Thursday, October 27th
I started my trip with a hike at the 9,600 acre Phoenix Sonoran Preserve. The preserve has 36 miles of trails through wild undeveloped desert.
My next stop was the Badger Spring Trail in the Aqua Fria National Monument. The 71,000 acre Bureau of Land Management (BLM) monument contains one of the most significant systems of prehistoric sites in the American Southwest in addition to a rich ecosystem. Much of the monument requires a high clearance four wheel drive vehicle, but my low clearance rental Kia made it to the Badger Spring trailhead. The trail follows a mostly dry creek bed - Badger Spring Wash - around 8/10 of a mile to the Agua Fria River. At the confluence of the wash and the river is an impressive panel of petroglyphs carved into the rock.
Friday, October 28th
On Friday morning I explored a small portion of the 494,000 acre Sonoran Desert National Monument (SDNM) administered by the BLM. Like Agua Fria, much of the SDNM is only accessible by high clearance 4x4 vehicles, but there are three parking areas along Highway 238 that provide access for the clearance-challenged.
I parked at one such site, the West Butterfield Parking Area, and hiked into the monument, which includes part of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail.
This was a beautiful hike and much more verdant than I had expected. I followed the trail for the most part but did hike off trail near the start and towards the end of the hike. I hiked up small rock hill, scaring a jackrabbit in the process. I also located a few petroglyphs which I had not anticipated.