Article and Photos by Dale Kesel

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Rain, sun and Aspens. A recipe for relaxation and a visual feast.

I have lived in Arizona for nearly 13 years and never visited the area of our state near Eagar and Greer. It's a gorgeous area on the Eastern side of Arizona, less than half an hour from the New Mexico border.

The people who live there call it "God's Country." And, it is easy to see why. This beautiful section of our state is made up of Mountains, covered with aspen and Ponderosa Pine trees, and golden grass covered plains which were originally volcano fields. In the plains areas you see definite evidence of dormant volcanos in the form of cone-shaped hills, often standing all alone in the middle of a prairie. As you get up into the mountain areas, there is an abundance of lakes and beautiful trails that meander through forests. Tall pines with splashes of gold created by stands of Aspen trees provide awe-inspiring views from the trails and breathtaking panoramas from the roads.

My wife and I took a three day trip to "Gods country" in the middle of the 2nd week of October. We drove East from Phoenix on U.S. 60 out through the mining towns of Superior, Miami and Globe. We headed North on 60 out of Globe, rising from 3,000 ft. to nearly 7,000 ft. as we followed the Salt River Canyon. On the way to Eagar, where we planned to spend 2 nights, we passed through Showlow. Although we were near the area of the Rodeo and Cibeque Fires, we saw very little evidence of them on the way to Eagar.

When we arrived in Eagar on Tuesday, it was overcast. But we went out in search of color anyway. The short car trip into the mountains proved fruitful. As we returned down the dirt road we had come up, I stopped quickly to take advantage of this view of a couple of beautiful aspens in full color at the end of an "S" curve in the road. In spite of the clouds, the colors were still brilliant.

The second day, we headed south toward Big Lake and hiked a trail near the lake which ascended up over the peak of one of the mountains. As we rose higher and higher, the aspens got thicker and thicker. The aspen leaves were beginning to fall and some early morning rain provided the perfect finishing touch for a close-up shot of the red and yellow leaves lying on the ground along our path.

As we returned to the parking area where we had left the car, rain and hail greeted us. Our timing was perfect. We climbed in and headed back to Eagar, feeling refreshed and fulfilled.

That afternoon, we decided to explore the towns of Eagar and Springerville. As we went looking for a good cup of coffee, we came across a curious store that was an Orvis fly fishing dealer with an espresso bar in the back. We stopped and got a cup of cappuccino and enjoyed it on their back patio. As we relaxed and watched the clouds roll by against the blue sky, I remember feeling that this was definitely an area I would visit again.

Continuing our exploration of these two little towns, we happened upon an interesting business establishment that sold antiques and collectibles. Inside, the space was divided up into spaces rented by various collectors and used to display their wares for people like us to view and purchase. We spent an enjoyable hour there discovering some china that was the very same pattern that my wife's mother had when she was growing up.

As we were leaving the parking lot, we could see storms off in the distance. I grabbed my camera and tripod, walked across the road and into the field. I set up my camera and watched as the weather rapidly changed the cloud formations and the way the light struck the grass and plants on the plains in the foreground. It created some exciting visual effects as reflected in the panoramic shot with the rain extending down from the dark clouds above toward the moss-colored plains. And, as the sun reached the horizon, the moisture in the sky was turned pink and orange creating a wondrous image of God's Country.

The next day we returned to Phoenix, taking a route which went through the Apache reservation. They were doing some controlled burning along this route, which brought back some memories of the summer fires in this area. As we drove further, we saw some of the area stripped of its trees and foliage by the Rodeo Fire.

All in all, the country was beautiful, the memories are wonderful and I would highly recommend a visit to God's country, whenever the inspiration strikes you.

If you would like more information about the trip, the images shown in this article or any of my photography of the Southwest, visit my website at Kesel Images
If you would like to put together a group to go on this hike and would like the company of and direction from a professional photographer, please contact me at: or call me at 480-496-9272