The Cabeza Prieta Refuge and El Camino Del Diablo


We first started going onto the Cabeza Prieta Refuge by the way of the El Camino Del Diablo in the late 1980's or early 1990's. Our first trip was to see if we were up to the "challenge" that we heard that the road could present to our vehicles. The road was described as being a difficult four wheeling adventure. It certainly was long, over 100 miles from one end to the other, but we were really disappointed that it was not technically different from many other backroads that we had been driving for years. In fact, in a lot of respects compared to some of those the camino "was a piece of cake".

But we found ourselves continually being drawn back into the area. And up until about 2003 or so, we usually were in the area once every year or so. There was the historical context of the California gold rushers associated with the road, the geology of the area, and the placement of the border monuments along the route that drew our interest. We drove every one of the legal routes across the area. And we walked to the border monuments, and old mine prospects. We climbed onto the cinder cones. Until I started going out to some of the Nevada deserts, the Cabeza Prieta region was the most barren desert area that I had ever been to.

We kind of lost interest in the area when the region became a flood rather than a trickle of illegal traffic from across the border. The increased regulations and restricted travel rules that were enacted to provide isolation to the pronghorns were difficult to keep track of and so we moved on to other places. Here are some of the sights that we saw over the years. Maybe some day we will go back.