Mount Elden, a truly outstanding 4x4 adventure
Mount Elden is a lava dome at an elevation of 2.841m (9,320ft) above the sea level, located in central Coconino County, in the north central part of the U.S. state of Arizona. It’s one of the highest mountain roads of Arizona.
The road to the summit, located within the Coconino National Forest, is totally unpaved. It’s called Elden Lookout Road (Forest road 557). 4x4 vehicle required. The summit hosts a few communication towers. It’s named after one of the region's earliest Anglo settlers, John Elden, who, along with his family, established a homestead on the mountain’s lower slopes and grazed sheep on the open grasslands below during the late 19th century. The journey offers a great view of Flagstaff, San Francisco Mountain and northern Arizona.
Starting from US-180 north of Flagstaff, the road to the summit is 11.90km (7.4 miles) long. Over this distance the elevation gain is 670 meters. The average gradient is 5.63%. Only the forest service and other service vehicles are allowed on the last part. Definitely worth a visit, especially during autumn. Conditions vary considerably depending on how recently a road grader has been through. At any time of year be ready for on-coming vehicle traffic on the narrow and curvy road. The road itself is graded and not too rough, but it has some nice switchbacks and hairpin turns, so be careful because you will be sharing the road with other vehicles and mountain bikers at times. Near the top of the climb you'll walk through an area devastated by a huge wildfire in 1977.
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