The Palo Verde Hills are a small range whose highest point, which has no official name, reaches 2,172 feet, with a prominence of 1,012 feet. The range is volcanic, with uniform slopes covered in blackened lava rocks. The most notable land feature out this way is the cliff-laden Saddle Mountain
. The Palo Verde Hills summit is a nice, easy day-hike up a ridge, and some who come out this way for Saddle Mountain follow that hike with a chaser up this interesting peak. The log book dates back to 1996 and held about 25 entries -- most being the two dozen Arizona peakbaggers who have climbed everything, and the rest being locals from the surrounding area (this being the sprawling town of Tonopah).
The summit as seen in the early morning light.
The summit ridge about half way up. The top is in view.
You are aiming for a service road that runs underneath a major set of powerlines that emanate from the Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant. This is all within a patch of BLM land surrounded on all four sides by private and state trust lands. There may be more than one possible access, but what I describe below worked for me, although it may not be the shortest way.
Exit Interstate-10 at Wintersburg Road (Exit 98), about 45 miles west of downtown Phoenix. Drive south on Wintersburg Road slightly under 9 miles to Elliott Road. Turn right and drive 3.8 miles to 415th Avenue. Turn right (north) and follow this dirt track for one mile past a few residences. After the last residence, with all its unfriendly signs, continue on a lesser track, now on BLM land. Drive this track 0.7 mile to where it meets the powerline road. Go left and continue northwest for 3 miles. You'll eventually drive past a lower set of pointy foothills, by which time you have an unfettered view of Palo Verde Hills Peak. Park in a pullout below any powerline stanchion that you prefer.
Comments: (1) Wintersburg Road is co-designated 379th Avenue. Four miles south of the interstate, you pass through a 4-way lighted intersection with Salome Highway. The Wintersburg General Store and gas station is located here. Past this, the road dog-legs to the right a little, then bends back south, now co-designated 383rd Avenue. The Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant is located along this stretch of road. (2) The dirt roads are well maintained, so that most passenger vehicles could handle them. There are small patches of rocks and sand, and the pullouts sometimes feature softer sand. In wet weather, puddling is possible on these roads, which could make them tougher to drive. (3) Don't fret about that last residence along 415th Avenue... but do pay attention to where you enter onto the powerline access road, so that you can retrace your drive out.
The summit is up ahead!
Hike east across flat desert plain. You may need to cross a fence line along the way. Aim for the low rises directly ahead and slightly right of the main ridge. Then angle left and gain a saddle at elevation 1,370 feet. Then turn right and start up the rocky slope, hiking point to point directly to the summit. This is a short hike that does not waste time, and it leads right to the top. The one-way mileage is about 1.5, and should take most people a little over an hour one way. Figure about 1,100 feet of elevation gain.
The slopes are covered in volcanic rocks. They can be loose, so step carefully. However, the slopes tend to lie back so that the rocks form steps, and at worst, you may need your hands to hoist up a couple three-foot steps. Cactus is light. There is cholla, a lot of Creosote, some saguaro, and ocotillo up higher. Wear long pants and sleeves, and a hiking pole or staff would be handy. Beware of snakes at all times of the year.
View of the other main bumps in the range.
Saddle Mountain in the distance.
None that I am aware of. This is BLM land.
When to Climb
Winter is best, generally late November to the beginning of March. It's too hot otherwise.
Camping would be possible, but spots would be limited to pullouts below the power lines. You may hear humming and buzzing all night. You might gain superpowers.
External LinksTrip Report - www.surgent.net - 12/9/15 • Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant
Looking down again, later.