Arizona Peace Trail Trip - 2019

Our 200 mile off-road journey from Dateland to Kingman

 
 

Every year, our summer trip takes us on an adventure several hundred miles across Arizona. This year would be no different, but would be different would be the time of year. This year, my cousin & I would be met up in February to tackle a mostly desert trail, which actually worked out quite well as far as weather is concerned. This year, we would be tackling the Arizona Peace Trail, a newer and massive OHV loop system.

The Arizona Peace Trail is a nearly 700 mile off-highway vehicle route that spans 3 counties in western Arizona. It reaches from Yuma to Kingman and back and contains a variety of climates and difficulties for all sorts of off-road enthusiasts. However, in our 5 day/4 night adventure, it would be impossible to do the entire trail justice. But we had a plan to cover a good chunk of it. Our planned route would be taking us on about half of the AZPT route. Beginning in Dateland in Yuma County, we would head north for the next 2 days along the eastern branch of the trail. Past Salome, we would use a dirt connector to head northwest and meetup with the western branch of the trail near Swansea. From there, we would follow the remaining AZPT route north as it passes through Bullhead City and eventually goes east towards Kingman. This route would allow us to see a lot of the stuff we wanted to check out, cover a significant portion of the Peace Trail, and stay in mostly lower elevation sections which had mild temperatures and no snow like the higher sections of the trail.

An overview of the south part of our route. (Click to enlarge photos)

Day 1:

Getting aired down at the trail start in Dateland, about 10 miles north of I-8.

Airing down the Jeep didn’t take long, and we were shortly northbound on the trail. The trail begins alongside a massive solar farm. Not long after this, the trail made a hard right turn, crossed a wash, and continued north along the Palomas Mountains. Here, the trail really opened up as numerous tracks split off in all directions. A recent rain had left a few pretty good sized puddles in this otherwise dry desert region. The trail remained easy and the miles rolled by quickly. Small creosote bushes and saguaro cacti dominated the barren landscape.

After snaking around a large hill on our left, the trail headed in a northwesterly direction. The trail remained mostly smooth and fast moving. At around the 15 mile mark, we reached a second large hill, and split off to the left to check out a building near the base of the hill. As we approached the cabin, a small group of what appeared to be Sonoran Pronghorn crossed our path and made a beeline for the open desert.

We continued over to the small cabin and got out to investigate. This simple cabin was inside of a fenced area, and was built by the Arizona Game & Fish Dept. to serve as a refuge for hunters, federal workers, or anyone else venturing through the area. The inside of the cabin wasn’t much to write home about. A table and chairs remained indoors while a few shelfs and sink area remained in a worse state of decay. We closed the cabin back up and walked around the outside, where we found a small water tank and a few other cement foundations. Just east of the cabin was a small animal watering station, which is likely where our pronghorns had been before we scared them off.

Checking out a small Game & Fish cabin at our first stop.

The inside of the cabin, which has seen better days.

From the cabin, we continued back to the main trail. We headed northwest along the large, volcanic hill, and through a major trail junction shortly after. From here on out, the trail was far less traveled and rockier. The surrounding landscape once again opened up as we were now in the heart of the Palomas Plain. Rugged mountains surrounded us on all sides, but were far off on the horizon for now. The trail remained slower paced as we picked our line northwest through a few dry wash crossings – some of which were quite narrow. It was along this section where we passed a small group of side-by-sides, which were the first & only people we would see for the rest of the day. The miles continued to tick by.

Driving through the expansive Palomas Plain.

At around the 25 mile mark, we reached another intersection in the absolute middle of nowhere. The rugged mountains to the west were part of Kofa National Wildlife Refuge and those to the south were part of the Tank Mountains. It was here where we made an important turn to head north along a set of even lesser traveled tracks. The trail got rougher in places as we crossed numerous dry washes. The Jeep with its tired coils springs, which was under a heavier load than normal for this trip, did scrape on a few of the more off-camber sections through the washes. We were able to remain in 4-high, however as we continued on.

