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Wed, April 24

Abundant outdoor opportunities in Kingman area include hiking, boating, fishing and 4-wheeling

The view south of Lake Mead.

JC AMBERLYN/Miner<BR> The view south of Lake Mead.

KINGMAN - As the weather heats up and days grow longer, people will be looking for more things to do outdoors.

They can go fishing and boating at Lake Mead and Lake Mohave, hiking and camping in the Hualapai Mountains, off-roading on expansive public lands. There's no shortage of outdoor recreational offerings in Mohave County.

One of the county's jewels is Hualapai Mountain Park, which encompasses 2,300 acres with elevations from 6,000 to 8,000 feet where visitors can take in spectacular views from a cool setting among towering fir trees.

The county park is perfect for picnics, hiking and camping.

"The majority of our patrons look to go hiking on our 10 miles of trails," Hualapai Mountain Park superintendent Brandon Oaktay said. "We have off-highway vehicles, quads and UTVs. We have a trailhead that leads out to a plethora of miles on BLM land."

There are 14 trails with varying degrees of difficulty in the park. The trail system was started by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and has been improved over the years.

Hikers along the trail will see a variety of mountain habitats and species of wildlife, typically squirrels, deer and the occasional bobcat.

Those who arrive early can hit the trail and make it to Hualapai Peak at 8,250 feet and back if they're in good shape and keep a steady pace, Oaktay said.

"I won't lie. Some areas you take slower than the rest, but I've got a 5-year-old that'll hike almost to the peak," he said. "If you're here early enough, chances are you'll get a substantial amount of dirt under your feet."

Camping under the stars for $17, sleep in a teepee for $35 or rent one of 24 rustic cabins starting from $70 a night during the week, and from $100 a night on weekends.

Cabins accommodate two to 12 people and are equipped with beds, tables, stoves, refrigerators, heaters, electricity and hot and cold water. Some are available with fireplaces or wood stoves. Each cabin also has a barbecue grill and picnic table outside.

"We go through a lot of cabins," Oaktay said. "We get a lot of campers from warmer areas like Bullhead City and Lake Havasu and even down to Phoenix. The average temperature up here is 10 to 12 degrees cooler than Kingman."

Weddings, reunions and other group gatherings tend to pick up during the summer months, he said. Recreation areas are available for rent from $100 to $275. Each area has a children's playground.

Hualapai Mountain Park, at 6250 Hualapai Mountain Road, is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and day use is $7 a vehicle.

Monolith Garden

Off U.S. Highway 93 in the Cerbat Mountains, Monolith Garden is a favorite among hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, trail runners and nature lovers. No motorized vehicles are allowed.

It's overseen by the Bureau of Land Management, and no daily fees or permits are required.

This loop of trails, about 7 miles in length, meanders through Mojave Desert vegetation and interesting volcanic rock formations. Monolith Garden Trail connects with the Camp Beale Loop Trail.

Getting to Monolith Garden is easy.

• Metwell Drive Trailhead. Turn west on Metwell Drive off Highway 93, about a half-mile north of the I-40 interchange at the Chevron gas station. Drive a couple hundred yards west on Metwell to a right turn on a dirt road. The trailhead is located 50 yards up this road.

• Coyote Pass Trailhead. This trailhead can only be accessed from the southbound lane of Highway 93. Look for a large parking area near the top of Coyote Pass, where a restroom facility can be seen. Recommended for horse trailers and large vehicles.

• Camp Beale Loop Traihead. This trailhead, managed by the city of Kingman, can be accessed by turning east on Fort Beale Drive off Highway 93, about a half-mile north of the I-40 interchange. Drive 1.2 miles north and east on Fort Beale Drive to a paved road on the left marked "Camp Beale Loop Trail." Follow this road up the hill to trailhead parking.

Camping is not permitted at the trailhead, but is fine anywhere else along the trail. No drinking water is available along the trail and shade is very scarce.

Grand Canyon

It's a bit of a drive, but well worth it. Think of the 5 million tourists who travel thousands of miles each year to visit one of the world's greatest natural wonders. We've got it virtually in our backyard.

Take Interstate 40 east to Williams, and then Highway 64 north to get to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Entry fee is $25 a vehicle. Permits are required for camping and backpacking in the canyon.

Visitors can choose from dozens of beautiful viewpoints, and of course, views are fantastic from anywhere. Look down on the Colorado River from scenic stops along Hermit Road and Desert View Drive.

