Verde River - (2003?)
A short distance from the town of Strawberry, the road abruptly dives over a cliff into 2000-foot-deep Fossil Creek Canyon, clinging to a narrow gravel shelf for 14 terrifying miles. We made camp at the bottom of the canyon next to a roaring stream.
Next morning we climbed back up to 5000 feet and crossed into the Verde River -- a sizable river (especially by Arizona standards) that races downhill between red and black volcanic cones. The water is margarita green, colored by particles of suspended lime.
Bright green cottonwoods and willows trembled along the banks of the river, and we spotted several herons and a mallard duck, along with many spectacular wildflowers.
About a mile's walk upstream from an ancient hydroelectric plant, three river crossings take you to the site of the former Verde River Hot Springs Resort. The hotel was destroyed by fire in 1962, but the "spa" is still there.
Generations of inspired soakers have turned the spa into a shrine, carefully decorating it with whimsical murals, tiles and messages of peace, love and environmental stewardship.