As we approached the Little Horn Mountains at around the 30 mile mark, we pulled off to the side of the trail at a large rocky area to try and investigate something on foot. What we were looking for was, well – more rocks. And we found them a short distance off the main road. But these weren’t just any rocks. From the ground, these large rocks which are arranged into a series of different numbers and letters seem meaningless. However from the air, they tell a very different story. It is here, in what seems like a completely random location, “AZTEC 41” and a simple North compass marker remain inscribed into the desert floor. While slightly overgrown nowadays, these markers would have been used to help overflying military planes find their way back to base when out training in this massive and barren area. The town of AZTEC sits just east of Dateland along Interstate 8 where we started our journey about 40 miles to the south. During WWII, Dateland and a few other surrounding towns, housed army airfields that were part of the Yuma Army Advanced Flying School. This isolated area would have been used to train pilots, sight guns on B-25’s, and provide an unobstructed area to train pilots that would fly throughout the war. The airfields were abandoned in 1957. However, the area nearby still remains in military hands today as the more modern training area of the Yuma Proving Ground, which spans an incredible 1300 square miles.

Parked at the AZTEC aerial directional markers.

Top-down view shows how pilots flying overhead might have seen them.

The markers are overgrown, but still very visible 50+ years later.

It was cool to find and check out this easy-to-miss relic of the past out here in the desert. However, it was nearly 4 o’clock, and it was time to continue moving. From here, the trail would get briefly rougher as we continued north. The trail continued crossing some large wash crossings. We continued to climb in elevation as the trail became quite narrow and rocky in places. Our pace was slowed along this section.

Our first night’s camp set up in the Little Horn Mts, just north of the Yuma/La Paz County line.

We continued to work our way into the Little Horn Mountains. The road remained mildly rocky and washed out in places as we dropped towards our junction with Hovatter Road. Just before 35 miles, we reached the easier Hovatter Road and turned right to head east into the volcanic hills.Things remained a bit rough, but got progressively easier as we moved along. The road swung north and reached a high point for the day, before crossing into La Paz County. The trail dropped a bit more before we reached our turnoff for the night. It was right around the 40 mile mark when we left the main road and headed to a large clearing where we would be camping for the evening. It was around 5:00 o’clock, and the surrounding volcanic hills and desert were filled with a beautiful golden light.

First night’s dinner along the trail. Could be worse.

We got to work on setting up camp. We leveled the Jeep the best we could, got our kitchen area and chairs set up, and popped the tent open. Within 15 minutes or so, camp was set up, and we sat for a few minutes to enjoy the view. This nice, wide open area provided a glimpse of Coyote Peak and the Ranegras Plain just north of us, which we would be crossing tomorrow. We got to work on dinner. Tonight’s meal was going to be a special one. We fired up the stove and got the steaks cooking in the cast iron. Mashed potatoes soon followed, and eventually got the creamed corn open. When everything was done, it looked incredible and tasted even better. We sat to enjoy dinner as the sun quickly set.

Getting ready to head to bed along the AZPT.

Darkness descended and the temperature dropped quickly. After mopping up some dishes and cleaning up camp, we got a fire started which we would enjoy for the next couple of hours. As the fire began to die shortly after 9:00, we got ready for bed and retreated into the tent for the first night of sleep along the AZ Peace Trail. Even though we were in the desert, the low for the night was forecast to be in the mid to upper 30s. We bundled up and hit the sack. Today was a solid and productive day on the trail covering around 40 miles on top of the highway drive to the start of the trail. Tomorrow would be an even busier day as we continued our journey north along the Arizona Peace Trail.


Day 2:

Early morning at camp.

We were up just after the crack of dawn. It was a frigid morning as the temperature had dipped to the mid-30s. With the sun just barely peaking above the horizon and not quite hitting our campsite yet, we stayed in the tent a little longer as we let things warm up. A little while later, we were finally up and around. We fired up the propane stove and got some water boiling for a quick and warm oatmeal breakfast.

After a bite to eat, we began to work on breaking down our camp. We packed up the back of the Jeep with our kitchen gear and then turned to the tent. With all of the flaps closed last night, the tent actually kept us quite warm throughout the night. We collapsed the tent and buttoned up camp before getting in the jeep and on the trail just before 10 o’clock.

Coyote Peak as seen on our way out on Hovatter Road.

