OverviewNote: Page adopted on 10-16-09
The Mojave Mountains run parallel to the Colorado River and hem in the popular destination locale of Lake Havasu City on its east side. The summit of the Mojave Mountains, Crossman Peak, rises to 5,100 feet elevation, and while that may not seem terribly high, bear in mind Havasu is about 450 feet elevation, so there is nearly 4,500 feet of vertical rise from the river to the peak.
The vast majority of people who come to Havasu come for the boating, drinking and getting arrested attractions that this relatively new city (incorporated 1978) has to offer. The famous London Bridge spans a small side-channel along the Colorado River, transported here block by block and reconstructed exactly as it was in London back in the day. This is one of the hottest cities in the country: in 1994, the all-time Arizona high temperature of 128 F was set here (53 C). Days above 120 F (49 C) are common in summer, and lows sometimes hang near 100 F (37 C). It is a testament to man's desire to build subdivisions in inhospitable places that prompted the development of Lake Havasu City in the 1960s and 1970s. Winter and Spring are very nice here; it never gets very cold here at all.
It's the rare person who comes to Havasu for the hiking, but Crossman Peak is a worthy objective. It ranks high on the Arizona Prominence list with 3,120 feet of clean prominence (ranking it 24th in the state) and has some tremendous views out over the Colorado River valley as well as east into the interior of Arizona, with the Hualapai and Aquarius Ranges being most prominent looking east and north. A steep (and gated and locked) road leads to a small set of building located on a sub-ridge of Crossman Peak. From these buildings, a good use-trail works up another 400 feet to the summit. Despite the "development", the summit is in its natural state and overall, this is a very nice hike.
Getting to the trailhead is an adventure in itself. You have to manage the maze of roads that comprise Lake Havasu City, then a series of rough dirt roads following some unobvious turns to get to the start of the hike.
Lake Havasu City is laid out kind of oddly, and not on any sort of grid whatsoever. The main roads all loop off of AZ-95, and off of these the secondary boulevards loop, so it is literally possible to drive in circles in Havasu, which can be quite frustrating.
Here is what we did:
Start at the junction of AZ-95 and Palo Verde South. This is about 3/4 mile north of the London Bridge underpass right in the center of town. Zero the odometer. Turn east onto Palo Verde.
At 2.3 miles, turn right onto Kiowa across from the high school. Stay on Kiowa heading generally northeast.
At 5.2 miles turn right onto Bison. Pay attention to the signs. This is just a local residential road (expensive homes, by the way!).
At 5.8 miles, you come to the end of the pavement near a small hill. Follow the dirt road past the hill and up onto a gentle ridge.
At 7.1 miles (1.3 miles from the end of the pavement), you come to a large wide clearing. This is a popular staging area for off-road vehicles. Look for a road going down into a prominent wash, just left of a concrete foundation.
In the wash, make a right just past a very small hill (approx mile 7.3).
At 8.6 miles (2.8 miles from the end of the pavement), you come to a Y-junction. Some arrows are painted on rocks to the right, pointing to the waterfall. Go left. Beware: we found this junction not as obvious as we would have thought. The road grader pushed up a berm of rocks across this road.
Now in Falls Spring Wash, stay on the main track. Stay right at one minor junction. The mouth of the canyon is at about mile 10.1 (4.3 miles from the pavement). Park somewhere in here.
The road into the wash is a bit rougher, but most 4wd should be fine - but you need good clearance. With care, you can drive another 0.4 miles to a sharp right bend in the road. Park here and no further. The road afterwards is very bad, very steep and comes to a gate where there is no room to turn around. There's a grave in the area!
Crossman Peak is located on BLM land. Contact the BLM Field Office in Lake Havasu City for the latest information. Their number is 928-505-1200.
Topo Map: Crossman Peak.
There are numerous built-up camping options along the Colorado River between Parker and Needles and including Lake Havasu City. I Googled "Camping Lake Havasu" and got 7 results. Personally, we've stayed at Cattail State Park and Buckhorn State Park (nearer Parker). Some cater more for RVs. Most developed places require a fee and have showers and other amenities.
Bush camping is possible, but I would not suggest car-camping in the canyons below Crossman coming in from Havasu. This is yahoo country: you'll be sharing the roads with ATVs, dirtbikes, drunks and shooters especially on a weekend. Weeknights might be quieter.
There are plenty of very low-priced hotels and motels in town.
During Spring Break, it will be unbelievably crowded and difficult to drive the roads. Plus it'll be getting hot again anyway. Unless you like loud obnoxious drunks, avoid this place during March.
External LinksArizona Prominence Map
Crossman Peak Trip Report (www.surgent.net)