It was already noon when we decided to ‘go for a ride’. Now, ‘go for a ride’ when you live in our part of Arizona can mean many things. When you ‘go for a ride’ you make sure you have plenty of gas, drinking water and other things! And you pay attention to how much daylight you have left.
We decided to head up to Crown King, an old mining town in the Bradshaw mountains, 78 miles Northwest of Phoenix, to see what kind of RV activity we could find in early March. Temperature was about 70, low wind, just a beautiful day!
If you’re looking to find a great RV camping spot, take the Rt 17 Bumble Bee exit. There are several other ways to Crown King but they are best travelled with high clearance rugged bikes and vehicles.
As you’re heading towards Bumble Bee (population 19 people, 45 horses and 141 cattle,) you’ll see the Bumblebee ranch which offers RV camping opportunities. From the road, it looks like a cool ranch to stay at, close to lots of play area! Bumble Bee is named after the nearby Bumble Bee creek.
According to their website, “Bumble Bee Ranch is an ideal open canvas for many types of club or group events. We present a great “home base” from which to explore the surrounding historical area and towns. Twenty miles away at the top of the Bradshaw Mountains is the old mining town of Crown King. In the late 1800’s it was home to over 15 gold mines and 20,000 miners. Today’s population is less than 200. The historical towns of Cleator and Cordes Junction are just a few miles away on Bumble Bee Road.”
This is part of the Prescott National Forest in the Bradshaw Mountains. The dirt road is graded nicely and the scenery is lush with saguaro, other cacti and grassy knolls at this time of the year. And there are some exquisite camping sites with amazing mountain views!
Heading up from Bumble Bee towards Crown King, we came across these two RVs who, we think, were camping on top of the world!
In this area, ATVs and dirt bikes are in heaven! If you’ve got an RV Toy Hauler, you will have a blast!
Coming from the Mayer direction to Crown King you pass only one area to stop and refresh. “It’s called Cleator, and if you’ve never heard about it, don’t feel bad. This collection of old, ramshackle buildings is only a 70-mile drive from Phoenix. But it’s tucked so far into the desert, you have to be looking hard to find it – which, apparently, many thirsty people are.” So, park that RV, get that toy out and head over to Cleator for a can of beer and a hot dog!
From Cleator, head up the mountain 13 miles to Crown King via Crown King Rd. A short way from Cleater you’ll come to a fork. To the left is Bumblebee and then Rt 17. To the right is Crown King, Forest 259 Rd.
The closer you get to Crown King, the more narrow, winding, bumpy the road gets. Meeting an oncoming vehicle requires maneuvering to get around. Needless to say, you are NOT going to get your RV all the way to Crown King, but if you’re a toy hauler and park that RV in one of the lower areas, you’ll have a great time in Crown King.
Here are some specific directions from this site. (As a reminder, you don’t want to take your RV into Crown King). Begin this trip by heading north on the I-17 from Phoenix. Follow the I-17 for 33 miles, taking exit 248. After about 1.2 miles, turn right at the ‘T’. The road turns to dirt shortly after this. After 5 miles, you’ll pass through historic, Bumble Bee, Arizona. At the 9.9 and 11¼ (from the start of Crown King Rd.) stay straight where two roads lead right to Cordes. You’ll pass by the Hidden Treasure Mine, then the Golden Turkey Mine before getting to Cleator, Arizona, which sits at the 14 mile mark. At the 17 mile mark, pass through Middleton, which doesn’t have much left. However, look up the mountain to the west, where the historic DeSoto Mine sits. At 20 miles, you’ll hit the first switchback. You’ll pass a couple more before arriving in Crown King at mile marker 26. Turn right across a bridge at mile marker 27 to get to “downtown” Crown King.
“Downtown” Crown King has a Prospector Mall, General Store, Saloon/Restaurant, and two other places to eat including a new one up on the hill that we want to try next time all of which are great places to stop. There are also Bed & Breakfasts ands other places to stay. More local attractions are the Del Pasco Mine and Horsethief Basin (continue down Crown King Road and stay left). Crown King offers a lot to do from trail riding to camping.
If you want to enjoy the beauty of the Sonoran desert with your RV and a ‘toy’ to get around, this is the spot! We plan to spend lots more time in Crown King. It’s one of those gems you just have to show your guests!