We returned to Hovatter road and headed north. The road remained extremely wide and smooth, and we were able to cover the miles quickly. The trail quickly dropped into the Ranegras Plain and the prominent Coyote Peak just up ahead broke up the otherwise flat horizon. As we neared Coyote Peak, a small earthen dam came into view. This dam and the nearby monument was dedicated to Bob Crowder, an early Arizona pioneer cattleman. We continued north as the trail split upon passing Coyote Peak. From here, the trail opened up. The trail had a few sandy sections, but overall was quite scenic. The pace remained fairly quick moving which allowed us to make some time from our later-than-expected start this morning.

The trail passed underneath powerlines and an old corral as we eventually passed through a series of small hills just south of I-10. Fifteen miles from camp, we reached a brief pavement section as the road passed over the CAP and reached interstate 10. Here we quickly passed over the bustling interstate, and less than half a mile later, were back on dirt. We were now on Harquahala Road, which remained wide and fast moving as we headed deeper into the Little Harquahala Mountains.

After a few quick miles, we pulled off onto a lesser traveled trail and headed east to the Harquahala townsite. Numerous buildings and mining remnants remain here perched just a few hundred feet above the main trail. We parked the jeep at a building with metal sidings and got out on foot to explore more in depth. This was Harquahala townsite, which began in the late 1880s. Gold was discovered here in the Bonanza and Golden Eagle claims, and the area quickly boomed. The town was home to a post office and even had its own newspaper, ‘the Harquahala miner’. Ownership changed hands around the turn of the century as most of the high-grade ore had played out. The post office was discontinued in 1918, and although the town briefly reopened from 1927 to 1932, it quickly was abandoned.

One of the more impressive ruins at Harquahala.

Numerous old cans remain in this pile.

Adobe bricks in the foreground with leaching evidence in the background.

Today, numerous buildings remain in varying states of decay. Past the townsite sits the remains of the actual mines, which were rumored to have had its fair share of high-grading, or stealing ore, from the company. The pink clay tailings spread around are evidence of the chemical leaching that was used to treat the ore on site before hauling it via wagon to Sentinel near Gila Bend.

The Harquahala Cemetery just up the road from the townsite.

After a walk around the townsite, we returned back to the main road, where just a ways north, we found the Harquahala cemetery off on the left. This small cemetery lays to rest those residents of Harquahala that lost their lives while working and living in the area. All of the graves are unmarked, and one interesting one remains encased in concrete. A short distance up the trail, we once again split off the main road as we headed east to attempt to see some more mining ruins. It didn’t take long to find some more mining tailings near the Golden Eagle mine, however, we were stopped in our tracks and forced to turn around by no trespassing signs. While we didn’t see any active workings, someone clearly still owns the property and mining efforts that remain off the trail side today. We continued back the way we came and eventually returned back to Harquahala Road.

On a side trail looking for more mine ruins.

We continued north as the road climbed. About 12 miles north of I-10, we began to pass through the outskirts of Salome. It is here where we quickly aired up our tires before getting back to a brief highway stint. Airing up was a quick process that was made easy now that we had hardwired our compressor into the back of the jeep. In Salome, we hit a small gas station to top of the tanks and grab a quick bite to eat. The pizza didn’t seem “fresh”, but we certainly weren’t complaining about it. From Salome, we continued east on the highway where in the small town of Wendon, we turned north along Alamo Lake road.

After our short 20 mile highway cruise, we turned off the paved road near Cunningham pass. It was here where we would pick up our dirt road connector through the Butler Valley to get to the west branch of the AZ Peace Trail. The trail followed the powerlines northwest. While rough at first, the trail eventually became smoother. After passing through a gate, we pulled off the main road again at our next stop.

We followed the road east before parking and getting out at the flagpole, which marked the site of the former Camp Bouse. Camp Bouse was part of General George S. Patton’s massive, 31,000 square mile Desert Training Center and California-Arizona Maneuver Area. This area was used during World War 2 to prepare troops for combat in North Africa. Camp Bouse was just one of many military installations spread across western Arizona & California. Camp Bouse however, was unique. Opened in August of 1943, this camp here was used for a top secret project nicknamed “the gizmo”. The gizmo, better known now as the ‘canal defense light’ was a 13 million candlepower light mounted to the tops of M3 tanks, designed to confuse and stun enemy troops. Around 10,000 troops were stationed here as part of the 9th tank groups and numerous other special armored battalions, which were under top secret orders to never share what happened here.

The flag remains above Camp Bouse.

