County officials close Hualapai Mountain Park to day use because of fire danger

The fire danger across Arizona prompted Mohave County officials to close Hualapai Mountain Park on Monday.

The park was closed to camping two weeks ago.

Officials said the park was closed for the first time since it opened in 1938.

"Due to the extreme fire danger and limited firefighting resources, an immediate closure of the Hualapai Mountain Park will be implemented," County Manager Ron Walker said in a press release Monday.

The closure includes all recreational areas, cabins, campsites, recreational vehicle spaces and trails, the press release stated.

The closure will continue until rainfall dampens the fire danger.

Mountain residents will be allowed access to their property, according to the news release, but are advised to be "extremely cautious" while traveling through the park.

Roads within the Pine Lake subdivision next to the park will be open to local traffic only.

Parks officials will contact people who made summer reservations so they can receive refunds.

County Supervisor Pete Byers estimated 600 reservations for cabins and other uses during the summer need to be canceled.

"People are going to have to change plans," he added.

"It's just too dangerous," Byers said.

"There are just no (water) tankers available.

It's too much of a risk.

We've got to shut it down."

Byers, who announced plans to close the park on Monday morning, said he was motivated to do so because "of what is happening in the eastern part of the state."

Tony Beacom, chief of the Pine Lake Volunteer Fire Department, said he agrees that a major fire danger exists in the park.

The department, which has jurisdiction over the county park, has 30 volunteers and eight vehicles.

"The effort is to maximize our prevention efforts because if something were to get started, it's too late," he said.

County crews advised the public of the closure on Monday by placing flashing warning signs on Hualapai Mountain Road about nine miles downhill and just above the ranger station.

They also closed entrances to campgrounds and hiking trails from Hualapai Mountain Road.

The closure crimped plans of Cynthia Baughan and her fiancé, Jim Moses, both of Bullhead City, who drove right up to the park entrance Monday.

Baughan, a registered nurse and amateur painter, set up her French easel on the road incline near the ranger station, where she painted a landscape of the mountain ridges.

While she planned to paint from inside the grounds, she said the location proved good because of the view.

"Actually, it is kind of nice right now because there isn't any people," Baughan, 51, said.

Her fiancé, a 58-year-old assistant shift manager at a Laughlin casino, said he wanted to go hiking with their black Labrador, Cinder.

Baughan and Moses said they plan on driving into the mountains during the summer even if the park remains closed.

They said Monday marked the second anniversary of meeting each other, adding they went on the first date in the county-owned mountain park.

The park covers 3.5 square miles of the mountain range, with elevations ranging from 4,984 to 8,417 feet.

First developed during the early 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, the park includes six miles of developed hiking trails, more than 10 miles of undeveloped trails.