La Paz County High Point Trip Report

Harquahala Mountain (5,681 feet)

Date: November 27, 1999
Author: Ken Akerman

I drove my 4wd up the 10.5 mile dirt and four-wheel drive road, to within a few feet of the summit benchmark. On the summit is a humble, ramshackle building that is the remains of the Harquahala Peak Smithsonian Observatory. This was built in 1920 by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory to measure and record solar activity. Due to extreme weather conditions, decreased visibility, and difficult access, the observatory remained in operation for only five years before the Smithsonian abandoned it in 1925.

In 1975 the observatory building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1979 the Central Arizona Water Control District constructed a microwave communication facility on the summit to control water flow in the Central Arizona Project canals.