First Lutheran Church - DeKalb, Illinois


Troop 33 Scouts chose to do a multi adventure tour of the Southwest United States and Mexico. It included national parks and so much more.

We were exploring and experiencing what an Arizona troop might do over the course of a year. The tour was based on 14 adventures, representing a one-year program of activities which we concentrated into a single high adventure tour..

E-Mail Troop 33 Scoutmaster  
click here

Southwest USA/Mexico
Adventures - See the Events

        1 - Nellis Air Force Base, NV
        2 - Zion National Park, UT
        3 - Kodachrome State Park, UT
        4 - Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
        5 - Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
        6 - Glen Canyon Nat Rec Area, AZ/UT
        7 - Coconino National Forest, AZ
        8 - Sunset Crater National Mon, AZ
        9 - Wupatki National Mon, AZ
        10 - Slide Rock State Park, AZ
        11 - Usery Mountain desert camp, AZ
        12 - Tucson, AZ
        13 - Our Mexican Adventure
        14 - Las Vegas, NV

Our Activities during
2003 Southwest USA/Mexico

    + HIKING
    + TUBING

Read the Article

2003 Southwest
USA/Mexico Adventure

1. Nellis Air Force Base - - 2. Zion National Park - - 3. Kodachrome State Park
4. Bryce Canyon National Park - - 5. Grand Canyon National Park - - 6. Glen Canyon Nat Rec Area
7. Coconino National Forest - - 8. Sunset Crater National Monument - - 9. Waputki National Monument
10. Slide Rock State Park - - 11. Usery Mountain Desert - - 12. Tucson, Arizona
13. Mexican Adventure - - 14. Las Vegas, Nevada

Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas.

1. Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada

Flying from Chicago to Las Vegas, Nevada, we made our first overnight at Nellis Air Force Base. It has military schools and more squadrons than any other USAF base and hosts air combat exercises. It's also home to the "Thunderbirds", the USAF Air Demonstration Squadron which does air shows all over the world. We were thankful for their hospitality.

2. Zion National Park, Utah

We experienced an amazing day hike into the Narrows. Situated on the North Fork of the Virgin River we hiked upstream mostly in the water, since much of the time the river runs canyon wall to canyon wall. In places the canyon is over 2000 feet deep and only 40 feet wide or even narrower in some places.

The Narrows at Zion National Park, Utah.

Kodachrome State Park, Utah.

3. Kodachrome State Park, Utah

Kodachrome Basin served as an overnight campsite for us. The geology of the park is famous due to the sandstone spires and columns called sand pipes, believed to be found nowhere else on earth.

4. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Bryce is distinctive due to geological structures called hoodoos, formed by weathering and erosion. The red, orange, and white colors of the rocks provide spectacular views. Rather than look from a distance, we rode horseback down into the rock formations. Sometimes the trails became narrow and exciting as the horses made their way down and up some steep grades.

On horseback at Bryce Canyon, Utah

Grand Canyon north rim, Arizona.

5. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

We enjoyed camping and hiking on the North Rim area of Grand Canyon. On the North Rim there are fewer roads and less tourists. We made use of a variety of hiking trails. We saw California Condors circling above our campsite. We saw views of the canyon that were amazing.

6. Glen Canyon Nat Rec Area, Arizona/Utah

The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area features Lake Powell which is part of the Colorado River system straddling Utah and Arizona. It is the second largest man-made reservoir in the U.S. Lake Powell was created by the flooding of Glen Canyon. Our adventure included renting a large pontoon boat for a day of adventure. Scouts took turns driving the boat and tubing behind it. We stopped to enjoy a cook-out on one of the many sand beaches. It proved to be an exciting day on the lake.

Lake Powell, Arizona/Utah.

Coconino National Forest, Arizona.

7. Coconino National Forest, Arizona

We enjoyed camping in the Coconino National Forest located in northern Arizona in the San Francisco Mountains. It has the highest elevation in the state. Our overnight temperature dipped down into the upper 30's.

8. Sunset Crater National Monument, Arizona

A volcanic cone over 1,100 feet high makes for a great location for hiking. We hiked along a trail of black lava accented with cinder fields. It was a great place to enjoy nature and see a different type of geology.

Sunset Crater National Monument, Arizona.

Wupatki National Monument, Arizona.

