Visit Tonto National Forest

I had never realized the Salt River Recreation Areas were part of Tonto National Forest till my recent visit to the area. I hiked parts of three sites to view and photograph birds. Note: have appropriate park pass on your car’s dashboard.

Granite Reef is the first recreation site I stopped at along Bush Highway. Here you can walk along the river and see a dam in the distance. Plenty of waterfowl were on the river. I also saw a group of javelinas, called a squadron, on the other river bank.

My next stop was at Phon D Sutton recreation site a few miles further on Bush Highway. I chose one spot to sit and view the birds. Each of these sites have restrooms, cleaned Friday through Monday, picnic tables and plenty of paths to hike or ride your horse.

Final stop: Coon Bluff, again a few more miles down Bush Highway. Of the three sites, this one was most popular with fishermen and people riding horses. I was told wild horses can sometimes be seen here or at 5pm down the road when they are fed. Interesting! A local photographer, familiar with the area the past 15 years, was talking with me about eagles being seen at times as I had also noted from eBird info, but we had no luck! The squirrels in this area are way too curious. As soon as I took a bite of my lunch a squirrel had its beady eyes focused on my food! I was talking with a young woman who was walking her dog about the squirrel’s reaction. She told me of her attempt to discourage her friend in feeding the squirrels or letting one climb on a pant leg. We are both convinced that there will be a day a squirrel bites her friend!

More sites to visit along Bush Highway which ends at Saguaro Lake. Weekends are when all sites are crowded. Road bicyclists were seen by me as I drove the road and to the south of the road there are areas to horseback ride and mountain bike. I can imagine this area being very, very busy at times! Be sure to have a park permit on your dashboard; no fun getting fined! Otherwise, have fun!

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