Crown King is in the Southern Bradshaw Mountains, only a few hours from Phoenix

By Carol Boles

Far from ordinary” or “one-pump town” are perhaps the best ways to describe the town of Crown King, located 1 1/2 hours north of Phoenix.

This mountaintop community was established in 1888 as a bustling mining town with famous mines such as the Tiger, Gladiator, Grey Eagle and Silver Prince. While the gold fever slowly broke, the town has survived.

Crown King is now a popular year-round destination. The elevation is nearly 6,000 feet, providing four gentle seasons for the 120 full-time residents, hundreds of cabin owners and thousands of visitors each year.

Temperatures are 20 degrees cooler than Phoenix, making Crown King an ideal summer cabin location. All you need is a sturdy vehicle and an adventurous attitude. The road to Crown King includes 28 miles of dirt road with breathtaking views, one-lane bridges and numerous switchbacks. A large portion of the road was originally the location of the Santa Fe Railroad, as it stretched up to Crown King in 1904. The line was abandoned, and the train tracks were dismantled in 1926. For the off-road enthusiasts, there is a “back way” from Lake Pleasant that will challenge a driver’s vehicle and off-road skills during the four-plus hours on an unmaintained rocky trail.

No matter how you find your way to Crown King, all roads lead to Main Street and the Historic Crown King Saloon. Walking in the saloon is like stepping back in time — 1906, to be exact. Photos on the wall create a feel for what it was like to work and live in a mining town at the turn of the 20th century.

Open seven days a week, guests will enjoy the great local atmosphere and friendly service at the CK Saloon. Locals share stories of the haunted brothel upstairs and tales of Pancho Villa. Inside the Saloon is MJ’s Café, serving great burgers and other American fare.

The Mill restaurant is situated high above Main Street and serves lunch to hungry travelers on the weekends. No trip to Crown King is complete without a visit to the CK General Store. Built in 1904, the general store is home to the U.S. post office, the only gas pump in the community and the best homemade fudge.

Lodging facilities in Crown King range from bed-and-breakfast suites to private cabins or a bunkhouse for large groups.

Because Crown King is surrounded by the Prescott National Forest, there are plenty of campsites nearby as well. The Crown King School (K-8) was established in 1914 and is one of the last one-room schoolhouses operating in Arizona. Five students are enrolled.

The Crown King Volunteer Fire Department is a vital asset to the community. Many of the annual events hosted in Crown King raise funds for the CK fire department. Locals and cabin owners generously donate their time and money to CKFD.

There is a single-lane concrete bridge, commonly referred as the Magic Bridge, as visitors transition from the high desert to the tall pines of Crown King. Not only does the landscape change, but as drivers cross the Magic Bridge into Crown King, they are transported to a time and place where folks are more friendly and the pace is much slower.   

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