Sycamore Canyon

August 31, 2008

Photos by Dennis and David

We've avoided Sycamore Canyon since March, 2007, when we helped rescue an illegal who had been abandoned by his coyote after falling and breaking his leg. But after this record-breaking monsoon, we just had to revisit our favorite southern Arizona watery playground.

Extraordinarily high water levels were apparent even at the mouth of the canyon.

The canyon was at its most extravagantly lush, with a dazzling variety of colorful spiders, caterpillars and grasshoppers clinging to every blade of the thigh-high grass.

This pinnacle parks the entrance of a major side canyon.

And this one looks like it should mark the entrance to the pharaoh's tomb!

Would there be water in the punchbowl? Oh yeah, the best we've seen in years!

We found these strange Arizona Water Spiders dancing on the rock face next to the waterfall.

We couldn't resist the urge to continue downstream to check out the slot canyon that's an obligatory swim even in dry weather. Today the slot was well over our heads and more than 30 yards long!

Rogil spotted a side canyon — and you know what happens when Rogil spots a side canyon — so up we went. My climbing gear consisted of a face mask and river shoes.

A short scramble up the canyon we were amazed to discover another punchbowl about 10 feet across with amber-tinted water well over our heads.

Coming back up the slot. What a gorgeous sight with the azur sky, tea-colored water and those smooth white rock walls!

Dennis surprised this fine-looking water snake. Looks like a Black-Necked Garter Snake, according to the excellent identification guide at

Clouds of sulphur butterflies floated near seeps and shallow pools.

We think this gorgeous butterfly is a Gulf Fritillary.

Kebabs and cabbage salad at Ruth's place while we wait for the evening's entertainment...

...another record-busting monsoon blast from the Santa Ritas! ¡Viva el monzón!