In 1871, General George Crook came to the Arizona Territory with orders to end the conflict between the growing population of settlers and the natives of the area. General Crook immediately realized he needed the ability to move men and supplies quickly through the rough country of central Arizona. By 1872 he had established a pack trail from Fort Apache in the east to Fort Wipple, modern-day Prescott, in the west. By late 1874 the pack trail had been expanded into a wagon road. That wagon road opened central Arizona to exploration, commerce, and settlement. Many of today's roads closely follow General Crook's trail, including Highway 260 from Camp Verde to the Mogollon Rim and the extremely scenic Forest Road 300, known as Rim Road. Copper Canyon is another segment of the famed General Crook Trail. Situated in the Prescott National Forest, Copper Canyon parallels Interstate 17. Its fast-moving traffic can be heard, and sometimes seen, from the rugged trail. The two roads are physically close but light years apart in many ways. The interstate is new, fast, placid, and boring as it descends into the Verde Valley. Copper Canyon is slow, rocky, rugged, and demanding. One can only imagine navigating this trail in a horse or mule-drawn wagon instead of a capable and comfortable modern offroad vehicle. While debating which line to take at one of the many obstacles, take a moment to reflect and remember how this little trail came to be. You are driving history.
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