Exploring the Desert Southwest is heaven for me. Seeing a dirt road winding across the desert floor or climbing into the distant foothills or mountains always gets me to thinking, "where does that road go and what is at the end of it?". Kingman, Arizona is surrounded by mountain ranges and a lot of mining roads and trails exist in this area. My friend Steve and I have explored many of the trails in the mountains around Kingman. Last year, I began to run some of these trails with my full-size 4X4 truck. What I found is what I expected - many of the mining and "jeep" trails are not easily navigated by a full-size truck without making new tracks in the desert which will be there for a long time. I decided to get a smaller pickup, perhaps a Toyota or Nissan, to explore local trails and other trails and dirt roads in the Southwest. Instead, I bought a 2000 Jeep Cherokee from a friend who lives in California. Since it only had a "donut" spare tire, I purchased a new regular tire and got a new rear bumper and tire carrier installed. I also put a luggage rack on the roof.
In addition to tootling around the trails in and near Kingman, I have taken it several excursions away from Kingman including a couple of photo shoots with my friend, John. When we go somewhere that may have an interesting dirt road to explore, we take a half-day or thereabouts to do so. On our last trip to Joshua Tree National Park (JTNP), we decided to drive thru Berdoo Canyon. We had previously driven to the mouth of the canyon.
Within JTNP, Berdoo Canyon Road is accessed from Geology Tour Road, a maintained dirt for regular vehicular traffic. Eventually Berdoo Canyon Road leaves JTNP and connects with Dillon Road near Indio California. Leaving the pavement of the main drag thru the park, we drove down Geology Tour Road for a few miles. As the road dipped toward Squaw Tank. it became narrower and looked to be unmaintained. About a quarter mile past Squaw Tank, the road narrowed to one lane. I think this is where it becomes Berdoo Canyon Road. Ahead was a sandy road that elevated slightly and we were traveling thru a big stand of Joshua Trees toward distant foothills.
Parked Under a Joshua Tree Enroute to Berdoo Canyon
Upon reaching the foothills the road began going downhill. We were getting close to the mouth of Berdoo Canyon and we getting excited. What fun.
Mouth of Berdoo Canyon
When we reached the mouth of Berdoo Canyon, we stopped and took a short break but soon hit the road again. The drive thru Berdoo Canyon had been described by JTNP Rangers as a rough road which they said they don't even go down anymore. It was rough in a couple of spots but any vehicle with 4-wheel drive and high clearance should be able to make it - if you have an SUV crossover, you might want to just stay home. Anyway, we did not have any problems although it was slow going, especially on some of the rockier areas. John and I are convinced that park personnel just don't want visitors going down Berdoo Canyon Road, for whatever reason.
John Taking a Snapshot at One of the Rough Spots on Berdoo Canyon Road
Continuing down the road found we were sometimes hugging the side of a hill or more often simply driving along a wash. Many of the roads in the Desert Southwest are in natural washes. Anyway, the majority of Berdoo Canyon Road is sandy but easily driven.
Another Fun Spot to Traverse
We soon reached the open end of the canyon where there was evidence of mining. A couple portions of the road near the mining area had been paved once but were now deteriorating. It was not long after the mine that we came to the maintained paved road where we turned off for another break. Evidently this area is popular with target shooters as there were shell casings from small arms and spent shotgun shells all over the place. It is disgusting that people cannot clean up after themselves. At any rate, we had a lot fun on Berdoo Canyon Road.
This video of Berdoo Canyon was previously posted in another blog entry, I have moved it here as it seemed more fitting.