In The Desert
Content including photographs are Copyright © 2009 - Present - Don & Linda Gilmore
Contact us via E-mail
Not far from the Colorado river and Picacho Peak (shown here in the center) is a little known hill that we found a few years ago. We were not the first to find this. The road into the hill is not very often used because of how rough it can get in places and it really doesn't go anywhere. More on this later. The turn off into the road is roughly 10 1/2 miles from the All American Canal.
The GPS topo track also shows the location of the entrance to the Narrows.
Crystal Hill is in the center of this photo. The road into the hill is passable by 2 wheel drive by an experienced driver that doesn't care about his vehicle. It's better to use a high clearance 4 X 4 for this trip. This trip off-road begins on Picacho Road at the All American Canal.
On the way into the road to Crystal Hill you'll see this BLM road marker if your on the right road. This is road - 697.
As you get closer you'll be able to see where the hill has been woked previously. There may be other areas near here with crytals, or other minerals. Driving anywhere but on the designated road is strictly forbidden in this area. Look for signs along the road.
Looking at the northeast side of the hill you'll see another part of the hill that's been worked in the past. There are no claim markers in the area. If they were looking for the crystals, they didn't get them all. They may have found the bigger ones. This part of the hill proved to be un-productive.
This is the road (looking west) that brings you into Crystal hill from Picacho road. You're only about 3/4 of a mile (as the crow flies) from Picacho road here. You can't tell by looking at this photo, but this is a rocky rough road. Not impassable, just rough. Nice scenery here too.
Looking to the east you'll see where the road continues. Looks okay, but don't let these photos fool you. This road really gets bad. It's not something you need a rock crawler for but it will take you quite a bit of time to navigate the next 3 or so miles before the end of the road. 8 inch to 15 inch rocks are what the road is paved with and it makes for a terrible rough ride. The road winds back into the Chocolate Mts. to a game watering hole and finally stops at the Wildlife Refuge.
This part of the western side of the hill is the most productive section. We found quite a number of nice quartz crystals here just by digging in the hill right next to the rock wall. As you can tell we're not the only ones to try digging here. It can be really productive if you hit the right spot. See below.
This is just to show you how easy it is to pull off a section of the rock wall. The crystals are growing in the cracks of the rocks and when you first look at the rock here you'll think this is a farce. It didn't look like the kind of area, or kind of rock strata that would harbor nice crystals like those we found.
The next photo below is the edge of the rock to the right. It had a thin layer of crystals on part of it.
This is how we knew that the east side was unproductive. This broke off a pretty big slab and it was devoid of crystals. I don't recommend you do this and in fact you don't need to. It's much easier to just pull rock slabs loose on the west side and dig thru the loose dirt next to the rock wall.
The last time we were there this is what we left with. As you can tell there are some nice clear crystals to be found here and quite a few of them at that. It only took about 1/2 hour to dig these out. Nice way to spend the day or even part of a day.
On the way out Linda took this photo to show what some of the rocks you have to drive over or around look like. Some of them are bgger than this one. Not a problem for a 4 X 4 with decent ground clearance.
Have fun --------
This is an inter-active Wikimapia California Map. You can zoom in / out and drag the map to scroll. Mouse over the map. Try it!
Download the Garmin GPS topo track HERE
This whole area is fun to erxplore and you may find more mineralized places to the east of here. The road continues to the east and gets even rougher, but it was passable when were there. Not many people go into this area.