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With the weather finally starting to cool off from the sweltering summertime temperatures in Phoenix, AZ, it was time to hit a fun desert trail that runs to a river destination called Sheeps Crossing (AKA Sheep Bridge). This is a fun and fairly easy 50-mile ride (each way), although, like most of the desert trails in AZ, it is a rocky rutted road that is not suitable for cars.

The original Sheep bridge was constructed in 1943 and was used to move sheep (bet you didn't guess that) from one pasture to the next over the sometimes swollen Verde River. Here is a picture of the original sheep bridge.


source: wikipedia

We had a pretty good crew show up for this early morning ride - there were 12 rigs total which included 11 side by sides and one Dirt Riot race Jeep. After a brief driver meeting to make sure everyone was on the same page on where to stop, we loaded up and hit the very dusty trail!



I have always loved the striking desert scenery we have in AZ. The scenery along this trail is outstanding as we weave our way up and over several mountains.



At one of our stops, I mentioned to the leader that 3 of us were going to take a brief stop at a cool rock cropping that is just passed a ranch and that there was no need for them to stop for us as I know the way. To my surprise, as we approached the rock he had led the group straight to the spot I described and had everybody lining up for a photo. How cool!



While everyone was getting some water to wash down the dust, my good friend Troy who owns UTV Off-Road magazine and his son Tanner saw a trail that went up the rock behind us. Of course, we had to see where it went! It was a cool overlook but just a dead end at the top.



Troy had a sweet Polaris RZR XP Turbo Dynamix edition he was testing out. It looked great and rode super smooth!



After a short break, we were back on the trail with our river destination in mind. We made it to the bridge in about 20 miles. After the long dusty ride, it was time to take a break, have some lunch and cool off in the river before exploring.



There was a good size Jeep group under the bridge on the other side of the river. You can see the remnants of the original bridge beside the newer constructed hiking bridge in the next photo.

 

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One of the guys in our group found a little friend along the river and wanted to share it with the group.



Tarantellas are actually quite harmless creatures; we see them often in the desert and let them go on their way.

I was telling Troy about the natural hot tub hidden in the bamboo reeds. His son wanted to see it so off we went through the small tunnel, where deep inside is a small hand-built rock tub with a natural hot spring that is funneled into it. It was actually quite warm.






After passing through the tunnel you can come out by the bridge entrance where the BLM has some signage about the history of both bridges. To me, it's always interesting to learn some of the old histories of the many landmarks we have in AZ. Fortunately, no one has defaced any of this area. From the bridge, you can see the thick bamboo maze where the hot tub is hidden from view.





A few of the younger people found a rope attached to the underside of the bridge and checked out the depth of the river. I have to say it was entertaining watching them swinging out over the river and making some interesting splashdowns.





I was jumping for Joy watching everyone having such a good time.



As the day was getting long we decided it was time to head back the 50 miles to the trucks before it got too late. My Wildcat X with pro-type Gladiator X-Comp ATR tires was up to the task. These tires have been extremely durable on our rocky trails, plus they provide predictable traction. I have punished them for about 800 miles now with remarkable results! Look for them soon at Discount Tire.



We took one last look towards the river after the climb out from the bridge before hitting the main road.



From here we made a bee-line to the trucks at a moderate/fast pace and just made it back without running out of fuel. I am always amazed at how the tires of today hold up in the harsh rocky deserts we ride in and fortunately during this trip, we did not have any tires fail.

This is another excellent adventure to add to my log book of life.

Remember to always pack out what you pack in and more, respect the environment and the creatures that live there and always buy your tires and wheels from Discount Tire!

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Don McNeilly
Discount Tire
 
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