Can you believe I got to make two backcountry jeep trips in two days! This one was in uncharted territory for me. I read somewhere about the New River Canyon jeep road and that is was pretty neat. I also read somewhere that it was an easy (remember that word) nineteen miles which starts at the I-17 exit #236 also know as Table Mountain just north of New River. It begins in State Trust land so you need to have that permit. Then it crosses into Tonto National Forest (FR41) heading east. Nineteen miles gets you to FR24 which if you turn south will take you to Cave Creek. I admit this nonsense I read about this trip was written in 2012 but hey easy means easy right?
The first part was easy. You head east on a decent road for a short ways and get to a gate which you better close after you pass through it. Now you are on State Trust Land. Then you cross the river. Easy crossing. Then you start running into deep dried up mud ruts which should convince you never to come here in or after a rainstorm. Then the road get rougher, deeper ruts, rocky places, steep hills but the country is spectacular. Somewhere along here you get to open and close another gate and then further on you cross a cattle guard and enter the National Forest. Vast saguaro cactus forest up and down the hills, rugged hill tops, boulder strewn river channel, riparian areas along the river. clear pools of water in the river. Truly spectacular, and we were out there all by ourselves after the first mile. Then the road got rockier, then the road crossed the river and recrossed it and crossed it some more (every crossing is over and through huge boulders) and climbed up steep boulder strewn hills and through washed out gullies and over more large boulder fields. Man it was fun! The Green Monster ate that road up. And the road ate the green monsters tires up.
Hope you get the idea here. Do not take this road unless your outfit is lifted, you have lockers, you have big grippy tires and you left your brain at home. There are places too narrow for a jeep so you climb over boulders instead of squeezing past them. There are places where the road is gone hence more river crossings. There are places where the road is just a washed out boulder strew gully running up very steep hills and then down them again. This is NOT EASY. Expect major pinstriping, expect tire damage, expect dents if you screw up and take the wrong track across a boulder field or through a boulder filled deep wash. We kept going. We were following fresh tire tracks after all.
The landscape changes gradually from saguaro forest to cholla and prickly pear to brush and some real live grass. There actually are a few easy relatively smooth easy places; just enough to make you keep going. The river/boulder crossing get tougher and there are a couple places that are a challenge up on the hillsides. Some rock adjusting was prudent.
About ten miles in you will come to an immense pile of granite boulders, bigger than your house size. Do not attempt to drive over them. Drive on the road beside them. Stop and climb all over them and under them. This is a major sight along this road. Shortly after passing these boulders we met our first vehicles of the day. Three ATV’s. We stopped and talked. I said, “How’s the road ahead?” They said, “Better than what you just came over.” And it was. A bit later we passed the concrete slab and foundation walls of what used to be a nice sized house. That’s all that’s left now though. Another couple miles of moderately smooth road and we came to the junction with FR37. This is where FR37 heads north and FR41 makes a hard right turn and heads uphill. Right at that junction we passed a road sign. It informed us that the portion of FR41 we had just traipsed across was closed and wasn’t due to be reopened until April 2015. Geeze, how come they didn’t put a sign like that on the west end where we started. We probably might not have drove it. Maybe.
The rest of the trip was easy. FR24 is relatively smooth and graded and when it starts being called Seven Springs road parts of it are even paved. Remember that backcountry road conditions change after every rainstorm. Easy today, impossible tomorrow.
Will was here 2/24/15