The Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument is one of the last untamed wilderness areas in the west and a trip into this vast expanse is guaranteed to be an adventure from the start. The Grand Canyon Parashant is a very remote National Monument that can only be accessed with a high ground clearance vehicle. There are no modern conveniences like telecommunications, restrooms or gas stations. A visitor will truly be on their own with little hope for rescue if things go wrong. For this reason, a trip into this vast desert wilderness has to be carefully planned and preparations have to be made.
Navigating the many long dirt roads in the Grand Canyon Parashant requires using a detailed map or GPS. It is very easy to take a wrong turn and get lost in this place. Getting lost can mean racking up extra mileage, which can result in running out of fuel and it is a very long walk back to civilization. Charting the game plan on a map or a dedicated GPS ahead of time is a necessary measure when planning a Grand Canyon Parashant excursion. It is important to remember that smart phone mapping services are not reliable, because there is not even the faintest hint of a data signal in this desolate region.
Forewarnings are always necessary for remote destinations that may present dangerous situations, so letting folks know just how demanding the Grand Canyon Parashant can be is best to do. Today's venture is just one section of a longer trip that goes from Mesquite to Aravada Springs, Pakoon Springs, Grand Wash Bay, then back to Gold Butte and Mesquite. The previous articles Whitney Pocket Road To Aravada Springs, Aravada Springs To Pakoon Springs and Pakoon Springs To Grand Wash Bay describe the rest of the trip.
From Grand Wash Bay, it will be necessary to backtrack on County Road 113 to the intersection of CR 111. There is some signage at this intersection, so it is fairly easy to spot. CR 111 heads back to Pakoon Springs, while CR 113 (St Thomas Gap Road) heads west into the Gold Butte National Monument. At the end point, CR 113 connects with the Gold Butte Back Country Byway, which heads back to Mesquite. What this long round trip adds up to is 137 miles of rough dirt road driving, which will take about seven hours to accomplish. Most 4×4 vehicles can do this trip on one tank of gas, but carrying an extra five gallon can is recommended in case of getting lost. As mentioned before, the Grand Canyon Parashant is not a good place to be stranded, so be sure that the choice of vehicle is up to the task. I did the trip in a reliable 4×4 Jeep with a GPS and had no problems.
The lure of doing a long round trip into the Grand Canyon Parashant amounts to going where few others have gone before. In fact, during my entire round trip to Grand Wash Bay, there was not one solitary other vehicle to be seen in this desolate place, so plenty of solitude definitely can be found in this majestic desert landscape.
The peaceful quiet of the desert is deafening in this untamed region and it is easy to leave the problems of the modern world far behind. Primitive camping is allowed in the Grand Canyon Parashant and finding an existing campsite is easy to do. In fact, planning an overnight campout for the long round trip to Grand Wash Bay is actually the right way to go about the venture. If camping is in the plans, be sure to pick a campsite on the high ground, because the entire Grand Wash is prone to flash floods. For this same reason, the entire trip should be canceled if rain is in the forecast.
The landscape changes dramatically when heading west on St Thomas Gap Road (CR 113) as the trail heads uphill through a long dry wash ravine. As the mountains near, the panoramic views are spectacular to see and the patches of red rock glisten with the sunlight, just like gold. Vast Joshua Tree forests can be seen when traversing the mountain pass and the St Thomas Gap area area is perfect for viewing a beautiful sunset!
At about the halfway point on St Thomas Gap Road is where the Arizona-Nevada border can be found. On the Arizona is the Grand Canyon Parashant National monument and on the Nevada side it is Gold Butte National Monument territory. From here on out the majestic views of the mountains are even more intense as the end of the line nears at the intersection of the Gold Butte Back Country Scenic Byway. Once on the Gold Butte Byway, it is just a matter of following the road north to get back to Mesquite.
It is easy to explain the reasons why 4x4 vehicle fans like going to desolate remote destinations, but it is better to discover the answers for oneself. Some folks find that the peaceful serenity of the desert has a way of divining problems, while others are intrigued with the thought of what it would take to survive in this harsh environment. One thing is for certain, if you really want to make the ultimate great escape to find some peace and quiet, the Grand Canyon Parashant is the place to go!
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