Back in about 1987, Patti and I took a trip over the Christmas Holiday to Arizona.
On that trip we were trying to get to the Bill Williams River. We took every road that we could find on the map that went to the river. Each of those roads ended up at large gates with signs that said No Trespassing, Scottsdale Water Department.
We got onto one road that ended at a gate that said Planet Ranch. It was the same type of gate with the multiple locks.
Since then we have found a couple of places where you can get to the Bill Williams River.
We have always wondered what was behind the Gate to the Planet Ranch.
Just within the last year the state has opened the road through Planet Ranch.
The Ride to Planet Ranch.
Getting to the Trail.
We met at the fire station on the north end of Quartzsite.
There were five jeeps in the group today. Once everyone was there we headed north on Hwy. 95 toward Parker.
There is a stretch of 95 between Q and Highway 72 where we always see Hawks on the power poles. Every time we go north Patti counts the hawks; the most we have seen along this strip is 18.
Patti also has been trying to get a picture of one of the hawks. Today she was successful. Its hard to take a good picture from a vehicle going 65 mph.
The last two years we have noticed that a couple of the hawks have built nests on the poles. Most times the wind has torn the nests off the poles. But one has been there since last season. Kind of amazing as the wind down here can be fierce.
Just south of Parker, Shea Road goes east into the desert.
We turned onto Shea Rd. Shea Road is paved for the first 15 miles then turns to dirt.
Vampire Mine Trail.
One of our objectives today was to take the Vampire Mine trail over the mountains to the north and is on the way to the Planet Ranch Road.
This is a fun trail with some obstacles in the wash. The wash has changed since last season and the obstacles aren’t as challenging as they have been in the past.
Dennis M and Bill went the hard way
Here is Bill.
Here is Tom and Dennis K going an easier way.
I took the easy way just because everyone else took the harder ways.
Here is another challenge that has been filled in by the summer Monsoon’s flash floods.
Most of us got through that easily.
I had to back up and take a couple of shots at it but got through it.
A little further we had to climb some rocks…
Once we were out of the wash we got onto the trail to the Vampire Mine.
The first time Patti and I were on this trail we were driving my old Jeep (Clifford) completely stock without rear lockers.
The trail is very steep and narrow and had a lot of loose rock on it so traction was a problem then. We made it to the top but it was a bit scary.
This trail has been used a lot since then and most of the real loose stuff has been thrown off the trail. Since the trail is down to bed rock, now there is better traction .
Even so the trail is still challenging.
The trail gets really narrow at the top so you have to be careful.
Once at the top you get a really nice view.
Down the Other Side.
We stopped at the top to take some pictures.
Here is one of the old mine tunnels. It only goes a short distance.
Once we had the pictures we headed down.
The Slot Canyon.
Another place on our itinerary is to go through Slot Canyon. This is another spot that we go to almost every year because it is a neat place and also changes every season.
We drove out of the wash and onto the Planet Ranch Road. Most of the road is wide and graded but there are still some nice narrow canyons to go through.
Eventually we got to the opened gate and decided to have lunch here.
After lunch we headed into the Planet Ranch.
The first thing we came to were some houses. They looked like they were occupied as there were some trucks parked around them.
Past the houses the road becomes nice and wide and dusty.
We crossed a wide dusty wash.
and started going up hill again.
Remember, our goal was to get to the Bill Williams River.
After a driving couple of miles past the big wash we realized that the wash was indeed the Bill Williams River only there was no water in it.
We decided that the river must run under ground here.
Apparently the road continues to Lake Havasu. We didn’t want to go there so turned around here and headed back the way we came.
A New Trail.
As we were driving back Dennis M (the leader) noticed a trail going up hill to the right.
We turned onto this trail and followed Dennis.
The trail went by this mining area.
We figured that this structure was an old powder magazine.
Checking Out the Mine.
There was a mine shaft near here but no one wanted to go in this one and I don’t blame them.
Around the corner from this tunnel was one that was very nice with a lot of head room.
Of course we had to check it out.
I got my head light and went into the cave.
Tom, Becky and Dennis K were already in the mine.
The tunnel went back quite a ways with a couple of side tunnels…
and the old rails for the ore cars is still intact.
I followed the tracks to the end of the tunnel.
One of the side shafts went up at about a 45 degree angle with tracks going all the way to the top.
There was a lot of bat guano in piles along the floor of the tunnel but we only saw one bat and he was sleeping.
Eventually we left the tunnel.
We left the mine and continued along the trail.
At one point Dennis took a right turn to see where it went. He got into a sticky situation when the trail that he was on ended at the top of a ridge with no trail going down the other side.
He had to do a lot of maneuvering to get turned around without rolling over.
We watched from down below. But he did good and came back down the trail okay.
We continued along the trail going up and down…
and round and round.
We passed this nice window in the rock.
The trail took us back across the mountains and down this steep hill to the trail that the slot canyon was on.
In a short time we were back on Shea Rd. and heading for home.
Okay, that was the Wednesday ride. It was a lot of fun and we finally got to find out what was behind that gate. It wasn’t very exciting but at least now we know.