Expo Celica day trip again...


This year, we took our day outing in the Celica on New Years eve, under the loose premise of finding some old off road friends out near Wickenburg, at a place they call the Jeep Club. We got a late start, mostly due to the post holiday lazy sleeping in mode I was in. I tried to avoid interstates for this trip and highways when I could. To get out of the valley, we headed north on Cave Creek Rd, then west on Carefree Highway. Our first detour was to head up to New River for some late breakfast, I'd call it brunch, since it was nearly 11am by the time we got up there. I can now highly recommend the Roadrunner Restaurant, just off I-17 and New River Rd.. After we fueled up our bodies, we got back on the road, heading SW on New River Rd to intersect with Highway 74, just east of Lake Pleasant. It was around 18 miles to our turn off into the Jeep Club, just past mile marker 4 while traveling west. When we got there and wondered around a bit, lots of people camping out there, but I didn't recognize any of them as people I knew from the off road VW club I use to belong to. We played in the wash a bit, then headed out on the trails to the NW, soon coming up on a paved road. Just up the road there was a quarry with a very interesting redrock hill with the coolest looking errosion I've ever seen around here. The road turned out to be Castle Hot Springs Road, which Iv'e been on plenty of times, but never this far to the west.

When I see a sign like the last picture, the rally racer in me gets excited, it reads, FUN AHEAD!! Well, the sign didn't dissappoint me at all, the first 7 or 8 miles were wide, smooth and LOTS of flowing, sweeping curves then eventually led into a couple of working mines or small rock quarries. After that the road started getting progressively rougher, nothing horrible, but noticeably less maintained. After a while, and having to follow behind a few other vehicles at a painful 25 mph for several miles, we decided a break was in order. We found a nice shaddy place to park and wonder around. We picked through the rocks a bit, never know what you might find, drank some water to keep hydrated and in general just relaxed to enjoy the amazing weather.

Refreshed and ready for some more adventure, off we headed back towards Lake Pleasant. As co-pilots are suppose to, our new direction was picked when we came to the intersection with Cow Creek Road. Wow, where did the camp sites and all the campers come from out there. I guess it's been too many years since I was out there. One area, not to far up from the intersection looked like Glamis Dunes, with so many campers all parked so packed together. As we headed up the road more, there were a few signs for Crown King Trail. I've obviously heard of this road, imfamous around these parts, but have never been on it before. So we made the call, lets see how far "Carlos" (the Expo Celica) could make it up this trail. Almost every time I push the comfort level in the car, it never fails to surprise me. From the turn off on to Crown King Trail, off of Cow Creek Rd, on my GPS, it looked like about 15 miles up to where the map said the town was located. As far as I can tell, we made it about half way up to where it looked like to VERY steap rock faces covered in many 4x4s tire treads. Driving out in the middle of no where, with just the one car, this is where my ambition gave up. (not to mention my girl friend looked very nervous) We decided this was the turn around point, even though we had just come down a hill I was thinking, "damn, I hope I don't have to try to go back up this!" But, like I said, "Carlos" keeps surprising me; two wheel drive, open diff, 27" tall tires, lots of suspension articulation/travel and 4.10 gearing seems to get me far in the desert SW.

"Saint Carlos"... Just a cool picture taken at the high point in the trail, near the center.

After our nerve racking rock crawling sections were behind us, we got back to having fun and enjoying the back roads. The final bit of roads leading into Lake Pleasant from the NW side are amazing views. The rest of the drive was pretty uneventful, just lots of pavement heading back home for dinner. Roughly 180 miles round trip, probably 50-60% in the dirt, a good days drive.
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2007 Expedition Trophy Champion, Overland Certifie
It is beyond cool to see what you do with that rig...I love the body style and my 13yr son and I have often talked about building a little rally bomber like you have.
Thanks for the inspiration


My pleasure, all the rigs and trip reports here keep me always day dreaming of how the car could be better, or what's the next big change to make needs to be.

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