Superstition Wilderness (Arizona) Rogers Canyon Trail 110
Throw back to my very first backpacking trip! As far as gear goes, I was woefully ill-equipped for this adventure, but the beauty of the desert and the historically charged final destination more than made up for my sore shoulders and barely there sleeping pad.
The scenery up to the trail head is absolutely amazing. The Superstition Mountains rise straight up from the ground to the east of Phoenix, with red rocks and saguaro cacti dominating the landscape. The road into the mountains is very hilly, and depending on the amount of rainfall for the season, littered with large ruts. We were driving a truck and had to be careful not to get stuck, and at one point we passed a low riding sedan having trouble getting around some especially sharp trenches.
My recommendation: bring an SUV or something with decent clearance, this road is not to be driven lightly!
I have always been a fan of desert plants and landscapes, and this trail has so much to offer in the way of interesting foliage and beautiful canyon views! We went in January so a lot of animals were hibernating (we were ok not seeing all the fun snakes, bugs and scorpions the desert has to offer) but the ever thriving cacti and succulents made for a very pretty hike. The trail is mostly rocky with some hilly up-and-down segments; the terrain wasn’t very difficult from a backpacking standpoint, but I would absolutely advise hikers to wear hiking boots or at the very least close-toed tennis shoes. On our way out we passed a family wearing sandals and flats and they looked miserable.
Pro Tip: Watch where you’re going! I have a tendency to look pretty much anywhere except right in front of me, and as a result I ran into cacti more than a few times.
The Cliff Dwellings
Constructed by the Salado people around 1300 CE, these mud-brick houses with thatched roofs are such an amazing piece of history. Built into caves about 20 feet up from the canyon floor, they are a bit of a climb to get to, but once there it’s very easy to imagine the daily lives of the prehistoric society that thrived in this ravine over 700 years ago. We only went to the first dwelling we saw (we were on a tight schedule and the sun set very quickly) but there are caves all along this stretch of canyon and looking at other pictures, I know we only scratched the surface of these impressive structures.
The Superstition Wilderness represents a unique ecosystem; the desert scenery makes for a rich hike, and the final destination and gave us the chance to explore and experience history in a very personal way. I’m looking forward to exploring more of the Arizona wilderness in the future!