Rock outlines and numerous memorials remain on site.

Tank tracks remain on the desert floor outside of camp.

Numerous buildings were constructed as part of the installation. A hospital and surgery center were built on top of these cement foundations on the north end of camp. Training here was so secretive that if someone was injured, they had to remain on camp property to avoid any possibility of information being leaked. A huge water reservoir, a large pit rumored to be used for boxing matches, and numerous other buildings and sidewalks were built at Camp Bouse. The camp shut down in mid-1944 after the troops were deployed to Europe. Most buildings were removed after the war, however cement pads and foundations remain today. Upon further investigation, tank tracks can even be found on the desert floor between the camp and the firing ranges further to the north.

While we thoroughly enjoyed our time at Camp Bouse, it was now around 3:30, and time to continue on our way to camp. We returned to the powerline road and continued northwest. The road remained mostly smooth. After around 10 miles, we reached the Midway junction and continued north. At a remote 4-way intersection, we proceeded east towards our overnight stop. The road reached a steep grade and dropped down towards the ghost town of Swansea. Just after the 80 mile mark for the day, we arrived at Swansea at the bottom of the hill.

Inside the the company houses at Swansea Ghost Town.

The ruins at Swansea are spread out along the hillside. An extensive walking tour connects many of the important spots. We parked the Jeep and got out on foot to check out some of the main ruins. The story of Swansea began in the 1860s when the area was first prospected. However mining here wouldn’t take off until after 1900 when the railroad was built in nearby Parker. After two miners, Newton Evans and T.J. Carrigan, built a furnace, water pipeline, and hoists for the mine shafts on site, people quickly began to recognize the potential of the area. In 1908 the Clara Gold & Copper Mining company set up headquarters in the town, which was originally called Signal. The town quickly swelled to 400 residents. Originally, ore was hauled via rail to the Gulf of California, and then via boat to South Wales, in the United Kingdom. After a smelter was built on site in 1909, the new town beared the name of the former milling town in Wales – Swansea. The town had nearly everything -- a post office, electric company, lumber company, theaters, and even an auto dealer at one point. However, after more money was spent promoting the town than was actually being pulled out of the ground, the decline of Swansea was imminent. The town was open on and off through World War one, however in 1937, the town was shut down for good but not before pulling out a whopping 27 million pounds of copper out of the ground.

Since its decline, the BLM has taken efforts to preserve the townsite today. Buildings have been protected and stabilized and informational signs dot the landscape today. Large metal grates cover the once deep vertical shafts. After walking around the town for a while to see some of the old buildings, we proceeded down the tailing pile to our camp for the night. We would be staying at one of five of the primitive campgrounds the BLM has established in Swansea. Each campground had a small ramada and table, a fire ring, and nice flat area. The campsite we stayed in was named after T.J. Carrigan one of the original founders of the town, and sat just north of the company house ruins.

We made it to camp just before sunset. We quickly got our kitchen set up and tent deployed before beginning on the night’s dinner. Tonight, we would be having chicken fajitas and rice. Dinner cooked up quick. We sat down to enjoy it as darkness quickly enveloped our camp and the surrounding abandoned townsite. A layer of clouds began to roll in, and the moonlight lit up the area. Even though today had been a busy day, we sat around the campfire late into the night before finally crawling up in the roof top tent around 11:30.

Camped just north of Swansea townsite.

A great view looking north from our campsite.

Night 2 dinner was pretty enjoyable.


Day 3:

The ruins of Swansea overlook our camp.

Our day began at around 8:00 AM. We stumbled out of the tent and were greeted by rather gloomy skies, and the ghost town of Swansea just to the south of us. With our time exploring the town yesterday cut short by the fading light, I was able to take a quick walk, and check out the row of abandoned buildings across from our camp. These buildings were once the company houses, occupied from 1910 to 1917. These company houses were one of two rows of buildings that would have housed miners and other workers. The buildings remain in varying states of decay. Some were made of adobe bricks, while others featured impressive rock work.

Back at camp, we set to work on breakfast. Today would be something slightly more filling than yesterday. We cooked up some bacon, scrambled eggs and cheese. It was darn good. After some quick dishes, we packed up camp. By 9:30, we were back in the Jeep and cruising through Swansea on our way back out to the Arizona Peace Trail route. We passed through the tailing piles, numerous old buildings, and began our slow climb out on the slightly rougher road.

