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Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Vulture Peak Wickenburg On a good day, the wind funnels through the jagged rock spires of Vulture Peak at a velocity that coaxes music out of the saguaros that cling to the cliffs. Saguaro spines, when stroked by a healthy breeze, sound something like muffled harp strings or, that weird plant that drove Spock nuts in a famous episode of Star Trek. The eerie soundtrack is apropos for the otherworldly appearance of the Vulture Mountains, especially at dawn and dusk, when sunlight washes the rhyolite heaps in a veil of russet alpen-glow. Jutting abruptly out of the Upland Sonoran Desert the 3,658-foot-high behemoth formed during the epoch when saber-tooth cats roamed the land. Teddy Bear and Buckhorn cholla as well as massive saguaros multiply profusely in the water-retaining, porous rock along the trail. Steep in places, but easy to follow, the maintained trail ends at the saddle between saw tooth escarpments and the summit ridge. A 250-foot vertical rock scramble to the summit rewards with views that assure us, that despite the extraterrestrial sights and sounds, Vulture Peak is one of planet earth’s exquisite creations. LENGTH: 4 miles RATING: moderate ELEVATION GAIN: 1200 feet GETTING THERE: From Phoenix, travel west on I-10 to Highway 303 (Cotton Lane). Go north on Highway 303 to US 60 and head west toward Wickenburg. Continue on US 60 through the center of town then turn left onto Vulture Mine Road and go 6.5 miles to the dirt turnoff for the trailhead between mile markers 19 and 20.

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