We’ve Moved

Saija Lehtonen | Monument Valley

Saija Lehtonen | Monument Valley

As of September 23, 2014, the Arizona Highways blog has moved. Please update your bookmarks to www.arizonahighways.com/blog.

Past blog posts will remain on this site, at least until they can all be transferred to the new site and properly formatted. Thank you for following us, and we hope you’ll continue to follow us on our new site!

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Wild Arizona: Saguaros, and Lots More Cactuses

Cheryl Caffarella Wilson | Saguaro National Park East

Cheryl Caffarella Wilson | Saguaro National Park East

EDITOR’S NOTE: Each afternoon in September, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, we’re spotlighting three of Arizona’s 90 wilderness areas. For more information about any of the state’s wilderness areas, visit Wilderness.net, a collaboration between several wilderness-related organizations. The information here comes from that site and the wilderness areas’ managing agencies. Always contact the managing agency before visiting a wilderness to learn about any restrictions that may be in effect. To see our entire Wild Arizona series, click here

Saguaro Wilderness
Most of the eastern and western portions of Saguaro National Park are included in this wilderness, which is split into portions east and west of Tucson. As you’d expect, saguaros are plentiful here, but so are other cactus species, desert fauna and opportunities for day-hiking and backpacking.

Location: East and west of Tucson
Established: 1976
Size: 70,905 acres
Managed by: National Park Service
Contact: Saguaro National Park, 520-733-5153 (East), 520-733-5158 (West) or www.nps.gov/sagu

Redfield Canyon Wilderness
The boulder-strewn Redfield Canyon features several side canyons that are good for hiking. The water-rich side canyons of this wilderness are a powerful draw for photographers and backpackers. Be advised that much of the land to the west is privately owned, so you’ll need to get permission to cross it.

Location: Northeast of Tucson
Established: 1990
Size: 6,600 acres
Managed by: Bureau of Land Management
Contact: Safford Field Office, 928-348-4400 or www.blm.gov/az

Rawhide Mountains Wilderness
This wilderness features several washes and canyons that are good for extended backpacking trips — there’s year-round water in the area. The Bill Williams River cuts through this wilderness, dividing the low Rawhide Mountains from the higher, more scenic Buckskin Mountains.

Location: East of Parker
Established: 1990
Size: 38,470 acres
Managed by: Bureau of Land Management
Contact: Lake Havasu Field Office, 928-505-1200 or www.blm.gov/az

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Q&A: New Book Offers a Personal Take on Historic Route 66

Dyana Muse | Historic Route 66

Dyana Muse | Historic Route 66

Historic Route 66 contains a kind of nostalgic awe, the fading memories of a bygone era. The 66 Kid, a new book from Bob Boze Bell, an artist and editor of True West magazine, revives those memories on the page through pictures, maps, graphics and cartoons. It’s a graphic novel of sorts — at least, that’s how Bell sees it.

The book is about 70 percent visual and 30 percent text, Bell says, and it weaves together a portrait of his own life with the world of ’50s and ’60s Kingman along the famous highway. From the inclusion of personal photos and postcards to museum archives, The 66 Kid illustrates Route 66 from the perspective of someone who grew up on it. Bell spoke with us about his book and the process of putting everything together.

Courtesy of Bob Boze Bell

Courtesy of Bob Boze Bell

Tell us a little bit about your inspiration. Where did the idea for this book come from?
I always kind of knew I wanted to do a book on growing up on Route 66, and then I had a heart attack while playing the drums at a band reunion in 2008, so that was a wake-up call. I thought, “If I’m ever going to do it, I better get my little patootie in gear.” And I really started to get serious about it. I had a friend in Kingman who does Route 66-themed books, and he turned me on to his publisher, and they bought the idea and we were off to the races.

You have a friend who does Route 66-themed books?
Yeah. His name is Jim Hinckley, and he’s got eight books out on it, and I just called him up and I said, “Hey, would your publisher be interested in a book about growing up on Route 66 as it applies to Kingman?” And he says, “Well, that’s pretty specific.” I said, “You know, that’s the book I want to do.” And they bought it.

Tell us about the research you had to do to complete the book.
I knew I needed historic photos, and for that, I was really blessed by the fact that my mother kept really good scrapbooks, and she had fantastic photos. I also had 8mm film, because when I grew up in the gas station, my father would get broke tourists coming in and trying to make it to California, and he’d bill them every day with different prices, like binoculars and Bowie knives. He came home one day with an 8mm camera, and I started taking film. So, I had a lot of film, original footage of my dad’s gas station in the 1960s. I really had a lot of stuff.

