Spring Camping – The Time is Now

Arizona desert weather is perfect for camping during this time of year, with clear cool nights, and the desert looking as green as it will all year, following the winter rains.  A bit too early for the desert wildflowers, but the cactus were beginning to bloom, and the Ocotillo’s bright red flowers were just beginning to show.


There really is something mystical about the desert, so vast and vacant, untouched by modern civilization.  So rich with history, this prehistoric land of the ancients.  There is something about standing on the same land as the Anasazi, the Hohokam, and later the Hopi, Apache and Mojave Indians, and realizing that very little has changed since their time.

Now I love camping just about anywhere, and grew up camping in the lush, verdant forests of the upper mid-west, an area equally as rich with its own unique brand of history.  And I’ve spent a great deal of time camping throughout the southeastern United States, almost always near a river or a lake.  Something I don’t get to do very much now that I camp primarily in the more arid southwestern area of our country.

I do try to camp all around the country as often as possible however.  I want to know how our tents perform on humid Florida nights, or how they keep out the mosquitoes on a hot Minnesota summer day.  I want to know that our tent will keep me dry even during the worst northwest soaking rain storms, and to see how our fabrics hold up in the blistering sun and heat of the southwest.

This particular trip however, there would be none of that.  Perfect weather, and as we like to say here at PahaQue, any tent performs well in fair weather.  On this trip we were comfortably camped on Perry Mesa, in our Perry Mesa tent!

Perry Mesa Rock Art
Rock Art on Perry Mesa

There were three of us – our VP Mike, our CFO Craig, and myself.  We camped about 2 miles from Squaw Creek Ruins, a massive pueblo complex overlooking Squaw Creek Canyon, and Squaw Creek about 1000 feet below.  It is fun to hike the last few miles to this site because you really get a good feel for the lay of the land as you approach the ruin and the southern edge of the mesa.  This area represents a massive prehistoric civilization site, comprising over 20 pueblos on approximately 20 square miles.  And it is remote and relatively untouched.  The sense of history is heavy as you tread over trails, see trash dumps filled with pot sherds, collapsed pueblos that are over 800 years old. This was one of the last ancient civilizations prior to Spanish contact.

So for this particular trip, the only testing that occurred was on our legs.  This is rugged country, and two miles here can seem like ten.  Constantly trying to avoid ankle-breaking rocks, painful cactus, and other such obstacles can make for a tricky hike.  Trying to keep your eyes on all the amazing sites around you, while watching each step to avoid falling on your face is the real trick.

Squaw Creek Cyn
Perry Mesa overlooking Squaw Creek Canyon

So after hiking/stumbling the 4 miles to and from the ruins, and the additional odd mile or two spent exploring the area, seeing our Perry Mesa’s on Perry Mesa was a welcome site indeed!  No matter where you camp, your tent is your home away from home, and is always a welcome site after a long day of physical activity.  And fortunately for us there was no severe weather testing of the tents this trip.  However, we did find three scorpions under our tent upon packing up on our last day.  So I guess we can call that our bug-test trip.  And it seems even those nasty little dudes know where to go to find good shelter! Good thing we kept our tent doors zippered tight!

5″ long Scorpion….Nasty!

If you’ve had fun or exciting camping experiences with your PahaQue Tent or Shelter, please take a moment to share it with us.  We love to hear your stories!  Also be sure to check out the details on our upcoming photo contest – you might just win a free PahaQue Shadow Mountain Cabana!

See you ’round the campfire!

Jeff Basford

PahaQue Wilderness


Arizona Backcountry Trip Wrap-Up

Whenever we guide a group of campers into the backcountry on one of our guided trips, its always good thing if we never have to touch the first-aid kit.  Not knowing what the skill and experience level of our guests may be, there is always that chance that someone could get hurt.  Especially on the desert, where pretty much everything from rocks, to cactus, to rattlesnakes, are going to put a hurt on if you encounter them in the wrong way.  This was a good trip.  I dont recall using even a band-aid this time around!

Our campsite was ideal – just far enough back in the mountains to be hidden away and provide a feeling of complete isolation.  It was flat enough for everyone to park their trailers and set their tents on level desert pavement, as it is called.  We had a spectacular view of the mountains, and the evening sunsets were everything I had hoped they would be.  On the desert the sunsets are almost always spectacular, and this trip was no disappointment. 

A few highlights from the trip:

Probably the moment everyone will remember the most is when a 6′ Western Diamondback rattlesnake wandered into camp and right between the legs of Mary, one of our guests. 

