Returning from the Zion NP this past fall, I decided to take the long and scenic route. I drove south across the northwestern corner of Arizona, cutting across the Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument. I'm glad I did, and I might do it again.
Half the route I drove was extremely remote unmaintained rugged roads, and the rest was on remote graded roads. It was very scenic. Here's a map of my route.
From the town of Hurricane, UT, I drove south on a dirt road along the base of the Hurricane Cliffs. While crossing a deep wash, I stopped to take this photo.
When planning my route with Google Earth, I saw a neat looking striped formation along the way.
I guessed it was a gentle sandstone slope, so I stopped and hiked over to explore it. I was very wrong. Standing there, it's actually hard to see the large-scale stripes. It helped to squint my eyes making the plants kinda disappear as it all goes blurry. Here's a shot of what it looked like from the ground. It's not at all the smooth sandstone I thought it would be.
South of that was the most difficult section on this route. A very very rugged stretch filled with lava rocks and boulders that looked as if a car hadn't gone that way in years.
At this point, I was no longer on the road indicated in my garmin nuvi GPS map - which showed the road to be off to the left. I actually got out 3 times to hike over to where the GPS said the road should be. I was really hoping to find a better road, since the one I was on was so bad.
But I never found any other road. I used my binoculars from a nearby hill and saw that the road improves less than a mile ahead, so I continued on very slowly until clear of that mess.
I had to get out twice to move very big boulders out of the way. This section of my route is along the historic Temple Trail.
Once free of the boulders, the roads were just as unused. But at least they had signposts.
Here's a shot of the grassy plains I crossed as I headed south. Five miles further I encountered another truck - from the AZ Game and Fish Department.
After turning westward, the road is graded and starts gaining elevation.
Then there are more pine trees and the dirt becomes a neat orange/ochre color. The colors didn't turn out well in my photos, but the contrast between the dirt and blue sky was amazing.
This is one of my favorite photos from this drive. A scenic secluded valley. Looks like a nice place to fly an ultralight or paraglider.
There are no visitor services in this national monument. The NPS web site warns: "We recommend that you use well-equipped, high clearance, four-wheel drive vehicles with two, full-sized spare tires to travel the Monument routes."
I've driven other park service roads with the same warning. My practice is simply to be prepared for the worst. Be prepared to camp several nights if needed - for example if a rainstorm has made the clay roads slick as ice. And I also bring enough fuel that I can turn around and retrace my route if needed.
The Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument is relatively new. It was established in 2000. Here's the BLM page for the GC Parashant NM. And here's the wikipedia page. Note: the first photo in this post is the hills south of Mesquite, NV (here) at the end of this trip.
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