The Southwest can have the most interesting and unlikely names for places. That is probably a result of native history, Spanish influence, and European exploration all adding and mixing names onto the maps. Often the origins of many names are lost to history. So how did Big Bug Mesa, set high in the Prescott National Forest, get that moniker? There is also a Big Bug Creek and once was a small mining village in the late 1800s along the creek with the same name. Likely it was an encounter between a large beetle and Theodore Boggs, who founded his small settlement of Big Bug and mined in the area. Boggs had survived as a 10-year-old member of the ill-fated Donner Party and was the great-grandson of Daniel Boone. That he would be so inspired by a large insect either says much about the insect or a little about him. Only Boggs knows for sure, and he is no longer available to tell us the story. Big Bug Mesa is a relatively broad flat feature along the northeastern slopes of the Bradshaw Mountains. The area is seldom visited except by hardy ranchers and a few hunters searching for the mesa's plentiful deer and turkey. Covered in Ponderosa pines, juniper, and even the ancient alligator juniper, the mesa is green and high enough into the mountains to see heavy winter snow and have relatively mild summer temperatures. The main trail into Big Bug Mesa starts easy enough but soon turns rocky, providing a great workout for both your suspension and kidneys. The trail becomes smoother in the open pine forest but is often beset by huge rutted mudholes. All that means you will likely experience solitude on Big Bug Mesa, except for the deer, turkeys, and apparently, at least one very large bug.
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