By Dave Helgeson
As winter digs in, snowbirds in the Southwest are reveling in 60, even 70 degree days. It’s time for adventuring – and you’ll find some of the most interesting “mountain ranges” in the southwest corner of Arizona in the form of the Harquahalas. The Harquahala Mountains are located between Aguila and Salome, Ariz., south of Highway 60. The highest point, Harquahala Mountain, is 5,691 ft. and soars above the Sonoran Desert, providing outstanding views of the surrounding area and neighboring mountain ranges.
The whole area is prime territory for adventurous boondockers, offering much to see and do. The mountains offer: rock hounding, off-roading for 4×4 vehicles or ATVs, old mines and mining camps to explore, plenty of opportunities for shutter bugs, prospecting, hiking and even a ghost town to explore.
Harquahala Ghost Town
A great way to sample the area is an excursion across Harquahala Road between Salome and Exit 53 on Interstate 10. This well-graded dirt road traverses through a low saddle in the Harquahala Mountains, passing by historic mines and the ghosted site of Harquahala while offering great scenery.
Boondocking Along Harquahala Road
Boondocking is available all along the Harquahala Road. Timid boondockers may choose to pull off at the pavement’s end just south of the last snowbird park model village in Salome at: N33 44.788 W113 36.641. More seasoned boonie campers may opt to camp farther south among the saguaro cactus at: N33 44.013 W113 36.222. Those entering Harquahala Road via exit 53 off of I-10 will find a suitable boondocking location at: N33 37.000 W113 37.162. Please note, these locations were viable when the writer visited a few years back, and were recently verified by “flyover” using Google Maps.
If you want to drive, ride or hike to the top of the big daddy (Harquahala Mountain) you can gain access via Eagle Eye Road. More information on reaching the summit can be found via the BLM.