7 Days of Camping and Exploring North of the Grand Canyon

By unwire, April 23, 2009

The Arizona Strip and the Parashant are isolated areas North of the Grand Canyon. Far from any Interstate highways, it is as beautiful as it is remote. On this 7 day trip with over 400 miles of driving, we did not encounter any paved roads.

I would have posted this sooner, but the day after I got back home, our house was robbed and my laptop was stolen. The thief broke in though a bathroom window mid-day on a Sunday. My laptop bag was under the desk in the study and my camera bag was on top of the desk. The camera bag had my camera and all the memory cards from this trip and I had not yet backed them up. I was happy he did not steal the camera bag. He probably thought the bag was too small or something. Anyway, my laptop along with my Inmarsat Sabre1 was in my laptop bag and they were gone. If I had to choose between the laptop and the camera bag, I’d pick loosing the laptop. I had recent backups and the laptop was almost 2 years old. The Police were at our front door when we arrived back home, our house alarm had notified them of the break in. I’m sure more would have been stolen if it weren’t for the loud siren that sounded once he tripped the alarm’s motion detector in our home. The next day the police called and said that they had recovered my laptop bag, without the laptop and my checkbook. The Inmarsat Sabre1 was inside the recovered bag! I’m sure the thief had no idea what is was.

Anyway, after buying a new laptop, reinstalling all the software and restoring my backup I just never got around to posting this trip report.

Here is the map of our October 2008 trip:

October 11th:

Near the Savanic Mine:

We camped the first night at Grand Gulch Mine:

Note: All photos link back to Flickr where you can see a larger version.
Five Jeeps and One Land Cruiser.

October 12th. Several in the group realized that they didn’t have enough gas for the duration. So they took off to St. George. so we waited for several hours.

We camped on the side of the road and on the morning of October 13th the water I had left out was mostly frozen:

Every night of our trip, except one, the temperature dropped into the teens. In fact, once the sun went down, it was like the door closing on a refrigerator with us inside. We didn’t spend much time around the fire most nights. This is one of the few trips I’ve gone on where I got lots of sleep!

This day’s driving really defines for me what I want to do in my vehicle. Visit beautiful remote places and spend at least a week doing it:

We camped the night of October 13th at Copper Mountain Mine:

It was windy and some metal siding on a collapsing building was noisy all night.

A great spot to stop for lunch on October 14th:

You could always fly in and get a great view from the sky:

We camped in the Whitmore area on October 14th within a couple hundred feet of the edge of the Grand Canyon:

The next morning, October 15th, we we took a 1 plus mile hike down to the Colorado River:

On the hike there is this interesting formation of Columnar Basalt (like Devils Postpile) on the side of the canyon:

Our our way north up Whitmore Canyon we visited Pa’s Pocket:

Up in the higher elevations, the foliage changes dramatically:

Rock Art:



Last campsite the night of October 16th:

Before the trip, I added a 24 gallon auxiliary tank to my Land Cruiser. Without this, I don’t know if I would have been able to do this trip. Without it I would have needed to carry 5 jerry cans. The aux tank made it easy to keep the main tank full with the push of a button.

I have a small business and the only way I could have gone on this trip is with portable satellite Internet. It worked every night from inside my tent except one night when we camped in an area thick with trees.

The nights were colder than expected. I learned that it’s best to include a big winter coat, knit cap, good gloves and a wool blanket since you never know what weather may happen on a trip. I had most of these on the trip, but a few extra items would have made it more comfortable.

I brought a Colman water heater for showers. It worked perfectly. It was easy to turn off and on the water when soaping up and rinsing off to save water. It was instantly hot every time.

I’m planning on doing more exploring in this area in the years to come.


  1. Dave Bullock says:

    Awesome man, looks like a blast. All those jeepers didn’t mind Toyota driver with them?

  2. unwire says:

    Nope, they didn’t care. One of them just recently bought a Land Cruiser.

  3. Chad says:

    Gotta tell ya…you’re my new hero! I lived in Tempe, Arizona for 13 years and off-road motored & explored every part of the state except for the AZ Strip. I’m so jealous. I’m glad to see that there are others that have the same cajones as I did in my explorations!

  4. Glen E. Black says:

    Great pics from your trip. You missed out on the one room schoolhouse at Mt. Trumbull where my dad taught grades K – 12 back in 1957/1958. Check it out next time you’re out that way. Check out the Bar 10 ranch as well. Glen E. Black (gleneblack@hotmail.com)

  5. fire blanket says:

    wow amazing picture man