Arizona’s historic Salt River Canyon is also called the Mini Grand Canyon. Last year in August on this blog I mentioned visiting Globe, Arizona, where I was lucky enough to take a tour of the haunted Drift Inn Saloon. When we left Globe that afternoon to return to Phoenix we took the scenic route through the canyon.
The drive offers breathtaking views from your car window. The route has several pull-offs along the way and I recommend stopping at every one. The drive is full of hairpin turns that take you down one wall of the canyon to the valley floor before crossing a scenic bridge and then climbing up the other side of the canyon. The area contains prehistoric petroglyphs and the Salt River is one of few rivers that flow through the saguaro cactus forests of the Sonoran Desert and offers over 200 species of wildlife.
There are no maintained trails in the canyon and about half of the outdoor enthusiasts who visit the area each year are skilled white-water navigators and ride the turbulent waters from March to May.
The Salt River Canyon is full of history and was used by Apache Warriors during the 1800s to hide from the U.S, Calvary troops. Today the river provides the border between the San Carlos Apache Reservation to the south and the White Mountain Apaches to the north.
The famous Battle of Salt River Canyon took place in in 1872 and was part of the Tonto Basin Campaign and Yavapai War from 1871-1875. Thirty Apache scouts led the 5th Cavalry Regiment to a Yavapai stronghold in a canyon cave.
The warriors refused to surrender and in the end seventy-six Yavapai were dead, including Chief Nanni-chaddi and several women and children. The bodies of the dead were left in the cave, which today is also known as Skeleton or Skull Cave and is believed to be haunted.
As much as I love nature and love seeing our beautiful country, I confess I’m not much of an outdoor enthusiast. I don’t mind taking a nature hike but you won’t catch me pitching a tent in a forest, riding white water rapids or climbing rocks. What about you?
Flagstaff, also known as the City of Wonders, was on our list of places to explore during our travels along Route 66 in Arizona last summer. The town is located in the heart of Coconino National Forest, the Grand Canyon, Oak Creek Canyon, Walnut Canyon, Wupatki National Monument, Sunset Crater National Monument and the Sab Francisco Peaks.
Western author Zane Grey loved Arizona, working on many of his books in a cabin near Tonto Creek and when he visited Flagstaff, he stayed in room 210 at the historic Monte Vista Hotel on San Francisco Street.
The Monte Vista was the longest publicly held commercial hotel in the history of America until it sold to a private individual in the early 1960’s. In its first year of operation the hotel hosted Mary Costigan’s daily three-hour radio show from room 105. Mary was the first American woman to be granted a radio-broadcasting license.
The Monte Vista was a favorite gathering place among the locals who coined the phrase “Meet me at the Monte V”. During prohibition the Monte Vista was Flagstaff’s most popular speakeasy. Then in the 1940’s and 50’s western movies became popular and over 100 movies were filmed in nearby Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon and a scene from Casablanca was filmed in one of the rooms. Many movie stars stayed at the Monte Vista during filming and the hotel began naming rooms after the actors.
As with many historic buildings, the Monte Vista is believed to be haunted. Zane Grey’s room was said to be haunted by the infamous phantom bellboy. John Wayne reported seeing a friendly spirit in his room in the hotel in late 1950’s.
My husband and I stayed the night in the Anthony Hopkins Suite. As you can see by the photo of our room it wasn’t much of a suite. The shower was so narrow that your elbows hit the walls when you tried to wash your hair. Sadly we did not encounter any ghosts in our room. See more stories about the ghosts who haunt the Monte Vista Hotel HERE.
I should mention the other historical hotel in Flagstaff—the Weatherford Hotel, which is said to be one of Wyatt Earp’s favorite hangouts while in Flagstaff. Hubby and I stopped at the hotel for a drink after dinner and learned from the bartender that Zane Grey would frequently work on his books in the Weatherford Ballroom attached to the bar on the second floor.
If you ever have the chance to visit Flagstaff be sure to take a peek inside both hotels and if you’re the adventurous type you may want to try one of these barcycles or pedal pubs!
I’d love to know if you’ve ever stayed the night in a famous hotel and where it was.
During our Route 66 travels through Arizona last summer I visited the famous Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert. These two wonders have been on my bucket list for years and they’re definitely worth seeing. The Petrified Forest is the only national park in our country that protects a section of Route 66.
The Petrified Forest National Park, which has one of the world’s largest deposits of petrified wood, encompasses the badlands of the Painted Desert, archeological sites and 200-million-year-old fossils. In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt signed legislation creating the Petrified Forest National Monument, and it became a national park in 1952. The park averages about 645,000 visitors each year.
