The other day, I hiked to the top of Vulture Peak with my significant other, Mike, two of his friends from New Jersey, Jose and Arkady, and Jack the Dog.
The weather wasn’t perfect. It was cloudy and, about halfway up to the saddle, the skies opened up and dumped rain and sleet on us. I was the only one in our party who’d had the foresight to wear a raincoat. Jose, who was wearing a cotton sweater, got very wet. But the rain moved off to the northeast as we reached the saddle.
I was breathless. The hike to the saddle of Vulture Peak is quite steep. I’m not in the best of shape, but I’ve learned that if breathe instead of talk while I hike and make frequent short stops for rest, I can complete the hike without much trouble. This was the fourth time I’d hiked to the saddle of Vulture Peak. The last time had been in December, when I guided a group of pilots from Wickenburg Airport.
On the saddle, everthing was wet. Water was running off in little streams down the trail we’d climbed. The view from there looks southeast and northwest. You couldn’t see Phoenix because of the haze. The peak blocks the view of Wickenburg and our house. So we kept going.
Although the hike to the top of Vulture Peak is quite strenuous, it’s well worth the effort. Arkady and I searched for and found an easier trail than the one commonly used. It was longer and had a section that would cause someone with acrophobia to faint, but there was no hand-over-hand climbing required. Mike, Jose, and Jack the Dog went the hard way. I still can’t imagine how Jack climbed that one section of trail.
The sun came out when we reached the top. I spread my jacket on a palo verde tree to dry. Jose and I signed our names in the log book and I left a few Flying M Air Helicopter Tours cards in the ammo can. (I marked one of them as a 50% off coupon; bring it back to me and I’ll take you on any helicopter tour for half price.) We explored the top of the peak and found the caves that are clearly visible when you fly past by helicopter. And I used the timer on my camera to take this picture.
Jose, Mike, Me, and Arcady with Jack the Dog on top of Vulture Peak
Jose was thrilled by the hike. “If I lived in Wickenburg,” he said, “I’d climb up here all the time. I think this is great. I wish I knew about it last time I came.”
That got me thinking. He was right, of course. Vulture Peak and its trail to the top is one of Wickenburg’s little-known treasures. Why don’t more locals make the trip to the top? Why isn’t it promoted by the Town as one of the things to do in Wickenburg? I’m sure most tourists would prefer a photo from the top of Vulture Peak than one of a hokey “Jail Tree” or “Wishing Well” set up just for their Kodak moments. Sure, those man-made tourist attractions are easy to get to, located just steps away from a convenient parking space. But I don’t think you’ll find many people who’ll tell you that the view from the top of Vulture Peak isn’t worth the effort of getting there.
If you want to learn more about hiking Vulture Peak, be sure to check out the article I wrote for wickenburg-az.com after my first climb. You’ll find it in the Things to Do area, along with articles about other interesting things to do in Wickenburg.