This beautiful Upper Sonoran Desert landscape features majestic saguaros, palo verde and ironwood trees ocotillos, barrel and hedgehog cactus, teddy bear cholla, and many others. Sandy desert washes also traverse the area with lush riparian vegetation along their banks, only carrying water during heavy rainstorms. Due to cooler temperatures and higher precipitation, the upper elevations of the mountains transition to the Chaparral vegetation which includes mountain mahogany, silk tassel, desert scrub oak, sumac and beargrass. Small-scale mining for gold, silver and copper ore has been popular in this area over the past 100 years and abandoned sites can be found scattered throughout. The best season of use is between October and May.
The staging area is located in Maricopa County, approximately 80 miles west of Phoenix, Arizona off of Eagle Eye Road.
From Phoenix, take Interstate 10 west to the Salome Road exit (MP 81). Turn right and follow for 9.6 miles to Eagle Eye Road. Turn right and drive north 8.5 miles to the Harquahala Mountain Backcountry Byway. Look for the directional sign on Eagle Eye Road. Turn left and the Harquahala Foothills Staging Area is .2 miles on the right.
Alternate access from the north is thru the small farm town of Aguila, 25 miles west of Wickenburg. From Wickenburg take US 60 west to Aguila. Drive thru town and a few blocks west of the gas station you will see Eagle Eye Road. Turn left and drive south for 18.5 miles to the Harquahala Mountain Backcountry Byway. Look for the directional sign on Eagle Eye Road. Turn right and the Harquahala Foothills Staging Area is .2 miles on the right (GPS N33° 43’ 44.05”, W113° 17’ 46.02”).
Historic site exploration, scenery and wildlife viewing, nature study, OHV driving, picnicking, camping, hiking and hunting.
The nationally designated Harquahala Mountain Backcountry Byway is home to the Harquahala Peak Smithsonian Observatory
and the terminus of the historic Harquahala Mountain Pack Trail. The observatory was built in1920 by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory to measure and record solar activity. The scientists and local miners used the 5 ½ mile pack trail to haul their equipment, food and supplies to the summit. The pack trail is maintained and available for hiking or equestrian use.
The semi-primitive staging area offers visitors a large ramada with extensive interpretive information, a vault restroom, two campsites with picnic tables and metal fire pans, and a loading ramp for off-highway vehicles (OHV). There is no drinking water, dumping stations or shade structures.
Permits, Fees, Limitations
There are no fees to stay at the staging area or to use the surrounding roads and trails.All vehicle travel is limited to existing roads and trails. Most have been numbered and signed with tall and narrow brown fiberglass posts. Maps denoting these signed routes will be available in the fall of 2009. The staging area is not to be used for large group events. Cell phone range is not always available in the area.
The staging area is loosely graded and not chemically hardened. Wheelchairs can be used but may be difficult to navigate thru soft dirt and gravel in some areas. The vault restroom is wheelchair accessible. Cars and RVs can access the staging area however high clearance vehicles are recommended for the surrounding primitive roads and four-wheel drive is required to reach the summit.
Camping and Lodging
The staging area has two primitive campsites and reservations are not required or accepted. Dispersed primitive camping is allowed on public lands in Arizona for no more than 14 days within a 28 consecutive day period. Aguila, Salome, Wickenburg and west Phoenix offer a range of lodging and RV camping options.
Food and Supplies
Limited gasoline, food and supplies are available in Aguila. Wickenburg and businesses scattered along Interstate 10 west of Phoenix offer a full range of food and supplies.
The nearest hospitals are in Wickenburg, Wickenburg Community Hospital (928-684-4372) and in Goodyear, West Valley Hospital (623-882-1500).
Hassayampa Field Office
21605 N. 7th Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85027-2929
Phone: (623) 580-5500
Fax: (623) 580-5580
Field Manager: Rem Hawes
Hours: 7:30 a.m. – 4:15 p.m., M-F