The Petrified Forest is known for its fallen trees (coniferous, ferns, and gingkoes) from the Late Triassic Period 225 million years ago. It’s believed some of the trees reached 200 feet high when they were alive. The park has one of the largest concentrations of petrified wood in the world. Other places with petrified wood are North Dakota, Argentina, and Egypt.
Painted Desert Inn
The National Park also contains the historic Painted Desert Inn, which sits on a mesa overlooking the Painted Desert. The Inn was built in 1924 as a roadside hotel called the Stone Tree House by Herbert David Lore (the name came from the petrified wood used in its construction). In 1935 the National Park Service purchased it and the surrounding land. The Inn was redesigned in the Pueblo Revival style by architect Lyle E. Bennett. The Civilian Conservation Corps supplied the labor. In 1987 The Painted Desert Inn became a National Historic Landmark.
View out the back of the Painted Desert Inn
Inside the Painted Desert Inn
The Painted Desert encompasses over 93,500 acres and stretches over 160 miles. It begins about 30 miles north of Cameron, Arizona near the southeastern rim of the Grand Canyon and extends all the way to the Petrified Forest about 26 miles east of Holbrook, AZ.
Photos don’t do justice to the breathtaking scenery and the vast emptiness that stretches to the horizon in all directions. I can only imagine what early travelers thought when they came upon the apocalyptic-looking badlands that seemed more like a planet from outer space than earth.
I’m wondering how many western historical authors have mentioned or used the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert…or perhaps the Painted Desert Inn in the plot of a book. Have you read a historical romance that mentions these places?
Decorating for the holidays in the desert Southwest can be challenging~no fluffy white stuff covering the ground and the sun shines bright and strong. In the desert when the wind blows it doesn’t whistle through bare tree limbs, it rustles palm fronds. Even though we don’t have weather that makes you want to curl up inside with a good book and cup of hot chocolate we still decorate our native landscape and get into the holiday spirit.
The Ahwatukee Foothills area which is close to my neighborhood does something special every year. For one mile against the backdrop of South Mountain trees and Saguaro cactus are decorated with over a million white lights. It’s a lovely drive and one we take often during the month of December.
As far as Christmas trees go….most people choose artificial trees but some buy real evergreens. Last year I went rogue and bought a seven-foot rusted metal saguaro Christmas tree–something I’ve wanted for a long time. I have it decorated with lights and western ornaments.
All across the country city zoos decorate with lights and Phoenix is no exception. It’s a tradition in our family to visit Phoenix Zoo Lights ever year. There are about 3.8 million lights and nearly 700 light sculptures at ZooLights. My favorite part is to watching the techno-synchronized music & light show that plays every half hour throughout the evening.
NEW RELEASE & GIVEAWAY!
On Tuesday December 12th YEAR’S at the GRAFF releases! This is book #3 in the all-new Holiday at the Graff series from Tule Publishing and Montana Born books.
Back cover blurb:
After being banned from celebrating the holidays with his stepfamily, San Diego businessman Lucas Kendrick arrives in Marietta, Montana, in time to attend the New Year’s Eve celebration at the Graff Hotel. The rodeo-theme party isn’t his style but he’s drawn to the pretty cowgirl running the dice table. When the clock strikes midnight and they ring in the New Year with a kiss, Lucas almost forgets he’s in Marietta on business and not pleasure. He believes he’s found the perfect property for his prized client. There’s just one problem—the pretty cowgirl has her sights set on the same piece of real estate.
Now that single mom Ava Moore has earned a business degree, she wants to help other struggling women get back on their feet by opening a co-op on Main Street. The last thing she expects is competition from the handsome city slicker whose New Year’s kiss she hasn’t been able to forget. Lucas isn’t only stealing Ava’s heart he’s bonding with her daughter. Can Ava convince Lucas that the best business deals are made with the heart and not money?
For a chance to win a digital copy of New Year’s at the Graff share your favorite holiday tradition!
***I’ll announce the winner on Sunday, December 10th in the comment section of this blog post and then send the winner their digital copy when the book releases on Tuesday! Be sure to check back here to see if you won!
Anyone who comes to visit us in Arizona gets to see Tortilla Flat–it’s one of our favorite places to see!
This past spring my daughter and her boyfriend flew to Phoenix for a short visit. The boyfriend grew up in a small town in Illinois (3,000 residents) and had never been to Arizona. We took the kids on a drive through the Tonto National Forest in the Superstition Mountain Range along the historic Apache Trail to a town called Tortilla Flat.
Tortilla Flat got its start as a stagecoach stop in 1904 and is the last surviving stop along the Apache Trail. Past fires and floods destroyed the buildings but residents have rebuilt each time. Tortilla Flat is thought to be Arizona’s smallest official “community” having a U.S. Post Office and voter’s precinct. The town has a population of 6.
