Grand Wash To Gold Butte Via St Thomas Gap Road ~ Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument
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. In the Grand Canyon Parashant, 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 how demanding the Grand Canyon Parashant can be is best to do. More information about 4×4 excursion preparedness can be found in previously published Grand Canyon Parashant articles. The trip from the Grand Wash to the Gold Butte Back Country Byway 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. By following the travel routes in these previous articles, it will be easy to find the starting point in the Grand Wash.
For this venture there is some seriously long dirt road driving mileage that will be racked up when doing the complete round trip loop, which starts and ends in Mesquite Nevada. Mesquite is the best base camp choice in this region and this town also has the closest fueling stations. From Mesquite an adventurer will have to travel through Gold butte National Monument to get to the Grand Canyon Parashant and the same can be said for the trip back, so it is best to take an alternate route back so the venture can be a sightseeing loop tour.
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 heads west into the Gold ButteNational Monument from this intersection. 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 gallons in a 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 the long round trip into the Grand Canyon Parashant amounts to going where few others have gone before. In fact, during my own 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, so selecting a campsite for an overnight home away from home 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. 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 and the trip should be canceled if rain is in the forecast.
The landscape changes dramatically when heading west on St Thomas Gap Road 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 outcrops glisten with the sunlight, just like gold. Vast Joshua Tree forests can be seen when traversing the mountain pass and it becomes easy to realize that the St Thomas Gap area would be perfect for viewing a beautiful sunset!
In the St Thomas Gap section of the road is where the Arizona-Nevada border can be found. On the Arizona side the land is in the Grand Canyon Parashant and on the Nevada side it is the Gold Butte National Monument. 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 why fans of four wheeling are willing to do a long trip over rough dirt roads to a place way out in the middle of desert for a travel venture getaway, 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!