Here at our home in Chino Valley, AZ we are essentially surrounded by the Prescott National Forest (PNF). It's a place of surprising variety ranging from Sonoran Desert vegetation 3,000 feet to grassland to pinyon pine and juniper forests to ponderosa pine forests at up to 8,000 feet. We are familiar with parts of the PNF but at 1.25 million acres in size there's much more to see and learn about. On a recent Saturday we set out for Camp Wood in the pines of Prescott National Forest.
At the junction of county roads 5 and 68 we turned west on 68 and as always we were happy of see a Primitive Road sign and be on the dirt. Our agenda was pretty open so we turned off on every side spur that caught out interest and took down GPS coordinates for every boondocking camp spot that looked good to us.
As we continued on 68 we gained elevation and eventually reached an intersection with Forest Road 95. The sign said "Camp Wood Area" so we turned right on FR 95. At least as late as the 1960's there was a small store, a schoolhouse and a saw mill located here. Now all we saw was one concrete foundation. Turns out the the original Camp Wood military encampment was about 6 miles further west. The Camp Wood Area is a beautiful place. We found just the right spot along the Pine Creek Seep to stop for lunch.
After lunch we continued north on FR 95. We followed the road going down in elevation and through 4 creek crossings admiring the beauty all along the way. We saw a spur on the right and turned. Imagine our surprise when it ended at an abandoned ranch in a lovely valley. We walked around the place looking at and into the tumble-down house and barns imagining what life must have been like there years ago.
Back on FR 95 we soon came to the intersection with FR 125. To the west FR 125 is closed just past the trailhead for Trail 100 by a gate to ORO Ranch. There's no access to ORO Ranch but its a ranch with a lot of history and still operating the old-fashioned way. We turned east and drove past the Walnut Creek Center for Education and Research. Soon we were turning south on CR 5.
On CR 5 there's an old iron bridge. I don't know about you but we love old iron bridges. A stop for a look-see and a few photos was mandatory.
What a great day it was. We saw new things, explored new areas and enjoyed great beauty. It doesn't get much better than that.