Want to Beat the Heat? Run to the Hills

Jul 26, 2014 View Comments by

Want to Beat the Heat? Run to the HillsSummer throughout North America means riding season is in full swing. Here in the Phoenix area, triple digit temperatures have a lot riders parking their bikes until fall and cooler days return. However, it hasn’t taken me long to figure out a good way to beat the heat. Something many locals know well. Answer: head north to the mountains.

Living at the north end of the city means that it’s a short ride to higher elevations where the daytime temperatures are generally 15-25 degrees cooler.

This time out I opted to visit the small mountain community of Crown King. Nestled high in the Bradshaw Mountains and named after the now closed Crowned King Gold Mine, the area is a hot spot for four wheel drive, ATV, UTV, and dirt bike enthusiasts due to an abundance of trails in the area.

I pick up the aptly named “Crown King Road” just a few miles beyond the city and as I make my way to higher ground spectacular mountain views surround me. I can feel the air temperature dropping with each mile that passes. At about the 14-mile point the road narrows a bit before I come upon the ghost town of Cleator (another remnant of Arizona’s mining history). Beyond that I tackle a series of switchbacks at about mile marker 20 as I close in on Crown King.

The 25-mile dirt road trek gets a little bumpy at times but is passable by passenger cars and has very little traffic. It was easy work for my Kawasaki Versys as it would be for any adventure or dual sport machine. Motorbikes with lower ground clearance and/or less robust suspensions, however, may find the road trying at times.

Arriving in a little under two hours, the rugged mountain town is alive with tourists enjoying the area’s attractions; a general store, saloon, and eateries. ATVs, UTVs, and motorcycles far outnumber passenger cars and trucks. Surrounded by giant pine, spruce, and aspen all reaching for the sky, it’s hard to imagine the Arizona desert is so near.

Want to Beat the Heat? Run to the HillsI grab a bite to eat at one local establishment, the menu is limited and the fare a tad pricey, but unless you packed a lunch the options are few. Back on two wheels, I make my way back down the winding mountain road toward home.

It’s been two months since Kris and I relocated to Arizona and the riding has been fantastic. I look forward to every outing with new enthusiasm. Where next? The choices are many.


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About the author

I've been called a "Free-Spirit", "A Lost Soul", and "A Wanderer" for as long as I can remember. I prefer to think of myself as a Traveler. Most at ease when I am in motion, two of my favorite things are arriving somewhere new, and heading off for somewhere yet unexplored.