There was no road to Tortilla Flat before 1904. The town became a freight camp during the construction of the Roosevelt Dam. Tortilla Flat, as well as the other camps along the road to the dam, sat on U.S. Forest Service land. After construction of the dam, the people who decided to make Tortilla Flat their permanent home had to lease the land from the U.S. government and continue to do so today. Roosevelt Dam has turned Tortilla Flat into a tourist attraction.
The drive to Tortilla Flat is a winding two-lane road of breathtaking scenic views of Canyon Lake and one-car bridges. You probably don’t want to be on this road at night.
When you reach Tortilla Flat you’ll be hungry, so stop in at the Superstition Saloon for good eats and their signature House Beers: Superstition Mule Oil and Snake Venom.
The saloon’s claim-to-fame, besides good food, are the dollars bills tourists stick to walls and the fun cowboy saddle stools at the bar.
While you’re in town you can watch a gunfight or listen to a live band outside on the quaint patio with the backdrop of the mountains. And before you leave be sure to get your picture taken in a toilet seat.
If you’re ever in the Phoenix area I highly recommend taking this day trip!
I’m offering a digital copy of a reader favorite that led to one of my best-selling series, Cowboys of the Rio Grande. The three delinquent teenagers in A Rodeo Man’s Promise eventually got their own books. (A Cowboy’s Redemption, The Surgeon’s Christmas Baby and A Cowboy’s Claim)
For a chance to win tell me where you take friends or family when they come to visit you.
I will announce the winner of this drawing on Sunday November 12th in the comment section of this post!
Two years ago my husband and I traveled to Tombstone, Arizona. I’d been to the town once before but for some reason we never walked through the Bird Cage Saloon. Visiting the infamous building was on the top of my list this last time. I hope you enjoy my photos from this trip!
Tombstone is located in southeastern Arizona and was the site of the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral and Boothill Graveyard.
The town suffered two devastating fires: one in 1881 and again in 1882, but the Bird Cage Saloon survived both.The saloon was located in the heart of the red-light district on the corner of Allen Street and 6th Street. The photo below shows what the Bird Cage looked like before the outside was renovated.
The building remained boarded up for the next fifty years before it reopened as a tourist attraction. The outside of the structure was remodeled to protect it from the elements. Inside the Bird Cage you will find the original wood floors that Doc Holiday, Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Luke Short and the Clanton family all walked across. Even the mirrors behind the bar are original. The only part of the inside that has been renovated is the staircase leading to the basement.
The Bird Cage served many purposes as listed on this sign.
The saloon was considered a “house of negotiable affection” and for $25 a gentleman could buy a bottle of whiskey and time with a lady in one of the 13 “cages” or cribs suspended above the gambling parlor.
Twenty-fours hours a day the vaudeville circuit played on the stage.
The piano in the picture has sat in that same spot since 1881. The piano was the first to arrive in Tombstone and was part of a five-piece band that played in the saloon from 1881-1889.
The saloon also had a barber if any cowboy wanted to “spiff up” before visiting the ladies in the upstairs cribs.
Outlaw Curly Bill was recognized getting a haircut in this chair and was later tracked down and killed by Wyatt Earp. The table is the original table in the gaming parlor where Doc Holliday was often seen playing and dealing Fargo.
The Longest Poker Game Ever Played
The basement of the saloon is where the serious gambling took place and was the location of the longest poker game ever played in history. The game lasted eight years, five months and three days. Twenty-four hours a day seven days a week. There was a $1,000 buy-in and a continuous list of gamblers waiting to get into the game. The saloon employed runners to go out on the street and find the next player on the list when someone folded or left the game which averaged every 3 to 4 days.
Below are pictures of the basement gaming area. I was surprised at how small it was. In the photos you’ll see the original service bar that served drinks to the gamblers as well as the men visiting the two bordello rooms in the basement. The mirrors behind the bar have hung in the same place since 1881. The whiskey keg and heating stove are originals and have been in the same place since the Birdcage closed its doors. The gaming tables, chairs, dealers box and money boxes all sit where they were during the “longest game.”
The Infamous Sadie Jo
One of Tombstones most famous soiled doves, Sarah Josephine Marcus, who went by the name of Sadie Jo & Shady Sadie worked at the Bird Cage in the basement. Below is the room where she and Wyatt Earp had their romantic liaisons while she was engaged to the then sheriff of Tombstone, John Harris Behan. At the time Wyatt lived in a covered wagon fifty feet away from the Bird Cage with his common law wife Mattie. Wyatt left Mattie for Josephine and Mattie was forced into prostitution in Prescott, AZ. and later committed suicide by overdosing on laudanum.
Haunted Bird Cage
You know me and my fascination with ghosts…well, it is said that 27 ghosts inhabit the Bird Cage Saloon—the same number of people believed to have been killed in the building.
