This was a three and 1/2 day trip to the north rim Grand Canyon/Parashant National Monument. My goal was to take in the most remote canyon viewing in Arizona. I had planned this trip in the 1990's with our then new 1994 4x4 Suburban but due to family and work and 12 years in Texas it was a tad delayed. The Suburban is still with us, however, it is now far from stock form and setup for expeditions.
Allie (my daughter) joined me in this trip.
Because the arrival in Tuweep would be a long journey Saturday, and to allow extra time for new routes I chose to reduce time pressure for the arrival so we drove up to Flagstaff Friday evening, had dinner in Camp Verde, and overnighted at the Cinders ORV near Flagstaff off 89A in the forest.
Friday Day 1:
Camp Cinders ORV about 10pm.
Saturday Day 2:
Saturday Departed Cinders at 6:30AM for Fredonia, AZ (Last Cell Service). Here we filled up the 42 gallon tank in the suburban. We also had 6 2.5 gallon gas cans on the top rack. We headed to Pipe Springs to pickup the latest maps and park pass. I had already received the backcountry permit for the group site at GCNP Tuweep. After confirming very little about road conditions from the ranger I picked up a gift for my wife at the gift shop and we headed to Colorado City to take the Clayhole Road Route (County 5) . We aired down just south of Colorado City to ~20psi, then drove 45 miles to GC-Parachant NM, then 14 miles to the CG North Rim / Toroweap site. We saw exactly one Pick-up truck headed the other way on this route on County 5 near Mt. Trumbull turn off. We did see areas County 5 that would be very muddy when wet with extensive rutting however the route was dry for our passing.
We arrived at Toroweap/Tuweep before lunch and picnicked at the rim sites for lunch. Two hikers came by and they were the only other campers at the campground. Four other cars did come through the area checking out the location, one base Jeep Cherokee on street tires and a group of three "Tacos". We ate street tacos and spent the night under the stars with a great view of the milky way. We never saw a ranger and no one asked for our permit. The camping area is well kept for its remoteness and the pit toilets very nice for such things. There were zero services here, no gas, no water, no food, no cell service, nothing but sky and canyon. :D
Sunday Day 3:
Morning we headed back to the rim-side day site at 7AM for breakfast and the last few pictures in the morning light, then headed out of the park. We saw a Mitsubishi van done in quite an expedition style driving at high speed south into the park so car 1 for the day. We headed west to go over Mt. Trumbull. West of Mt. Trumbull sawmill site we stopped for pictures. While stopped we was car 2 headed west. They stopped and we chatted a bit and they were looking for the grand canyon/Tuweep and exclaimed "You are the first car we saw in 100 miles!". They were in a base Cherokee with street tires. I am now concerned that I had overthought this since we are carrying a full sized 35-12.50-17 spare, two plug kits and two re-inflation/slime kits and over 60 gallons of fuel! We stopped at the Mt Trumbull school house and took pictures. I signed the guestbook and above me was the "Taco Club". We headed south to Bar10 Ranch with a goal to reach the Whitmore Canyon Overlook for a picnic lunch. The road to the Ranch was not too difficult, just hilly and twisty. There was a gate at the ranch and we also stopped past the ranch at the airport for pictures. Once we were south of the airport the road turned rough on the lava field flow to the river and the roughness and decline were slow in the heavy suburban. We did see a UTV and two ATVs being ridden by the Bar10 Ranch employees or guests ("car 3?". At the Overlook it was very hot, certainly in the triple digits so we "picnicked" in the truck since there was no shade. The view was great and the vulcanism very photographic. There was a hiding trail to the river and I understand that one can embark/debark rafting trips from here with the help of a helicopter. The return trip up the lava flow was not as slow (going up is always easier I guess) but it was first gear low range for 1/2 of the distance to keep the engine and transmission temperatures down. It was very easy to overheat with this climb of 1500+ ft. We returned to the schoolhouse then took BLM1018 west to Poverty Mountain. There were many gates. From the Bar10 to the campsite Sunday we saw a pickup truck (Car 4) just south of Poverty Mt. site. From the end of 1018, we headed south on County 103 21 miles to the intersection of 1019 and County 103. We took the right fork 1019 and headed 13 miles to the end at Twin Point for dinner, sigh seeing, and overnight. At Kelly point we did receive cell service apparently from the Hualapau Grand Canyon West development southwest of us across the canyon on the south rim(this was visible from 1019 on the west side of Kelly Point across Burnt Canyon(<-- beautiful). There were many campsites on the west side of the point as one heads south to the end of the road. The view from these is westward and at night the lights of Las Vegas, NV are visible as well as lights from the Grand Canyon West Experience/Hualapi. Rats! Light pollution! Cell Towers :confused: We saw exactly ZERO
people here on Kelly point!!! I also want to add that the campsite at the end of the road was a grand view but potentially dangerous, especially for kids. There no railings nothing to retain and the ground is decomposing rock and loose footing. This could be a risk with kids, playful dogs, etc. :eek:
Monday Day 4:
morning we had breakfast then returned north on 1019 and by late morning were at the Poverty Mountain site, where there was a ranger standing by a pickup with maps (car 1). We stopped and chatted a bit about the area and options for egress from the park. I decided to take Hidden Canyon and he didn't seem too concerned about the vehicle making it although he did eye it over and mention having an extra (2) spare tire is recommended. I asked him about what he was up to mostly, and he replied with "turning back cars that don't belong here". I asked why cars would be here and he replied "they come in from Vegas and follow their GPS to the Grand Canyon". Just north of here we turned west on 1003 down Hidden Canyon. This turned out to be slower going than I had anticipated, not initially, but once we were down in the Joshua trees it was really rough, there were many wash crossings with 2-3 foot highfor gravel climbs, and overall very slow going. There's no way I'd want to see a Subaru or stock SUV here. We had planned to take 1027 thru Lime Kiln canyon to Mesquite, but at the turn off the road looked as slow as 1003 had been and it was already after 2pm and we were due back home here in Cave Creek that evening. We chose to head to Pakoon Springs and egress via Gold Butte Monument. The road up from Pakoon Spring to Red Pockets Mtn. was a gravel wash long grade and the temps here were easily in the high 105+ or more. First gear to keep my engine/tranny temps inline is was very easy to overheat. Gold Butte was very colorful and I'd love to have the chance to be there at night for some astrophotography. We aired up here and about 1 mile north we received cell service. We didn't see another car till we were within 1/2 of I-15 / Bunkerville so 1 car only on Monday! We took I-15 west to Las Vegas and had dinner there - we gassed up (36 gallons ~10MPG ). We made Cave Creek by about 11pm. :)
1. Take Fuel and Plenty of Supplies! No Services
2. Think about your spare tire
situation. I did get multiple sidewall cuts. No flats but... ;)
3. The "Extreme-ness" of the trip wasn't the trails per-se its the 100s of miles and no people
4. There are people out here with cars... scary :mad:
5. Remember to take your :camera:
6. I brought a Spot Gen 3 for the trip since I had family along.
Astrophotography @ Tuweep
BLM 1019 Forest / Ruts when Wet!
BLM 1019 Gets Rough on the Point
Burnt Canyon Panorama
Example Campsites West Side of Kelly Point
Kelly Point Campsite
Hidden Canyon 1003 - Rough Spot
Hidden Canyon 1003 Panoramas
Gold Butte NM Time to Air Up!