Sheep Corral/Tadpole Ridge

September 8-9, 2023

After a most welcome bout of cool, rainy weather, the heat has returned. We had to cancel our trip to Chaco Canyon, but we promised ourselves some local adventures as compensation. At the top of the list was Sheep Corral Canyon. This is one of the few roads that provides access to a remote section of the Continental Divide Trail. It was my first outing with the new camera. My old Lumix FZ300 finally bought the farm after too many times being dropped on rocks, dunked in streams or exposed to blowing dust and rain.

Sheep Corral shute

The road was in good shape, and showed signs of recent maintenance. It took us about an hour to reach the famous Sheep Corral.

Sheep Corral gate

It is a very large and well-built structure, obviously made from local materials, using a great deal of precision and ingenuity.

CDT trail sign

From here, the CDT heads south to Tadpole Ridge and Devil's Garden, or north to a junction with Sapillo Creek.


Past the corral, the condition of the road exceeded the cost-benefit ratio. So we turned back in search of a campsite, and found this gem, well off the main road, atop a mesa with a fine Pondo forest and a deep carpet of pine needles.

turkey vegetable chile

Turkey Vegetable Chile. It's what's for lunch. And dinner. And probably lunch tomorrow.


Journaling — or ham radio — is what we do in the evening when there's no internet.

Birdbill Dayflower

Southbound on the CDT. The trail was dry, but there were still plenty of Summer wildflowers, including this intense blue Birdbill Dayflower.

beetle on flower

iNaturalist says this is acmaeodera amabilis on a ragleaf bahia. Did you know that about one-fourth of all animals are beetles? So, if you have three friends, and none of them are beetles, you're the beetle!

view north from the trail

We were in the area and wanted to hike, but had no idea that the trail would take us to a saddle at 7900 feet, with fine views north to the Mogollons, and south as far as Bear Mountain.

Tadpole Ridge trail sign

In 2020, the Tadpole Fire incinerated about 11,000 acres along the top of Tadpole Ridge. This sign was attached to an alligator juniper that was partially charred and severed, eventually rotating away from the trail.

distant wildfire

We caught a glimpse of a distant wildfire in the Turkey Creek area. Fire is never very far away in the Gila.

view from the saddle

View from just above the junction of the CDT and Tadpole Ridge.

red-tailed hawk

On the way out, we came upon a Red-tailed Hawk, enjoying a snack on a Pondo branch. The new camera has a decent zoom!