By Adam Triplett ’10
The smell of the cool mountain air began to waft into the car, reminding me of why I had left the city a little more than an hour ago.
My friend, acting as navigator for the day, and I were well on our way to our final destination of Mingus Mountain northeast of Prescott.
Just a short drive out of the greater Phoenix area, you find yourself surrounded by pine trees and pleasant breezes that are a result of a nearly 7,000 foot elevation change in just an hour and a half.
“Being high up on a mountain, what could be better than that?” you may ask yourself after you have staked out your camping spot.
How does pitching a tent and casting a reel at 7,500 feet sound? Not far south on Forest Route 104, there is a small lake that you can try your hand at catching the meal for the day.
But don’t fear if fishing isn’t quite your thing. Just across the lake there is a hiking route that goes up the mountain that follows the power lines. It’s hard to get lost with a clear cut path leading right back to the lake, which is on the road (if you are more adventurous, however, be sure to be prepared, you can easily find yourself lost hiking on any mountain).
Along with the beautiful scenery during the day, being almost 15 miles from the city has its perks at night. Be it fishing, hiking or just kicking back at the campsite for the weekend, anyone can appreciate the beauty of the stars, and they’re in full bloom atop Mingus Mountain. If you are a serious star gazer, or looking to see a few shooting stars to make your wish on, try to plan your trip around the lunar cycle; a full moon is stunning and an excellent photo oppurtunity, but a new moon can be equally astonishing, allowing you to see more stars than you ever could inside city limits.
Mingus Mountain is a nearly straight shot from Phoenix up the I-17 and can be done by nearly any passenger car, even the turnoff onto the forest road is grated sufficiently for low clearance vehicles. Just be cautious in rainy months or during winter when it may snow.
Leaving Phoenix going north on the I-17 travel 47.6 miles, then get off at exit 262, AZ-69 towards Prescott. Travel on AZ-69 for 26.4 miles; at this point you can either continue down the 69 and go into Prescott for gas, food, ice or water, which I would recommend, or you can turn right onto N. Glassford Hill Road and then continue 3.6 miles and take a right onto AZ-89A/Prescott Jerome Highway. Just follow the AZ-69 back south if you do decide to continue into Prescott to get any supplies you may need for the trip.
The turnoff for the camp ground (Forest Route 104) is 12.2 miles once you get on AZ-89A. There will be several camping spots on both the right and left hand side, so just pick a spot and pitch your tent.
Now, maybe you want some creature comforts like a bathroom. Well just continue down the road and there is a U.S. Forest Service pay campground; be sure to call ahead and make a reservation at (928) 443-8000.
Hopefully you’ll take some time to check out Mingus Mountain this year, but if you do camp there please be sure to tread lightly and pack out whatever you pack in.
Please keep our national forests clean and beautiful as they are for everyone to enjoy!
“Get Lost” will be a regular outdoors column by Roundup reporter Adam Triplett ’10. To reach Triplett, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.