Aravaipa Town, settled in or around the 1870's or 80's; was known as Dunlap for an area landowner till it was discovered there was another Arizona town of the same name. Mining lead, zinc and silver; with some prospecting for copper and gold, the town at one time was estimated to have 300 people, a post office, a school etc.
When people think of Aravaipa they think of the spectacular canyon to hike,or the abysmal history of what happened to the Aravaipa Apache here.
The remnants of the town lies decaying in brush and sun, on private land, in a mishmash of patented mine claims, ranch lands, and public forest lands.
Brian had a back way in he thought, he had been here on a hot summer day perhaps 8 years prior and thought it was a neat place and wanted to return.
The back way was closed off, the Nature Conservancy now has possession of the Cobra Ranch, and the old Jeep trail up a wash was no longer open, according to a young man we spoke to at a house along the eastern approach road to Aravaipa TH.
We took a chance driving up in dusk Fri evening to the locked gate along the main road to Aravaipa town, and the caretaker granted us passage. We had to fill out a waiver, and were to leave it when we left. In the dark we drove up the road, picking out a use camp site alongside, settling in to sleep.
The next day we drove to the town. A weathered forest service sign pointed the way. Brian noted the buildings seemed to be vandelized, perhaps part of the reason for the locked gate. We explored, a nice creek running, and upcanyon some small waterfalls and rocky walls. Pretty rocks in the wash. Several huge headframes and mines nearby. I found the main miners headquarters enchanting in a delapidated sort of way, huge old house, with some rock walls. An area rancher taking out his cows stopped by, warning us of the private property, then opened up a bit and chatted for about 10 minutes or so. He said the rock walls on the main house dated to the late 1800's from old photos he had, ( he had owned this property for seven years and sold it in 2007, leasing back the land for cattle grazing temporarily). He pointed out the location of the post office and told us many smaller buildings had been removed when the mining bubble burst. He noted vandals had wrecked quite a few of the buildings, pulling boards off walls etc. People can be so stupid.
We continued on to explore, driving out toward a labeled Warm Spring and mine on the map. The main road was pretty good but the side roads were mostly washed out at varying points, doable by quads only. We had some walking but didn't mind in the nice weather. The side canyon of the main canyon of the warm spring was beautiful with a huge stock tank and many waterfalls as the canyon rocked up and dropped. The old mine we found very extensive with small tunnels far back into the hill quite a ways.
Another mine area we didn't get to because of a washed out portion of the road, could have been repaired but it was late and we wanted to camp.
Off the private land ( we think) we found and decided to drop a large stope and another shaft. Brian rigged and I dropped the stope, we used my 100 foot rope. We couldn't see the bottom and rocks were bouncing around so I wore my chest harness with croll and had my handled ascender and footloops on a pigtail I just slung over my shoulder.
Since the stope had metal rails and pipes coming up it I wore the rope bag on my right hip and fed the rope out as I descended. Since I had my vertical gear on I just wore a fanny pack. I can switch over in 30 seconds or so from descending to ascending equpped this way. The rap start was awkward but short free to the stope slope which was crumbly. I knocked loose a fair amount of small rocks. The stope was about 130 feet, so I was short, I was able to stand on a small ledge, ascertain I could downclimb the rest using the pipe and rail. I came off rope, got down to the bottom, and explored about 30 minutes. The tunnels were partially flooded, lots of equipment down there. I didn't take a lot of pictures, it was wet and like it was raining through the ceiling of the tunnels. Brian stayed topside. Ascending was a pain, my system is better if I am free hanging, I finally just used a handled ascender as a safety and climbed most of it, just using the full set up for the last little bit.
Brian elected to downclimb a sturdy ladder in another shaft. We dropped a 150 rope down for a safety. He was able to descend perhaps 6 levels, running off the rope, with little drifts that were mostly blocked by debris. The ladders were in good shape missing a couple of rungs here and there. The last level did not have a ladder so that ended our exploring there. I stayed topside for this one.
We drove on to Landscamp, an idyllic spot with big white sycamores, running water, and a neat narrow limestone canyon nearby. We explored a little, but were running out of time,as usual. We drove out, leaving our information with the caretaker, and let ourselves out. Nice to have access to this neat historical area, and we hope to have the chance to return in the future.