We woke up to another gorgeous, sunny day at Windy Hill Campground on Roosevelt Lake. After breakfast and taking advantage of the camp showers, we packed up and headed to Tonto National Monument to check out the cliff dwellings.
We had a great time visiting the monument. The staff and volunteers were so friendly and helpful. One of the volunteers at the Visitor Center gave us lots of suggestions for places to visit in the area. We were given a detailed map of the dwellings at the Visitor Center and a reminder to take water on the hike to the top.
The Upper Cliff Dwellings are reached by a short but steep climb up a well-maintained path. The view of the desert plants, Roosevelt Lake in the distance, and the cliff dwellings above made it a very enjoyable hike. Upon reaching the dwellings, we were greeted and given a tour by a well-trained volunteer. It turned out she was the wife of the very nice gentleman at the Visitor Center. Aside from all the details about the dwellings and their inhabitants, we enjoyed trading travel stories with her as she and her husband are full-time RVers. It was fascinating to see the construction of the different rooms and imagine what life was like for the people who once lived there.
After exploring the cliff dwellings and taking lots of pictures, we made our way back down to the parking lot just in time for a school group to arrive for a field trip tour. As part of the “Every 4th Grader in a Park Program” put in place by President Obama, national parks and monuments are offering free admission to 4th graders and their families and schools are taking advantage of the opportunity for field trips. From there we headed to the nearby town of Tonto Basin to visit the public library. I know I have said this before, but this trip has really reminded me what an incredible resource our public libraries are for their communities. They provide so many needed services along with their wonderful book collections and are tailored to the needs in the area they serve. We often use them for the free wifi as well as any time we need to print or scan anything.
After finishing up at the library, it was time to find something to eat. A quick Google search brought us to the Punkin Center Bar & Grill. It was a no-frills place that seemed to be popular with the locals. Our waitress was very friendly and interested in hearing about our travels. Francis enjoyed his chicken wings and I had the chicken quesadillas. The beers were good and it was fun to do a little people watching. The bartender’s father was one of the customers and it was entertaining to see them pretending to give each other a hard time.
After a busy day, we were ready to find a place to spend the night. There are a lot of campgrounds in the area to choose from. After looking at the options, we decided on Burnt Corral Campground on Apache Lake. We were very pleased when we arrived at the campground. The sites were nice and the view of the lake was beautiful. This campground is a bit more rustic than Windy Hill where we had stayed the night before but that was fine with us. There was running water, vault toilets, and picnic tables and fire rings at each site.
It was such a warm evening, we were able to sit outside until well after dark. It was a perfect end to a lovely autumn day in Arizona.