Crown King Road

Black Canyon City, Arizona (Yavapai County)

Last Updated: 10/30/2020
4 / 5 ( 7 reviews )
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Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Open
Typically Open: Year Round
Difficulty: 1-1
( EASY )
Length: 26.23 miles
Highest Elevation: 5859 feet
Duration: About 3 hours
Shape of Trail: Straight Through
Best Direction to Travel: North
Nearest Town: Black Canyon City
Nearest Town w/ Services: Black Canyon City
Official Road Name: 59
Management Agency: Prescott National Forest
District: Bradshaw Ranger District
Distance:
Showing 0 trails within 2 miles

Highlights

Highlight: Crown King Road
In 1863 the Bradshaw brothers, William and Isaac, came to Arizona from the declining goldfields of California. By 1864 they found gold in the forbidding mountains that would eventually bear their family name. Miners and prospectors flocked to the area despite the ruggedness of the mountains and the fierceness of the Yavapai natives that still claimed the lands as their home. William, more an entrepreneur than a miner, laid out the Bradshaw Trail and started a ferry across the Colorado River at Ehrenburg charging unsuccessful California miners a nice fee for access to the new goldfields of Arizona. Mines like Senator, Tip Top, Blue Bell, Tiger, and Ora Belle began highly profitable operations. Rod McKinnon located gold in July 1875 deeper into the Bradshaws than any find to date. The resulting Crowned King Mine became the largest operation in the Bradshaws and spawned the bustling town of Crown King. Crown King got its post office in 1888. Electricity and the telephone arrived in 1897, both still a rarity in Arizona. The Saloon was moved from Oro Belle board by board in 1906 and reassembled on the present site which was at the time beside two Chinese Restaurants and the feed store. The upstairs featured seven cribs where the town's soiled doves practiced the world's oldest profession. It is now Arizona's longest operating saloon. The historic photos lining the walls of the bar serve as a museum of sorts. The Bradshaw Mountain Railroad, a true feat of engineering, reached Crown King in 1904 via switchbacks and tall trestles. The railroad ceased operation in 1926 after the mines played out and most of the population left. The rail bed was converted into the scenic Crown King Road with its dual ghost towns of Bumble Bee and Cleator. Today there's only sporadic mining in the Bradshaws. But Crown King has become its jewel. With roughly a hundred full-time residents and perhaps a thousand that have cabins and summer homes atop the mountains, Crown King's population swells every weekend as offroaders and adventurers come to the mountain top town for a taste of Arizona history. The Magic Bridge transports visitors from the desert below to the towering pines and cool breezes of Crown King. The saloon has live music most weekends. The general store sells a lot more t-shirts than mining pans these days. Campsites near town are filled with happy campers. Even with most of the gold gone, the mountains of the Bradshaw brothers remain full of treasures to be found. Drive on up the iconic Crown King Road and see what you can discover.

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Weather

7 day forecast for Crown King Road

Route Information

Advanced Rating System

Recommended Vehicle:
2WD Vehicle with High Clearance
Concerns:
Summary:
The road is well maintained but does have some washboarding and narrow one-lane bridges.

Technical Rating: 1-1
( EASY )

Dirt and/or rocky road. Potential rocks and/or tree stumps less than 5" tall and/or vertical ledges less than 5" tall and/or near vertical ledges or waterfalls less than 6" inches. Good tire placement likely. Can be steep, but with good traction.
Read more about our rating system

Description

Crown King Road climbs 3800 feet into the Bradshaw Mountains along its 26.23 miles. The dirt road is maintained year-round since it is the most reliable route to the small town of Crown King. In its lower section, the road is wide and smoothly graded, except of course for some washboard, or corrugations as the Aussies would say. Above Cleator, the road follows the railroad bed of the defunct Bradshaw Mountain Railroad as it climbs high into the Bradshaw Mountains. There are numerous narrow cuts through hillsides and ridges with quite a few one-lane bridges and two sets of switchbacks. Near the top, there are also some blind curves. Slow down and be aware of other traffic. This is also cattle country. Watch for bovines on the road. Almost any vehicle can traverse the Crown King Road.
Weekends bring lots of traffic and ATV/UTVs. Watch out for traffic in extremely narrow sections and blind curves.

