Bloody Basin gained its gruesome name from the numerous skirmishes between the U.S. Army and Apaches here, most notably from a battle that occurred at Turret Peak north of Cave Creek, Arizona. In March of 1873, Army Scouts closed in on a group of Apaches at this site during the night and then attacked them at dawn. Nearly all were captured or killed during this raid.
We set out one mild winter day to explore this area and put some more dirt between our tire treads. Our group of five vehicles entered the Agua Fria National Monument on the Bloody Basin Road. The monument is a 70,900-acre expanse of high desert perched north of Phoenix. It has been set aside for preservation of wildlife, riparian areas, and some significant Indian ruin sites.
Hohokam Indians lived in this area from about 800 to 1400 A.D. Apache Indians and, later, Spanish explorers followed them in the 1500s. For those who choose to do some research, there are substantial ancient ruin sites that can be visited on foot, but may require hiking a fair distance. There are many remains of pueblos that were constructed from native stone using a method where gathered stones were stacked to build walls and then stabilized with mud mortar. Roofs were typically constructed from timber and straw. Visitors can also observe many pottery shards at these sites, along with petroglyphs carved on rock faces.
We covered about 80 miles on dirt during our long day in the Bloody Basin area, but barely scratched the surface of this diverse outdoor environment. We visited several old cabins along the way and made a trip down to the Verde River, a historic sheep herding route in the Bloody Basin area. There are many other 4WD and dirt roads in the area, along with outstanding hiking opportunities in the canyons and riparian areas along the water paths. There’s still much more of the Bloody Basin area for us to explore.