Canyoneering to Reavis Falls

No signposts in the wilderness

Reaching Reavis Falls, once you find the canyon mouth, is three-fourths of a mile of boulder hopping and bushwacking over and around landslides, deep pools and fallen trees.  Odds are you will be the only person in the canyon for weeks, if not months.  Expect to be surprised. In this chapter you will (finally) visit the falls themselves.

A Camp in the Canyon

Click me for the chapter about the environment around the mouth of Reavis Canyon below the falls.

The Last Mile

Here is an overview of the last third mile of Reavis Canyon.  You can see the wall of the falls nestled in the folds of ridges towards the top, just off center.

On the lower right is a large landslide and, below there, it is complete chaos.

The vegetation grows shoulder to shoulder with interleaved branches.  You will not get through there.  The solution is to find a way around, usually over and around house-sized boulders.

The image was captured from Google Earth

After almost two hours of picking my way, there was a flicker of light.  The fall waters were sparkling in the sunlight high above the cottonwood trees, in full Mach bloom, and the still leafless Arizona Sycamores.

This was my view of Reavis Falls from the canyon on a March day before the Arizona Sycamores have leaved. The falls are the tiny patch of white to the left of midline where the earth meets the sky. Jumbles of infallen boulders and thick growth of sycamores, oaks and fully leaved cottonwoods cloak the falls.

Another 30 minutes of canyoneering brought me to the foot of the falls.

At the Foot of Reavis Falls

Looking up at Reavis Falls from a 20 foot tall mound of talus.

These are boulders  washed down at flood time.

The rock wall is thick with microorganisms, fungi and mosses.

After clambering around the talus pile I found this angle….

An Arizona Sycamore, before the spring leafing, at the Foot of Reavis Falls

Talus at the Foot of Reavis Falls

The Reavis Falls talus is large boulders carried down Reavis Creek and washed over the falls at flood time as well as blocks fractured from the cliff face.  You can see the base of the Sycamore from the previous photograph.

The falls are formed where Reavis Creek flows over a solid mass of rock.  The talus is composed mostly of this red rock.  From the edge of this cliff to the base, where the falls hit the canyon floor, is all of 140 feet.  This is a far as you can proceed into the canyon without some serious climbing skills.

It is possible to climb around the canyon by climbing up the ridge from which I captured the Cedar Basin Hoodoos.  See my posts below for this location (you need to work it our for yourself).

This is NOT the last post of the series.  From here I will focus on the beauty of Reavis Falls and the canyon that holds them.

It was a four-day expedition so there are a few chapters covering the approach to the Falls:

Lime Mountain Morning

Two Bar Mountain View

Evening on Two Bar Mountain

Among the desert wildflowers

Superstition Wilderness Dawn

Dry Juniper Descent

Hoodoos on the Descent to Reavis Falls

Cedar Basin Hoodoos

Reavis Canyon Camp

Reavis Canyon Rivulets and Rocks

Copyright 2023 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Reavis Canyon Rivulets and Rocks

Canyon of Wonder and Beauty

Born from Eruption and Flood

The Superstition Wilderness was born from volcanic eruption and in some places (Peters Mesa) the earth still rumbles.

Here in Reavis Canyon it is the huge spring runoff that builds the environment, grinding and scouring the canyon. In my chapter The Mouth of Reavis Canyon is the story of this aspect of the canyon.

The history of this spot is written on these volcanic and igneous rocks and boulders, the uprooted tree roots and fresh water.

The tire must have washed down from Reavis Ranch.

A Canyon of Wonder and Beauty

In this chapter I present, in the header, the lovely dawn sky of that day, and a tiny corner of a rock jumble in Reavis Creek.   There is a large format version of the sky in my previous post, “The Mouth of Reavis Canyon.”

Rivulets and Rocks

Copyright 2023 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

The Mouth of Reavis Canyon

Canyon Hazards and Beauty

In this chapter we enter the Mouth of Reavis Canyon below Reavis Falls and examine the beauty and danger of this remote canyon.

See Reavis Canyon Camp for more of my expedition to Reavis Falls.

Dawn on the day I entered Reavis Canyon

Dawn light above the outline of the prominent cliff above Reavis Canyon and Falls the morning of my last day in the canyon.

You might recognize the outline of this cliff from the chapter  Two Bar Mountain View or Evening on Two Bar Mountain.

Here is the same view, in daylight. As I hiked toward the canyon mouth below Reavis Falls, looking up I saw this prominant cliff against the sky.

Here is the path I took toward the falls.  The campsite is to the lower right, the falls are toward the center and left.  My approach to the camp is on the right, moving toward the top.  For another view of this location see Reavis Canyon Camp.

The mouth of Reavis Canyon below the falls is choked with vegetation and infallen rocks and boulders.  The far slopes are thick with the poles of young saguaros. There are hoodoos, as well.  In the photograph, below, one hoodoo is catching morning light.  See the chapters Hoodoos on the Descent to Reavis Falls and Cedar Basin Hoodoos for more views of the hoodoos around Reavis Falls.

