Monday, February 3, 2014
BOX CANYON of the HASSAYAMPA RIVER
For most of its 100-mile course, the Hassayampa River flows only in subterranean channels. But for roughly 14 miles, bedrock buoys the water above ground. Two of the easiest access points to the wet sections are The Nature Conservancy's Hassayampa River Preserve and Box Canyon.
While the preserve area is a quiet place with beautifully tame riverside trails, "The Box" is an outdoor recreation free-for-all. Hikers and equestrians share the waterway with motorized traffic, gold panners and raucous families with kids and dogs. From the parking area, a rugged Jeep road descends from the lip of the canyon to the river gorge. Here, the exploratory trek heads off in both directions. Turn west to visit the rubble of defunct Mistake Mine, or go east along a water-hopping route that leads through the most spectacular section of the canyon where vertical walls of conglomerate rock pinch the water into lacy rivulets and shifting sandbars before exiting into the spillway of Dinosaur Wash. The canyon narrows are about a mile in length, and water levels vary with rainfall, so, be prepared to get your feet wet.
LENGTH: up to 1.5 miles each way
From the US60/93 traffic circle in Wickenburg, go 4.6 miles north on US93 to Scenic Loop Road at milepost 195. Turn right, drive 6.8 miles, take the right fork at a BLM "no dumping" sign and go 0.1 mile to the parking area. Scenic Loop is sedan-friendly graded dirt, however, some sections may wash out during heavy rain.