My visit: 9/15-16/16 – This striking structure is first visible from the visitor center vistas. How beautifully it blends with the landscape, not detracting from its beauty, but complementing it. During my first trip to the park, I did the Eagle’s Nest Vista trail, but I knew I’d have to come back for the 3/4 mile hike to get as close as possible to this house.
I took off on the Bunkhouse Trail and soon saw my destination above a field of perky little yellow flowers.
When I returned later for the Full Moon Hike, the naturalist who led us advised us to stop and smell the flowers and asked what it reminded us of. The reason for its name – Camphor Weed – became apparent because it brought to mind my mom applying Campho Phenique to my insect bites when I was a little girl.
Kingfisher Bridge crosses over Oak Creek through the lush riparian area of the park.
After crossing, don’t miss the Wedding Tree on the left. If you’re a tree freak like me, you’ll have to go up and give him a little hug. 🙂 After all, he’s been around a while, probably more than 200 years old! This is one of the locations in the park where weddings are held.
You can see here how the trail starts off very level and how high up the house is. Doesn’t look too bad from here, does it?
It’s not as intense as the Eagle’s Neat Vista hike, but there are still some switchbacks and rocky inclines to get there. This is where I was glad I brought my hiking stick and plenty of water!
With views like this of Cathedral Rock along the way, though, I was not griping a bit.
I was disappointed there’s a fence all the way around and you can’t go inside the house. But I’m glad to hear they’re working on renovating it as quickly as funding allows in order to make it open to the public. More info and link below to my later visit when I was able to get inside to see the renovations being done.
The house was built in 1947 using stone, rock and timber from the area with the help of members of the Yavapi-Apache tribe. Helen built them a bunkhouse to use, but they didn’t like staying inside it, so they camped by the creek. At night when the smoke of the their fires could be seen from the house, along with the smell of cooking, the name The House of Apache Fires was suggested, a perfect fit.
From the different elevation of the house, the panoramic view of Cathedral Rock and Seven Warriors is a stunning and commanding view! I would love to sit on the porch here and just watch the colors and shadows change throughout the day and evening. I was really looking forward to the full moon hike at that point coming up the next day (more below).
I continued on the Loop Trail from here to get differing viewpoints.
This beautiful Scrub Jay on this interesting twisted tree limb was the only company I had on the trail the whole time!
It was great to be able to visit with Heidi Erickson, the Park Manager, during my visits here. When I asked what her favorite part of the park is, she told me she loved bird watching, so this is a great spot for her. She said that as part of the Lower Oak Creek Important Birding Area, Red Rock State Park a great place for both experienced and beginning birdwatchers. The large cottonwood and sycamore trees along the creek play host to a wide variety of bird species all year long including many species common to the Verde Valley and, if you’re lucky, you might glimpse a few rarer migrants in the spring or fall.
September 16, 2016 – The Harvest Full Moon hike
I was so glad I had good enough timing to be here for this hike. It’s one of the most popular interpretive hikes in the park, and there were over 70 people signed up. They divided us up between three naturalist volunteers for different trails. Total time out was about 2-1/2 hours and we covered about two miles.
I would never have attempted a hike that would end in the dark by myself, so I thought it was great to be led by Jon, a volunteer naturalist, so I wasn’t worried about getting lost. He also pointed out interesting things about the layers of the rock formations and other features along the way.
One thing I was glad he pointed out in advance was this tarantula – I was happy to give this guy right of way on the trail!
He timed our arrival at one of the viewpoints perfectly to catch the “glow” that happens ever so briefly as the sun sets highlighting the magical red rocks and leaving everything else in shadow.
Tripods are not allowed on the hike, so this was as good as I got, but it sure was beautiful coming up over the red rocks. The glory of the full Harvest moon only accented the magical feel of this land.
After we got back, the Astronomers of Verde Valley had set up their telescopes, giving us the chance to see the glorious moon close up with all its craters glowing. The planets were also in view and I was pretty stoked to be able to see the red of Mars and the rings of Saturn!
If you’re ever in this area during a full moon, be sure to catch this hike! Park list of Events.