TONTO CREEK IN GILA COUNTY, ARIZONA
Tonto Creek is a year round stream with a considerable water flow that has formed a deep, remote and often narrow canyon below the Mogollon Rim in central Arizona. For 30 miles it snakes through the steep hilly land at the north edge of the Tonto National Forest, starting right beneath the Rim at an elevation of 6,600 feet. Here the rocks are sedimentary, the surroundings densely wooded and the canyon quite shallow but the character soon changes as the creek flows south into a particularly rugged area known as the Hellsgate Wilderness.
The rocks become jagged and metamorphic with a great variety of colors and forms, and enclose a canyon that is over 1,000 feet deep in places and contains many beautiful pools, cascades and flooded narrow channels. When the hills eventually recede and the creek enters a wide valley near the little town of Gisela, the land is now part of the Sonoran Desert and has typical Arizona scenery of huge saguaro and other cacti.
This marks the end of the canyon - Tonto Creek continues south through much flatter countryside and 20 miles downstream enters the upper end of Roosevelt Lake.