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By Margie Anderson
Outdoors Editor 

Cruising 17 Mile And Signal Roads

Exploring The Area Southwest Of Wikieup Arizona


Rockhouse Cabin

Photos Courtesy of John and Margie Anderson

John and I had been wanting to explore the area southwest of Wikieup for a long time, and we finally got there last month. We honestly didn't even know if there was anything worth seeing back there, but the fact that you would be able to check out the Big Sandy River decided me!

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We did this whole trip in one day from Phoenix, so it's doable, but it makes for a very long day. Starting on Highway 93, go north past Nothing and keep an eye out for the sign that says 17 Mile Road. Turn west off the highway here. The main road is very well-maintained gravel, nice and wide, so just about any vehicle can make it.

Gorgeous Views

The road starts to climb through the Poachie Mountains and you'll get gorgeous views of Arrastra Mountain on the south and Greenwood Peak on the north. It's high desert here so it's mostly junipers and prickly pear – we were able to let Mochi run around without any worries about cholla.

There are also some stunning rock formations on the hills that make the drive even more enjoyable. The road comes to a T when it connects with Signal Road, and you'll turn left here and head southwest. Pretty soon you'll come to the town (?) of Signal, with a sign hanging off the posts saying "Signal Est. 1877 Pop.0". There are houses scattered around, but hardly any traffic at all – in fact we only saw maybe 3 other cars all day!

Rockhouse Cabin

I had seen a site called Rockhouse Cabin on the Topo Maps app, and since we didn't know how long it would take for the drive we didn't stop along the way but headed straight for the cabin. Take Signal Road to Alamo Road and head south on Alamo to 7466. From this point you will need a 4WD to get to the cabin. It is ROUGH.

Stay headed west on 7466 and drive down a sandy wash then climb up the hill. You'll see a rock wall in a cleft that is the road to the cabin. This immediately turns into a narrow shelf road. I have no idea what you would do if someone was coming the other way. I never spotted a place to pass or to turn around on this road until we got to the cabin. Once you're on it, you're committed!

Room For Parking, Turning

Fortunately, it's only about half a mile to the cabin at this point, and there is plenty of room for parking and turning around. Again, there was no one there. I walked around a bit and it looked to me like the road past the cabin was completely washed out.

The cabin itself was a huge surprise – it's very sturdily built of rock and has a great roof and wooden floors. Inside it's like an old saloon – evidently, a lot of people drive up there to drink and leave their empties on the shelves inside. There's even wooden furniture inside and we had a fun time looking at everything. It's very neat and tidy, if a bit dusty. Frankly, I can't imagine driving back down that shelf road after drinking!

There are a lot of places to camp along the bigger roads, so on the way back toward Signal we stopped at a site that had a fire ring and ate lunch before continuing back toward Signal and the Big Sandy River.

Signal And Ruins

Back on Signal Road we drove to the sign for the turnoff to Signal ghost town and headed east toward the Big Sandy. Pretty soon we came to some huge old concrete walls, probably some kind of old mining stuff. We climbed around on them for a while and Mochi chased lizards, then we headed south to see if we could find the ruins.

Need 4WD

This is another spot where you'll need a 4WD because you'll be driving through the deep sand of Rupley Wash. There are some small signs showing the way to go, and once you reach the wash it's less than half a mile to the ruins, so you could easily walk.

These ruins are worth a short hike – the walls are very high in a lot of places, and it's fascinating to wander around and try to figure out what everything was for. But it was getting to be late afternoon so we decided we better get going. Instead of turning onto 17 Mile Road and head back the way we came, we stayed on Signal Road and came out on 93 north of 17 Mile.

Wikieup And Burro Creek Campground

From the intersection of Signal Road and Highway 93, it's only 15 miles north to Wikieup, and if you've never stopped to eat there, you should do it! They have a great gift shop and the prettiest patio and gardens.

Between the turnoff to Signal Road and the 17 Mile Road turnoff is Burro Creek Campground, which is a pretty cool place. The creek makes great little swimming holes there and trails from the campground will take you to them. There are flush toilets and a dump station, and 10 of the 23 campsites are suitable for RVs. Find out more at

As for us, we hit the highway and took the long drive back to Phoenix. It was a 305 mile round trip and about 11 hours altogether. And honestly, we can't wait to go back!

Final Bits Of Advice

Archaeological Site

I've talked about this before, but I strongly recommend you download the Topo Maps app and then once you have it, download the quadrants you'll be using so they are available to you when you don't have a cell signal. I have the hi-res maps of the entire state of Arizona downloaded on my phone, and they are invaluable. You can see where you are in real time which is a godsend when you're navigating a maze of dirt roads.

Topo And Gaia

I used mine a lot on this trip to keep us heading in the right direction to the cabin and the ruins. I also have Gaia downloaded on my phone, and those maps display on the Jeep's screen, which is something John really likes. So if you can, get both of those and have fun!


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