Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Exploring Arizona: The Sheep Bridge

The bangle on my wrist vibrated, and I started to laugh. I had achieved my steps despite spending most of the day in the car. I shared the news with Dave and the kiddos as the five of us jostled and banged around in our vehicle like popcorn kernels in the pan. We had been on an adventure. An adventure that took us along miles of unpaved dirt roads in the wilderness ofArizona.
Our road trips have been few lately. So many projects and obligations have kept us closer to home. After much talk about true priorities and the story of our life, Dave and I decided the family needed a car trip. With Jasmine tagging along, we set out for the Sheep Bridge in the Tonto National Forest. 

Although it is only 80 miles from our home, the Sheep Bridge is in a remote area. This amazing suspension bridge is a treat to find. The roads were definitely rough; the majority were unpaved and quite rocky. The uneven terrain and winding roads caused Aine and Eamon to moan about car sickness. We needed to stop a few times to settle all of our bellies. 
In 1943 the original Sheep Bridge was built over the Verde River to aid sheep farmers. Before the bridge many sheep were lost while crossing the river when the farmers ran them from lower Arizona to the Rim. An imposing concrete and wood buttress, remnant of the old bridge, is adjacent the existing structure. There is a plaque detailing the construction and the history of sheep farming in the state. The new bridge was constructed in 1988 after the old one had to be dismantled. It was deteriorating after years of use. Although the area is no longer used for sheep farming, the bridge supports the foot traffic of people exploring the wilderness of the area. The bridge sits high above the Verde River.
The kiddos realized that during our camping trip last spring, they had played in the same river a bit further north. Excited about the connection, we made our way across the bridge and down to the bank of the river. The kiddos immediately started running along the bank exploring the space. Aine spotted tiny bird prints along the shoreline. Benton began building a cairn. Eamon started finding rocks for skipping. We spent a bit of time there on the bank. Dave taught the kiddos his rock skipping technique. Each of them was able to get at least one rock to skip across the smooth water. Benton and I dug in the sand, creating a moat and castle.

It was beautiful along the riverbank with the bridge overhead. The kiddos were very disappointed that we couldn't spend the night. We made plans to return soon to camp overnight. Apparently there are some hot springs nearby that we would like to check out. We climbed back up to the bridge and took a few goofy photos. We piled back into the car and started back home. The return trip seemed a bit easier on our jostled limbs. We crossed a couple areas muddy with water but made it home in one piece vowing to explore again next week.


  1. LOVE! what a great spot!!

  2. I made a comment but I'm not sure what happened to it.

  3. I love these pictures, a great spot for camping or picnicking. The kids look great! Miss and love you bunches. Gram