Every time I zip through this area on my way to Vegas I always promise myself that I'll make it back to explore, far away from the hum of Highway 93. Noting cooler afternoon/evening temps and a nearly moonless night (moon set was around 8:30PM), I made good on that promise to do some off trail exploration. This trip was quickly thrown together at the last minute, so it was nearly 2PM when I stopped at one of the pull outs between Wickenburg and Wikieup in the general vicinity of the Santa Maria River. From there I headed out on a mostly western heading toward the Black Mountains and foothills. I turned around after approx. 4 miles. The forest of Joshua trees create a striking backdrop to the mountains and the billions of bright stars. Tempted to come back again in the spring to check out other canyons before the vegetation gets nuked by the summer sun.