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postheadericon Never too Old to go to Young, AZ

A lot of my friends, both riders and non-riders, read this blog from time to time. One of the things that is really great about that is that I get occasional suggestions on places to go or roads on which to travel. This installment is the result of one of those suggestions. (Thanks, Craig.)

It’s not often you see a state highway marker on a dirt road.

Have you ever heard of Young, AZ? Odds are that you haven’t, even if you’ve lived in Arizona for a very long time. It’s not because Young is small, although it is. It’s not because Young is located is micro-suburb hidden inside a city, quite the opposite. It certainly isn’t because Young is a forgotten ghost town or that it is “buried” under the waters of Lake Havasu. It is a living, thriving little community. This post is about how I found out about Young as well as how I got there and back.

One day, I got a Facebook message, from my friend Craig, asking me if I had ever been on AZ-288 from Roosevelt to Young, AZ. He was asking how I thought the road conditions would be for a street bike, since he had heard that the road was unpaved to Young was unpaved. I had to confess that I had never been on AZ-288. Actually, I had never even heard of it or this town called Young.

I quickly Googled it, found Young and AZ-288 in the middle of the Tonto National Forest. I mentally plotted a couple of potential routes there and back. My route to Young looked like this. Craig actually rode there 2 days later and told me a little about how beautiful it was, thus making sure that I would be riding there soon. It took a month before I could do it, but on a beautiful Thursday morning, another friend, Stan, and I headed out of Tucson headed for Young.

In Globe, looking west toward Miami. You can see the sign for Route 188 coming up on the right.

Young is located almost due north of Globe, so we took Route 77 out of Tucson. We have had decent rains this summer, so the trip up the San Pedro River Valley was absolutely beautiful. Once past the little town of Winkelman, Rt 77 begins to get more interesting. Over the next 24 miles, the road narrows, gets twisty and begins to climb. You will climb about 3000 feet until you reach Pinal Pass. From there it is a steady 8% down grade for about 9 miles until you reach the junction with US-60 about 3 miles east of Globe.

Globe is a really neat little town with a lot of great history. One of these days I will go there and take a bunch of pics just so Globe gets a proper write up. If you have the time, I recommend a little sight-seeing around the town.

 

The Highway 288 junction is a mile or so from this point. You can see Roosevelt Lake in the distance.

We went through Globe until the turn-off to Route 188/Apache Trail. This is also the road to Roosevelt Lake. About 15 miles after turning onto Rt188, in the middle of a long downhill where there is an incredible view of Lake Roosevelt, we made the turn onto Route 288, also known as the “Desert to Tall Pines Highway.” (Much like the ”Florence-Kelvin Highway” the word “highway” here is being used in a very liberal sense.)

 

You probably can’t see it in this pics, but there is an SUV on the top of that round, grassy area. We almost turned around to ride out there.

Route 288 is a scenically, fantastic road and is “paved” for the first 30 miles. Some of the “paving” has been recent, but they appear to have put down the world’s thinnest layer of asphalt. There were some new pot holes in the newly paved sections and the asphalt appears to be well under an inch in thickness. So, road quality for the first 30 miles is only fair, but it is well worth the trip.

Highway 288 goes from this

 

 

 

… to this…

 

 

 

 

 

 

… to this . . .

 

 

…. to this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you want to turn around at the end of the pavement, you will still have taken a beautiful journey. Those first 30 miles climb about 3000 feet and there are beautiful views of Roosevelt Lake and inspiring mountain vistas as you continue to climb.

Malicious Gap? Great name

From the end of the paved area to Young, is about 18 miles. The road is fairly well maintained but it is far from smooth. Much of the road is over granite surfaces that cannot be grated smooth by heavy equipment. If it has rained recently, there will be a lot of debris in the roadway, so take the necessary precautions. Route 288 reaches a maximum elevation of almost 6400 feet before its descent to Young. Snow is not uncommon at this elevation during the winter.

ADVISORY – There is virtually no vehicular traffic along Rt-288 and patchy cell phone service. Make sure sure you and your vehicle are prepared for this journey.

You won’t have any problems with noisey neighbors out here.

 

If you enjoy camping, there are frequent pull-outs where people pull off the road and set up camp sites. I saw no notices regarding fees, so it may well be free, since there are no services. Do NOT, take my word for this.

 

This marker is located at a scenic overlook of Pleasant Valley

A mile or two from Young, you will experience the return of asphalt and will experience a new appreciation for it.

 

This is looking northeast as we entered Young.

Young is located in the middle of Pleasant Valley and it is, indeed, pleasant to look upon. When we visited, there was lush, green grass about as far as the eye could see, with stunning mountains in the distance, on all sides. We were hit by a rain squall as we dropped into the valley but it quickly dissipated and the sun returned.

 

I don’t see this as a crumbling heap. It’s a building with character that is maintenance challenged.

Young may be small (population 666 in 2010) and isolated, but still has an interesting history. It was originally named Pleasant Valley and it wasn’t always very pleasant. From 1882 to 1892 a series of gunfights, ambushes and lynchings took place that collectively are known as the Pleasant Valley War. This “war” resembles the Lincoln County Wars of New Mexico because it was based on the conflict between cattlemen and sheep herders concerning water and grazing rights and maybe a little bit of rustling thrown in to add fuel to the fire. Like Lincoln County, the Pleasant Valley conflict included the use of “hired guns.” In this case, Tom Horn, later immortalized in a movie of the same name, was hired by one of the two sides.

 

The Pleasant Valley conflict was especially tragic because it resulted in the complete destruction of two local families, the Tewksburys and the Grahams. Grave markers and some places of note from the conflict can still be seen in and around Young. Pleasant Valley was renamed Young in 1890 in honor of the town’s first postmaster, Ola Beth Young.

 

Another interesting fact I learn about Young, is that they didn’t have outside electricity there until 1965. Isn’t that weird to think about? There is only one school in Young, appropriately named Young Public School. It is K-12, in one school and my source says that it is not unusual for there to be zero graduates in a given school year.

 

A quick internet search (good thing, because you’re not going to get data access in Young) indicated two restaurants in the city. I saw a fellow working in his yard and asked which of the two (Antlers or Alice’s) he preferred. He said “Antlers” so off we went.

 

On our way in for some delicious food.

Antlers did not disappoint. I cannot compare it to Alice’s, but I can say that the food I had at Antler’s was exceptional. I can honestly say it was the best chicken-fried steak I have had in the state of Arizona. The sides were very good and my dessert, peach-rhubarb cobbler was outstanding. The service was as good as the food. I don’t know if I will ever get to young again, but if I do, I will go back to Antler’s.

 

Here is the main building for Young Public School

I hope you go to Young’s website during or after reading reading this piece. While there, read the entries on their guest book. One I found very interesting is by Phil Cody who says that he was in Young as a Hotshot fire fighter in 1975. At that time there were only three phone in the valley and two of those belonged to the forest service. Really? In 1975?  I thought Roswell was behind the times. Oh, if you sign the guest book, please let them know you found it from the Sky Island Riders.

I would really have liked to have spent a bit of time exploring Young, but we were still planning another 300 miles of riding. If you come here and decide to stay, there is at least one little hotel, the Pleasant Valley Inn, at which to stay.

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