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While El Camino del Diablo is changing, it still does not fail to amaze and remains a bucket list trail. The history, geology, and landscape is just pure awesome. The new moon dark skies of Papago Well are great for milky way photographers.
It was far more busy than it used to be, granted I did travel on Veterans Day weekend. Recent years' border wall construction and the explosion in popularity of UTVs and overlanding since the pandemic has changed the nature of some of the route. Be prepared to find an alternate disbursed camp site along the route in case your planned options and main campgrounds are occupied.
As of 11/15/2022 the route needs some minor adjustments near the Tijanas Altas mountains as management officials have closed many of the minor side routes just east of the mountains to allow the desert to recover from excessive route creation:
A15 and A16 are signed intersections and can be found on the BMGR West Avenza map
This time I took the northern Tijanas Altas pass between signs A15 and A13 on the BMGR West map. I would rate that option 4/10 or mild moderate. There are some nice isolated disbursed camping sites along this less traveled option. Any pickups including Gladiators and Tacos will be dragging tail crossing some of the deep and narrow washes. Most of the disbursed camping spots can be reached from the west (A13) side without the narrow wash crossings.
I traditionally take the Fortuna Mine route (right/straight at point 56) and this trip was no exception. It does add a little bit of difficulty to the trail with a tiny bit of route finding at a few washes and a much rougher driving surface. However I saw someone else take a 2500 RAM pulling a 25ft Black Series backcountry camper through this alternate path and the camper remained oddly (unexpectedly) unscathed. Fortuna Mine offers a two mile hiking loop trail with about 14 interpretive sites and signs. There is an effort to add the mine area to the national register of historic places. There is a Fortuna Mine scout route writeup also on the TrailsOffroad site.
Note on overland trailers: even though El Camino del Diablo is appropriately rated easy, it is still rough enough to be very hard on overland/camping trailers. Make sure you have a reinforced, articulating hitch and a well-maintained trailer suspension with high clearance. Trailers have been known to fall apart on this route (another group this same weekend had such an event). Washboard and terrain flex are far harder on trailers than you might expect.
A few extra safety tips:
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