The Painted Trails of Parker - AZ Rocks 2014

    Toyota's Wheeling In Parker, AZ

    Jay KopycinskiPhotographer, Writer

    For the last dozen years or so, Toyota enthusiasts from Arizona and surrounding southwestern states have gathered every spring for an event known as AZ Rocks. It’s a three-day event of crawling and scenic runs somewhere in the Arizona desert. This year the event was held near the Colorado River city of Parker.

    Unlike past events, which were held in a fairly remote desert, more convenient camping accommodations were made at the La Paz County Park. This base camp was great as it was only a few miles from most of the trails in the area. Tent camping and RV spaces were available in a large group campground on-site.

    An area near the trails called Cienega Springs has some storied mining history. Off the Nellie Mine Road, prospectors searched for copper, gold, and silver as far back as 1860. Ore production began here about 1870 and continued on and off into the 1970s. For those who wish to explore, there are some mine shafts and old remains scattered here.

    The area around Parker is a popular ’wheeling destination, and many of the trails here can be credited to the local Parker 4 Wheelers club. They hold their Hardcore Poker Run and annual Desert Splash events here. We tackled a good handful of trails over the three day event, crawling into narrow slot canyons and following desert washes in this multi-hued landscape. Saturday, after a good morning on the trails, the group converged on the Desert Bar for lunch.

    Positioned about four miles down a dirt road off the highway, the Desert Bar once began as a solitary little structure alone in the desert. Now, the Nellie E Saloon resides on the site of an old mining camp. It’s a much bigger destination than it once was, but a great place to stop on weekends, fall through spring, to grab some grub and a couple of cold drinks while you take a respite from your exploring in the desert.

    If you’re looking for a fun crew of Toyota enthusiasts to join for some good trail crawling and camaraderie, just point your browser to the forums at

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