Ascent of Cabeza Prieta Peak on 1993-11-12

Climber: Richard Carey

Date:Friday, November 12, 1993
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Cabeza Prieta Peak
    Elevation:2559 ft / 779 m

Ascent Trip Report

Spanish for "black head" or "dark head" since the peak has a black mantle of lava rock in contrast to the light tan of many other mountains nearby. The name first appeared on a General Land Office map of 1921. (Barnes, p.70)

This peak is in the Cabeza Prieta Wildlife Refuge. Public entry for hiking and camping is allowed with a permit from the Refuge office in Ajo which regulates public entry. For information write or call the Refuge staff at: 1611 North Second Ave., Ajo, AZ. 85321. Phone: (520) 387-6483. Four-wheel drive vehicles are required. More information on permits is at my site:

Cabeza Prieta Peak is the distinctive peak with the dark pyramid-shaped summit visible to the northwest of the Tule Well area. The most direct driving route is to drive south from Tacna. On Interstate 8 east of Yuma use exit 42 in Tacna. This is Ave. 40E which runs north and south. On the south side of the Interstate take the unmarked dirt frontage road that goes along the fence and then heads east. Take this wide, graded dirt road east for 6.0 miles and then turn right. There is a sign here indicating the start of the Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range. Reset your odometer at the turn and head south on this road across the broad Mohawk Valley. After 23.1 miles there is a sign marking the Refuge boundary. Continue straight ahead on the road which narrows and becomes more sandy where four-wheel drive may be needed. At about 34 miles you will pass the Christmas Pass camp on the left and at 40.8 miles arrive at Tule Well. Go right (W) here on the Camino del Diablo. Reset your odometer and go 6.2 miles to BM 1239 marked by a post on your right. UTM here is: 232720E, 3570740N, NAD27, Zone 12. Park here and hike NE across the desert toward the peak. After 2 miles you will cross the management road and then go to the left (W) side of peak 1473 ft. shown on the map. Then head for the SE ridge and climb it and turn NW following the ridge up to the north side of the summit. The hike is 8 miles round-trip with a gain of 1300 ft. 11/93 RLC
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