Topock Gorge Sand Dunes

Page Type
Route
Location:
Arizona, United States, North America
Route Type:
Hiking
Season:
Winter
Time Required:
Most of a day
Difficulty:
Hike

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Topock Gorge Sand Dunes
Created On: Jan 10, 2017
Last Edited On: Jan 13, 2017

Overview

Topock Gorge is a rugged canyon on Colorado River at the north end of Lake Havasu. USGS Maps show an area of sand dunes on the eastern side of the gorge rising 200 ft above the river sitting among jagged peaks. A Google search, had not revealed any hiking information. I had only seen a mention of the sand dunes by boaters and kayakers who had gone through the gorge. By looking at satellite photos/Google Earth, I was able to come up with a path that took me from Route 95 to the sand dunes. When I finally reached the dunes, the scenery turned out to be even more dramatic than I had imagined.

I had originally planned to start my hike at a dirt road a short distance to the north of what the map below shows. That road turned out to be gated with private property signs on it forcing me to start further south. The first 3.1 miles on the new path was in common with the last 3.1 miles of
Dead Burro Canyon loop hike. I was able to merge the two hikes into a single 17 mile hike.

Getting There

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.



Route Description

Roundtrip Hiking Distance: 15.4 miles
Total Climb: 1150 ft.

Important Note: This is a description of the path that I took. It is a hike but requires route finding skills in a wilderness. If you chose to do this hike, you must be able to find your own way.



The first 3.1 miles of this hike is in the same as the last 3.1 miles of Dead Burro Canyon loop hike. For pictures of this section see the link above.

From the parking area, head west and follow the dirt road past the hill with communications towers on top of it until the road drops into a dry wash. After 0.8 miles, you must leave this dirt road and turn north onto another dirt road that takes you on top of an embankment on the east side of another dry wash. Continue until the road drops steeply into the dry wash. Pay attention and note that the wash splits into two branches at that spot. Take the one on the left and continue up at the bottom of the small canyon past a cable marking your entrance into Lake Havasu Wilderness. The wash seems to branch at least two more times. Pay attention to your map and take the left branch both times.

In the wash south of the 1180 ft saddleIn the wash south of the 1180 ft saddle


As you go north, the wash opens up and reaches a broad 1180 ft high saddle where there are patches of beige colored dirt. The jagged Tumarion Peak comes to view.

Tumarion PeakTumarion Peak
Looking east from the 1180 ft saddlelooking east
Beige colored dirt at the 1180 ft saddleLooking north
Looking south near the 1180 ft saddleCrossman Peak, looking south


Wild burros roam around this area. Here is a zoomed photo of one that I saw at the saddle.

Wild Burro, zoomed viewWild Burro, zoomed view


Head northwest and go down into another dry wash as it forms, going toward Tumarion Peak.

Hiking toward Tumarion PeakTumarion Peak
Getting into the dry wash north of the 1180 ft saddlePalo Verde Trees in the wash


More wild burros. Zoomed view.

Wild burros, zoomed viewWild Burros


The wash makes a 180 degree turn heading south and then anther turn to head back northwest.

In the dry wash between the sand dunes and the 1180 ft saddle


An arch on the left side of the canyon.

ArchArch


Brown colored jagged peaks appear in the distance.

Brown/reddish peaks not far from the lake


Another view of Tumarion and other surrounding mountains.

In the dry wash
Tumarion Peak, southwest faceTumarion Peak


Peak 1144 ft. Lake Havasu sits behind this peak.

Peak 1144 ftPeak 1144 ft


As you reach the base of Peak 1144 ft, sand dunes appear on the right. Leave the wash and hike up to the top of the sand dunes.

The Needles and the sand dunesThe Needles and from the sand dunes


Views from the sand dunes.

From the sand dunes, looking northwestLooking NW
From the sand dunes, looking westLooking west
From the sand dunes, looking eastLooking east, peak 1224 ft
The Needles from the sand dunesThe Needles, looking north


Lake Havasu from the sand dunes.

Lake Havasu and Topock Gorge from the sand dunes
Lake Havasu from the sand dunes

Lake Havasu from the sand dunes


Separation between the sand dunes and Peak 1144 ft.

Gap between sand dunes and Peak 1144 ft

When to Hike

Winter is the best time to hike. Summer can get dangerously hot.