Buckhorn Draw Road into Buckhorn Wash: MK Tunnels


While the Wedge gave you the opportunity to peer into a wildly sculpted sandstone world, now you have the opportunity to drive through a similarly incredible landscape.  After returning to Buckhorn Draw Road from The Wedge, the road begins its drop into the Buckhorn Wash.

At first, you pass just a few interesting hills…

… but within moments, you’re traveling along the floor of a shallow canyon, surrounded by cliffs.

MK Tunnels

There’s one interesting manmade attraction along the side of the road: the Morrison Knudsen Tunnels, or MK Tunnels.  These passageways were hollowed out of the Navajo sandstone in 1948, under orders from the Department of Defense.  The idea was to use the tunnels to test the effectiveness of explosives on the surface.

Workers lived in a shanty town for four years, while the tunnels were under construction.  The entire project was sworn to secrecy here, and at five other locations throughout the western U.S. (the other locations offered different kinds of rock).

    It’s a shame that the tunnels are unsafe, because they would be a lot of fun to explore.  Not long ago, local officials sealed off the entries to the tunnels, to keep people from getting crushed by falling rock, or doing some otherwise foolish thing.  Nowadays, all you can do is peer into a dark hole, wondering what lies beyond the area where light reaches.  Oh, and you can also enjoy the natural air-conditioning effect of the cavern, which is very welcome anytime during the summer.

Back on the road, I kept finding excuses to stop and take pictures.  Every curve revealed another interesting sight…

… as the road twisted along the floor of the serpentine canyon floor.

Those white, puffy clouds made taking pictures a bit difficult.  At times, I’d have some good light…

… but then the wash would go dark.  I even received some sprinkles of rain, a time or two.

This amphitheatre area offers a pit toilet and a camping area, just up the side road near the cave you see in the distance.  At this point, you’re getting close to the wash’s famous pictograph panels.

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