9. Wupatki National Monument, Arizona

Settlement sites were built by the Ancient Pueblo People and first inhabited around 500 AD. Wupatki means "Tall House" in the Hopi language. We visited a multistory dwelling of over 100 rooms constructed from thin, flat blocks of sandstone. Exploring an archeological site was a fun way to discover

10. Slide Rock State Park, Arizona

Adventure swimming at Slide Rock State Park involved natural water chutes worn into a sandstone canyon. As the name implies, everyone slides through the water chutes with speed and fun. It was pretty cold water, but everyone still a blast.

Sliding Rock State Park, Arizona.

Usery Mountain Regional Park, Arizona.

11. Usery Mountain Regional Park, Arizona

In the desert near Mesa, Arizona the 110-degree day gradually cooled to 85. Camping in the desert was something unique, surrounded by Saguaro Cacti, Joshua Trees, jackrabbits and assorted reptiles

12. Tucson, Arizona

David-Monthan Air Force Base
We toured the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG), often called The Boneyard. With nearly 4,000 aircraft, it is the largest aircraft storage and preservation facility in the world.

Pima Air & Space Museum
One of the world's largest non-government funded aerospace museums, it features nearly 300 aircraft spread out over 80 acres.

San Xavier Mission
Mission San Xavier del Bac is a historic Spanish Catholic mission located about 10 miles south of Tucson, on the Tohono O'odham Nation San Xavier Indian Reservation. It is a beautiful place to see.

The Bone Yard at Davis Monthan AFB, Arizona.

The bay at San Carlos, Mexico.

13. Our Mexican Adventure

Sea of Cortez
Also known as the Gulf of California, the Sea of Cortez, is a marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean that separates the Baja California Peninsula from the Mexican mainland. It is home to a rich ecosystem and thought to be one of the most diverse seas on the planet, home to more than 5,000 species of marine life. Both Guaymas and San Carlos are port cities along the Sea of Cortez. We enjoyed sea kayaking, beach life, and exploring the cities listed below.

Guaymas, Mexico
The city�s formal name is the Her�ica Ciudad de Guaymas. It is mostly an industrial and shrimp-fishing port, the largest on the gulf. We stayed a couple nights there at a modest family owned hotel, Casa de Huespedes Lupita. We toured some of the sights like the zocolo, Plaza de Tres Presidentes, Iglesia de San Fernando church, Statue of La Pescador (Fisherman Statue) along the Malecon, plus we enjoyed many restaurants and small shops. Guaymas was a great way to experience Mexico.

San Carlos Mexico
San Carlos is an American expat retirement community nearby Guaymas. There is incredible beauty in "cerro del tetakawi" a rocky outcropping that overlooks San Carlos bay. The city has about 7,000 inhabitants, keeping it a small area noted for luxury. We purchased entrance to a private beach club for relaxation and to rent sea kayaks. The area is great for sea kayaking, although our adventure was heightened by a painful encounter with a school of jellyfish. It required some medical intervention.

International Intrigue
This is a category that follows people around whenever they leave the USA. Our international intrigue involved: a lost wallet, a medical emergency, encounters with local police, Mexican military, plus so much more. The results were positive, though the process often exciting. An article in American Scouting Digest magazine describes these elements in greater detail and the text is included within this web page.

14. Las Vegas, Nevada

Fremont Street
Fremont Street is a street in downtown Las Vegas, Nevada that is among the most famous streets in the Las Vegas Valley besides the Las Vegas Strip. Our final night of the trip was spent at the Union Plaza hotel in the old part of Las Vegas. We spent the evening in the heart of the downtown casino corridor. Fremont Street was the address for many of the famous early casinos. The Fremont Street Experience features a barrel vault canopy, 90 feet high and four blocks long. It was a light show on the underside of the canopy � the world's largest and most spectacular. We enjoyed it's lights while exploring Fremont St.

The Strip
Many of the largest hotel, casino, and resort properties in the world are located on about 4-miles of Las Vegas Boulevard known as the Strip. We had a full day to explore things before our flight to Chicago left. We spent the morning at Hoover Day and the rest of the day exploring the strip. Architecture, fountains, MGM lions, and the list goes on. There was much to see and do. No gambling though.

Hoover Dam
Hoover Dam is about 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas. It stands 746 feet high. It sits on the border between Nevada and Arizona and impounds Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the USA. We walked across the top enjoy a good look at the dam and took a tour of the interior seeing the power generators. They were still building the 4-lane bypass bridge when we were there.