Rattler in Camp

Good thing he wasnt hungry I guess.  If it had been up to me, it would have been dinner and a hatband, but ultimately we agreed to just move him a few hundred yards from camp.  He must’ve read my mind because he stayed away the rest of the trip!

Another highlight were the 4WD trail-rides that we took on the old mining roads, winding our way up, over and around the mountains to view some great old ghost gold mines, the old stone cabins of 19th century French miners, and a beautiful looking Big Horn Sheep was watched us pass by from a ridge high above the road.

Saturday nights Potluck dinner was fantastic, with everyone providing delicious food prepared in camp.  My favorite was the dutch-oven stew with biscuits cooked right on top of the stew.  We also had brats, salad, even pies, all served in camp right around sunset.  It was a perfect way to cap off a great trip.

My favorite memory is always the smiles and great comments we recieve from our guest.  Our goal is to design backcountry trips that are unique and unlike the regular camping rally’s in crowded campgrounds.  We want to show our guests how vast the west really is, how much open land there is to explore, and how much history there is to discover by simply getting off the beaten path.

One comment from a guest who came from Michigan really stuck with me.  He said that, to him, the trip was “like one of life’s little nuggets, that if you don’t bend over to pick it up, you’ll never know what you missed.”  Thats what I’m talking about.  I love the outdoors, I love the desert, and I love sharing my passion for history with our guests, with the hope of adding a new dimension to their experience.

Desert weather is always unpredictable, with heat and wind being just a part of the experience.  This time the temperature jumped from the lo-80’s of the previous week, to

ca. 1900 Mining Ruins

the mid-90’s for the 4 days we were there, and then of course dropping back down into the lo-80’s on the day we left.  But no one seemed to mind the daytime heat too much – we kept busy during the days and that really helped.  But the evenings – they were spectacular!  Perfect temps, light gentle breezes, and no moon which made for some really great star-gazing.  Being that far out the night sky is usually brilliant, and the Milky Way was like a streak of white across the sky.

We really couldnt have asked for better weather or nicer folks this time.  It is always great to meet, and get to know new folks on every trip, and after sharing such an experience folks seem to develop a special bond.  Thanks to all our guests who joined in and help make the experience enjoyable for everyone.  Sharing all of this with you is the little nugget that I pick up on every trip we take.

If you would like to read more about our backcountry trip, watch the August and September issues of Camping Life Magazine.  We were privledged to have one of their writers along on this trip, and he has written a story about it that will appear in the publication very soon.

Join our Spring ’11 Desert Camping Adventure

Every year we try to host a gathering of fellow-campers, usually located in some remote and historic area in Arizona, and this year we plan to do the same!

The dates – Thurs Mar 30 – Sun Apr 02, 2011.

We are co-sponsoring this years trip with Little Guy Trailers, world leading manufacturers of tear-drop campers.  (www.golittleguy.com)  So far we have folks coming from as far away as Alabama, and this trip promises to be a fun mix of tent and trailer campers.

Over the years we at Paha Que’ have explored many remote areas throughout the West.  Our goal has always been to camp in ghost towns, and remote areas of other historical significance.  Our adventures have taken us to some pretty fantastic and out of the way sites, long-forgotten by modern society.  We avoid popular tourist outdoor destinations and large crowded campgrounds.

So this year we’re heading out to a great desert site in west-central Arizona, near the town of Quartzsite.  Once a large and productive gold, silver and copper mining region, much of the area is largely abanoned BLM land.  With lots of passable roads that lead to some really great areas.  Stark, desert moon-scape that this time of year is surprisingly green and lush after the long winter rains.

Temperature normally hover around the 75 degree mark during the days, with the evening lows in the 50’s.  Perfect.  And the nightime star-gazing is awesome!  Tons of oportunites for hiking, rock-hounding, bird watching, photography, and just relaxing!

We don’t charge to join our trips, unless the group size exceeds BLM limits in which case we need to purchase a permit and therefore ask everyone to split the cost – usually less than $5 per person.  We do however plan events for those who wish to participate which include 4WD trips, hikes, star-gazing (we bring the telescope), dutch-over cook offs, and whatever else sounds good at the moment!

We’ll rendesvouz in Quartzsite around noon on Thurs March 30, and from there we will drive another 45-60 minutes to our destination.  No 4WD required.

We hope you will consider joining us and our co-sponsor Little Guy Trailers (www.golittleguy.com).  For more details about this trip, to suggest a destination for a future trip, or just to talk about camping you can call us toll-free at 888.700.TENT (8368).