Arizona Highlands Evening Perch

Lonesome Valley sunset time, Yavapai County, Arizona

Sunday afternoon drifted into early evening as I slowly drove some more dusty roads outside of Chino Valley, at the northern end of Lonesome Valley.

The blonde dead prairie grasses from last summer were once again lit up by the low sun. April, springtime, but so far too dry to green up the rangeland much. I parked my truck, Dusty Roads, to get out and walk with camera and tripod.

Wide open country, no cross country powerlines, let alone houses. High, wide, and lonesome. Though not lonely. Too much beauty to savor for it to feel lonely.

I walked up the slope. Going slowly around clumps of prickly pear cactus. Stepping around loose stones. Watching for rattlesnakes. I want to see one again, but on my terms. A coyote yipped in the distance, too far away to spot. God’s dog, awake for the night hunt. The pantry is always open.

Shadows from the buttes and hills longer, longer. Sun just above the horizon, and not for long.

Photo location: Chino Valley, Yavapai County, Arizona.

Moonset, Beginning of the Day

Moonrise at dawn, Lonesome Valley, Arizona

The April Full Moon happened to occur precisely at 12:57 on Thursday. In other words, 1 PM, the middle of the day. Not very useful for taking evocative landscape moonrise photos, especially since it was only visible at the time on the other side of the world. By the time it had risen over the hills on my side of the globe it was well past dark.

But! That also meant that the only-slightly-past-full moon would set the following morning slightly after sunrise. When there was plenty of light. It would look just as full.

So I headed out at first light. Out the dusty Perkinsville Road from Chino Valley, into the north end of Lonesome Valley. I had a spot in mind that should provide a great view. Fortunately I was right this time. From the base of Nipple Butte I could look down on Was A Pair Butte, the valleys, and distant Granite Mountain all at once.

In this photo, sunrise is near enough that the Earth’s shadow is visible, making a lovely blue-to-magenta gradation. Soon I would also be to get shots and video of the first rays of the sun on the scene. Quite a beginning.

Photo location: Yavapai County, north of Prescott, Arizona.

Cactus Bloom, Mojave Desert

Cactus flower, Mojave Desert, Arizona

Down to the desert I went for a visit. The Mojave Desert zone in western Arizona.

It’s always nice to visit the desert before it gets too hot. Basking in the warmth is appreciated after descending from the highlands. Taking in some of the blooming desert plants.

In this photograph, a cactus flower shows off its vivid magenta petals. It has extended this brilliant, yearning, vulnerable part of itself from inside its usually impenetrable defense of needle sharp spines. It’s begging: “Pollinate me.”

Not being the pollinating type, I merely appreciated it instead.

Photo location: Mohave-Yavapai County line near Highway 93, or somewhere thereabouts, Arizona.

Peaceful Peeples Valley

Peeples Valley, Arizona

A late April afternoon in Peeples Valley, Arizona. It could be called Horse Heaven.

In this photo, the lengthening shadows of the cottonwood trees frame the distant mountains. Taken from Highway 89, on a nice stretch of road: lightly traveled, easy to pull over on the shoulder to get out and take some shots. Perfect temperature, sweet air.

Photo Location: Peeples Valley, Yavapai County, Arizona.

April Snow Shower Light, Lonesome Valley

Snow shower clouds, Lonesome Valley, Arizona

Springtime was interrupted, briefly, for some dying winter weather. What a morning it was. Blue sky, gorgeous, changing clouds, streamers of snow showers.

Looking toward the northern end of Lonesome Valley, I zoomed in on one of the distant snow showers. The rock formations have no name that I know of. But from this direction the center one could be called Nipple Butte.

Photo location: Lonesome Valley, north of Prescott Valley, Yavapai County, Arizona.

The Heart of Lonesome Valley

Lonesome Valley, Yavapai County, Arizona

“But what if it has no heart?”, she said.

“That’s a risk we’re just going to have to take.”

I drove north from the town of Prescott Valley (not to be confused with the city of Prescott, though they sit side-by-side) on a glorious but cold April morning. Blue skies and lots of clouds, some of which had streamers of snow flurries hanging down from them.

Once past the new subdivisions, I became surrounded by even more open sky. Mountains to the west, south, and east; hills to the north. Miles and miles of mile-high prairie smack dab in the middle. I had found the heart of Lonesome Valley.

The locals don’t call it that, though. Maybe they’re no longer lonesome. Maybe they don’t use maps. Maybe Lonesome Valley is a mythical place.

If it isn’t yet, it will be when I get done with it.

Photo location: Yavapai County, Arizona.

Heavenly View From Hell Point

Upper Verde River Canyon from Hell Point, Yavapai County, Arizona

It’s a spectacular high desert view from remote Hell Point on the Prescott National Forest in northern Yavapai County, Arizona.

From the hamlet of Paulden on Highway 89, you need to know which road takes you into the right portion of the backcountry. And good maps. And some time to make a wrong turn or two. You have to open and close two barbed wire cattle gates. The roads are dusty, but I didn’t have to eat much dust because I passed but a few vehicles. Finally there was a vertical Forest Service marker indicating Hell Point straight ahead. The road ended at the canyon’s edge. Right at the edge. Nothing to stop you from going over if you were driving at night and weren’t exercising reasonable caution.

It’s named Hell Point because it’s the promontory above where Hell Canyon empties into the Verde Canyon. How Hell Canyon got its name, I don’t yet know. Obviously there’s a story there.

Far below is the upper Verde River, here reflecting the blue Arizona sky. The cottonwood and willow trees that line the stream are just leafing out. “Verde” means “green” in Spanish. For a desert river, it’s an appropriate name, a thin strip of green in a brown landscape.

I hiked the easy trail down the point to the mouth of Hell Canyon, then followed it to the cold, clear river. A beautiful, rewarding day.

Photo location: Hell Point, Prescott National Forest, Yavapai County, north of Prescott and Chino Valley, Arizona.

Silver Road

Thumb Butte Road, Prescott, Arizona

The morning after an April snow brought breaking clouds as the storm front moved on. I drove west out of downtown Prescott into the hills, on Thumb Butte Road. The thin layer of wet snow was still sticking to the ground and the trees and shrubs.

Stopping at a small turnout, I was able to shoot back into the sun. The clouds provided just enough screening to avoid lens flare, and the wet road was shining silver with the reflection of the bright sky. The “S” curve to the road was a distinct bonus, composition wise.

Photo location: Prescott National Forest, Yavapai County, Arizona

Squiggly Road Ahead

Thumb Butte Road, Prescott, Arizona

A late snowfall in mid April in the central Arizona highlands around Prescott. The clouds were breaking up some in the morning, so I drove west of town into the hills. On Thumb Butte Road I stopped at this curve for a nice shot with the mountains on the Prescott National Forest.