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Crater Range - BMGR - 1 member in 3 triplogs has rated this an average 3 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Jan 01 2020
Alston_Neal
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 Guides 1
 Photos 1,406
 Triplogs 101

65 male
 Joined Apr 19 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Crater Range - BMGRSouthwest, AZ
Southwest, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 01 2020
Alston_Neal
Hiking5.00 Miles 250 AEG
Hiking5.00 Miles
250 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
I've been wanting to go here since I saw Randal's and Outlander's posts. So when I learned from a friend that I could register with Luke Air Force Base online and download my permits and most importantly the gate codes, I swung into action. It seemed like a lot of hoopla for this hike, as my wife pointed out, but I explained we just touched the tip of the iceberg. I was a bit bummed not to find any explosives or rampant drug runners. Interestingly my wife was much more relaxed here than when we've hiked by Shawmut Pass. We did find a couple of water bottles and some clothing, but that is par for the course for where we hike. The terrain reminded us of the Eagletails, but scaled down and compacted. We looped around a mountain and wandered some canyons being ever vigilant, but all in all it was just another boring beautiful day and my bucket list is one item shorter. Yeah we'll go back.
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Feb 25 2012
Outlander
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 Routes 68
 Photos 807
 Triplogs 64

male
 Joined Aug 03 2007
 Tolleson, AZ
Crater Range - BMGRSouthwest, AZ
Southwest, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 25 2012
Outlander
Hiking30.20 Miles 2,000 AEG
Hiking30.20 Miles   33 Hrs      1.78 mph
2,000 ft AEG   16 Hrs    Break45 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
The mission was to hike the Crater Mountains, looking for mule deer and whatever else I might happen across.

The Crater Mountains lie within the Barry M. Goldwater Range East, requiring a BMGR permit and authorization. This is one of the most dangerous regions in Arizona. It is an extreme desert environment, completely devoid of water; there are unexploded bombs and ordinance lying about; it has absolutely no cell phone service, no amenities, no help whatsoever; and a large contingent of drug runners, Zetas, rip crews, and bummers.

Despite the low level of rainfall, several plant species thrive in this extreme environment. Great forests of jumping cholla blanket the mountains, mile after mile. I somehow walked through this gauntlet without a single cholla pad jumping on my person; good luck indeed. There are a few saguaros hanging onto an existence, some creosotes, desert sage, and rare native grasses.

The Crater Mountains are rugged, though not nearly as tough as the Maz country in central Arizona. I was able to make much better speeds here, which came in handy once I ran out of water early Sunday morning.

It can be said that the borderlands look much as they did two hundred years ago, wild and untamed. However, they are by no means pristine, as many areas have been completely trashed from the cumulative effect of thirty years of illegal immigration and smuggling.

The first wrecked area that I came across was an old layup site on the north end of the range. I rummaged through the backpacks and pants pockets, finding nothing of value. There were no human footprints to be found, except near the road at mile 3, but this was to change in short order.

Around noon, I found the main infiltration route across the range, a well maintained trail heading north, expertly constructed, putting our National Forest trails to shame. It showed signs of heavy use, with many of the tracks only hours old. The Sinaloa Cartel runs this section of the borderlands and has made a substantial investment in the construction of a trail network. These improvements allow them to move their drugs and human cargo with greater speed and efficiency.

I walked the trail for a short while before wussing out to the west, deciding it best to not tempt fate with the Zetas, the gunmen who guard the valuable drug trains. It truly is the law of the gun out here, the Wild West in its purest form. Crime goes unpunished, human life is cheap, the dead are left unburied. It is stress walking through such country the first time, not knowing what trouble awaits around the next bend.

This holds especially true inside the steep canyons, areas of restricted movement and visibility. I took one such route on my way to the 'fingers' region on the northern slope. It was full of fresh tracks and sign of recent use, trash and graffiti was everywhere.
Despite my tired legs, I ditched the wash in favor of a better position along the ridgeline, not wanting to walk into a bad day, or bad hombres. Even the Cartels get shot up sometimes, by robbers known as 'rip crews', who hold up the drug trains. Such men have a short life expectancy.

Sleeping in Indian country is a long, restless night. In the Craters, there is always the possibility that a person, or a group of persons, will come into your camp in search of water. I had packed in six jugs of Gatorade, 5 of which I drank on the first day. To have your water stolen can be a death sentence during the summer months, as there are no places where water can be found.

The end totals were thus: 0 deer, 1 Indian arrow head, 2 drug smuggling trails, 200 sets of human footprints heading north, 1 pair of boots, 1 cell phone charger, and 15 lbs of trash packed out.

All smiles and cold beverages upon extraction at 1500 hours.
Named place
Named place
Crater Range
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Moderate
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Dec 30 2009
Randal_Schulhauser
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 Guides 71
 Routes 98
 Photos 9,967
 Triplogs 1,009

61 male
 Joined May 14 2003
 Ahwatukee, AZ
Crater Range - BMGRSouthwest, AZ
Southwest, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 30 2009
Randal_Schulhauser
Hiking2.45 Miles 97 AEG
Hiking2.45 Miles   2 Hrs      1.23 mph
97 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Lynn and I took a 315 mile http://hikearizona.com/phoZOOM.php?ZIP=116754 day trip that included Organ Pipe Cactus NM and Crater Range on the BMGR.

I've driven along Hwy 85 through the Crater Range on several occasions and have been captivated by the unworldly landscape - sort of like Arizona's version of the Trona Pinnacles http://hikearizona.com/photoset.php?ID=8735 . I've also noted some great wild flower displays with a dramatic backdrop and wondered what it would take to visit the area.

Permitting was completed at the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters http://hikearizona.com/phoZOOM.php?ZIP=58527 in Ajo AZ. Process took about 45 minutes by the friendly and informative staff. Most of that time was taken watching the 30 minute video - a repeat performance only because I lacked a "VIDEO" stamp http://hikearizona.com/phoZOOM.php?ZIP=116752 on last year's permit...

Drove up to Gate #15 http://hikearizona.com/phoZOOM.php?ZIP=116742 and gained entry (with the lock combination provided) onto the Crater Range. The area has almost a lunar landscape feel to it - very appropriate given the moon rising in the east as we explored the volcanic remnants.

Found some scattered glyphs and a bedrock metate as we explored. No pottery sherds or other evidence of ancient habitation could be found. Found plenty of evidence of modern habitation - beer bottles, yuk!

With the sun setting in the west and a large bright moon rising in the east, we were provided sufficient exploration light before we decided to call it a day. The area is worthy further exploration and I�m sure a return trip in the near future is in order (mayber during wild flower season?). The BMGR "Area B" Public Access Area Map http://hikearizona.com/phoZOOM.php?ZIP=116750 provided with the permits lists some additional access gates;

Gate #15 - Crater Range, milepost 29.9, 11.3 miles from CPNWR Headquarters

Gate #14 - Well That Johnny Dug, milepost 27.1, 14.1 miles from CPNWR Headquarters

Gate #9 - Hat Mountain, milepost 20.3, 20.9 miles from CPNWR Headquarters

Gate #8 - Black Gap Well, milepost 17.8, 23.4 miles from CPNWR Headquarters

Gate #6a - Black Gap 2, milepost 16.2, 25.0 miles from CPNWR Headquarters

Gate #5 - Black Gap 1, milepost 15.1, 26.1 miles from CPNWR Headquarters
Flora
Flora
Saguaro
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1 archive
average hiking speed 1.5 mph

WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

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