Charoleau Gap - Oracle, a.k.a. The Pizza Run

The Pizza Run

Be sure to check out the article entitled "Southern Arizona Trails: Charelou Gap - Oracle Road" in the April 1996 issue of 4 Wheel Drive and Sport Utility magazine written by Jerry Steele. Appearing in the photo on page 19 you see both Bob and Robbie Peterson. Thus they have achieved at least fame if not fortune by appearing in a national magazine. Of course the real purpose of the photo was to show Becky's jeep crawling up over the Stair Step.

John Waack was mentioned in the article by deed if not by name, as this 05 November 95 run was the second time he rolled his Suzuki and earned the nickname "Over Easy". Describing the event in his own words:
"I put on quite a show for the guys on the Sunday run. Got real carried away climbing a high rock step, I mean REAL carried away. Got up on the rear wheels, couldn't see where I was going but I knew I was still climbing. Hey that means you're not to the top, yet. Right? So...I kept my foot in it, launched it real good and came down on the right side. OOPS! About ten guys grabbed it and flipped it back on its wheels. They then picked up all the debris and threw it in the back, including the windshield, or what was left of it. I restarted the engine and finished the run. Drove home in a downpour all the way. I don't remember ever being so cold. Hey, the price of wheelin'. I do, however, plan to be ready for this weekend. COOL!"

Charoleau Gap - Oracle, April 1998

Here's a report on our 4x4 trip on Saturday April 18, 1998.

We started the day with omelettes at Claire's Cafe in Catalina. The participants were John and Mike in my big Chevy "River", Bob and Robbie in "Willy" the Suburban, John in "Over Easy" the Suzuki, and still another John in a stock full-sized Blazer.

From Catalina, we went east on Golder Ranch Road and then north on Lago del Oro. Then we turned east on the new Charouleau Gap access road which goes across state land for about two miles before crossing Canada del Oro and connecting up with FR 736. We picked up two more guys in a stock Izuzu Amigo as we dropped into upper Canada del Oro. Crossing the boulder fields was quite the adventure as much of them were under water from the snow melt. This means that the rocks are both slippery and hard to see. Both the winch and the tow straps got used several times to extricate the two stock trucks with open differentials. The water on "the trail" was running about two feet deep. I managed to put in about equal time as the puller and as the pullee.

We had lunch at Coronado Camp. Lunch included such delicasies as MRE freeze-dried peaches and homemade brownies. We talked on the CB to a couple trucks high above us on snow-covered Rice Peak. Then we went on to attack "the step", a 10-foot high waterfall-like rock outcropping. Everybody made it down except my big Chevy with its low hanging cross member. I elected to winch myself down the new bypass route -- this winchable bypass is quite a thrill itself with a slope about 30 degrees. The weather was terrific with sun and temperatures in the low 70's. The wildflowers at low elevations were fabulous. The snowmelt water was still a little brisk when you have to attach the winch cable in mid-stream.

One more submerged boulder required some afternoon strapping --- hey, my socks were already wet. "The River .... runs through it" elected the 3-foot deep, but boulder-free, route at that crossing. I'm glad that Chevrolet mounts the air intake high in the engine compartment.

A wonderful time was had by all. The day was a near perfect mix of scenery, rock crawlin', river crossin' and hill climbin'. We got into Oracle at 6PM, just in time for a steak or rack o' ribs at the Oracle Inn. There was no serious truck damage or breakage, but all trucks took a lot of undercarriage pounding. Lots of new scrapes on skid plates, rocker panels, gas tanks, diff covers, torsion bars, etc..

Oracle - Charoleau Gap, November 2000

Hill, Waack, and Peterson were part of 11 vehicles on a Tucson Rough Riders trip through Charoleau Gap (on the north side of the Catalinas) on Friday Nov 24. The conditions were just right. Temperatures in the 60s and just enough water to make Canada del Oro fun. Only 3 of 11 vehicles made the Step without the aid of a strap. The only vehicle damage was a broken front axle u-joint on a Cherokee driven by Chuck Wells. It took about 2 hours to repair on the trail. Chuck is the author of some terrific trail guide books ( and he is now writing one on Arizona trails.

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Last modified: Wed Dec 20 19:59:25 2000