Employees say they often smell perfume and cigar smoke when working as well as seeing apparitions. Ghost tours are given at night, and one day I’d love to return to Tombstone and take the tour.
Before I sign off, I have to share one more photo of this little cowboy I came across on my trip to Tombstone.
To be entered into a giveaway for a Kindle copy of all three books in my series share this blog post and put the link where you shared it in the comment section! I’ll post the winner’s name on Saturday Oct 14th in the comment section of this blog post.
Dear Readers… Jerome, Arizona earned its reputation as the wickedest town in the west after three catastrophic fires within an eighteen-month period. The pious people of the sinful town attributed the fires to Devine retribution and pushed to incorporate Jerome. Once building codes were passed, a fire department was established and laws were put on the books to rein in Jerome’s wild ways.
Who wouldn’t want to visit the wickedest town in the west after a description like that?
This past summer hubby and I drove Route 89A to Jerome, which lies between the towns of Prescott and Flagstaff. The trip through the Prescott National Forest was breathtaking and well worth the slow climb in elevation to 5,000 feet above sea level.
Jerome was founded in 1876, its population peaking at 15,000 in the 1920’s. I’ve been to this ghost town three times in my life. Once when I was fifteen on a family vacation out west and twice since hubby and I moved back to Arizona. Jerome, a former copper-mining town, sits on Cleopatra Hill overlooking the Verde Valley. Today it’s a tourist stop and a favorite haunt of ghost hunters. All of the various hotels and B&B’s are reportedly haunted.
Famous Bartlett Hotel
The remains of the famous Bartlett Hotel on Main Street brings in as much as $6,500 a year for the Jerome Historical Society. Tourists stop to toss their coins between the bars hoping to hit the old outhouse and pieces of rusted mining artifacts below. My days playing basketball in college did not help me hit the toilet.
The Connor Hotel
I entered the lobby of the Connor Hotel to look around and the desk attendant was happy to tell me about the place, saying several guests had seen the Lady in Red while others reported being touched, feeling a draft of cold air sweep over them, lights and TV’s flickering on and off—the “usual ghostly things” she said. Behind the motel are the remains of the 1918 haunted Liberty Theater, which played silent movies in the 1920’s. It’s the light tan building next to the red hotel in the picture below.
If you’re a paranormal enthusiast, you’ll enjoy the youtube video of photographs taken in the Connor Hotel that show ghostly orbs.
Years ago a department store sat across the street from the Connor Hotel, but now its an empty lot with only department store safe remaining.
The Jerome Historical Society is working on restoring the famous sliding jail, which slipped 200 feet downhill from where it originally stood. The ground shifted in the area after Phelps Dodge purchased the copper claims during WWII and began dynamiting the mountains. The mine, still owned by Phelps Dodge, closed in 1953.
Just for fun!
I get excited when I find something taller than me like this old gas pump.
I don’t write historical romances but if I did, I’d definitely use Jerome, Arizona, as the backdrop for a story. And speaking of books… I have two releases out this month…so here’s my shameless plug!
Sadie McHenry and her twin sons are heading home to Stampede, Texas. Sadie wants a chance to start over after being laid off—and she might have found it with rancher Logan Hardell. Logan instantly bonds with her boys, especially with Tommy, whose ADD makes him a handful. But Logan seems to understand the four-year-old’s needs and seeing them together melts Sadie’s heart.
Logan’s ranch is at risk, so Sadie agrees to help with their books—putting Logan on twin patrol! With his fun-loving approach to the kids and his rugged appeal, Sadie can’t understand why he’s ruled out a family of his own. But she’s not giving up on him just yet. Because Sadie’s convinced Logan is exactly what she and her boys need!
One woman’s journey home gets derailed by her soon-to-be ex-mother-in-law in a novel filled with humor, small-town charm, rekindled love, and the resilient ties of family.
Cast aside by her cheating husband, Katelyn Chandler is ready to pack it all in and drive home to Little Springs, Texas. She wants a chance to regroup, reconnect with her mother, and get back to her art.
But Shirley Pratt—master manipulator, elitist snob, and Katelyn’s terror of a live-in monster-in-law—has other ideas. Shirley insists on joining Katelyn’s trip after her son tries to pack her off to a retirement community. Katelyn has no choice but to play peacekeeper between the ornery old woman and the proud matrons of Little Springs. Yet the small town seems to be changing Shirley. And as Katelyn weighs the wisdom of picking up where she left off with Jackson Mendoza, the town bad boy and her high school sweetheart, she must find a way to believe in the strength of her dreams.
Tell me about a strange place you once visited for a chance to win a signed paperback or digital copy (reader’s choice) of the first book in my Cowboys of Stampede series, The Cowboy’s Accidental Baby. I’ll announce the winner in the comment section of this post sometime on Saturday Sep 9th.