Dead Burro Canyon is a chasm on a mountain slope to the north of Lake Havasu City, Arizona. A 2.85 mile hike on the desert floor will bring you to the lower end of the canyon. You can then hike up the canyon past a couple of dry waterfalls that require some degree of hand and foot climbing. As you go higher, the canyon opens up and you can find your way to a saddle where you can descend into the valley behind the mountain and return to the starting point.
This hike can be combined with the nearby Topock Gorge Sand Dunes
to create a 17 mile long hike.
From Lake Havasu City, drive north on Route 95 past the airport and go just to the north of a hill that has communication towers on top of it on the west side of the road. At mile marker 192, you will see a dirt road on the west side of the road. Turn onto the road and park at the parking area at the beginning of the road. Four wheel drive can go a mile or so more.
The loop described here is 7.6 miles long. Elevation at beginning of the hike is 920 ft, bottom of canyon 620 ft and the saddle 1140 ft.
You will not see any signs for this hike. Many dirt roads crisscross the desert. If you are not familiar with the area, you can easily get lost. Pay attention to the map and look at satellite photos before going on this hike.
Looking east toward Route 95 near the starting point.
From the parking area head west and follow the road into a dry wash beyond the hill with the communication towers on top. The jagged Tumarion Peak can be seen in the distance.
Tumarion Peak on the right
After 0.8 miles you should leave the dirt road you are hiking on and turn right (north) onto another dirt road that goes up a small hill.
You will then find yourself on top of an embankment on the east side of another dry wash. Looking at the surrounding mountains.
You have to turn left (west) onto another dirt road that goes steeply down the wash, crosses it, and goes back up on the west side of the wash.
Follow the road to the end of it at a barbed wire marking the boundary of Lake Havasu Wilderness. The wall of Dead Burro Canyon can be seen on a mountain slope in the distance. Chemehuevi and other California mountains will also be visible across Lake Havasu.
|Wall of Dead Burro Canyon seen |
|Chemehuevi Mountain on the left
Cross the barbed wire and find a trail that will take you west to reach the bottom of Dead Burro Canyon.
Bottom of Dead Burro Canyon
If you follow the bottom of the canyon, you will reach a wall. Turn right and go up the slope on the right (east) side of the canyon.
Hiking up the slopes to the east of the canyon
I actually saw cairns that led me into the canyon to reach the top of a big dry waterfall. Looking back down the dry waterfall.
Looking down the edge of the dry waterfall
I then followed the cairns on a path on the right slope of the canyon above its bottom until I reached a wall where I had to go down to the bottom of the canyon.
|Walkway on the east slope of the canyon |
|End of walkway
Hiking up at the bottom of the canyon.
|Bottom of the canyon |
|Bottom of the canyon
I then reached a dry waterfall that I am sure I could not have climbed without equipment. See my hiking pole for scale.
Dry waterfall and my hiking pole
I went to the left side of the waterfall and climbed a steep slippery slope that led me to a “cat walk” on the left side of the canyon around 10 feet above its bottom. The cat walk was not difficult to hike except for the end of it where it had been washed away. I had to hug the side cliff and push myself over the washed out area.
Catwalk on the left, end of it washed away
After that, the canyon opened up and the going became easy. A local arch.
Hiking up the slopes above the canyon.
I knew the direction of the 1140 ft high saddle I wanted to go to. Went up the slopes to reach the saddle.
|Near the saddle |
|Near the saddle
I then went down the slopes to reach a dry wash.
Headed southeast and walked down the wash as it formed a small canyon “behind” the mountain where Dead Burro Canyon was.
|Dry wash |
I went beyond the cable that marked the boundary of Lake Havasu Wilderness (exiting it) and continued down the wash until I reached a big branch on the left. I could see a steep road that went up the embankment on the east side of the wash taking me back to where I had been at the start of the loop. Followed my path back to the parking area.
When to Hike
Winter is the best time to hike. Summer can get dangerously hot.