We briefly retraced our route from yesterday before making it back to the 4-way intersection west of Swansea. This time, we would be staying right to head north. The trail remained smooth as it slowly descended into the Buckskin Mountains. After around 12 miles, we split off the road and headed towards Planet and Planet Ranch. From here, things got significantly more scenic. The trail dropped through a series of roads and washes into an impressive canyon, with steep, red and black walls.

Just before 17 miles, we reached part of the historic Planet mining area. A few old buildings remained off to our right. The Planet area was first prospected by Richard Ryland in 1863, making it one of the earliest substantial mining efforts in Arizona history. The mine produced high-grade copper. The ore was assayed at 15-40 percent copper. Ore was initially hauled to San Francisco via boat along the Colorado River, however it would later be hauled to the same smelter as its nearby neighbor, Swansea, to Swansea, Wales. The town swelled to 500 and had its own post office before playing out during World War I. The Planet area produced around 3 million pounds of copper in its lifetime.

Numerous ruins remain in the canyon today.

One of the more intact ruins.

Looking across the Bill Williams River valley.

After checking out a few of the ruins and enjoying the stark scenery, we proceeded north bound into the surprisingly green river valley ahead. After crossing through a gate into the Planet Ranch Conservation Area, which used to be closed off to the public, we continued east. After a short time, we turned north and headed towards the crossing of the mighty Bill Williams River.

Thanks to some area agriculture, most of the river flows underground here, meaning there wasn’t any water to contend with at all. Just lots of green fields. Now in Mohave County, the trail climbed north. After a few miles, we reached an important turnoff. From here, we would continue west off the more established road. Luckily, this and many other important turns are signed. Our pace was slowed immediately as the trail became narrower, rockier, and rutted out. We crawled along, picking our lines as we inched west.

The canyon walls are quite high in some sections of the wash.

10 miles later, we arrived in a dry wash bottom and turned northwest. For the next roughly 15 miles, we would be navigating a series of washes as we pushed closer to Lake Havasu. The wash bottoms were heavily traveled. Our pace was mixed as we traversed the deep sand, occasional boulder-y sections, and downright brutal washboards for miles. With countless different side trails and turns to navigate, carrying a solid map is critical in this section. It would be quite easy to get lost. The trail became more scenic the further northwest we headed as the wash walls became tall and steep. This would certainly not be a place you’d want to be in a flash flood.

Overlooking Lake Havasu City from along the trail.

At the 45 mile mark for the day, the trail briefly left the wash bottoms and climbed. A few tippy sections had us questioning our center of gravity with the tent up on top of the jeep. Things remained moderate and slow paced. We eventually reached a high point on the trail and headed west. The Colorado River and Lake Havasu came into view below. The trail remained narrow and rocky – which wasn’t a problem. The Jeep however, wasn’t quite handling it like the increasing number of side-by-sides that kept passing us.

After enjoying the scenic section, the trail flattened out and we eventually made it to the outskirts of town. We parked the Jeep to air up the tires, which at this point had been aired down for over 24 hours. But there was something wrong. The compressor wasn’t turning on. After replacing a blown fuse on our battery box, we were back in business.

We set up a quick camp outside of town near the Mohave Mountains.

Back on the blacktop for a few miles, we cruised through Lake Havasu. It was late afternoon and our 55 miles from here to Swansea had taken most of the day. We stopped off for an early dinner at a local brewery to enjoy some good food and drinks. Over dinner we checked the weather and talked about our plans for the following day.

After dinner, we set out north towards the Mohave Mountains and our camp for the night. We opted to camp a bit further north and closer to Highway 95 than originally planned. Although it was dry now, in the morning it would certainly not be. We arrived right at sunset and set up a quick camp on BLM land. Trying to think ahead, we decided to use our emergency tarp to create a sort of lean-to around the back of the Jeep – which would end up being a mistake. We managed to get a fire going, and relaxed around it for a while, trying to get as warm and dry as we possibly could. After a bumpy day on the trails, we crawled up into the tent fairly early.


Day 4:

The ground was nice and wet outside the tent when we woke up.