Las Vegas was our entrance and exit city from Chicago.


Return To
Top of the Page

click here



Activity Locations


        - Wupatki National Monument, Arizona

        - San Carlos, Mexico
        - Lake Powell, Arizona/Utah
        - Private residence, Gold Canyon, Arizona
        - Slide Rock State Park, Arizona

        - Coconino National Forest, Arizona
        - Grand Canyon - North Rim, Arizona
        - Kodachrome State Park, Utah
        - Mt Lemmon, Arizona (forest fire cancellation)
        - Usery Mountain, Arizona

        - Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
        - Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
        - Sunset Crater National Monument, Arizona
        - Zion National Park, Utah

        - Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

        - Casa de Huespedes Lupita, Guaymas, Mexico
        - Country Inn & Suites, Mesa, Arizona
        - Super 8, Nogales, Arizona (Replaced Mt Lemmon camp)
        - Union Plaza Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada

        - Hoover Dam, Boulder City, Nevada

        - GUAYMAS, Mexico
              + Casa de Huespedes Lupita, Guaymas, Mexico
              + Historic Old City
              + Iglesia de San Fernando church
              + Malecon
              + Plaza de Tres Presidentes
              + Statue of La Pescador
              + Zocolo
        - SAN CARLOS, Mexico
              + Beach
              + Kayaking, Sea of Cortez
              + Policia Municipal
              + Red Cross Emergency Center

        - Sea of Cortez, San Carlos, Mexico

        - Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Tucson, Arizona
        - AMARG Bone Yard, Tucson, Arizona
        - Nellis Air Force Base, Las Vegas, Nevada

        - Lake Powell, Arizona/Utah


Return To
Top of the Page


An article about this trip was featured in the publication
a nationally distributed magazine no longer in publication.

The text of the article is below.


Read article text below.

Summer 2004
Pages 16, 17, 18


By Cliff Golden

Page 16

The word adventure is often defined as 1) An undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks, or 2) An exciting or remarkable experience.

When my Scouts decided to do a tour of the Southwest United States and Mexico, I expected to encounter some unexpected challenges.

The premise for the trip was exploring a part of America and experiencing what a local troop might do over the course of a year. We identified 14 adventures, representing a one-year program of activities and concentrated them into a single high adventure tour.

In June 2003 we flew from Chicago to Las Vegas, Nevada and rented vehicles. Adventures #1-4 included an overnight visit at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, driving to Utah for an amazing day hike into the Narrows at Zion National Park, camping at Kodachrome State Park, and a steep horseback ride into the Bryce Canyon.

Rare California condors circled overhead as we arrived at the Grand Canyon in Arizona for Adventure #5, camping and hiking along the scenic North Rim. We returned to Utah for #6, pontoon boating on Lake Powell.

Back in Arizona, Adventures #7-11 combined camping in Coconino National Forest, lava flows at Sunset Crater National Monument, exploring 1,000 year-old Anasazi ruins at Wuputki National Monument, adventure swimming at Slide Rock State Park (natural water chutes worn into a sandstone canyon), and camping in the desert near Mesa, Arizona. The 110-degree day gradually cooled to 85. Camping in the desert surrounded by Saguaro Cacti, Joshua Trees, jackrabbits and assorted reptiles was quite a change from Illinois.

Adventure #12 highlighted the city of Tucson, touring the Pima Air & Space Museum, AMARK facility at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, and St. Xavier Church. We planned to camp atop Mt. Lemmon, but it was on fire, the billowing smoke resembling that of a volcano. That wildfire eventually devoured hundreds of homes and thousands of acres.

Page 17

Mexico and the Sea of Cortez featured as Adventure #13. From the border we traveled 250 miles by bus arriving in the fishing port of Guaymas, Mexico. We checked into a very simple hotel, explored the town, and had a nice dinner. Our trip thus far had gone very smoothly.

After a hearty breakfast, we took a bus to nearby San Carlos and purchased day passes at a private beach club. Swimming in the pool, playing in the warm surf on the white sand beach, enjoying the cool shade of their grass roofed Palapa, and sea kayaking in a rocky bay; we felt we had found paradise.

Among the dangers in the Sea of Cortez are semi-transparent bell shaped little creatures called jellyfish. Long tentacles produce extremely painful stings. While we enjoyed our newfound paradise, a school of jellyfish was slowly drifting toward us.

