Hidden away in secluded spots, several small campgrounds established by the Bureau of Land Management add to the appeal of Northwestern Arizona for year-round outdoor enjoyment. Located within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, these sites expand adventure opportunities for Southern Nevadans.
High atop the crest of the rugged Cerbat Mountains off US 93 on the way to Kingman, Ariz., Packsaddle and Windy Point recreation areas lie two miles apart on a graded road along the ridge. Packsaddle Campground offers several primitive walk-in sites for picnickers or backpack campers near large granite boulders. No fee is charged for use of these sites. Sites at Windy Point for tent camping include tables and grills, available for $4 per night. Vault toilets serve camping areas. Bring firewood and water, and take trash away when you leave.
Located at 6,000 feet elevation, both sites enjoy cooler temperatures than the valley below and command superlative views over hundreds of square miles. To the south lie the ruins of a couple of ghost towns, including old Chloride nestled near the base of the Cerbats.
To reach the area, follow US 93 across Hoover Dam into Arizona. From the dam, drive 55 miles to the Big Wash Road turnoff onto a gravel road maintained by the BLM. Because the road climbs the mountainsides in a series of steep switchbacks, the BLM warns those hauling travel trailers or using large motor homes not to attempt the ascent.
RV users often set up camp where others before them have camped at pullout areas in Big Wash under the BLM’s dispersed camping policy. The wash contains some water, trees and grassy areas. No fees apply, but campers should bring firewood and water and clean up after themselves. Be aware that rattlesnakes also like the setting in Big Wash. Keep kids close and dogs on leash.
Packsaddle Recreation Site lies nine miles from the US 93 turnoff with Windy Point at 11 miles. Sites available on a first-come basis fill up on weekends and holidays. Visitors enjoy photography, bird watching, off-highway trails and hiking. Don’t miss old Chloride and the outdoor murals in a nearby canyon.
The Hualapai Mountains are to Kingman what the Spring Mountains are to Las Vegas. Both provide cool mountain retreats for the heat-weary. Near popular Hualapai Mountain Park with its Mohave County recreation area and private lodge among the pines lies the BLM’s remote Wild Cow Springs Recreation Site. Hard to reach with trailers longer than 20 feet, this campground at 6,200 feet elevation appeals to tent campers and those with smaller RVs.
To reach Wild Cow Springs, travel 14 miles from Kingman on the scenic Hualapai Mountain Road. When you reach the hamlet of Pine Lake, watch for the fire station. Turn right onto a graded road for a five-mile drive to the recreation site in the woods. Those with high-clearance vehicles fare well on this road, although most vehicles driven with care can negotiate it.
Typically, the campsites contain a parking area, table, grill, metal or rock fire ring and access to centrally located vault toilets that are handicapped-accessible. Bring water and firewood from home. Pack out your camp trash. Campsite use costs $5 per night. Group sites are available for $15. No reservations are needed, but arrive early or visit mid-week for best site selection.
The largest of BLM facilities in Northwestern Arizona, Burro Creek Recreation Site lies 70 miles from Kingman using Interstate 40 east to US 93 and then south toward Wickenburg. One mile south of Burro Creek Bridge, turn off US 93 onto a paved road for the 1.5 mile drive to the site. This popular campground accommodates both tents and RVs. Amenities include drinking water, flush toilets and trash cans. Bring firewood. Use of an RV dump station costs $10. Individual sites cost $10 per night, available on a first-come basis.
Situated in the Sonoran Desert at 1,900 feet elevation, this campground appeals to cool-season visitors and those hiking into nearby wilderness areas. Be sure to tour the small native cactus garden on-site. For details on any of these recreation sites, contact the Kingman BLM Field Office at (928) 718-3700.
Margo Bartlett Pesek’s column appears on Sundays.