Hualapai Mountain Park is a 2,300-acre preserve located just outside of Kingman, Ariz. Often overlooked in favor of larger and better-known parks, it is 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 native Hualapai Indians. Their name comes from the landscape, 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 unexpected ones such as bear, elk and gray foxes. There are also 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.
There are 10 miles of trails in the park, all suitable for hikers, but some are multi-use and 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 ambitious. Depending which trailhead you choose to start, this is a roundtrip 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. The rest of the Hualapais stretch to the south.
The park not only makes for a good day trip, but it is also good for camping or renting 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 accommodate two to 12 people. Cabins one through 19 are fully equipped with beds, tables, refrigerators, electricity, bathrooms and showers and many with wood stoves or fireplaces. Cabins 20 through 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.
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 BLM land.
Call 877-757-0915 or visit at www.mcparks.com.
Deborah Wall is the author of “Great Hikes, A Cerca Country Guide” and “Base Camp Las Vegas: Hiking the Southwestern States,”published by Stephens Press. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.