Just as expected, we awoke to a steady downpour. The relaxing sound of rain on the tent kept us asleep until around 8. The ground outside was already saturated. But luckily we were completely dry inside of the tent, which seemed to be holding up to the rain quite well. Eventually, we mustered up the motivation to head outside for the day. We quickly got changed and set to work buttoning up camp.

I folded up the now the soggy tent away and put on the travel cover. We picked up and folded up our tarp we had tried to set up the night before – which didn’t work. After this, we retreated inside of the Jeep for a fast breakfast. We enjoyed some donuts before starting up the Jeep and retracing our route to the highway. The trails weren’t completely flooded, but they were quite wet already. The trail out was a bit steep in places, but before we knew it, we were back on Highway 95 again. We initially were going to try and head through the mountains to our next stop, however because of the flash flood warnings, we opted for the safer way around. This also saved some time, which would be critical later in the day.

After a short highway stint, we continued northbound. The road remained wide and smooth before making a turn and dumping us into a wash. We crossed the wash as it follows the Arizona Peace Trail, under an active railroad bridge and towards some scenic hills. Emerging from the wash, the trail begins to head northwest. We followed along a flat raise that was just off to our right.

After making it through a small pass, it became clear that this was once an old railbed. Railroad ties were left in the ground as I got out to check things out. This was the remains of the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad, which only operated on this line from 1883 to 1890. The tracks crossed at Topock nearby, however flooding caused problems and the line was abandoned and moved just to the south -- which is still active today.

From here we continued on the trail, crossing up and over the old rail line before emerging on a nice flat section of road. The rain had briefly paused. After a few miles we came to a fairly small hill – which we quickly discovered was slick and full of thick mud. We trudged along in full-time 4-wheel drive as we kept our momentum moving forward. Watching another vehicle climb through this muddy section shows just a little bit of how slippery it was. The Jeep was now just a bit muddy.

Wooden ties of the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad remain.

This muddy section proved to be very slick.

On the way to Oatman from the Colorado River.

A few miles later, we arrived at County Highway 1 and proceeded north. The highway passed through a small town as it followed the Colorado River. The rain resumed and began to clean off a little of the mud that was now everywhere. After passing through the Mohave Valley, we were back on dirt and muddy farm roads before making it to our next segment of trail. This roughly 10 mile route would take us northeast to Oatman, where we decided to head for lunch. The trail remained bumpy as we met the local welcoming party just outside of town.

The fog was very thick by the time reached County Highway 1.

After this, the trail remained bumpy. 3 miles later we had arrived at the former site of Milltown, a stop on the old Mohave & Milltown narrow gauge railroad. The railroad was built in 1903 and connected the mines at Oatman to the stamp mill here and the nearby Colorado River. The railroad passed through Milltown, which has hardly any ruins left today. The line was abandoned just 10 years later after storms and washouts destroyed a significant part of the rails. We continued northeast as we paralleled the railbed.

Some soggy burros roamed the streets of Oatman.

The rain really set in and we weaved our way through a thick fog. The trail got moderate in spots and reduced our pace to a crawl. What we could see of the surrounding scenery was incredibly green and beautiful. By 1:30 we reached the end of the trail, where the visibility was now nearly down to 0. We followed Route 66 north just a couple miles north to the old mining town of Oatman. Normally, Oatman is buzzing with tourists, and burros stand in the middle of the road. Today was a bit different however. We parked the Jeep and hopped out onto the covered sidewalks, which is where most of the burros had also retreated to.

We grabbed lunch at the famous Oatman Hotel, which was opened in 1902. We sat by the fireplace to warm up as we enjoyed a delicious lunch. After a nearly an hour inside, we eventually made it back outside. We returned to the Jeep and continued out of Oatman. Just outside of town we picked up Silver Creek Road which would take us 10 miles to Bullhead City where we would resupply one last time. The road remained wide and occasionally smooth, although very wet. We passed numerous old mines that dotted what seemed like every hill around us. It is clear to see just how productive this mining region was, which is still active and producing today.

We passed through some more fog, which made the surrounding landscape, which was already pretty incredible, even more spectacular. After making it to Bullhead City by about 4, we quickly topped off the cooler and picked up a few things before continuing on. From here at the border with Nevada, our route would take us east towards the Black Mountains for our final nights camp. Another short pavement section was followed by our turnoff into the rugged Black Mountains.

