Canyoneering In Arizona’s Best Kept Secret


Entrance to Rondeho Canyon


If you love exploring country off the beaten path, consider this little known area.  Rondeho Canyon hides among the sage and sand, but it still has a sense of purpose.  Murals of petraglyphs etched into red sandstone cliffs tell their stories of the ancient ones.  A single dusty trail meanders below a small canyon where short bushes hug 50 foot cliffs and the sun dances on the stocky boulders.  Hanging out in nature and among the whispers of the ancient people always brings me back to center.  It can even be humbling.  Such as the case here.  The ancients lived so simply.  Could you live like they did, if you had to?

Everyone I’ve taken here feels a spiritual connection within these canyon walls.  We muse how life must have been for the ancient ones.  Probably only wearing loin cloths and moccasins or perhaps barefoot.  In the middle of the day, the air feels like a furnace, the only reprieve is a soft wind blowing. However, the steep cliffs showing off their manuscripts and paintings is a delight for all of us to enjoy.

This easy 2-mile hiking trail is obscured at times.  However, just venture east as the canyon gets narrower.  Along the way are several levels of rock carvings on tall slabs depicting lizards, feet, stick people, animals, spacemen and more. I wonder if the canyon has sunk and therefore we now have two generations of the ancient ones stories?

img001The trail stops at a 8 foot tall and wide smooth rock slab fallen from the cliff face. A trail of sorts meanders to the right of this rock displaying a 100 foot gray root draped as if it were abstract art.   This root comes in handy to pull ourselves up and squeeze through the small opening of branches that scratches our legs as we continue on the rest of the trail.  A cool breeze smacks us at the top.

On the top, a sandy path leads around the corner to a cave.  Stepping down into the cave shadow, on our left a sun dial suddenly becomes visible.  Directly in front of us, a shaft of sunlight shoots down from the top into the cave. One at a time, my friend and I stand underneath this beam of light, filling our senses with the blessing of a beautiful spring day.

As our eyes become accustomed to the light, we realize we are in a well and recognize more pictures of animals, bizarre lines and other miscellaneous drawings on the well wall.   Large tree limbs and branches are stuck in holes overhead, suggesting past flooding. And, unfortunately, there are traces of humanity too with pop cans and beer cans left behind inside another small dry hole.

Witches Well

Witches Well

Witches Well
At the back of the cave is another deeper well with petraglyphs etched as high as 10 feet or more.  And there is so much more to this canyon, however, you will just have to visit Rondeho Canyon  to find out.

Four wheel drive is recommended because there is plenty of sand out there.  Drive 40 miles west of Concho, Arizona.  Follow Highway 89 to Witches Corner, turn left.  Go north about 3 miles,  turn right at the windmill, watching for the cows to greet you and keep heading east. This canyon is best visited after August and before June to avoid the monsoon season.

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