The river road on the Parker Strip is to reopen north of Sundance Saloon after a unanimous decision by the La Paz County Board of Supervisors Monday.
Photo by Melissa Wright Photography.
The scenic stretch of road has been closed since 2014 when heavy rains led to a rockslide of several large boulders which landed on the narrow two-lane roadway, blocking it and prompting safety concerns by then District 2 Supervisor King Clapperton. After an engineering evaluation and liability concerns from the Arizona Counties Insurance Pool (ACIP), gates were erected on the north end at Buckskin State Park and the south end near Sundance Saloon, closing it permanently to traffic of all kinds.
Current District 2 Supervisor Duce Minor prompted the reopening of the road on Monday’s agenda after receiving “numerous, numerous” requests for it. He told the meeting that there was a recent informal evaluation by Public Works Director Tom Simmons and some engineers. Although the County does not have the money for a formal report at this time, he said that “weather is the issue”, with rockslides likelier during heavy rains. So he proposed opening the roadway permanently, with closures during wet conditions for safety.
Supervisor Holly Irwin agreed with the the suggested reopening, saying that the road is a beautiful drive and that it was closed based on 2014 information, with Simmons having done “quite a bit of work” since on the roadway.
Chris Chambers of Buckskin Fire Department said there will always occasionally be rockslides, and that the river road is similar to Pacific Coast Highway in that regard. He added that Buckskin can’t get its engines through with the current closure and “highly recommend” reopening the road for safety. Another comment concurred with this, adding that some people drive slowly on Highway 95 “looking around” and it would be better if they had the option to take the scenic route along the river.
Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Director Mary Hamilton also voiced her support for reopening the road, saying it is a scenic area and good for tourism.
Supervisor DL Wilson reiterated the 2014 concerns, saying that he wasn’t sure who would be responsible for defining how heavy the forecasted rain would need to be to close the road, and who would be responsible for closing and opening the road. Minor suggested it would be Public Works, as the department already does for Tyson Wash near Quartzsite and other areas. Simmons came to the podium to say that the Board’s recent decision means that overtime must be pre-authorized, and that may impact their ability to attend to such things.
Chambers came back to say that Buckskin would help close and reopen the gates, and Lieutenant Richard Epps of the Sheriff’s Department said they would agree to do so too.
Ultimately the Board approved the reopening on a permanent basis, with periodic closures during times of bad weather. There may be future drainage projects at the location when funding permits.
With lots of traffic remember that crevices in the mountain will continue to open up wider due to vibration from traffic and fences aren’t strong enough for boulders that suddenly fall hopefully not during traffic. Make sure safety is FIRST! Because anything happens your opening yourself for lawsuits and we all know you cant handle that.
About damn time!!!!!!
What !!!!!!! I don’t believe it … Who’s moving the boulders ?
Or when the monson season hits and there is a mud slide
That will help Sundance which is more important than a little rock slide
About time, the most scenic spot on the Parker strip.
Wow! Gonna try again? ……
Chanel Lakeman how cool!! We’ll have to do it this summer!
Gorgeous pic…love that view of the river!! Do miss the fun times @ Bruce’s pad..
Oh boy. After a couple of lawsuits from boulders falling on cars, maybe we can get the insurance pool to wash their hands of La Paz County for good.
They call it Grandpa Bruce’s place now
Good to see this section open again, primarily for public safety response when needed.
if you look at the mountan along side of the roadway you can see a very large crack which wnen it finally released would allow thousands of tons of rock to fall upon the roadway.
if you look at the mountan east of the roadway, you will see a very large crack which extend a long way downward. this will result finally in many many tons of rock tumbling down the roadway. this is definately going to happen! and it will be a major mess to be dealt with, and hopefully there will be no unfortinate persons in the way of it’s downward decent. you can not defeat the laws of so much heavy gravity, no matter how many fences you try to put up. but the real life thing is when will this event is going to happen. it could be later today, possiblty tomorrow, next week, or possibly next year. in the mean time it is ultimately up to “mother nature”. yes she can sometimes be a real mean momma, but the point is we have to consider what will happen in within our life times verses gelogical time, and there can be an extremely difference between them.
At least we have some sensible people now ! was stupid to ever close , every mountain road I have been on has rocks slides it’s a driving hazard don’t drive by it during rain if possible but hey let’s face it the other drivers are most dangerous then anything
It’s only a matter of time
Mr. Supervisor, tear down that wall (er, fence).
I recall back in the 50’s and 60’s when the road ended in the first curve up there ending at the cliff and cove and the little Rock Island, long before Sundance. Some how we always found a party sport. It was about halfway between Fox’s and “Poly Ville”. Those were good times before the thousands of people around now. The first fair size group of folks to start coming into the “Strip” were the Aerospace folks from the coast who were working on Mercury and Gemini starting in 1958. They would give us tows. First time I ever skied behind a 20′ SK Boat with a GMC Blown Chrysler Hemi with dual Hollies. I think that 65 mph was the fastest I ever went. Normally we skied behind a couple 15′ Glaspars with 55 Horse Evinrudes that Jim Gallaher’s and Ken Hall’s Dad’s owned.
Really, a bar is more important than someone’s life?
Looking forward to it.
Loved that place we had a spot at Echo A59 right on front row for 20yrs. Used to set out there day and night enjoying the river and Echo Rock ,glad your opening the road up again. Yea!!!!
I miss this ride, so much.
Love this place. Had our summer house in the keys for 22 yrs. yes Parker we miss you.
All I can say is – I wish you well. I’m not driving it!
Wow! Thanks for sharing
The comments here are hilarious! I can’t fathom the lack of proper spelling/grammar some people use-amazing! It WILL be nice to have the road open again
So good to see! I miss driving that beautiful stretch. Seriously, over the course of 40-years I have been coming here, how many ‘large’ slides have there been? It’s a part of life along a mountain road. It’s a risk you take and I am ok with that. If it’s my time, then so be it. Simple prevention as stated to close during heavier storms would be fine. Thank you for opening it up again!