Sunday, May 1, 2022

4/29 - 5/1 Off-Roading and Camping in Kingman, AZ

After months of driving the Bronco without a camping trip, it was time to change all that! My brother Lou and I hatched a plan to spend the weekend camping and off-roading out in Kingman, AZ. I invited my dad and Uncle Tom to fly out to Vegas and join in the adventure and they readily accepted. Lou brought his son, my nephew, Noah for his first overnight overlanding trip! Long time friend and FJ driver Beardo was also invited so we had a 3 truck convoy headed out! 

As the trip date got closer, the 3 of us sent many texts back and forth about what the plan was. We all seemed to hope that someone else had it planned out and ready to go. Thankfully, Lou and I had done a trip in Kingman back in 2019 and ran a couple of the trails so I took our previous Gaia tracks, made some adjustments and slapped it on an itinerary. I'm a big believer in having a shell of a plan so even plotting coordinates on a picture of the area coupled with links for the KML files for an overview of the trip made everything run very smoothly. 

Once the plan was approved and the week of the trip arrived, Pa and Uncle Tom flew into town on Wednesday. Since we weren't departing until Friday, we were able to get some quality time sitting in the backyard just catching up as I don't get to see them as often as I'd like. On Thursday, they helped me prep to sell the Tacoma after I upgraded to the Bronco. It was a bitter sweet moment selling the Tacoma after so many memories and so many trips but it was time to say goodbye. Here's the last photo of the Tacoma off road taken a few months back out in Utah. 


As Friday morning arrived, the three of us finished some last minute propane tank installs, packed up the Bronco, said our farewells to Nina and Winston and headed out! Since Beardo is also a Vegas resident, we met up with him in town before the trek out to Kingman. The plan was to meet up with Lou at the trailhead to Sleeping Princess at 1500 but the drive from Phoenix was a bit longer than the drive from Vegas so we had a few extra minutes spent chit chatting. After we rolled out, we meet up with Lou right at 1500 as we both turned down the same dirt road at the same time. As Hannibal Smith likes to say in the movie A-Team, "I love it when a plan comes together!"

After the initial hello's, we aired down and got ready for the trail! The weather in late April in Kingman was a bit windy but low 80's. Perfect for getting some dirt of the tires! Our first stop on the itinerary was a longer trail called Sleeping Princess. The first few miles of the trail is really mild but all the changed when I came around a tight corner and was face to face with a big ole bull that was napping. Upon seeing the bright red hood of the Bronco, he stood up and was staring at us. I thought that this was the end. After what seemed like minutes, we drove by slowly as he glared us down. Close call! 

As we rolled up to the waypoint I labeled as "Great Campsite", it quickly dawned on me that I was a roof top tent camper back in 2019 when I made that waypoint. As a ground camper now, I had concerns about the number of rocks all throughout the flat areas of camp. But, since it was such a great location, we decided to stick it out anyways. I unpacked the Bronco and attempted to set up my first ground tent in over 7 years. Thankfully, my new Gazelle T3X tent was easy and quick to set up so that wasn't much of an issue which left me more time to get some drinks going! The rest of the night was spent sitting around the fire, eating snacks and kicking back without cell phone service. Perfect! 


Even though we had 2 trails ahead of us today, none of us were in a hurry to get up and going so we took our time packing up. I made oatmeal with chocolate chips for breakfast for Pa and Uncle Tom. Fancy, I know! After breakfast, we rolled out of camp around 0900 and headed back to the trail for the harder, more technical sections. Sleeping Princess starts as a gradual climb to the top of the ridgeline overlooking Laughlin and the scenic desert surrounding Kingman. Great for stops and photoshoots! After that, it hits an apex and starts a nasty right descending turn as you come down off the peak. This afforded me a chance to try out the crawler gears on the Bronco in 4Lo and they did not disappoint! It was very helpful managing my speed using engine RPM instead of having to ride the brakes constantly risking skidding. At the base of the descend is where things get interesting. We elected to take the optional extensions called Bob Miller's Extension and Hell's Half Mile. Both were sporty and I ended up scrapping a fender flare on a rock during a tight squeeze. Although frustrating, that's part of the sport so I pressed on. After the tight squeeze, the trail opened up and we were able to complete the rest of it quickly. It was 40 miles to the next trailhead so we opted to air up before hitting the highway!

After our short drive (and a short nap for my passengers), we arrived at the start of the Devil's Dip trail. The plan was to run the trail backwards so that it would end at the beginning of our next trail. Even though Lou and I have done this trail twice before, doing it backwards was completely different! We aired down and headed up the hill with Pa driving the Bronco. This climb was rough - it was lose rock, small ledges and not much traction. Despite that, Pa did a great job ascending the hill even after a tough section where I had to spot him. After a solid push to the top, we took a break for lunch in the shade of the lone tree. We broke out the PB&J with an apple for dessert. 
The way down was very washed out from rains resulting in many off-camber lines through the middle of the trail. This gave us a chance to test out the sway-bar disconnect on the Bronco but we got tippy a few times maxing at 22 degrees roll on the worst one. As we finished Devil's Dip, the three of us decided that we probably would not do that trail again. It was too washed out and too bumpy for it to be enjoyable especially for the passengers. 

The trailhead for Hualapai Mountain Trail was only 7 miles of highway away so we decided to make the run aired down. This trail is a groomed 2WD trail that winds through a small town before breaking out into a campground and finally following the ridgelines along the countryside. There are a few forks in the road so as long as you take the right before the campground you'll be on the trail. We, of course, missed the right, drove through the campground just to find a dead end and had to retrace our steps. No biggie! 

Once we were back on the right trail, it was time to start looking for a campsite. We had a location scouted from last time but someone had beaten us there and were already settling in so we pressed on. We found another great spot right on the ridge overlooking the valley but quickly decided that would be best for roof top tents since it was rocky and on an incline (none of us wanted to do that again). Another few miles up and we found the best site out there! It was a right off the main trail and put us in a forested flat area with a pre-existing fire pit and even a brand new swing on a tree, perfect! We settled in, got set up and had a fire going in no time at all. 


Sunday morning was chilly! Myself, Pa and Uncle Tom turned in early the night prior so we were up around 6:30. It didn't take long for us to decide to get a fire going for warmth. Once we had our fire roaring, we attempted to make breakfast and pack up without making too much noise waking the others. However, I don't think we succeeded as everyone else was up soon after, sorry! With everyone up, we spent the last few hours of our trip around camp just hanging out and enjoying the quality time. Once packed up, we said goodbye to our awesome campsite (after I made a waypoint of it of course) and headed back to the trail. We continued to mosey throughout the trail taking in the views. Unfortunately, it looked like the area endured a forest fire within the last 3 years since Lou and I had been there as much of the forest was burned. That's always tough to see but it already had signs of growing back. T
he trail descended off the ridgeline until we came upon an old mining operation where we decided to have lunch. Lunch concluded, we headed back down the trail as it took us back to the highway.

As we came to a stop at the highway, it marked not only the end of the trail but the end of the weekend as well. It's always great to get the band back together but the time never seems quite long enough. We aired up and said our goodbyes as we headed back our various ways all of us ready for a shower and to sleep back in our own beds.



  1. Wow - what a great read!!! Love all the detail… glad you all had so much fun, took great photos and made wonderful memories!

    1. Thanks! It’s always nice to get the gang together and out of the house!