Hualapai Mountains provide recreation opportunities

The Hualapai Mountains near Kingman, Ariz., offer year-round recreational opportunities in a high forested setting. Campers, picnickers, hikers, mountain bikers, ATV riders and horsemen pursue their favorite activities in this pine-scented getaway surrounded by desert. They find cooler temperatures in summer, colorful foliage in autumn, snowy landscapes in winter and wildflowers in spring.

The area lies about 100 miles from Las Vegas, using U.S. 93 across Hoover Dam into Arizona. In Kingman, take Interstate 40 to Exit 51 onto Stockton Road, which becomes Hualapai Mountain Road. This paved road climbs 14 miles into rugged alpine scenery topped by 8,400-foot Hualapai Peak and other lesser crags.

Named for the native Hualapai people or “pine tree folk” living there when settlers arrived in the mid-1800s, the mountain range supports a mixed forest. The road ascends from desert through pinyons and junipers to tall timber. Increased precipitation at elevation encourages widely varied plant life, including under-story trees such as ash and walnut, fruiting shrubs like elderberries and currants and a mixture of desert and mountain wildflowers.

The mountains provide habitat for many wild creatures. Visitors often spot antelope, deer, elk, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, rabbits, skunks and a host of lesser wildlife. Many birds frequent the area, some resident, others migrant. Watch for everything from flitting, bejeweled hummingbirds to soaring eagles and hawks.

A favorite retreat for locals since pioneer times, the Hualapai Mountains offer varied developed facilities. Mojave County operates 2,300-acre Hualapai Mountain Park. It includes picnic sites, 70 campsites in three acres, group-use facilities, and RV park with hookups and 19 rustic rental cabins housing two to 12 people. Most facilities in this park remain open all year.

The county park benefited from projects completed by Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The CCC workers improved roads, built trails, constructed log and stone cabins and established campgrounds and picnic areas with tables, campfire pits and toilets. Their craftsmanship preserved by the county lends this park a unique character.

For information, cabin rentals, RV fees and reservations, contact Hualapai Mountain Park toll free at (877) 757-0915 or use its website at www.mcparks.com. Individual campsites, available on a first-come basis, fill up fast on weekends and holidays. Expect day-use fees of $5 and overnight camping rates of $15 per night. Bring water, as most sites are dry. RV sites may be reserved from May through October. Rates run $25 per night, $150 per week and $400 per month.

The charming cabins scattered among the trees draw many guests. Cabin rental rates range from $55 per night during the week for the smallest for two people to $125 for the largest. Add $15 per night for weekend use. Cabins have outdoor grills, fireplaces, essential furniture, running water, electricity, bathrooms, kitchen area and sleeping alcoves with build-in beds. Renters bring food, cooking utensils, paper goods, cleanup supplies, bedding, linens, firewood and personal gear.

Nearby privately owned Hualapai Mountain Resort offers a popular restaurant and steakhouse, meeting or reception facilities, six rooms and three suites. Call the Hualapai Mountain Resort for details, room rates and reservations at (928) 757-3545.

For those who prefer more primitive camping, the Bureau of Land Management maintains 20 nonreservation sites at Wild Cow Springs Recreation Site a few miles away. To reach this remote campground, drive through the county park to Pine Lake village. Turn right at the fire station on a graded, one-lane road. Follow it five miles to the no-frills campground.

Signs advise against trying to tow a trailer longer than 20 feet over this winding road. Campers pay $5 per night.

Miles of hiking trails and a network of old mining roads create opportunities for exploration on foot, by bike, on horseback or by off-road vehicles. Mojave County recently completed an ATV unloading area with room for parking near trailheads and access to several popular ATV routes.

Margo Bartlett Pesek’s column appears on Sundays.

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