Hoodoos visible from the mouth of Reavis Canyon below the falls. Look toward the far slope.

Flood damage in Reavis Canyon below the falls. Note the scouring at the base of these trees and the broken limbs. This is NOT a place to be in spring thaw.

Massive spring flooding scours the canyon floor.

Flood damage in Reavis Canyon below the falls.

There is beauty to be found, as well. Freshly fallen rough rocks contrast with water smoothed boulders and the water surface.

Copyright 2023 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Cedar Basin Hoodoos

Hoodoos and Young Saguaros

In my previous posting “Hoodoos on the Descent to Reavis Falls” I describe how I came to find these strange rock formations during a solo expedition to Reavis Falls in the remote eastern Superstition Wilderness.

Here I present several photographs captured from my tripod mounted Kodak DCS pro slr/c and a Canon EF 200 mm f2.8 L telephoto lens.  These provide a better understanding of the strange, wonderful and possibly frightening impressions these formations make when discovered in a deserted location such as Cedar Basin.

Here is the highest point of the ridge….

Hoodoo Ridge

…..and from a portion of the ridge that projects closer to my observation point above the canyon mouth of Reavis Falls. The numerous green poles are young Saguaro cactus. In the distance are mature Saguaros with lateral arms.

Hoodoos of Cedar Basin

..and even closer than this were the rocks standing around me.   This specimen I captured with the 50 mm 1.4 Canon lens.  I believe it is a different rock type than the above, rounded, hoodoos.  Those look like rock from ash of a volcanic eruption.  This rock seems to be igneous, formed deep inside the earth.

Cedar Basin Rock Closeup

My next posting will describe the surroundings of the campsite from which I explored the canyon and Reavis Falls.

Copyright 2023 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Hoodoos on the Descent to Reavis Falls

layers of stone weathered over eons by water, wind, sun and cold

My previous post, “Dry Juniper Descent” had me above the ridge of the featured photograph.

I interrupted my descent to Reavis Falls to stop on a ridge overlooking Reavis Creek, the same ridge that forms the western wall of the canyon.  By this time it was late afternoon on a March Day with the angle of the sun being perfect for capturing rock formations.  Notice the effect of the light on the distant mountains.

This is the North / Northeast view of the opposite ridge above a flow from multiple springs on Lime Mountain.

This photograph was created from multiple images using tripod-mounted Kodak DCS ProSlr/c with a 50mm, 1.4 Canon lens.

Cedar Basin hoodoos on the slopes of Lime Mountain
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The ridge and slopes are covered with a rock formation named Hoodoos for the fantastic shapes taken on by layers of stone weathered over eons by water, wind, sun and cold.  These hoodoos are enormous, some precisely balanced and carved into elaborate shapes.  The word “Hoodoo” derives from the name of the practice of sorcery or folk magic.  You can image the effect on ancient people of coming upon these formations and believing them created by malevolent beings (djinns, goblins, demons) in their leisure time, when not causing problems, and worse, for humans.  These beings are especially active in desert places, such as this, which has the comforting name of Cedar Basin.

The hoodoos cast a spell on me.  I had never heard of Cedar Basin, but knew, as the sun was low in the west, I needed to unload my 70 pound pack, set up the tripod and camera to spend over an hour of precious time to capture the images of this blog.

Ancient Village

Cedar Basin forms on one side from the ridge of this photograph. On the other side of the ridge, the mountain slope levels out to a site settled by ancient people we call Sin Agua.  There is nothing but a few stones left of their village and way of life.

Cedar Basin

Looking to the left of the Hoodoo Panorama photograph and into Cedar Basin, you see more of that same rock type that formed the hoodoos to the right on this same ridge.  This is also the lower slopes of Lime Mountain, as you can see from the color of the upper ridge.

The Slopes of Cedar Basin

This and the following photographs were created using a tripod-mounted Kodak DCS ProSlr/c with a 200mm, 1.4 Canon L type lens.

Another side of the basin is formed by the ridge I am on.  This side is across from the canyon of Reavis Creek and Falls.  The trail leads down switchbacks from the Dry Juniper of my previous post to a dry draw.  You can see the way I came in the following two photographs.  I captured Castle Dome, then panned to the right for the rest of the ridge.  You can see the trail to Reavis Ranch carved into the slopes of Castle Dome.

Castle Dome Ridge and Reavis Ranch Trail

Cedar Basin and Castle Dome

I then panned one more time to the right to capture the ridge above Cedar Basin and the start of the hoodoos.  It was an army spread across the entire ridge!!

Cedar Basin and Castle Dome

My next posting will feature close-up of the most interesting hoodoos from the panorama, using a 200 mm telephoto lens.

Copyright 2023 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved