“Like many desert trails, the washes tend to be narrow in places and offer plenty of random boulder crawling or climbing”
The blue-green stripe of the Colorado River that separates California and Arizona is a jewel in the desert. The Arizona cities of Lake Havasu City and Parker are known as hot spots for spring breakers and sun seekers. However, leave the river shore and you’ll find plenty of wheeling near where the Mohave and Sonoran deserts meet. On the Arizona side are Bill Williams Mountain and Buckskin Mountain, and in California are Whipple Mountain and the Copper Basin Dunes OHV Area.
Recently, as they’ve done for the past handful of years, Toyotas gathered for a late winter event near Parker, Arizona, to explore trails with old friends and new acquaintances. From the campground at La Paz County Park just north of Parker, a wide variety of trails are easily accessible. Over the weekend, drivers explored a number of the local routes, including Duke, Lonesome Cove, True Grit, Snakebite, and JB’s Revenge, as well as some of the easier desert trails. Saturday night included a catered dinner and a prize raffle at the park.
Trails range from mild dirt roads to more extreme routes suited for buggies or those that care little about sheetmetal damage. Like many desert trails, the washes tend to be narrow in places and offer plenty of random boulder crawling or climbing. Volcanic activity in this region over a billion years ago pushed and shaped the landscape here, leaving behind deposits of rock and sand. It has made a great playground for those who like to test their rigs and get into the backcountry.
If you’re interested in exploring the Parker area, the local Parker 4-Wheelers club holds several events a year there. The club and more info about AZ Rocks can be found on Facebook.
Laurin Tildin had only recently completed the solid axle swap on his 1988 4Runner. To us, it seemed like it was working just fine on the trail. He was turning 35-inch Falken Wildpeak M/T tires on Toyota axles with the help of 5.71 gears and 4.7:1 low-range gearing in the transfer case. A front Aussie locker and a welded rear helped maximize traction.
Wyatt Scott idles his 2005 around big boulders in Parker. The second-generation Tacoma sits on Dana 60 axles and 41-inch Super Swamper Irok radials. The linked rig also has a caged rear bed with the fiberglass bedsides removed for playing in the rocks.
The Parker area boasts some commanding mountains and deep, rocky washes. The geology here is diverse with rock formation layers in many colors. It is an enticing playground if you like to explore and seek rockcrawling challenges.
One member of the groups headed into the Lonesome Cove Trail and found the winding wash strewn with large boulders. Mike Berg’s healthy 1999 Tacoma runs 1-ton axles, a transfer case doubler, and big Super Swamper treads. The leaf-sprung truck in his capable hands makes short work of big obstacles.
The big climb on Lonesome Cove is this steep waterfall. Ray Taylor’s 2006 Tacoma started life as a Prerunner model but now sits on a pair of Currie Rock Jock Dana 60s turned by an FJ Cruiser transfer case combined with a Marlin Crawler setup. The linked suspension with coilovers allowed him to walk right up the tall ledge.
Mike Jaramillo attempted the waterfall in his Toyota 4Runner. He used his transfer case doubler to slowly work the face with 38-inch Super Swamper TSL SX tires. It’s a tricky spot where you’re trying to get traction for both front and rear tires to make the climb.
We crawled down the wash on a perfect winter day meant for wheeling. The sheetmetal on Stephen Hampton’s 1991 pickup has been narrowed front and rear to maximize tire exposure of his 35-inch BF Goodrich All-Terrains without resorting to a lot of lift on the truck.
When one goes up Lonesome Cove, they often come back down. This means dropping back off the big waterfall obstacle. If your rig had the clearance to manage the breakover of the stepped plunge, it helped having a longer wheelbase when making the drop to the bottom. Some drivers opted to use a winch safety line from another rig behind them to ease down the face. Karlton and Veronica Durkee wheeled their Tacoma by day and catered a tasty supper by night.
A group of rigs crossed the bridge over the Colorado River to the California side where many other trails were waiting to be explored. We climbed and descended hills separated by narrow ravines with interesting layers of rock.
We headed slightly westward into narrow canyons and followed Snakebite Trail. The sandstone terrain follows washes that lead to canyon steps and waterfall climbs.
Ray Morrison’s 2002 double-cab Tacoma has undergone big changes over the years. The factory frame, front clip, and bed are gone, replaced with new tubing structures. The rig now rides on a set of built Dana 60 axles stuffed with 5.13 gears to confidently spin the 40-inch Maxxis Trepador rubber on beadlock wheels. It’s also fully linked front and rear.
Tanya Morrison was crawling her colorful 1985 4Runner all over Parker area trails. A GotPropane gas conversion kit with turbo keeps the rig running smooth at any angle so Tanya can climb obstacles with a Marlin Crawler doubler. Tires are 35-inch Goodyear MTRs.
Mike Reeves is a local in the Parker area and was one of our trail leaders for several days. He led us into narrow notches on the California side that posed no problem for him in his simple yet capable Toyota-based buggy. This is a piece of JB’s Revenge.