Sunday, July 19, 2015

Scenic Roads Across the Arizona Strip

Once again I explored some remote BLM roads in the Arizona Strip and the Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument.  Here's a screencap of my route in Google Earth.  Here's a link to a kmz file of this route.  (I hope the link works. They make it quite hard for me to copy-paste the URL for a file.)

I didn't drive the exact route I had planned.  The area is full of roads so there's plenty of alternates if you want, or need, to change the plan.  That's part of the adventure.

I left I-15 just north of the Virgin River gorge and headed south on Black Rock Road (BLM Route 1009).

Passing the mine, the route changed a bit since the last time I was there, and it took me a minute to spot the continuation of 1009.

I missed a turn when I couldn't find the road I wanted.  My Garmin said this rocky riverbed was the desired road.  I didn't agree, and vetoed the GPS.

Days later I saw in Google Earth that the turnoff was about 50-80 yards before that river bed.  I encounter several intersections like the one below.  I'm glad the roads are all signed in this region.  Each one required me to stop and consult the paper BLM map (it has all the routes labeled). 

I drove east on 1004, down into Wolf Hole Valley, then south west along 101.

I originally planned to drive some of the smaller roads between 1004 and 101, passing by Mustang Knoll.  I didn't spot the turn offs from 1004.  I did see one: unmarked and narrow.  I decided to push on to my planned destination, an airstrip in Pakoon Basin.

Black Canyon (Route 1007) took me south toward Pakoon Basin.  Black Canyon is a nice drive, but the temperature went up about 8-10 degrees as I dropped in elevation driving south.  By the time I reached the western end of Nutter Twists Road, I had the air conditioner running.

Pakoon Airstrip

My main objective on this drive was to visit an airstrip I saw in Google Earth satellite imagery.  Earlier googling led me to conclude that this remote field was used by the NPS and BLM, but not much else.  I didn't know what I'd find when I got there.

And, the runway...

From the airstrip, I turned west on Route 1027.  The sign said it was only 29 miles to Mesquite, but I was leary because this is not a well used road.  I knew it might get difficult.

The hardest section is the 5 miles just west of the airstrip.  The road climbs a mesa along a rocky narrow shelf, then descends the other side down another easier shelf road.  That section would be rated 3 on the Mitchell scale and 4 on Massey's scale and definitely requires high clearance.  I only had to get out of the car once to inspect a large embedded boulder before continuing.  Turns out the easiest path was to drive the tires right over that boulder.

Route 1027 returned me to Route 101

In the middle of nowhere, I saw something new.  A corral with air conditioning!  

From 101, I could take 242 (Lime Kiln Canyon Road) down to Mesquite, NV.

I punctured a tire somewhere along the way causing a slow leak.  At one point it looked a bit low, but TPMS wasn't complaining.  About 5 miles later, TPMS reported that tire low at 39 psi.  I drove the last 10 miles to Mesquite before changing the tire, at which point it was down to 36 psi.  Turns out the tire couldn't be repaired.  Too bad.  It had less than 5k miles on it.

All in all, it was a fun drive.

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