Day Trips with a Splash

Desert swimming holes

A swimming hole
in the desert
is heaven.
Splash! Splash!
Here are 100 heavens.
And how to get there, without prayers
With GPS coordinates, topo maps, summaries.
No excuses.

-- KK 04/25/06


The Jug

Smoothest water east of the Sierra Nevada. Water pouring out of the Salome Wilderness cuts through an exposed portion of the batholith, a large intrusion of granite that underlies many of the ranges here. It creates a sinuous channel of intriguing shapes. Directly at the bottom of the first access to the creek is a rock that so resembles the torso of a reclining woman that a crack runs directly across her back and shoulders where the bra strap would be. The rest of this miniature canyon has so many sinusoidal curves worn into the rock that you might think yourself in Yosemite except for the saguaro on the canyon walls.

Above the "sleeping lady" is one of the best late season spots I know of. I say late season because the water is awfully cool in the spring. Also because low levels let you appreciate the beautiful lines of this tub. It's a near-perfect rectangle, twelve feet long, seven feet wide and just as deep. Water exits via a narrow spout etched exquisitely in the rock lip at the bottom of the tub. There is a two-person slab adjoining the pool to the right. An overhanging rock is there if you need some shade.

Warm days in spring can attract as many as one-half dozen cars to the trailhead. Consequently, the canyon can seem busy.


Cave Creek

The sweetest place to sit in the whole state of Arizona. There's a perfectly flat stone the size of a park bench right next to a tiny waterfall. A juniper provides a low, dense canopy of shade that'll keep you cool when the surrounding vegetation is at the flash point. The adjoining pool occurs where a handful of large boulders have tumbled across the stream. As it rushes over the boulders, the water accelerates just enough to scrape a modest pool out of the sand and gravel streambed. The pool is circular, about 30 feet in diameter, but none too deep, maybe six feet in the center although this will vary with water level and the amount of cobble in the creek bed.

Lots of people with side arms, it seemed. Rationally I know that the reason people carry combat automatics into the mountains is because they are more afraid of you than you should be of them -- this or they believe that rattlesnakes attack in packs. Still, I got a kind of weird vibe and I'm a gun owner myself.

Aside from the firearm notice, be advised to bring something to sit on because the rocks are dark and will get very hot during midday. Also, it's a short steep descent with loose rock. A walking stick is recommended.

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