The Harquahala Mountains run from Aquila to Hope along the US-60, West of Phoenix. The highest peak is Harquahala Peak at 5,691. It is the highest place in Southwest Arizona. The area maintains a complete desert landscape, from the base to the canyons to the peaks. It holds areas so inaccessible and untouched that they support the life of multiple endangered species, to include the desert tortoise. Access in most places requires high clearance 4 wheel drive. The area is used for off-roading on the Harquahala Mountain Byway, hiking and mining.
The host rocks consist of altered medium grained granite, folded bleached gneiss with considerable limonite staining. Gold occurs in the fractures of the iron stained granite and gneiss. Rusty, vuggy quartz veins, veinlets and iron stained shear zones carry gold in pockets, seams and stringers. Limestone occurs in the Northern end of the mountains.
The first gold discovery was made in 1762 by Spanish prospectors, they abandoned the site until some 50 years later, when work picked up again for a moment in 1814. By the mid 1800’s the area began its gold rush, attracting prospectors such as Wyatt Earp, Harry Watton, and Hubbard & Bowers who organized the Bonanza Mining Company and opened the Harquahala Bonanza mine, a mine which produced millions at today’s prices. Some other well-known mines were the Socorro Mine in 1882 and the Alaskan Mine in 1920 for lode gold.