Watch the 22-minute film, "Grand Canyon: A Journey of Wonder," at the visitor center, attend daily park ranger programs, hike the inner canyon rim or bicycle through the forest and along the canyon rim on Greenway Trail.

The keys to a good hike are knowledge, preparation and planning. The Grand Canyon is not the place for spontaneity.

The Grand Canyon's West Rim, closer to Kingman, is home to the Skywalk where visitors can step out onto a glass walkway nearly 4,000 feet above the canyon floor. It was named the "best new bridge" by Travel + Leisure Magazine.

Colorado River

Take a lazy trip down the Colorado River on a kayak, canoe or raft.

Several tour companies in Bullhead City and Laughlin offer half-day and full-day river trips suitable for the entire family. It's an excellent adventure floating down the southwestern United States' most scenic river, flanked by soaring sandstone cliffs and canyons.

Some companies also have horseback riding tours along the river.

The Bullhead City River Regatta, held every August, is billed as the world's largest tube float. Nearly 30,000 people float down the river from Davis Dam to Rotary Park Bullhead City.

Lake Mead

Lake Mead National Recreation Area, about 80 miles north of Kingman, offers year-round recreational opportunities for boating, fishing, hiking, camping, picnicking and sightseeing.

The area is home to thousands of desert plants and animals that have adapted to survive where rain is scarce and temperatures can soar.

About 7 million visitors a year enjoy water recreation activities in a rugged and picturesque setting. Boating, water skiing and jet skiing are favorite activities on the broad expanses of open water, along with kayaking and canoeing.

Shaded picnic areas with tables, grills, water and restrooms are located throughout the area.

Several paved roads wind through Lake Mead for viewing desert basins of cacti and creosote bush, towering mountains and vertical-walled canyons. Short hikes lead to places you will never see from a boat or car. Bring your camera.

Lake Mead is popular among recreational and sport fishermen, with tournaments scheduled throughout the year. With more than 290 square miles of water surface, fishermen can find a good spot to catch the big one.

Keep in mind the park lies within two states and each has its own fishing regulations. In Arizona, a person may fish with two poles with the purchase of a stamp. Each line may not contain more than two hooks or two lures or two artificial flies.

Fees at Lake Mead are $10 a vehicle for day use, $10 for camping and $16 for boating.

Lake Mohave

Farther down the Colorado River is Lake Mohave, a reservoir created by the construction of Davis Dam in 1951 at Laughlin and Bullhead City. It's part of Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Fees are the same as Lake Mead.

Both narrow and shallow compared to Lake Mead, Lake Mohave lies between the Black Mountains in northwestern Arizona and the Eldorado and Newberry Mountains to the west in southern Nevada.

Lake Mohave provides a multitude of recreational opportunities, along with a variety of aquatic and riparian habitat and desert wildlife.

Boaters can explore hundreds of coves along the 67-mile stretch of the Colorado River and find a private beach for swimming, skiing and relaxing in the sunshine.

Public campgrounds are available at Cottonwood Cove and Katherine's Landing. Boats and jet skis can be rented at Katherine's Landing.

Striped bass have become the major sport fish in Lake Mohave, reproducing in the warm reaches of the reservoir and moving to colder water as they become larger. Other fish found in the lake are largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, channel catfish and sunfish.

Railroad Trails

The Mohave and Milltown Railroad Trails are intertwined as they follow the route of a historic railroad grade about 6 miles southwest of Oatman.

Hikers and mountain bikers travel along the actual railroad grade for most of the way, although detours are sometimes necessary where the grade has washed away from flooding.

Off-highway vehicles and horseback riders follow a route that does not lie on the grade, but parallels and frequently crosses the railroad bed. Both routes are marked with signs and rock cairns to keep visitors on course.

To get there from Oatman, take Historic Route 66 about 3 miles to a "Y" in the road.

For the off-road vehicle and equestrian trail, follow the left fork (Route 66) for 2 miles to Mile Marker 21, then turn right on an unimproved dirt road.

For hikers and bikers, follow the right fork (Boundary Cone Road) for 2 miles to Mile Marker 9. The trailhead is on the left.

Centennial Park

When time is of the essence and the kids just need a place to unwind, Centennial Park in the center of town is the place to go.

Located at 3333 Harrison St., it's got a community swimming pool with a 50-meter water slide, two large playgrounds, picnic areas with tables and grills, restrooms and plenty of open space.

With seven softball fields, the park is home to local softball leagues and tournaments. Other sports facilities include two basketball courts, four tennis courts, two racquetball courts, three horseshoe pits, volleyball, and a running and exercise trail.

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