (8.7 km)
Accumulated Gain: 1,260 feet (384 meters)
Crowd Levels: Moderate
Other activities: Camping, picnicking, visiting the nature center


Go John trail is a good place to visit if you are a local who hasn’t been, or a visitor looking to experience lots of Sonoran plant diversity. There are better trails for scenery and work outs. This trail is also fairly far from the city center.


First Half

go john trail

Sonoran desert from Go John Trail (c) ABR 2018

The Go John Trail starts at the parking lot at the very end of the road in the recreation area. It is a loop hike that you can start heading north or east. The first section of the trail (if you head north on the Maricopa Trail) rises up over a saddle in the mountains. It’s not a particularly steep incline, but it was sustained enough to get my heart rate up. This is the hardest part of the trail, in my opinion, and after you make the top of this rise, Go John will take you down into a valley where you will meander through fluffy, desert washes.

Before you descend onto the main length of the trail, however, I would suggest pausing to enjoy the view. The saddle is a great place to snap some pictures of the valleys to either side, one with the heart of Phoenix and one still wild. The rest of the trail is fairly low elevation, so there aren’t tons of other spots for pictures until  the end. That being said, the mountains in Spur Cross will  be at eye line for most of your trek, so the horizon-to-horizon beauty is there.

Second Half

go john trail

Sonoran desert from Go John Trail (c) ABR 2018

Once you hike down into the washes, you will have some wonderful opportunities to see Sonoran desert biodiversity, with a multitude of plants growing in this relatively lush part of the Phoenix valley. Birds abound as well, and if you know where to look (and how to be both safe and respectful of the animals) there is also come good herping here.

The way back towards the trailhead goes require you to gain some elevation again, but it is much more gradual than the first half of the trail. The descent to the parking lot is really nice and gradual as well.

go john trail

The Lower Salt River: Phoenix’s Riparian Wonderland

Over the years I have kayaked and tubed down the lower Salt River several times, and over the years I have explored this section of the river from the dam under Saguaro Lake to the dam just above the urban section of the river. I have never been disappointed in any of my trips to this area. It is a great place to experience a somewhat unmodified Arizona riparian area. The Lower Salt is also home to a wide variety of bird species including the bald eagle. For those that enjoy other types of wildlife, I have seen feral horses along the river almost every time that I have been on it.

(c) Aireona Bonnie Raschke

There is a lot of fishing and picnicking done along the river throughout the year, but most of what I have done there has actually been on the water. In the case of tubing and kayaking, these activities are seasonal, as the flow of the river is made artificially low during the winter by the dams.

Tubing is the most popular on-the-water activity; people visiting Phoenix will most likely notice the billboards throughout the city about Salt River Tubing. This is a great way to relax, and see the river. In particular, kids love it and for the most part, this section of the river is very gentle. Weekends in the summer tend to be very busy with tubers, however, as many people in the valley love to escape the sweltering summer heat. For most adults, this means a float down the river with a tube full of beer. This is an enjoyable way to float the river, but irresponsible drinkers litter the river to the point that some sections are literally covered with beer cans, and as always, drinking on the water comes with its own dangers.

(c) Aireona Bonnie Raschke

My personal favorite way to experience the Lower Salt is by kayaking, and I have gone down in a sea kayak, as well as in a whitewater kayak. It offers a low key location to learn how to paddle, as there are some rapids, but all of them are safe enough to tube down, and thus there is little risk to people new to a kayak. For those who want to practice their skills, the Lower Salt does have a few small play spots, and a few sections deep enough (depending on the season) for flip turn practice. The real challenge of this section of the river is the fairly high amount of strainers- which, as any kayaker knows, are to be avoided.

(c) Aireona Bonnie Raschke

The Lower Salt is definitely a great place to check out- for residents and people just passing through. Kayaks can be rented through Saguaro Lake Ranch, a tubing trip can be set up through Salt River Tubing, and there are rafting and kayaking tours offered by such companies as Arizona Outback Adventures. Do note that if you plan on coming to picnic or play in your own boat, you will need to purchase a Tonto pass before you come to the park, as they no longer sell these within the park as far as I know.

Saguaro Lake Ranch
Salt River Tubing
Arizona Outback Adventures

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