Before I made the trek into Parashant, I had no idea of the beauty that was just hours away from my home. It’s easy to underestimate the Parashant. I have seen so many pictures of the Grand Canyon; I feel like I’ve been there a million times. But there is nothing like camping right on […]
Before I made the trek into Parashant, I had no idea of the beauty that was just hours away from my home. It’s easy to underestimate the Parashant. I have seen so many pictures of the Grand Canyon; I feel like I’ve been there a million times. But there is nothing like camping right on the edge of the canyon.
One can easily travel to the north or south rim by passenger car if you want to immerse yourself in the crowds. I prefer solitude. The Parashant National Monument provides just that. So we took the opportunity before summer was in full swing.
An incredible route through the Parashant National Monument
I put the word out to a few friends who were immediately interested. Six of us met in Mesquite, Nevada, nearly 5 1/2 hours from home. We ended up just over the Arizona line at the base of the Virgin Mountains. Gold Butte National Monument and Lake Mead National Recreation Area were to the south, and Parashant was just over the mountains.
We started around 8 A.M. With just 3 hours of sleep. Waiting for the trail leader to arrive kept everyone up all night. I had a cooling fan go out on my way up. After acquiring the part and changing it out, I was hours late. Close communication kept everything smooth.
The trail was comfortable through the Virgin Mountains. Climbing elevation was demanding, and everyone overheated. No one had an issue stopping to take in the views. As we pressed forward, a thunderstorm moved in from behind. At this point, we had gained 4,460 feet in elevation in under 10 miles.
Elbow Canyon was beautiful and full of new colors. Northwestern, Arizona, is a unique place with unique landscapes. Erosion creates some stunning canyons and rock formations. It’s not your typical Arizona desert.
After cresting the mountain top, we arrived at Cougar Spring, where we found one of several cabins in the area. The cabin was located just off the trail surrounded by juniper trees. Made from stone, with a wood and metal roof, it looked to be a luxurious place at one time. The inside walls and floor were cemented, and there was a fireplace to keep the previous dwellers warm.
Continuing down the trail, we reach Jacobs Well just in time for lunch. Everyone gathered near an old cabin for a quick bite to eat. I took a walk around to look at the old relics in the area. An old windmill, a couple of unknown pieces of machinery, and an old cabin are scattered across the field. It appears to be used by ranchers but located on public land.
The Grand Wash Cliffs start to come into view as we round Mud Mountain. Heading for Hidden Canyon, we find ourselves on Nutter Twists road. It was an exciting trail with some mild obstacles on a sheer cliff. We paralleled the Hidden Cliffs and dropped into Hidden Canyon.
Our campsite was located at yet another old cabin. We set up camp at Hidden Spring just outside an old corral. While settling in for the night, we witnessed a beautiful sunset from the bottom of Hidden Canyon. With little sleep, I decided it was a good time to call it a night.
Kevin is an American outdoorsman born and raised in rural Arizona who grew up exploring the Arizona backcountry with his father. Today, he and his son travel to the most remote regions of Arizona, scavenging for the remains of early western pioneers. As a lifelong outdoorsman, Kevin has learned to stick close to his roots while engaging in important advocacy work regarding motorized access to public lands. You can find his work in many local and nationwide publications, including The Western Journal, 4Low Magazine, and his website AZBackroads.com.