I still needed more, and by that, I went to the Mohave Museum, and they allowed me to use their photos. So, between all three of those, and then I used a person who we call “The Mapinator,” Gus Walker — he does stuff for me at True West. Between all those different venues, we had a great visual attack.

Tell us about the visual focus of your book.
It’s very Americana, very ’50s, a lot of coonskin caps, ’57 T-Birds, full-service gas stations. Really, it’s a road picture. It’s a road picture on paper.

How did you select which parts of your own life you would include?
The ones that I could print and that my grandson could read — that was the criteria. I was a rock ‘n’ roll drummer and underground cartoonist, so I led a very, shall we say, “colorful” life. I wanted to be honest, and I wanted to not leave things out, but I wanted to, at the same time, tell the story as a celebration of being on Route 66. That colored some of the text. It’s the PG version of an X-rated life, let’s put it that way.

What was the most difficult part of putting the book together, and what was the most rewarding?
It was really tough. The deadline was to do 16 pages a week for 12 weeks, and we started on January 3 of this year. By we, I mean my art director and I, Dan Harshberger — we grew up together in Kingman, so this is a project of love for us, a love letter to our hometown. We had to hand in 16 pages a week, and that was laid out, with photos and captions and spell-check. That was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. I’m a deadline person, and I’ve worked on deadline my whole life, but that was really almost insurmountable. But when we got it done, it was something I’m very proud of.

So is that what you would say was the most rewarding part?
About the book? Yeah, the book. And actually having — I’ve had people approach me and say, “You grew up in Kingman, right?” And I’d say yeah. And they’d say, “Well, I’m a postcard collector, and I have a postcard of the Hillcrest Motel; where was that?” And I’d say, “Well, it was right across from the Kingman Motel and catty-corner from my dad’s gas station, Al Bell’s Flying A.” It dawned on me after three or four questions what we take for granted [because] we grew up there. We just assumed that everybody knew where all these businesses were, but when you go up there today, it’s really hard to envision where all these things were. So one of the critical components of the book is to have a five-page map section showing where all the businesses on Route 66 going through Kingman were.

Why should people care about Route 66? Why are these stories important?
I didn’t understand this when I was growing up. This road that my parents made a living on — my mother worked in the highway department, my dad had a gas station, and I worked for tips in the gas station — and I didn’t understand it. This road, to me, was just another road. I finally realized when I was in Spain on assignment to find “Cowboy Ground Zero” for our True West magazine. I was standing on the beach where Columbus left on his second journey to go to the New World and bring cattle and horses, which led to the vaquero and ultimately the cowboy — I was just thinking about how important this was. After about 10 minutes of standing there, I turned around, and there on the beach was the Route 66 Bar. In Spain. So I went, “Oh, I get it. I get it. This is a big deal. What goes around comes around. This thing is a big deal worldwide.” And I thought, “I’m going to do in-depth reporting about a very specific part of Route 66 and what it was like to grow up on the world’s most famous two-lane blacktop.”

Where can the public learn more about you and your book?
You can go to www.truewestmagazine.com, where I do a blog, and you can see more about the pictures of the book there. You can go to www.bobbozebell.net, which is where all my artwork is. Between those two things, you’ll get more of Bob Boze Bell than you ever wanted.

— Molly Bilker

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Wild Arizona: A Canyon That’s No Less Grand

Roxy Young | Sycamore Canyon

Roxy Young | Sycamore Canyon

EDITOR’S NOTE: Each afternoon in September, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, we’re spotlighting three of Arizona’s 90 wilderness areas. For more information about any of the state’s wilderness areas, visit Wilderness.net, a collaboration between several wilderness-related organizations. The information here comes from that site and the wilderness areas’ managing agencies. Always contact the managing agency before visiting a wilderness to learn about any restrictions that may be in effect. To see our entire Wild Arizona series, click here

Sycamore Canyon Wilderness
Sycamore Canyon is Arizona’s second-largest canyon, and it’s much less crowded than that great big one up north. Many ringtails, black bears, mountain lions, elk and deer live here. For great views into the canyon, hike the 11-mile Sycamore Rim Trail loop.

Location: North of Cottonwood
Established: 1972
Size: 55,937 acres
Managed by: U.S. Forest Service
Contact: Williams Ranger District, 928-635-5600 or www.fs.usda.gov/kaibab

Sierra Estrella Wilderness
About 25 percent of the Sierra Estrella Mountains is included in this wilderness, which is bordered by the Gila River Indian Community. One popular challenge for backpackers is 4,119-foot Butterfly Mountain, which rises 2,600 feet in only 2 miles. Four-wheel-drive is required to reach the two public-access points.