Waypoints

1. Trailhead (0 mi)
The trail begins where the pavement ends. There are lots of pullouts between the exit off I-17 and the trailhead to assemble your group or to air down. A small pullout at the trailhead will accommodate one vehicle. Maggie Mine Road goes south while Crown King Road goes north.
2. Black Canyon Creek Trail - Continue Straight (0.69 mi)
Black Canyon Creek goes off to the left. There are a large staging area and some informative signage. There are nearby campsites as well. Continue straight.
3. Unnamed Road - Continue Straight (2 mi)
An unnamed road goes off right and connects with the Black Canyon National Trail, a hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian trail that crisscrosses the lower portion of the Crown King Road. Continue straight.
4. Turkey Creek Trail - Continue Straight (2.74 mi)
Turkey Creek Trail goes off to the left and ends in Cleator. There are many campsites nearby. This a popular camping area on weekends. Continue straight.
5. Bumble Bee Ranch (3.45 mi)
Bumble Bee Ranch is a cattle operation that also provides the occasional tenderfoot a real ranching experience.
6. Bumble Bee (3.84 mi)
Bumble Bee is the first of two ghost towns along Crown King Road. Founded in 1863, the town served as a stage stop and supported local miners. It drew its name from the locals observing the Yavapai natives were "as thick as bumblebees" in the area. The town had a school for a brief time in the 1930s. Never a true success, but Bumble Bee has none the less survived. Bumble Bee is now owned by the Bumble Bee Ranch and many of its workers live in the small town. It is private property, so stay on the road. Taking photos is fine. Be kind and drive slow so you don't kick up so much dust. There is a nice campsite a half-mile north of Bumble Bee.
7. Unnamed Road - Continue Straight (5.34 mi)
An unnamed road goes off right towards Bumble Bee Creek. Continue straight.
8. Unnamed Road - Continue Straight (7.2 mi)
An unnamed road goes off right. There are small campsites nearby. Continue straight.
9. Antelope Creek Road - Continue Straight (8.49 mi)
Antelope Creek Road goes off right towards the Cordes Station ghost town and ends in Mayer. Continue straight. Camping is not allowed within a quarter-mile of the intersection because of the small pond nearby. But it makes for a great picnic spot.
10. Crown King Cut Off - Continue Straight (9.28 mi)
The Crown King Cut Off goes right and joins Antelope Creek Road in less than a mile. Continue straight.
11. Unnamed Roads - Continue Straight (9.74 mi)
Two unnamed roads go off to the left towards the Bradshaw Mountains. There are nice campsites along the trails. Continue straight.
12. Bradshaw Mountain Ranch Road - Veer Left (10.22 mi)
Bradshaw Mountain Ranch Road goes off right. Veer left.
13. Turkey Creek (10.91 mi)
Turkey Creek marks the beginning of the Prescott National Forest. A pullout on the left provides access to the creek. The bridge is one lane.
14. Wolf Run Trail - Continue Straight (12.48 mi)
Wolf Run, FR 9225A, goes north past the old corral to a ranch. Continue straight.
15. Cleator (12.95 mi)
The second of the ghost towns along Crown King Road, Cleator was established in 1864 to support the mines and prospects of the Turkey Creek Mining District and was a stop on the Bradshaw Mountain Railroad. James P. Cleator bought the town in 1925, renamed it for himself, and established a post office appointing himself postmaster. The post office closed in 1954. Today the Cleator Bar and Yacht Club remain a popular stop for thirsty travelers. Blue Bell Mine goes off right towards Mayer on the east side of town.
16. Turkey Creek Trail - Continue Straight (13.05 mi)
Turkey Creek Trail begins or ends as the case may be just north of the general store in Cleator. Turn up the small hill to access the trailhead. Continue straight.
17. Desoto Road - Continue Straight (14.26 mi)
Desoto Road, FR229B, goes off right towards the Desoto Mine. There is a roadside campsite just opposite the intersection. Continue straight.
18. Blancho Spring Road - Continue Straight (17.85 mi)
Blancho Spring Road, FR 607, goes off to the left. Continue straight.
19. Battle Flat - Continue Straight (17.94 mi)
Battle Flat, FR 89, goes off to the right. It immediately crosses seasonal Crazy Basin Creek on its way to Swastika Mine, Bear Creek, and Battle Flat. The trail ends at its intersection with Senator Highway. A small hidden campsite can be found just after crossing Crazy Basin Creek. Continue straight.
20. Lower Switchbacks (18.58 mi)
The first of two sets of steep switchbacks begins.
21. Upper Switchbacks (21.88 mi)
The upper set of switchbacks begins.
22. Poland Vista (23.81 mi)
A pullout on the left provides parking for a scenic viewpoint. The Algonquin hiking trail drops steeply down into Poland Creek and then into Hells Hole, site of the abandoned Algonquin Mine. The trail ends near Horse Thief Basin. It is possible on clear days to see the San Francisco Peaks north of Flagstaff.
23. Magic Bridge (25.63 mi)
The one-lane Magic Bridge crosses Poland Creek far below and emerges into a Ponderosa pine forest abruptly leaving the desert chaparral biome behind.
24. Main Street - Turn Right (26.17 mi)
Turn right onto Crown King's Main Street. Senator Highway which originates in Prescott ends here.
25. Crown King - Trail Ends (26.23 mi)
Welcome to Crown King. Finding a parking spot may be a challenge on weekends. Enjoy some fudge at the General Store and pick up a t-shirt there as well. The General Store sells gasoline too, but you'd think it was gold from the price. The Saloon has cold drinks, great burgers, and historic photos on the walls. Across the way, the Mill offers good food as well and has a collection of old mining equipment including a stamp mill for processing ore. Don't forget to listen for the wind singing in the tops of the tall pines. Campsites can be four just outside town along Senator Highway and Horse Thief Basin

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 34.152789, -112.161589

Starting Point: Phoenix, Arizona

Proceed north from Phoenix on Interstate 17. Take Exit 248 onto Crown King Road. Follow the paved section of Crown King Road 1.6 miles to the intersection with Maggie Mine Road. Turn right to the trailhead.

