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  • Writer's pictureKelsey

Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness: Day 1

Holy shit, it’s almost 2017... I don’t want to sit at a bar or friends house pretending it’s fun when I’d rather be around a campfire somewhere. So, lets go!

We met in Mammoth, AZ. Not quite as picturesque as the one nestled into the Sierra Nevada’s with one of the best ski resorts on Earth... We were headed for Copper Canyon.

This section of road was washed out so we walked ahead to see the old Ore Chute.

Pretty amazing to look at the copper stained rocks and manually riveted bits of bridge.

As we kept looking for a way to get closer to the “Mansion” we took some switchbacks revealing a view of just how many roads and mines this small area had.

We eventually parked the trucks at a locked gate and continued on foot. (No private property or signs otherwise were visible, but it was clear that the gate was meant to keep vehicles from progressing further.)

Off in the distance we saw the the mansion sticking up above the trees.

Nearby was the old general store.

Here is the general store in better days.

This remote and difficult to travel area even had it’s own narrow gauge railroad at one time. Can you imagine getting the steam locomotive up here?

Me either and yet they did it and got a photo.

Hurry and get your stock certificates now!

Feel like we’re just scratching the surface of what you can find in this area if you leave the truck behind? You should be, but there is never enough time. We had the infamous “Rug Road” to traverse to get to beautiful Aravaipa so it was time to get moving

(I love seeing the man made parts of roads. So much effort and care goes into making something last this long.)

As you leave the dirt roads behind and head onto what is decidedly more of a 4x4 trail there are several gate keeper obstacles to let you know you’re no longer on a maintained road.

As you first start to climb you see the shards of old carpet laying about. Every color imaginable, but all a faded shade of what they used to be. After you climb comes the real part of Rug Road, the descent.

Photos never show the overall of a situation. Some of these sections are so steep I was telling K to get the HELL out of the way because the truck was slipping little bit by little bit as I would try to descend in a controlled manner. There isn’t a flat “break” spot so you really just need to get it all done in one go.

I guess this guy either loved the road or died on it.

Checking back on the rest of the group.

Taking a quick break to look at some Coues Whitetail deer we saw.

Once you are this point you are back to “normal” wheeling for a while. It’s steep, it’s a shelf road, but in general if you pay attention it’s fine. We climbed up to the saddle to wait for everyone else and the views were striking.

I wonder which way the wind blows?

As we descended from the saddle it started to rain. It seemed like a good stopping point since we’d driven from Phoenix and done some side trail exploring.

Tomorrow, more rain, more history.


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