We crawled through the incredible terrain for the next few miles. The rain was still coming down pretty good. Eventually, we made it to a steep road at the end of a small canyon near Secret Pass. And that road was steep. Too steep and rocky. With us by ourselves and conditions less than ideal, it was too late in the trip and too big of a risk to continue on our planned route. We turned around and scouted out a few other trails in the area. Things remained moderate and we even got to use 4-low in a few spots.

Eventually we had found a passable road to our campsite for the night. The terrain remained rocky and rugged. We set up camp at a small clearing near an old mine. We parked the Jeep literally feet away from the barbed wire fence of this. We checked the weather forecast and decided to wait out a little more rain before fully getting camp set up. Fog rolled through the mountains and eventually the rain let up. We quickly got to work – setting up the tent, getting our kitchen ready, and starting on dinner. Tonight we would be enjoying burgers with sautéed veggies. Of course, we enjoyed a few drinks as we cooked and got ready to eat.

Socked in on a trail in the Black Mountains, near Secret Pass.

The rain eventually let up, but a low clouds persisted at our camp.

The final dinner on the trail was simple — but delicious.

Just after the burgers were finished cooking, the rain decided we needed just a little more. We retreated into the Jeep to eat briefly before it finally stopped for good. We spent the remaining few evening hours sitting and talking about journey. Tonight was too wet out to get a fire going. It was also quite chilly as the lows dipped into the high 30s. We retreated into the tent for a much awaited night of rest. Luckily the inside of the tent was nice and warm and dry.


Day 5:

The next morning was beautiful and sunny at camp.

We slept like babies and the next day awoke in the late morning. Today was going to be a low-key day getting the last few miles of our Arizona Peace Trail route finished up before heading back home to Phoenix. Outside the tent, we were greeted by something we hadn’t seen in over 24 hours – the sun. The view wasn’t half bad either. Our camp was nestled in the foothills of the Black Mountains, just a few miles outside of the town of Golden Valley. The jagged peaks around us were surrounded by a fast retreating fog. Eventually, after much effort, we made it out of the tent.

A great breakfast to wrap up our final few miles on the trail.

For our last breakfast of the trip, we went all out. Scrambled eggs with cheese, peppers, and onions were cooked up alongside the bacon. Oatmeal quickly followed. We relaxed for a few more minutes before beginning on clean up. After a healthy amount of dishes, we began the process of putting everything back in the Jeep and folding it up one last time.

After getting things packed up, we headed down from the mine. The trail continued across some flat desert, underneath the powerlines, and into a wash. We proceeded down the wash. Things were easy, and the view was breathtaking. We passed through the rugged terrain we had seen from our camp, as civilization closed in. We turned out of the wash and onto more established roads just a couple miles from camp. After passing a trail kiosk, we soon found ourselves rolling through the “residential” streets of Golden Valley. Just a few minutes later, we found ourselves at a stop sign at the start of the paved road. While we would continue to follow the Peace Trail until we got to I-40 and Route 66, this was the end of the official trail for us. We stopped for a quick minute before following the mix of paved roads and muddy dirt trails back to the highway.

After nearly 250 offroad miles, and close to 400 miles from the start of our journey in Dateland, the past 5 days had been absolutely phenomenal. The wide variety of trails we had covered, the extensive mix of views along the way, and historic stops at ghost towns, old military camps, and countless other things in between, had made for one hell of a journey. While we had done a few miles of pavement, for the most part, we had stuck to dirt trails and camped each night along the way. And my Jeep got us through all of it. Through dusty, rocky, and rutted out trails – rain, mud, tons of sand, along countless washboards, we had completed our epic journey along the Arizona Peace Trail. And everything we did was only around half of the massive and incredible route. Hopefully one day when it isn’t covered in snow, we’ll be able to complete the rest of the Peace Trail. That’s gonna do it for our 2019 summer trip. Be sure to check out our website for additional photos of our trip and more info on the trails we followed and the places we visited along the way. Thank you so much for watching our adventure, and as always – we’ll see you on the next one!

On our way to I-40 & Kingman, the road was a mix of pavement, dirt, and excellent views.

Special Thanks To:

  • All of our friends & family for the continued support.

  • The Arizona Peace Trail Inc. & all of the clubs/organizations that built, maintained, and promoted the route.

 

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