Folks zipping along Route 66, or I40, through Kingman are often surprised to discover the pine covered island in a sea of desert that is the Hualapai Mountains. This delightful little oasis located less than a dozen scenic miles south of Kingman exemplifies the oft overlooked treasures that is at the heart of my new book, Route 66 Backroads. http://www.voyageurpress.com/store/ProductDetails_40566.ncm
This past Sunday morning my wife and I decided getting out of the hospital was reason enough to celebrate the end of another year a bit early with a drive to Hualapai Mountain Lodge for a quiet brunch among the towering pines. As if a good meal enjoyed in the company of a dear friend wasn’t enough we were blessed with the added treat of snow deep on the surrounding mountains and a small herd of elk dominating the view from the large picture window in the restaurant.
As you can see from this photo the drive from Kingman to the park presents a dramatic change in elevation within a short distance. Even with recent attempts to reroute the road the grades are steep and the curves sharp.
The drive is no longer along a secluded mountain road as development has pressed in on the park from all directions. The saving grace has been the steep and rugged terrain as well as the difficulty in well drilling that limits large scale subdivisions to the valley below.
In addition to the lodge the park also features cabins, most built of native stone by the CCC during the Great Depression, miles of quiet mountain hiking trails, and delightful pic nic areas. The original log constructed lodge burned many years ago but the latest incarnation stays true to the rustic theme.
The park is easy to find but reservations for evening meals at the lodge or for cabin rentals are highly recommended. From the corner of Hualapai Mountain Road/Stockton Hill Road and Andy Devine Ave. (Route 66) turn south. This would be the corner dominated by the legendary Dambar steakhouse.
As noted the drive is about twelve miles. The road is kept open all year but on occasion after a winter storm it may be closed for a day. Even with clearing ice can be an issue in shaded areas so drive accordingly.
I have long talked of the amazing 1988 Ford Crown Victoria LX Country Squire LTD wagon. Well, here it is in front of the park entrance.
The paint has been weathered into an interesting multi hued pattern of blue shading. I refer to this as a unique camouflage.
I can park this car in any lake in the country and it would never be seen!