Location: South of Phoenix
Established: 1990
Size: 14,400 acres
Managed by: Bureau of Land Management
Contact: Hassayampa Field Office, 623-580-5500 or www.blm.gov/az

Saddle Mountain Wilderness
This wilderness is along the eastern edge of the Kaibab Plateau, and it includes a perennial stream in North Canyon that’s a spawning ground for the endangered Apache trout, Arizona’s state fish. It’s relatively well traveled but can be difficult to access during the winter because of snow.

Location: North of Grand Canyon National Park
Established: 1984
Size: 40,539 acres
Managed by: U.S. Forest Service
Contact: North Kaibab Ranger District, 928-643-7395 or www.fs.usda.gov/kaibab

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Wild Arizona: I Should Live in Salt (River Canyon)

Carol Hagood | Salt River Canyon

Carol Hagood | Salt River Canyon

EDITOR’S NOTE: Each afternoon in September, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, we’re spotlighting three of Arizona’s 90 wilderness areas. For more information about any of the state’s wilderness areas, visit Wilderness.net, a collaboration between several wilderness-related organizations. The information here comes from that site and the wilderness areas’ managing agencies. Always contact the managing agency before visiting a wilderness to learn about any restrictions that may be in effect. To see our entire Wild Arizona series, click here

Salt River Canyon Wilderness
A haven for whitewater rafters, the steep-walled Salt River Canyon offers dramatic vistas and is home to more than 200 species of wildlife. If you aren’t in a boat, though, it’s hard to get here. There are no maintained trails, and the summers can be brutal.

Location: North of Globe
Established: 1984
Size: 32,101 acres
Managed by: U.S. Forest Service
Contact: Globe Ranger District, 928-402-6200 or www.fs.usda.gov/tonto

Table Top Wilderness
Table Top Mountain rises sharply above this wilderness, where you’re likely to find saguaros, paloverdes and other Sonoran Desert vegetation. There’s not much rain here, but you may see coyotes, bighorns and other animals. Solitude awaits hikers and backpackers who venture here.

Location: South of Phoenix
Established: 1990
Size: 34,400 acres
Managed by: Bureau of Land Management
Contact: Sonoran Desert National Monument, 623-580-5500 or www.blm.gov/az

Signal Mountain Wilderness
This wilderness’ namesake mountain rises 1,200 feet above the surrounding desert to an elevation of 2,182 feet. Desert bighorn sheep, desert tortoises and raptors are common sights here, and Signal Mountain’s valleys and canyons are becoming popular with rock climbers.

Location: Northwest of Gila Bend
Established: 1990
Size: 13,350 acres
Managed by: Bureau of Land Management
Contact: Lower Sonoran Field Office, 623-580-5500 or www.blm.gov/az

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Wild Arizona: On the West Side

Bob Miller‎ | Trigo Mountains

Bob Miller‎ | Trigo Mountains

EDITOR’S NOTE: Each afternoon in September, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, we’re spotlighting three of Arizona’s 90 wilderness areas. For more information about any of the state’s wilderness areas, visit Wilderness.net, a collaboration between several wilderness-related organizations. The information here comes from that site and the wilderness areas’ managing agencies. Always contact the managing agency before visiting a wilderness to learn about any restrictions that may be in effect. To see our entire Wild Arizona series, click here

Trigo Mountain Wilderness
Only a thin strip of the Imperial National Wildlife Refuge separates this wilderness from California. The Trigo Mountains are popular with rock climbers, and the washes that cut through the area are good for horseback riding and backpacking. Look for bighorn sheep, mule deer, foxes and coyotes.

Location: North of Yuma
Established: 1990
Size: 30,300 acres
Managed by: Bureau of Land Management
Contact: Yuma Field Office, 928-317-3200 or www.blm.gov/az

Tres Alamos Wilderness
In this wilderness in the Black Mountains, you’ll find oddly shaped Joshua trees, columns of colorful stone, saguaros and paloverdes. Gila monsters live here, too, so watch where you step. There are no established trails in this wilderness, but it’s suitable for hiking and camping.

Location: Northwest of Wickenburg
Established: 1990
Size: 8,300 acres
Managed by: Bureau of Land Management
Contact: Kingman Field Office, 928-718-3700 or www.blm.gov/az

Upper Burro Creek Wilderness
Thirteen miles of Burro Creek pass through this wilderness. The creek is one of the few perennial streams to flow undammed into Arizona’s lower desert. At least 150 bird species, including several raptors, can be spotted here. Burro Creek and its side canyons are good for hiking, but summer temperatures can be extreme.

Location: Southeast of Kingman
Established: 1990
Size: 27,440 acres
Managed by: Bureau of Land Management
Contact: Kingman Field Office, 928-718-3700 or www.blm.gov/az

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