VERDE VALLEY - There is within all of us a need to see the world in its natural state -- to experience what the landscape as may have been before we set it to use for our own devices.
That is the premise behind an idea, which, in 1964, was codified into law.
Known as the Wilderness Act, it originally set aside 9 million acres of public land to remain in its natural, undeveloped and roadless condition, for the enjoyment of all.
Over the years, the act has been amended more than 100 times to include additional wilderness areas. Today the list includes more than 100 million acres.
Arizona has benefited as much as any state, with 90 wilderness areas encompassing 4,528,913 acres. One in every 12 acres set aside for wilderness in the lower 48 states is in Arizona. Only California has more.
But perhaps no area of the state has benefited to the extent of the Verde Valley.
Across the valley's northern boarder are three spectacular wilderness areas, all of them displaying the best the Mogollon Rim has to offer.
Starting at the northwest end is Sycamore Canyon; the valley's oldest and arguably most spectacular. On its eastern side is Red Rock Secret Mountain, bordered on its west side by Munds Mountain. They protect most of the high country and canyons rising above Sedona.
Farther down the rim are three deep canyons cut over the last few million years by water draining over and through the rim above -- they are West Clear Creek Canyon, Wet Beaver Creek Canyon and Fossil Creek wilderness areas.
Finishing the list are three wilderness areas on the other side of the river, two of which display the remote and beautiful Verde Rim -- Pine Mountain and Cedar Bench -- and one on the northern terminus of the Black Mountains, Woodchute Wilderness.
Over the next nine issues, Verde Valley Newspapers will feature one of these treasures, gifts from the American people to the residents of the Verde Valley, in hopes that residents of the valley will not only gain an appreciation for them but also pay them a visit.
Fall is hiking weather. If you are not familiar with these treasures, now is the perfect time to get introduced.