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Hualapai park is a hidden gem

Hualapai Mountain Park is a 2,300-acre preserve just outside Kingman, Arizona. Often overlooked in favor of larger and better-known parks, it is really a gem hidden in the pines, with elevations ranging from 4,984 feet to 8,417 feet at Hualapai Peak.

The park is named for the Hualapai Indians native to the area. Their name comes from the landscape itself, meaning “Pine Tree Folk” or “People of the Tall Pines.” The park is home to four main vegetation zones. As one moves to higher elevations, chaparral gives way to pine and oak, and at the higher elevations, fir and aspen.

The park is home to a variety of wildlife including some you would not expect, such as bear, elk and gray foxes. There are also more common mammals such as mule deer, rock squirrels, raccoons and chipmunks. Birds you might see include ladderback, hairy and acorn woodpeckers, red-shafted flickers, western bluebirds and pinyon and scrub jays.

There are 10 miles of trails in the park, all suitable for hikers, but some are multiuse — also good for horses or mountain bikes. The park has a wonderfully detailed map of the trails, available at the entrance station, showing which ones can be used by whom.

Trails vary in difficulty; some are easy strolls, but the hike up to Hualapai Peak is definitely ambitious. Depending on which trailhead you choose to start, this is a round-trip of approximately 7.5 miles, with an elevation gain of about 1,500 feet. Up on the summit, at 8,250 feet, you will have fine views of the Cerbat Range to the north, the Peacock, Music and Aquarius mountains to the east, and the Mohave Mountains to the west, while the rest of the Hualapais stretch to the south.

The park not only makes a good day trip destination for hiking or even a picnic but is also a fine one for car, tent or RV camping or rental of one of the park’s rustic cabins. Some of the stone cabins date back to the 1930s, when the Civilian Conservation Corps laid out the first of the park’s roads, trails and camping areas.

Cabins are of various sizes and can accommodate two to 12 people. Cabins 1-19 are fully equipped with beds, tables, refrigerators, electricity, bathrooms and showers, and many have wood stoves or fireplaces. Cabins 20-24 have beds, tables, microwave ovens and heaters, but you will have to walk to the community bathrooms.

All have a barbecue grill and picnic tables outside. All you need to do is provide your own bedding or sleeping bags, towels, cooking utensils and firewood. Reservations are needed and can be made by phone at 877-757-0915 or online at www.mcparks.com.

The campground offers 70 individual campsites in three areas. They are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The park even offers an ATV trailhead with an unloading ramp, parking and campsites. Here, riders can access hundreds of miles of good ATV routes into Bureau of Land Management land.

Many of Deborah Wall’s columns have been compiled in the book “Base Camp Las Vegas, Hiking the Southwestern States.” She is also the author of “Great Hikes, a Cerca Country Guide” and a co-author of the book “Access For All, Seeing the Southwest With Limited Mobility.” Wall can be reached at Deborabus@aol.com.

Directions

From Boulder City take U.S. Highway 93 south for about 80 miles into Kingman, Arizona. Continue under Interstate 40, going straight ahead onto Route 66/Andy Devine Drive. Follow this east for 2.5 miles and go right onto Hualapai Mountain Road/Scenic Route 147. Drive 10.8 miles to the ranger station and main entrance.

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