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Swansea Townsite Professional Review and Guide
"Drive through Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge at the start of this trip. Enjoy over 275 species of birds as you pass through a jungle-like setting. Squeeze through dramatic Slot Canyon. Finish the trip with a visit to Swansea Townsite, once a booming copper mining town. The BLM provides brochures that enable you to understand and appreciate the area. Although brochures are often available at the site, it is best to get one in advance at the BLM Field Office in Lake Havasu City. Swansea Townsite is larger than it first appears once you learn about the area. It has designated trails for 4-wheel-drive vehicles, ATVs and dirt bikes. Mostly sandy wash bottoms and gravel roads except for a 3-mile stretch through the Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge. This section has short sandy climbs and several water crossings. Water crossings are not a concern except after an extended period of heavy rain. Brush is dense but not abrasive. Slot Canyon is narrow, but easily passable. The trail is suitable for stock SUVs with moderate ground clearance. Route-finding is fairly easy. Flash flooding is possible in the wash bottoms and especially through Slot Canyon. Don’t enter if heavy rains are forecast. This trip is not recommended during the heat of summer. Always carry plenty of water."
--Charles A. Wells, Guide to Arizona Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails (FunTreks).
The writeup for this trail is no longer accurate. Fish and Wildlife have shut down Planet Ranch Road after 3.5 miles. After that it is a hike. No way to get to Swansea from this road. Fish and Wildlife also just about gave me a ticket for taking an off road vehicle down this road. Apparently this rough, bumpy road is only accessible by regular highway vehicles. The scenery in winter is very bland. no greenery and very few birds. Perhaps better in Spring.
Swansea townsite is an incredible treasure and I highly recommend it. It is a fantastic camping trip as well. Swansea townsite is easily reached with a 2wd vehicle, so DO NOT be intimidated by the references to "off roading". The best 2wd way to get there is either from Shea Rd out of Parker, or the Swansea Rd. out of Bouse. Both are well-graded, smooth (gravel) and easily passable. I recommend you plan to spend an entire afternoon at Swansea townsite, to really enjoy it. There are 5 well-built campsites there that are hardly used (we were the only ones there), and no reservation or camping fee is required for a stay. There are grills both standing and in the firepits, so bring your steaks and hot dogs, charcoal and YOUR OWN FIREWOOD. Before you get there, stop and cut dry mesquite or palo verde branches for firewood - it's all over the place on the way to Bouse or Parker, but there ain't any wood in or around Swansea townsite. At the town, there is agreat walking tour with placards, and be sure to throw a big rock down the fenced-in mineshafts and enjoy hearing the rocks crash to the depths below - these shafts are DEEP, so be careful and let your mind wander. Swansea is a very well-preserved ghost town. We even had a half-moon out, so we did the spooky ghost town walk through the town at night - the kids will love that one. The BLM is doing a wonderful job preserving Swansea townsite, so do your part and tread lightly, take care of the site so that others may enjoy it n years to come. Swansea townsite is truly a little-known Arizona treasure.
The trail and directions were right on, but when we arrived at the bill williams river it was about 5 1/2 feet deep. There were some others stoped and they said that Lake Alamo was being drained. And we know it was about 5 1/2 feet deep because we tried to go up it.. Not to sure how you could find out about this in advance but I would try to it through a wrench in our trip we had been planning for over 2 months and there is no way around the river..
Easy ride overall,good preservation at town site.. great scenery..
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