Camping

Dispersed
Crown King Road crosses BLM land until Turkey Creek (Waypoint 13) where it enters the Prescott National Forest. Dispersed camping is allowed by both agencies. Dispersed campsites are plentiful along the first 8 miles of the Crown King Road, the better ones located near Bumble Bee Creek close to Waypoint 4. There are fewer campsites between Cleator and Crown King. A small hidden site along Crazy Basin Creek is close to the intersection with Battle Flat Road at Waypoint 19. Numerous campsites in the pines exist on the other side of Crown King along the first few miles of Senator Highway and Horse Thief Basin. Crown King has limited lodging for rent, but there are some nice places. Commercial campgrounds and RV parks can be found near Black Canyon City and Phoenix for those desiring more amenities.
Camping: Crown King Road

Land Use Issues

Trail Reviews (10)

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
The Prescott National Forest has rescinded the Horse Fire related road closures. Trails are now open.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Temporary Closure
Offroaded on:
The Horse Fire NW of Crown King has led to temporary closures and restrictions on area trails.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Temporary Closure
Offroaded on:
Crown King Road is closed at Cleator, Waypoint 15, in response to the Horse Fire NW of Crown King.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
We took this road as part of a CK to Senator Highway to Poland Road loop. CK Road is a well maintained dirt superhighway to get to the town of Crown King and some other interested trails/destinations in the area. While not the most interesting road in the world, the destinations are where it really pays off. Be prepared for some heavy vibrations as the road was pretty much 25 miles of washboards. Recommend airing down a bit to help smooth it out for your backside. There are a few areas with some impressive views to pull over and take in as you start your climb into the mountains. Also - slow down and be courteous around the residential and camping areas on the sides of the road - the dust from 40-50pmh passes is aggravating.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
This dirt road weaves throughout the mountains from Bumble Bee to Crown King. Excellent views and ever changing types of scenery. Recommend airing down to about 25-30psi to allow smoother travel over the miles of washboard terrain. Started at about 8AM on this road and made it to the barbecue in CK by 11AM. Very easy drive.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Crown King is the iconic day trip for my out of town visitors who want to experience something unique in Arizona. With great views, ghost towns, three classically different biomes, lots of history, and of course Crown King, it's always a treat. It was fun doing it again though I have been up here close to a hundred times.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
I drove this trail on Saturday, and it hasn't changed much. It's a bit more rutted out due to weather over the past season but still very easy and passable. The rutting isn't much of an issue aired down to about 25 lbs (unnecessary but helps for a smoother ride). We took this trail to access the Senators Highway (feel free to see that review as well.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
This is our go-to day trip for out of town guests. It is easy, quirky, historical, and shows them some real Arizona. You climb from low desert with cacti through juniper and scrub oaks to tall pines. Cleator is a total hoot and a must stop. Crown King's elevation is equivalent to Flagstaff's. The old saloon was actually built in another mining town. When that mine played out, the building was disassembled and packed across the mountains to it's present location. Crown King still has an active one room school house.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Very easy trail to Crown King. A good run to eat at the saloon and see some sights.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Good easy trail to Crown King. Beautiful scenic views going up. Watch out for cows crossing. If you're up for the challenge, try going out the back way from Crown King.

Questions & Answers (2)

Q: I'm planning on heading out to CK this weekend and taking the easy road up. I've noticed on the map the trail is now colored black for severe, can you tell me why the trail is rated severe?
–Steve Klingler (07/30/2020)
A: The trail is rated 1, the easiest rating we have. However, looks like the map is occasionally coloring random trails black, and then the next time you look at them they are the correct color. I'll pass that issue along to our crack computer team. In the meantime, enjoy the drive up to Crown King. If you are looking for a real estate investment, Cleator is up for sale with mineral rights included! Post a trail review when you get back. We love hearing about everyone's adventures.
–Wade May (07/30/2020)
Q: Isn’t the back way to Crown King from Lake Pleasant closed at the creek due to construction at this time?
–Dan Troxel (07/28/2019)
A: I don't think so, but Chad might be able to answer your question more definitively. https://www.trailsoffroad.com/trails/1411-backway-to-crown-king-arizona
–Sean and Melissa Hougen (07/28/2019)

Writer Information

Wade May


Hi! I'm Wade. After 43 years as a pilot, split evenly between flying fighters for the Air Force and Boeing 737s for the airlines, my feet are firmly planted on the ground. Seems I spent a lot of my flying time looking out the cockpit window thinking, "Yep, I could drive that trail." My trips range from a few days to a month. Most are solo in my silver 4Runner named Bullit. We range over all the southwest exploring remote places and trying to get as much dirt under the wheels as possible. Occasionally I get in some hiking, backpacking, and bushcraft as well. My most ambitious overlanding plans include a trip to Tuktoyaktuk and Dead Horse. Sharing my experiences as a member of the Trails Offroad crew is a true pleasure. Hope to see you on the trail soon.
For individual use only, not to be shared.