Phoenix to Cordes Junction – Roadtrip Report
Yesterday I tried for a two-hour road trip, but failed miserably. I was out about 5 hours. But, it wasn't so bad! The day was perfect – sunshine, 80 something degrees, visibility unlimited. On a day like that, you can see the mountains almost 100 miles away here in the southwest.
After warming up my motorcycle, and putting my camera and a water bottle in my tank bag, I headed north out of Phoenix. Like most Saturdays, I-17 was bumper to bumper and crawling for the first 20 miles (frustrating), but it's the facts of life in the big city Phoenix has become. Once past Carefree Highway, traffic loosened up a bit and I was able to cruise along at 65 or 70 mph with my face in the wind! At that rate, it only took an hour or less to get to Cordes Junction, my goal for the day.
Cordes Junction isn't what it used to be. It also isn't WHERE it used to be. Originally, it was a stop on the Bradshaw Mountain Railroad, and its location was several miles from where it is now. But the mines in the Bradshaws played out, and the hard times of the between-war years caused the railroad to fail and the tracks were ripped up. When Arizona built SR-69, paralleling the Woolsey Trail (the old stage coach road), the town of Cordes moved a few miles to where it is today – at the junction of SR-69 and I-17. It is mostly a retirement community today (and a traveler's stop) – and the home of Arcosanti, an architect's experiment in the control of urban sprawl.
By the way, if you are interested in old railroads, the road to Bumble Bee and Crown King from I-17 north of Black Canyon City actually follows the railroad grade used by the Bradshaw Mountain Railroad back at the turn of the 20th century. Although it is steep and rough, it can easily be negotiated by passenger sedan. It's one of those Arizona adventures you shouldn't miss, like the Apache Trail.
I toured Arcosanti, which took about 1 hour, then headed back toward Black Canyon City in the late afternoon. Just past the awesome views at Sunset Point (about 14 miles south of Cordes), the road descends a spectacular grade into Black Canyon. Although the roadway is super-slab, most drivers have no clue how dangerous this stretch is. My son worked this area as a paramedic and fireman and he witnessed quite a number of horrific crashes where drivers got beyond their abilities trying to speed down the hill, lost control and killed themselves (or others) in the attempt. I've seen crashes on this stretch since I was little, so I limit my speed on the hill to about 60. Then I just try to stay out of everyone else's way, because I am the ONLY one going that slowly.
Black Canyon City is at the bottom of the grade – and Byler's Amish Kitchen was waiting with their Saturday night buffet. This week, they had chicken, ham and cabbage rolls, and all the fixings! And as usual, it was excellent. After dinner, I got gas at the Chevron Station at Rock Springs (another great place to eat – The Rock Springs Café), and Molly turned on the pump without making me pay first. I'm telling you, this was a GREAT day! I headed back down I-17 to Phoenix and home, past New River and Anthem, the sun setting over the mountains, the motorcycle humming along like a Swiss watch.
I travel to lots of places, but even for road trips, there's almost no place like home! Bob
your post reminded me of my latest road trips to AZ, I can almost see some of the places you described and feel the heat and sun on my skin...almost!:o)