Some of the most rugged, remote and beautiful landscapes, besides the marvel of a quite long man-made suspension bridge walkway, can be seen along the Verde River in the Tonto National Forest of central Arizona.
From I-17 turn down Bloody Basin Road--a dirt path which winds for miles and miles past dry gulches, proud stands of Saguaro, and up and down narrow mountain passes with hairpin turns. A glance down a sixty foot drop reveals the abandoned sluice rack of a forgotton gold claim. A glance up a hill catches a family of wild pigs, actually not really pigs but Javalinas. They race the jeep momentarily, then dodge behind a hillside of cacti. Yet another glance downwards and the wreck of an old--1920's vintage automobile is detected.
Sheep Bridge is located three miles north of Horseshoe Reservoir. It was built 1942/1943 by the Flagstaff Sheep Company for the purpose of getting 11,000 sheep back and forth across the Rio Verde. Sheep Bridge, otherwise known as Red Point Sheep Bridge, had a three foot walkway 476 feet in length. It was condemned by the US Forest Service in 1984, the last sheep having crossed in the spring of 1979.
A new bridge was commisioned and completed in 1989--the old one having been demolished and hauled away. Now only campers and hikers herd across it after a three hour trip by vehicle.
Want to try it from Phoenix?
Drive North on I-17 and turn east on Bloody Basin Road (FR 269). Drive 36 miles on the rough and rugged path. There are closer ways to do it if you care to ford the river to save time. Send me an IgoUgo message if you'd like to hear them.