Canyon Point Campground is one of our favorite places to camp and we try to go up there once a season. This year we made our way up there for Memorial Day weekend.
Being one of the more popular campgrounds, I booked our site six months in advance or there was no way we’d be able to camp there over a busy holiday weekend. I picked Site 75 on Loop B because it said that the back-in driveway length was 99 feet (so plenty of room for the truck and tailer). Loop A has electric hook-ups (and books up quickly) but with our batteries and solar panels, we don’t have and power problems.
Driving to The Rim
We left mid-afternoon on Friday to hopefully miss the holiday weekend traffic and it wasn’t too bad. We took our two cats, Tuna and Lily, but Tuna isn’t much for car rides so he got some medicine to calm him down (which basically just turned down his volume, he still made noise). It was still busy heading in to Payson but we’ve seen it worse.
We get to the campground and get checked-in. The site I picked couldn’t be any further from the entrance (I measured it as 0.6 miles) so we slowly made our way to the site. We finally arrive and the site isn’t at all what we were expecting. Instead of a 99-foot driveway there was a side loop off the main road with two separate sites. One had a slight widening of the pavement for a trailer and it definitely wasn’t 99 feet long. That would be our home for the holiday weekend so we backed in to it and set up camp. The trailer slide facing the road didn’t seem to cause any problems for the people going to the adjacent spot so it seemed to work out.
Hiking to Gordon Creek Falls
Karen came up with a hike to do on our first full day there: Gordon Creek Falls. We were pretty sure that we weren’t going to make it all the way to the falls since it was about five miles out there and another five back. Also, since we’re heading in to the dry season in Arizona there likely wasn’t going to be any falls anyway.
The trailhead was a few miles down the road from the campground. We get there and there was another group that looked like they we doing the hike as well.
The trailhead wasn’t really marked. There was just a forest road there. So we started down the road. Soon the road split in to two or three separate roads and it wasn’t apparent which direction to go. We just picked one of the roads and headed down that way until it was clear that it wasn’t going to loop back to the start. When coming back to the split in the road is when I spotted a stone carin that someone had put on the other road obviously to mark the trail.
Then the wind came
Pretty much all of Saturday and in to Sunday it was really windy (probably at least 30 miles per hour, sustained). It seemed to be blowing some green pollen-like substance everywhere. I assume that it was from the pine trees but it was on everything. Fortunately the campground is pretty shielded by the landscape, so the trailer wasn’t being rocked, but you could really hear the wind through the trees constantly. Open fire restrictions were already in place (fortunately we have a propane fireplace so the kids could still do s’mores every night), but it only takes one careless person to cause a problem and with those wind speeds it would have been a big problem quickly.
Time to leave?
On Sunday it seemed that no one knew that it was a three-day weekend. We saw numerous campsites on our loop packing up on Sunday some even after the check-out time, so they were obviously forfeiting what they paid for Monday. Probably at least half the campsites were abandoned by Sunday night (at least on our loop).
There are a few trails that start right from the campground so we decided to take one that lead out to the edge of the Mogollon Rim. The trail also went close to a sinkhole that we’ve hiked to the bottom before so we did that again as well. Unlike the Grand Canyon, the edge of the Mogollon Rim is much more gradual so it’s not the sudden cliff of the Grand Canyon.
Now it’s time to go home
Monday comes around and it’s time for us to go home. We decided to head out right after breakfast hoping to avoid the rush to get back to the valley. The traffic (especially all of the people with RVs and trailers) going through Payson and trying to go south on AZ-87 can be backed up for miles and can take an hour just to get to that turn. There’s lots of campgrounds up there and there’s pretty much only one way back to Phoenix.
Maybe it was our leaving early or maybe the fact that lots of people left on Sunday, but it wasn’t really that bad getting through Payson. Based on previous years, I was thinking of going through Globe or even a forest road I found that looked like it would wind itself over to AZ-87 eventually (but I wasn’t sure if I could pull our 30-foot trailer through it).