Waterscapes Roosevelt Lake
By Jim Allen
My nephew and I had planned a "day trip" to Roosevelt Lake to look at boats and do a little fishing. We headed east on Shea Boulevard to the Beeline Highway.
We planned to stop at Saguaro Lake on the way. Saguaro Lake is only an hour from my front doorstep in Phoenix, but for all its beauty and all it has to offer, I've probably been there only a half dozen times in the past 15 years.
It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is to lose track of the naturally beautiful things in life, beauty that is so close at hand. (Saguaro Lake is behind the Stewart Mountain Dam.
Facilities include Saguaro del Norte recreation site, a marina with boat rentals and slips, a restaurant, and camping areas. Arizona Game & Fish stocks the lake with bluegills, channel catfish, crappie, largemouth and yellow bass, rainbow and brown trout, and walleye.)
Since our primary objective on this day was to reach Roosevelt Lake, we spent only a short time exploring the marina at Saguaro Lake before we headed up the road toward Payson and the turn-off to Roosevelt Dam.
So far, we had driven only about an hour from Phoenix but we had already seen many different varieties of cacti, wild animals of all descriptions, a lake, mountains and rock formations that appeared different with every change of light.
It had been 22 years since I had gone this way, so as we left Saguaro Lake, I gave Palmer the map and asked him to navigate. Soon we passed by Sunflower and were headed toward Rye. Just before Rye, we found Highway 88 and turned toward Punkin Center and Roosevelt Dam.
As we turned onto Highway 88, Palmer was delighted to see that he had found the right highway, and judging by the road, mileage signs, his mileage estimates had been right on the money. Had we continued through Rye and up the road another 20 miles we would have been in the pine-wooded country of Payson.
It is still astounding to me that in just a couple of short hours you can see such a drastic change in scenery and lifestyle...from the desert, the cacti and the bustle of Phoenix to the cool pines and small town atmosphere of Payson.
When we arrived at Roosevelt Lake, we discovered that men were working on the dam. It was like watching something from an old adventure movie...the incredible face of the dam with men and machines all around and the cable trolley high above used to ferry materials and equipment back and forth.
The lake itself is a beautiful blue that shimmers in the middle of the desert and cacti. The pioneers and explorers of the 1800s would have thought they had found Heaven if they had stumbled onto that sight after crossing hundreds of miles of dry desert.
After passing part of the lake and the dam, we drove around, looked at the dock and stopped to ask questions at a little store. The lady who worked there said she and her husband had moved from Houston to Tucson several years ago. They were in search of a smaller place and a different lifestyle. She told us that although they liked Tucson, they both still wanted someplace smaller.
It would be hard to find someplace smaller than Roosevelt, unless you went back to Sunflower or maybe Gisela, but it sounded to Palmer and me as if she and her husband liked Roosevelt, had everything they needed and planned on staying.