Hovatter Road

Quartzsite, Arizona (La Paz County)

Last Updated: 01/06/2022
4.4 / 5 ( 5 reviews )
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Typically Open: Year Round
Length: 27.03 miles
Highest Elevation: 1861 feet
Duration: About 5 hours
Shape of Trail: Straight Through
Best Direction to Travel: N/A
Nearest Town: Quartzsite
Nearest Town w/ Services: Quartzsite
Official Road Name: Hovatter Road
Management Agency: Bureau of Land Management
District: Yuma Field Office


Highlight: Hovatter Road
Ray Hovatter patented mining claims in the Little Horn Mountains around 1950. Ray and his workers built a coarse road connecting the Hovatter homestead to the Harquahala mining district. Ray, wife Barbara, and three daughters lived at their remote homestead from 1951 to 1974 managing and working the mines that produced mostly manganese. Barbara kept a glass jar of captured scorpions on the kitchen table and planted extensive cactus gardens at the homestead. A propane tank explosion killed the eldest daughter in 1968. Ray died on the property in 1974. Both a buried on the ridge just south of the homestead. Barbara's ashes were scattered over the graves in the 1990s. The site was reclaimed by the KOFA National Wildlife Refuge and all the buildings were removed. The cactus gardens and a unique saguaro lined driveway remains. Today the Hovatter road is a path to beauty. Rugged enough to keep the faint of heart at bay, a trip along the Hovatter rewards the intrepid with solitude and adventure. The trail begins as a smooth, but very sandy, road aimed southwest and straight at the prominent Coyote Peak. To the south, across a broad plain of saguaro cactus and creosote bush, the jagged multihued outline of the rugged Little Horn Mountain ranges hint at the adventure ahead. A slight left turn at Coyote Peak points you straight at the heart of the Little Horns and soon the road obligingly begins a gentle climb. That gentleness is fully wrung out of the trail after you cross the first of the mountain passes. The Hovatter twist climbs, descends, and crosses rocky washes while providing geologic eye candy as it traverses the Little Horns. Keep an eye to the right for Conflagration Arch, a twisted testament to the powerful forces that raised these mineral-rich mountains. Massive saguaros find precarious perches on the edges of steep cliffs. A keen eye may spot desert bighorn sheep clattering up steep grades. The remnants of old mines dot the wild landscape. A small kiosk and some old signage signal you are leaving BLM land and entering the KOFA National Wildlife Refuge set aside by Presidential decree in 1939 and expanded over the years with the mission of providing habitat for those bighorn sheep you may or may not have seen. From the kiosk, it is just a short way to the Hovatter homestead and its saguaro lined driveway. The homesite is a fantastic place to camp. If you do, walk up the hill and pay your respects to Ray and the family. Then kick back and imagine living out here in this remote, rugged, and beautiful part of Arizona.


Route Information

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1. Trailhead (0 mi)
After crossing the canal, turn right and then left to the trailhead. A large parking flat area can be used for rendezvousing a group or as a convenient campsite.

Directions to Trailhead

Starting Point: Quartzsite, Arizona

Proceed east on Interstate 10 for 34 miles to Exit 53. At Exit 53 go south across a canal and turn right to the trailhead.



Trail Reviews (6)

Questions & Answers (1)

Q: How does Hovatter connect to Salton Sea? Coming from Phoenix, can I off-road to connect to KOFA?
–Bobby Avstreih (05/19/2020)
–Wade May (08/05/2020)

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 when travel restrictions permit. Sharing my experiences as a member of the Trails Offroad crew, instructing at Overland Expo, and hosting the Gaia GPS Offroad podcast are true pleasures. Hope to see you on the trail soon.
For individual use only, not to be shared.