Interstate 17 Exit 248

Sometime ago the husband and I took off on one of our adventures.  This time we had decided to go explore the town of Bumble Bee, Arizona.  We had learned of the town through the website and it’s only 44 miles outside of Phoenix which made is an easy afternoon adventure.


The trip however did not go as planned.  As the trip was rather spur of the moment we did not properly fill the gas tank in the car and had only enough gas to get where we were going and back home again, there are often not gas stations near ghost towns. Had Bumble Bee had to offer what we expected it would have been a successful venture, unfortunately the Ghost Towns website is not 100% up-to-date and despite listing several buildings intact and some even restored this was not the case.  With the exception of a handful of homes, every building in Bumble Bee has been torn down.  I emailed the Ghost Towns site so they could update their data and they have yet to do so.  We were familiar with the town of Crown King that is also in the area and would have continued on but would have run out of gas so made mental plans to return.

All that is left of Bumble Bee
All that is left of Bumble Bee

Two weeks ago we decided again to explore the towns off of Exit 248 from Interstate 17.  We were somewhat skeptical about making the trip to Crown King because everything we had heard was that you needed a high clearance vehicle to get there and we drive a Ford Escape.  After turning off the Bumble Bee/Crown King exit the road is only paved for approximately one mile before turning into a primitive road.  Primitive roads are unmaintained dirt roads and vary in quality from easily passable to only passable with high clearance vehicles.  Being a mountain road this one is also very curvy.

Not wanting to repeat our last failed adventure to this area the husband did some research via Google Maps and discovered another town between Bumble Bee and Crown King, Cleator.   It’s 9 miles from Bumble Bee to Cleator so we were fairly certain we could make that distance in the Escape, it took 30 minutes.  Crown King is 13 miles past Cleator so we decided to attempt the journey there first and come back to Cleator.  It took 45 minutes to go the addition 13 miles.

Little did we know that Crown King is a very popular place for ATV enthusiasts and the town was rather crowded.  Fitting the true definition of a ghost town, in 2000 the Crown King population was 133 but the town boasts a general store, a bar, a restaurant and a lodging area.  Having gone there with the hopes of photographing a deserted ghost town we were slightly disappointed.

The Mill Restaurant in Crown King
The Mill Restaurant in Crown King

The view to and from Crown King was rather spectacular though and worth the drive.


Like Crown King, Cleator also has a bar and a general store but nothing more as it is only a gateway town to Crown King. In 2006 the Cleator population was 6.

Cleator, Arizona

“KEEP OUT” and “NO TRESPASSING” signs prevented us from getting up close views of the remaining buildings and homes.


But they weren’t completely out of reach.





We found one last treasure on our way home.


More photos from this trip are at Perfectly Damaged Photography



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