An Off-Road Ride (Sue-Schoolteacher)

There are many enjoyable rides here in the desert whether you have a 4-wheel drive, ATV or side by side.  One of those rides goes through the Squeeze and to The Names.

One of the first sights to see is the rock garden.  There used to be a miner’s cabin and the wife made a rock garden since there wasn’t any water to spare for flowers.

The next sight is Handbrake Hill.  It is a long steep rocky hill leading from the LTVA over the ridge toward Bard.  It has been eroded by many rains, and repaired by the riders. If you don’t like bouncing and jouncing, then this is definitely not the right hill for you.

handbrake hill

Next we ride along the All American Canal for a while.  Then we leave the canal and follow the power lines.  Somewhere along here is a road to the north which leads to a reminder of WWII.  In the middle of the desert here, is the outline of one of the camps Patton had set up out.

Then back to the power lines for a bit more and another turn to the north and into a wash.  The east wall is covered with graffiti.  However, this graffiti isn’t spray painted, it is etched into the walls.  Names, dates, images, all dot the cliff wall.  Also sticking out are the ends of branches and rocks.  There are several points where waterfalls have dug deep into the wall.

cliff of names          IMG_3976

We stay in the wash as we travel closer to Little Picacho Peak.  The walls start to close in and before you know it you have reached the Squeeze.  It is an amazing place, the trail zigzags back and forth and while the turns are easy for the ATVs and Side by Sides, for jeeps, they can get a bit dicey.


All too soon, the walls widen out and we have reached the spot for lunch.

After lunch, it is on to the Names.  We climb out of the wash and onto some ridges.  The view of Little Picacho Peak is breathtaking.  It looks so different from this point of view.

little picacho peak

Now we are headed west and then southwest.  The landscape changes dramatically when we reach the Names.  One minute we are riding over rolling small hills in the rocks and the next we are in a flat sandy-scape with no rocks except those used to make the names.


Acre after acre, spread on both sides of the road, the names can be small, large, bounded by borders, painted other colors, some with dates, some without.  Usually, our January dogburn is held there as a memorial.  People visit the names of friends who no longer come or place their own names for posterity.

Now the time has come for us to be heading home.  We leave following the Picacho Road, but we turn off before we come to S24.  We return the way we came.  Some will follow the canal all the way home, but some of us will go back up Handbrake Hill, just because we can.

The entire trip takes about 6 hours and is about 35 miles.  It is an awesome day!

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