Exploring Sheep's Bridge: A Family Off-Road Adventure with a Touch of Arizona's Pastoral History

Join Michael Hankerson of AZ Outdoor Adventures on an unforgettable journey to the historic Sheep’s Bridge over the Verde River. In this post, we’ll dive into not only the thrilling off-road adventure with my daughters Jennifer and Kennedy but also the rich history of sheep herding in Arizona and the pivotal role of Sheep’s Bridge in this legacy.

The Adventure: Our recent Can-Am off-road trip to Sheep’s Bridge was more than just a ride; it was a bonding experience steeped in the beauty and history of Arizona. Starting from Table Mesa Road off I-17, our convoy of Can-Am and Polaris UTVs, organized with Nash Powersports, navigated the rugged landscapes of the Tonto National Forest. The journey, filled with laughter and family stories, was captured in a video that not only showcases the stunning scenery but also the strong family ties forged on such trips.

The History of Sheep Herding in Arizona: Arizona’s sheep herding history dates back to Spanish colonization when sheep were first introduced to the region. This industry flourished, shaping much of the state’s agricultural landscape. Arizona’s herders, including many from Basque backgrounds, mastered the art of transhumance, migrating flocks between seasonal pastures. These movements were essential for survival in the harsh climates and were central to the state’s economy for decades.

Sheep’s Bridge: A Historical Connection: Built in 1943, Sheep’s Bridge was crucial for these migrations, allowing herders to move their flocks across the Verde River safely. Constructed primarily from materials like cables salvaged from abandoned mines, the bridge represents a resourceful era of Arizona’s ranching history. Although replaced in 1989 and no longer used for its original purpose, the bridge remains a significant historical site, offering hikers and history buffs alike a glimpse into the pastoral life that once dominated this region.

Conclusion: Understanding the historical significance of destinations like Sheep’s Bridge enhances the depth of our adventures. As we explore these landscapes, we connect not just with nature, but with the stories of those who walked these paths before us. Our family’s journey across Arizona is a continuation of a much larger story, one woven through the fabric of time by the hooves of countless sheep and the feet of those who tended them.

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Accessing Sheep’s Bridge: Four Routes to Explore

Sheep’s Bridge over the Verde River can be reached via several different routes, each offering its own unique adventure. The most commonly used starting point is Table Mesa Road off I-17, known for its straightforward access and scenic views. For those coming from the north, Bloody Basin Road off I-17 provides a more direct but rugged approach, immersing travelers in the heart of the Tonto National Forest. Another option is 7 Springs Road, located just past Desert Mountain and Carefree, which offers a blend of desert and forest landscapes, making for a diverse driving experience. Lastly, there’s the route via Horseshoe Dam’s road, where you cross the Verde River near Davenport Wash. This path is less traveled due to its challenging river crossing—famously tricky and not recommended for the faint of heart as it has claimed a few vehicles over the years. Each route has its own character and challenges, providing off-road enthusiasts with plenty of options to explore the historical and scenic Sheep’s Bridge area.  We have updated our Google Earth Map to include Sheeps Bridge.  And coming Soon we will have a LeadNav File.

Coming Soon:

LeadNav File

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