A couple months ago, several friends and I traveled up to Queen Creek for two days of camping and rock climbing – and the experience couldn’t have been better!
As we made the hour drive from Tempe to Queen Creek on the 60, our departure made for perfect timing to a gorgeous sunset over the desert. Reds, oranges, purples and yellows painted the desert sky, and reminded me that Arizona has the some of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever experienced.
The four of us in the car arrived first, and began unpacking our equipment that we would need for the quick two day excursion– tent, food, water, and a sleeping bag. As 8 o’clock rolled around, the rest of our group finally arrived and the camp fire talk began, in what was then a VERY cold February night. As others were talking and socializing, I took time to adventure off into the desert a bit, and noticed how much clearer the stars were only an hour outside of the Phoenix. It was so quiet and peaceful, that I must have stayed out there for an hour alone – just enjoying the serenity of the Arizonan desert at night.
Upon my return, we continued eating, and talking about everything that anyone had on their minds – school projects, after graduation thoughts, etc…As we continued grilling hot dogs and roasting marshmallows, neighboring campers began making their way over to our spot and chatting with the group. As the night turned frigid and moon was glaring down on the dwindling fire, we decided to call it a night and get rested for some morning climbing.
As 7 am rolled around, I found myself awake, and noticed that a stray cow had made its way into a neighboring site – apparently a normal event for the area. After a bit of exploring, I returned and we were off to do what the camping trip was for – rock climbing!
Being from Southern California, the most climbing I had ever done were the stairs that led down to the beach. He let us know that we would be going to “Atlantis”, a climbing spot just down the road and one that was crafted for beginners. With much of my nervousness eased, we drove no less than 10 minutes down the highway until we pulled to the side of the road, parked, and hiked down a short hill to set up.
As I looked up the 40 foot inline, I noticed quickly that there were dozens of other routes, marked by predrilled hooks. After a short lesson in climbing technique, my buddy “led the climb”, and I nervously followed after – flash forward a few minutes; I reached the top with an enormous grin on my face and feeling of accomplishment, fingers hurting from the tight holds as I caught a glimpse of a gorgeous Arizonan afternoon in Queek Creek’s “Atlantis” area.
After a few hours of climbing, and watching my experienced friend climb seemingly impossible routes, we packed up and started our return to Tempe. As we drove back, I felt that the weekend was a success. Bonding with friends by the campfire, and climbing for the first time made for an awesome experience – one that I would advise to anyone seeking an outdoor experience exclusive to the beautiful nature of Arizona.
For more information on this climbing spot and others in the area, check out Queen Creek’s “Atlantis”