Paddling his sit-on-top kayak, Derick had jellyfish drop onto him from the upraised portion of his double bladed paddle. He dropped his paddle, feeling an invisible fire burning him.

Ian was stung as he retrieved Derick's dropped paddle. Before anyone realized what was happening, Colin was stung. On shore we attended to their injuries. Derick was experiencing a severe reaction. in addition to intense pain from multiple stings, his face became puffy, his breathing irregular and he complained of chest pain.

We recruited a local to drive Derick and two adults to an Emergency Center. We flew along the streets of San Carlos, ignoring traffic controls and weaving through slower traffic. Adrenalin is sometime used as a treatment for severe reactions. Our wild ride produced ample amounts.

At the Emergency Center, Derick was already feeling better. We breathed a sigh of relief and thanked our driver for his help buy decided to take a bus back to the beach. We'd had enough excitement for one day.

Pre-occupied in my relief, I didn't realize my wallet was missing until after exiting the bus. The bus slowly disappeared down the street with my wallet onboard. A sympathetic cab driver helped us file a report with the local police.

Page 18

I assumed my wallet was lost forever, but wasn't going to let it ruin the trip. Returning to Guaymas, we enjoyed a fantastic dinner, toured the city sights, and shopped for souvinirs. Returning to the hotel that evening, we learned the police had been looking for me. I telephoned the police and set up a meeting for 11:00 am the next morning in San Carlos.

Following breakfast, we met the police in San Carlos. After lengthy negotiations my wallet was recovered. The cash was missing, but the documentation was intact. I was very lucky. We returned to Guaymas.

Our original plan was to leave at 8:00 am; it was now 1:30 pm. We found a bus just leaving for Nogales, Mexico. They held the bus for us, and we boarded. We spotted a man hiding in a luggage compartment seconds before departure. The driver talked to the man as he sealed the compartment. The bus was moving. What? We're smuggling a man onboard our bus?

We made good time, passing two other buses on the road before arriving at a military checkpoint several miles south of the border. Armed soldiers were everywhere. They ordered us off our bus. We watched breathlessly as our bus was searched. If they found the man, would they arrest our driver? Would we be included? They searched the bus thoroughly, everywhere except the compartment where the man hid.

A boy asked if we should report the hidden man. I said no. The bus wasn't crossing the U.S. border. If a "financial arrangement" had been made with the military, middling American tourists would be unwelcome, and possibly viewed as a threat. It's also unwise to test marginal Spanish skills on soldiers armed with semi-automatic weapons (good rule of thumb). We didn't know the details of the situation, so we didn't get involved.

Whatever lies in that man's fortune, how it unfolds, or where it take him, will remain a mystery to me. All I know is that we shared the same bus and traveled to the same city in Mexico.

Arriving in Nogales, Sonora, we took a taxi the remaining miles to the U.S. border and crossed back onto American soil.

Next challenge: The long-term parking lot had closed for the day with our vehicles locked inside. We were stranded! I telephoned the local Troop 555 Scoutmaster Steve Mayer and explained our situation. He made some phone calls and twenty minutes later we were driving our vehicles north.

The next morning we slept late and had a leisurely breakfast. The boys enjoyed a swim before the long drive to our final adventure in Las Vegas. It was dark when we arrived. Checking into a major downtown hotel, we briefly explored Freemont Street before going to bed.

Our final day involved touring the Hoover Dam and exploring the famous Las Vegas strip with its giant hotels and free shows. At midnight we flew back to Chicago and returned to our beloved DeKalb, Illinois.

The word adventure is often defined as: 1) An undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks, or 2) An exciting or remarkable experience.

I think our Southwest USA-Mexico Tour qualified in all categories.


Return To
Top of the Page



TOP - Horseback at Bryce Canyon National Monument in Utah
MIDDLE - Visiting shops in Guaymas, Mexico
BOTTOM - Wuputke National Monument in Arizona



TOP LEFT - AMARK facility at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona
TOP RIGHT - Eric at Wuputke National Monument in Arizona
BOTTOM - Marc at St. Xavier Church in Tucson, Arizona



TOP - Hiking at Zion National Park in Utah
MIDDLE - Enjoying Slide Rock State Park in Arizona
BOTTOM - Horseback at Bryce Canyon National Monument, Arizona


Return To
Top of the Page



click here