5/6/2009 9:59:00 AM Beaver Creek: A quiet piece of paradise
If you go. . .
Exit 298, and go east on the newly paved road.
The trailhead is about 2 miles down the road, and an established campground is just a bit farther east.
Bring along water, food and emergency survival gear (matches, hat, clothes, pocketknife, etc.). Check the weather before you go.
A fishing pole and binoculars will enhance your wildlife experience.
In 1583, Antonio Espejo, a wealthy merchant and rancher from northern Mexico came north in search of two missing Catholic priests.
Upon discovering the two had been martyred at the hands of those they had come to save, Espejo and his small contingent of soldiers decided to look instead for gold.
Their travels eventually took them to the land of the Hopi. The Hopi took them to the Verde valley.
Espejo's account of coming to the valley begins with his decent down from the Mogollon Rim and his discovery of Beaver Creek.
"We descended a slope so steep and dangerous that a mule belonging to Captain Espejo fell down and was dashed to pieces. We went down a ravine so bad and craggy that we descended with difficulty to a fine large river, which runs from northwest to southeast.
"The river is surrounded by an abundance of grapevines, many walnuts and other trees. It is a warm land and there are parrots (Thick-Billed parrots are believed to have once inhabited the Verde Valley). "The land is warm rather than cold. This river we named El Rio de las Parras (The River of Grapevines)."
The name has changed in the intervening years and the parrots have disappeared, but Beaver Creek still remains a beautiful place.
Its headwaters begin high in the mountains near Happy Jack. Gravity draws its flow southward, down through the canyons of Wet Beaver Wilderness and Brady Canyon.
There are several access points to Beaver Creek, but perhaps the most popular is the Bell Trail, which starts just outside of the Beaver Creek Ranger Station on Forest Road 618, east of the Sedona exit on Interstate 17.
Boulders along the red dirt trail bear petroglyphs left by the ancient ones, a record showing that Espejo was not the first person to have visited this majestic place.
Kids love swimming in the clear, cool stream. The rocks are colored a deep, rich red, much like those of the popular Oak Creek Canyon to the west.
The difference, however, between the two recreation spots is vast. While you'll find hordes of people at Slide Rock on a given day, you may be all alone in the solitude of Wet Beaver Creek.
Tourists and locals alike enjoy fishing for bass and trout during the late spring, summer and early fall. Fish typically stay in the shade until something comes along that looks good to eat, and then the fun begins.
Camping is another popular activity along Wet Beaver Creek.
The Forest Service has recently added backpacking and equestrian trails and a new parking lot for horse trailers.
The road into the creek also offers visitors a chance to access some excellent sites of Sinaguan culture.
The V Bar V Petroglyph site is less than a mile past the campground and not far past that is Sacred Mountain, a hill top archaeological site you can walk through. It's a bit of a walk to the top of the mountain, but well worth the effort.
V Bar V offers visitors a chance to get an up close and personal look at some spectacular rock art. The site includes 1,032 individual petroglyphs on 13 separate rock panels. Friends of the Forest volunteers staff the site and available to answer questions about the mysterious culture that once inhabited the area.
Chances are you will find plenty of pottery as you walk among the ruins, but keep in mind it is not yours for the keeping. Possession of any artifacts carries a severe fine, so take a good look but leave it where you found it.