More Than Just Four Corners


Havasu Canyon, deep in the heart of the Grand Canyon, like a hidden tropical island. This is where the "people of the blue-green water" live. However, it was some bumbling, manifest destiny fool who fell to his death and for whom Mooney Falls was named. Yes, Mooney fell. And fell hard.

At Wupatki, a series of ruins northeast of Flagstaff, a circular ball court suggests that sports may have been around for a long, long time before the such professional activities of today. Perhaps back then, it was still a game. No agents, no strikes, no millionaires.

Once as erupting more violently than Mount St Helens, the San Francisco Peaks ponders its future while nostalgically recalling its volcanic rebelious youth. Ah, but to erupt again. It would certainly throw the skiers for a challenge.

The West Fork of Oak Creek offers safe refuge from the Hollywood-commercialized crystal-power-seeking astral zone of Sedona. But perhaps, at this moment, so greed-eyed fool is planning to turn it into a golf course or a shopping mall.

Out in the harshness of the Superstition Mountains, many a fool perished looking for the over-hyped "Lost Dutchman's Gold". Is there a fortune there, hidden within the shadow of Weaver's Needle? Yes, but it is a visual and spiritual fortune, atop the peak of the big hunk of rick. Beware of the giant rock fingers that may grab and push you off the cliff. I had always scoffed at the idea until this year when I finally saw a fish in Fish Creek Canyon. The views in this trailess treasure are beyond belief. Stay away in the summer!

Nearby and thankfully overlooked are the Goldfield Mountains, which but for being dissected by asphalt would be properly part of the Superstitions. Oh, well it keeps out the RVers and the sappy Sierra Clubbers from despoiling the fine views of its own peaks as well as the Four Peaks beyond. Last time there, we came across this fine citizen carrying his home.

In a still hopefully remote northwest corner of New Mexico lies a quiet remains of a once bustling metropolis in Chaco Canyon. One November, I had the luxury of strolling Pueblo Bonito in solitude.

Golden Arches be damned! The double one in Utah is too majestic yet overrun with tourisimo humano

Monument Valley is so over photographed exposed that one has to resort to digital trickery in search of something unique.

Ancient grafitti artists deprived of spray paint cans had to chip their message into the rock varnish of the Painted Desert. What does it mean? Who is the big bird?

Aravaipa Canyon is a complete and total anamoly in the Sonoran desert; a perennial creek, with a riparian zone rich in varied wildlife, and the most limited species there is homo sapiens. Makes sense?

The Sonoran desert that creeps into Arizona from Mexico is hardly the sand dune wasteland of movie lore. No it is a green womderland, full of wonderfully adapted animal and plant species, true survivors to their world. That is until the invasion of the pest homo sapiens equipped with dreams of golf courses. These is a wonderful mixture of unbelievable variety, which bursts at its seams in the wet springs- aloe, barrrel cactus, the blazing brittlebush, friendly jumping cholla, luscious orange globe-mallow, poppies both yellow and orange, the stately saguaro (which sometimes loses its head!)...

Psssss. want to hear a "secret"? It's a place called Secret Canyon, lying quietly outside the commercial hustle and bustle of Sedona. It offers a quiet tree-lined creek, which winds through narrow sandstone walls, spilling over noisy waterfalls, humbled beneath the towering walls of red sandstone, green trees, and Kodak-blue skies.

"This place is a real hole in the ground," I exclaimed as our puny Cessna dipped over Meteor Crater. This is what happens when when a rock from space hits your planet. Don't let it happen to you.

At Lee's Ferry, two rivers, the muddy Paria and the clear, cold Colorado resist to merging together. The fiesty Paria is a small reminder of the color and spirit of the pre-dam construction Rio Colorado. Once this was the only means for hundreds of miles to cross the "Boss Ditch of the World" we call the Grand Canyon

A volcanic belch leaves a gaping hole in the desolate Pinacate region. Okay, MacDougal Crater is technically in Mexico, but Arizonans acts as if they own it anyhow. Just like the foul ruins of Puerto Penasco or, <gulp> "Rocky Point".

When hailstones fall in July up in Flagstaff, the best place to hide out is the Lava Tube of Government Well. Yes, Virginia, not all of Arizona is a vast desert wasteland.

Deep in the narrows of Antelope Canyon near Page light plays all kinds of tricks and things to trap photographers looking for that magical moment. I was lucky.

All photos and verbiage (as well as typos and bad links) belong to alan levine
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.