West Virginia has the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System and Utah has the Paiute Trail. Now, Arizona enters the OHV-tourism movement with the Arizona Peace Trail (la paz means “peace” in Spanish). Several OHV clubs throughout western Arizona formed the Peace Trail Committee in 2014 to negotiate the difficulties of organizing and establishing a trail loop using existing dirt roads and trails. Working with city, county, state and federal governments and agencies, the Peace Trail Committee developed this new recreational opportunity complete with staging and camping areas along the 700-mile route to attract even more OHV enthusiasts to the state (see “Behind the Wheel” in this issue) while also protecting existing public access to area trails. The Arizona Peace Trail (AZPT) crosses Mohave, La Paz and Yuma Counties and links Havasu, Bullhead City, Kingman, Wikieup, Wayside, Salome, Dateland, Wellton, Yuma, Quartzsite and Bouse. Club and committee members did a shakedown run of the AZPT on a five-day, point-to-point UTV ride in January, and the Planet Ranch section of the APT opened on January 21st with a special ceremony. There are 10 historic and scenic points of interests along the route, and elevations vary from 170 to 7,070 feet, with miles and miles of trail through majestic saguaro cacti.
The Arizona Peace Trail Committee’s mission statement is to “promote the sport of Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation, riding safely, with awareness and respect for the environment.” The NOHVCC reported in a February 2016 newsletter that a “14-club partnership is working to create a 750-mile AZ Peace Trail” that, when completed, “will be one of the longest signed and mapped trail systems in the country for OHVs.” That the AZPT was completed in two years is a testament to the effectiveness of the committee, which includes seven members and support partners from the Bouse Ghost Riders, AZ Sunriders, AZ Desert Riders, Lake Havasu 4-Wheelers, Cerbat Ridge Runners, Martinez Lake Jeepers, Scooter Trash Pack Quad Riders, Yuma Trail Group, Yuma Foothills Road Runners, FMC Desert Rovers, Yuma 4×4 Club, Havasu SxS Trail Association, Bullhead 4-Wheelers and Parker 4-Wheelers. Hoping to get approval from BLM Field Offices as the BLM developed Travel Management Plans, the clubs were planning to complete the AZPT by 2020, but they did it four years early. La Paz County applied for and received grants from the Yamaha OHV Access Initiative Grant ($4,980.92) and AZ State Parks OHV Advisory Group ($74,414) for signage and staging facilities at Cibola. Like Utah’s Paiute Trail, the APT has off-shoot trails, with the Yuma BLM District having 1,100 miles of open OHV trails (out of 1,710 miles of existing routes in the La Posa TMA).
CREATE YOUR OWN AZ OHV TOURS
With OHV-friendly towns and businesses along the 700-mile AZ Peace Trail, enthusiasts can customize their experiences. The AZPT website currently has 10 points of interest, complete with GPS coordinates for Alamo Lakes State Park; Bouse Historic Assay Office, Museum, Monument Row and Fisherman Intaglio (geo-glyph or earth figure); Dick Wick Hall’s Marker; Dripping Springs; Harrisburg Cemetery; Indian Springs; Swansea Ghost Town; and 9/11 Memorial, with more to come. Dramatic landscapes, historic mining sites, and a wide variety of plant life and wildlife surprises trail riders seemingly around every bend.
We sampled some of the AZPT last February around Quartzsite, visiting the Deer Run Resort and off-shoot trails in the Colorado River Indian Reservation. We saw petroglyphs around Quartzsite and had a blast at the Quartzsite Yacht Club and Motel. We plan to return for the full 700-mile tour with overnight stays along the route. Quartzsite swells to 100,000 residents during the winter with RV “snowbirds” flocking there for the great winter weather, two-month Mineral and Gem show and PowWow, but OHVers will love the Sonoran Desert and its trails.
Arizona Peace Trail
P.O. Box 878
Bouse, AZ 85325