The Phoenix and Tucson areas are loaded with RV parks and resorts that cater to snowbirds with organized activities and special events to keep them entertained throughout the winter season.
But venture out into some of the more remote areas of the Grand Canyon State and you’ll find people like 68-year-old Ted Werner of Connecticut, according to a report by Woodall’s Campground Management, sister publication of RVBusiness.
Werner and his wife, Jan, are among a growing number of off-road vehicle enthusiasts who come to Arizona every winter and spring not to tear up the landscape, but to explore remote historical sites that most people never see, according to an announcement from the Arizona Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (Arizona ARVC).
Using the Kampgrounds of America (KOA) park in Gila Bend as their base camp, the Werners take off once or twice a week with as many as a dozen or more friends in seven or eight off road vehicles to explore Arizona’s backcountry in their Polaris Ranger side-by-side ATV. The Werners camp in a 2015 38-foot Excel 36GKE fifth-wheel trailer, which they tow with a 2011 Ford F-550.
“It’s an amazing experience,” said Werner, a retired high school teacher with a love of history. “In the Gila Bend area, we have the original Indian travel routes, the Juan Bautista de Anza Historic Trail, the historic Butterfield Overland Stage route and the route used by the Mormon battalion. There are places where we can see the wagon ruts in the rock, so you can very clearly see where they went through. In our travels, we’ve also seen artifacts from the Native Americans as well as the miners. It’s very exciting.”
RV parks in some of the more remote locations of Arizona are seeing growing numbers of snowbirds who tow various types of off-road vehicles behind their RVs, said Jo Ann Mickelson, executive director of Arizona ARVC, which hosts travel-planning website GoCampingInArizona.com.
“More and more snowbirds are wanting to get off the beaten path and see not only historical sites, but beautiful mountains and desert canyons that are not accessible unless you have a four-wheel-drive vehicle,” she said.
One of the Werners’ favorite places to visit is Sears Point, an ancient archaeological site about 40 miles west of Gila Bend that includes petroglyphs and aboriginal foot trails.
“You can see petroglyphs from three different cultures on the rocks in that area,” Werner said.
Another fascinating site, he said, is the “Bouse Fisherman,” a Native American intaglio or earthen image that can be seen by air. This intaglio, one of several in southwestern Arizona, features a man holding a spear with two images of fish below his feet. First discovered by air in 1932, the Bouse Fisherman is located in the Plomosa Mountains near the road from Bouse to Quartzsite.
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