Sunday, June 07, 2015

NW Arizona and Grand Canyon Parashant NM

A few weeks ago, I drove across the NW corner of Arizona including parts of the Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument.  I've done this several times and I enjoy it each time.  This time I wanted to drive through a few of the short canyons deeper in the territory.  I wondered if their remoteness translated into more difficult terrain.  The main roads in that region are large graded roads that any car can drive.

Starting from Hurricane, UT, I headed SE along highway 59 and turned south down a series of roads that run somewhat parallel to the Hurricane Cliffs.  On a previous trip I drove the dirt roads that head south along the base of those cliffs.  That route had some challenging sections.  The roads I drove along the top of the cliffs are very easy.  The first section of my route is included in Massey's trail book "Backcountry Adventures - Utah" (The Divide Trail).

Route 1015 to the Arizona Border
I didn't see a BLM route marker until I reached the Arizona border, but I think it's all route 1015.  The turnoff from highway 59 isn't marked, but it's large and you can't miss it.

I saw plenty of cattle along this section.  At one point, I came upon 2 that were lying in the road and I had to wait for them to get up and move.

Route 1015 South to Navajo Trail (Route 30)

Navajo Road (route 30) West to Route 5

Route 5 North to Route 101

Route 101 SW to Route 1032
I didn't take any photos of this section.  Route 101 is a large graded road.  I just watched my GPS map so I wouldn't miss my turnoff.

Upper Jump Canyon (Route 1032)
This road crosses a sparse pine forest.  I saw several corrals and water tanks, but only a few cattle.

St George Canyon
The road descends down this windy canyon.  

Hidden Canyon aka Nutter Twists Road  (Route 1003)
This was the first challenging road I encountered.  I had to drive most of it with the suspension raised due to the many dry creek crossings.  Each such wash crossing had its own flavor of rocks, boulders, gravel, and bedrock.  Nothing difficult.  Just keeps your speed down.  I averaged less than 10 mph on this road.

Western End of Nutter Twists Road
It wasn't my original route, but I decided to try the last short section of Nutter Twists Road that connects with the bottom of Black Canyon.  This is the hardest section that I encountered.  The difficult part is near the top, about a mile from the bottom of Jump Canyon.  A downhill section (travelling west) about 50 yards long with large chunks of bedrock that you must drive over.  It's marked up from tires and frames and such, showing the spots most likely to hit your underside.  This short section would be rated 5 on the scales used by Mitchell and Massey.

I decided that I was too tired to properly enjoy that rugged section and chose to drive up Jump Canyon instead.  Translation: I chickened out.  But I'm glad I did because Jump Canyon was a joy to drive.

Jump Canyon  (Route 1033)
Surprisingly nice road/trail.  I drove 30 mph at times.  Fewer cattle here.  The road appears less well worn and some of it is 2-tracks in the grass.  But it's a very nice drive.

Hobble Canyon
This road was easy and pleasant to drive.  Not as scenic as Jump Canyon until I reached the western end when views of the distant horizon improved.

Route 101
Not much to say here.  Route 101 is a major route through the region and is an easy drive.  Be careful to not enter the bends with too much speed because the dirt has little traction and the gods of understeer will send you off the road.

Route 242 (becomes Lime Kiln Canyon Road) to Mesquite
Another easy graded road.  The final run down the hill to Mesquite is smoother than it was last time I drove it.  

All in all, it was a nice alternative to the interstate.  It's much more fun to take the scenic route.

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