If you venture north beyond the bright lights of Phoenix and the sprawling cityscapes that occupy the once-tranquil Valley of the Sun, Arizona transitions from a sunbaked desert to a utopia of forested highlands. Each spring when Overland Expo sets up basecamp on Mormon Lake, near the 7,000-foot outskirts of Flagstaff, I ponder a new and interesting way to reach the event. Sure, I could hop on the interstate and be there in a jiffy, but that certainly would not check the “fun” box; nor would it be in the spirit of adventure.
A few weeks before the venue I received a call from the guys at Ram Truck. It went something like this; “We’re doing an all-dirt four-wheel drive trek from Carefree to Overland Expo through the old mining camps of the Bradshaw Mountains…wanna go?” Carefree…hmm? Was this a place or an attitude? Either way, I liked it, and as you might have guessed, the answer was a no-brainer.
This wasn’t to be an “expedition,” or an epic assent of insurmountable obsticals. Rather, it was just a bunch of guys taking a day off to play on the way to another day off…to play. Big plus, in the Ram fleet were a half-dozen Power Wagons and Rebels. Yes, I do love my job!
Rather than give you a blow-by-blow travelogue, I’ll just say that the route around Pleasant Lake up to the Wild West mining town of Crown King is one not to pass up. It winds its way through tall stands of saguaro cactus, along cottonwood-lined creeks, and up numerous switchbacks in the Bradshaws. If you have extra time, make sure to hit Whiskey Row in Prescott, previous capital of the Arizona Territory, and grab a burger in the mountainside town of Jerome.