Desert Queen Mine Trail
Ride through the remote Granite Wash Mountains from Vicksburg to Salome. Throughout the range, you’ll pass numerous mines including several standing structures and tunnels at the Desert Queen Mine.
Where to go:
From I-10, take exit 45 (Vicksburg Road) and continue north. After 5.9 miles, continue straight through the roundabout. After an additional 2 miles, turn left at the junction of AZ-72. About a hundred feet after the turn, turn right onto the dirt Vicksburg Pit Road. Staging is available on the right both before and after the railroad tracks. Numerous other ways to get there: From Parker – follow 95 and 72 SE past Bouse, From Quartzsite – take 10 to 60 to 72, From Wickenburg – take the 60 west from Salome where you can complete the trail in reverse.
From the railroad tracks, head northeast on the very wide, graded dirt road. At 1.3 miles, you’ll come to the Vicksburg Materials Pit. Make a right turn off the main road before the pit. Continue northeast on eastern edge of pit. At 1.6 miles the trail leaves the pit and drops into a wash. Stay right following the most traveled line through the wash. Stay left at the fork at 1.8 miles as the road leaves the wash. Stay straight at 2.1 miles where roads to the right lead to the Desert Mine. At 2.4 miles, you have the option for a side trip.
Side trip to Desert Mine: Turn hard right off the main trail at 2.4 miles. The trail heads nearly due south along a fairly wide road. Continue straight at 0.5 miles as roads branch off in either direction (left path is return of Desert Mine Loop). After another junction and a wash, turn left off the road at 1.1 miles. This will take you east to the Desert Mine, found at 1.6 miles. There isn’t much left at the site, just some old workings and tailings. We hoped there would be more but found the side trip fairly scenic and worth the extra few miles. Continue east after mine. The trail gets narrower and rougher as it continues. Turn left at 2.0 miles where lesser mining roads continue east. Stay left again at 2.4 miles. At 2.9 miles you’ll get back to the road you came in on. Turn right and proceed back to the main trail which is found at 3.5 miles. Reset trail odometer.
If you decided to not do the side trip, you still need to look out for the 2.4 mile mark to get to the much more prominent Desert Queen Mine. Reset your odometer to get correct numbers. Stay right off the main road as it forks (just after road for Desert Mine). You’ll begin climbing through some old tailings and see building foundations on your left. At 0.3 miles you’ll arrive at a dilapidated cabin on the left. Consider checking this and other foundations out. Numerous roads continue north of cabin. When done, continue east uphill. The trail narrows as it skirts around the hill.
Interesting sluice on both sides just before the mine. At 0.5 miles you’ll get to the Desert Queen Mine. Watch the left as you come in, there are several open shafts right next to the road. Spend some time exploring the mine. There is an old loading hopper still standing and several other foundations including a large water holding tank just uphill from the mine. There is also a horizontal adit wide open. Peek your head in, but it isn’t recommended to go in too far. It gets dark quick and there are creatures living in the mine. We saw bats. When done, return 0.5 miles back to the main road. Continue right.
After checking out the mine, continue heading northeast as the main trail parallels a wash. At 1.3 miles, the trail forks. Stay left. The road immediately crosses a medium sized wash as it heads north. At 1.6 miles the trail drops down into a wash and turns right. Follow the most traveled vehicle tracks through the wash. Make a right turn to leave the wash at 1.9 miles. Trail resumes hilly terrain. Stay straight at 2.3 miles where a side trip to the Glory Hole Mine heads back and to the left. We didn’t have enough time to check this out but there are supposedly ruins to see. The trail continues to gently climb as you pass through a strikingly large number of teddy bear cholla. At 2.9 miles, the trail heads downhill and turns left into an eroded wash. This is the most difficult part of the trail. As you enter the wash, there is a small stretch of small boulders to navigate over. At 3.0 miles, the trail leaves the wash bottom and returns to dirt. For the next half a mile, the trail crosses the wash several times. Expect some erosion along the wash crossings.
At 3.8 miles passes through some old calcite mines. The ground is a very distinct yellow and impossible to miss. Stay right through the mines. The trail continues to weave in and out of a wash as you head east through more mining activity. Stay right at 4.3 where trail forks. The trail gets significantly easier after this. At 4.6 miles the trail arrives at a 4-way intersection where you have a choice. Continuing straight leads you to the quickest and easiest route to pavement (2.75 miles). Continuing right is longer (3.5 miles) and alternate route to pavement but will drop you closer to the highway (US-60) in Harcuvar. We accidentally took the longer route to end in Harcuvar. Refer to Google Earth file to see exact routes. For the sake of this description, continue straight through intersection. The road crosses several washes, passes under a set of powerlines and ends at the paved Hall Ave just outside of Salome at 6.4 miles.
Notes & Trail Ratings:
To ride from Vicksburg to the paved road in Salome and back is about 20 miles round trip. The side trip to the Desert Queen Mine is included in that mileage. If you do any other side trip, like the Desert Mine Loop, the total will come up to about 25 miles. Allow for about 2-4 hours to complete the whole trail and spend some time at each stop. Route-finding is confusing so make sure to check out/bring maps before completing this trail. As far as difficulty goes, this trail is moderately easy. It has a few rough, eroded sections in some of the washes in the middle of the trail. High-clearance and 4-wheel drive required. We’ve rated it a ‘4.5’ out of ‘10’. The side trip to Desert Mine is a little more difficult. Aggressive stock SUV’s should be able to do this trail. Great for dirt bikes, ATV’s, UTV’s and other narrower vehicles.