These varieties of Century Plant grow for about 15-20 years before sending up flower spike like this and then they die. This is a species of agave cactus.
"Flowers. . . are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world." Ralph Waldo Emerson
This is Mt. Ord in the Mazatzal Wilderness in the Tonto National Forest on the way to Payson. The Mount Ord turn-off is at MP 222 on the Beeline Highway (AZ 87). This is in the old burn area about 1/2 way up. Pronounced Maht-a-zal. The Mazatzals are an incredible wilderness between Phoenix and Payson.