The game plan is as follows…
Grand Gulch, UT. This area is situated north of Mexican Hat and south of Natural Bridges.
This is not your average car camping experience. There are no services within 40-50 of this location so while this is car-camping this is primitive car-camping. All provisions, including water and firewood, must be brought with you from Phoenix to last for the entire trip.
Be sure you fuel up in Mexican Hat as it is your last opportunity for fuel. Trucks and SUVs are strongly advised should bad weather come in on us. A shovel is a very good idea to have in your vehicle.
There is zero cell phone reception in the area. Please have an atlas or map print outs in your vehicle for the area we are traveling.
We are not doing a pot luck dinner this year for Thanksgiving.
I am leaving Arizona the Friday before the trip to go to Capitol Reef and I will not be available for questions. If you have any please post them to the comment line and we have enough seasoned desert winter campers that your question will get answered.
Several carpools have been set up and are full. You are responsible for setting up your own transportation.
You are also responsible for yourself throughout the duration of this trip in making sure you are prepared and equipped for this trip.
You will need to bring all your water for the weekend with you as there is no water where we will be hiking and water in the canyon in highly unlikely. Natural Bridges to the north has running water but that is a 50 mile round-trip drive and Mexican Hat is about an 85 mile round –trip drive and both will take up your hiking time so be sure you bring it with you.
You will need to bring all your firewood for the weekend with you as there is no gathering of firewood permitted on the Gulch Plateau and there are no resources to secure more without driving to Mexican Hat. Everyone is strongly encouraged to buy their wood at the wood place on Washington and the Loop 202 in Phoenix and to purchase a hardwood like oak, red gum, or citrus. The hardwoods burn long, very hot, and provide a great coal base since where we will be it will be very, very cold. Firewood is very, very, very important and we have a large group meaning we need a bigger fire for everyone to be warm at night--no firewood means a very, very cold night. The bundles from Circle K or the grocery store are absolutely useless on this trip so don’t bother. Everyone needs to bring at least 4 bundles (about 15 pieces) of hard wood each for this trip. If you bring crappy wood or not enough don’t be surprised if you receive grimaced faces in response and maybe a cold shoulder, literally.
Um, cold, cold and colder. We will be experiencing a desert winter condition for this trip. Highs are anticipated in the mid-50s and the low is in the upper 20’s. Your water will freeze at night unless it is protected in an empty cooler or in nalgene bottles in your sleeping bag. Please monitor the weather to be prepared.
The best route driving is through the Flagstaff-Kayenta-Mexican Hat route. Plug in a driving direction request to your mapping site of choice for Phoenix to Mexican Hat to obtain your route to Mexican Hat. From Mexican Hat take 261 North and you will climb a set of switchbacks to reach the Grand Gulch Plateau. Continue on 261 to FR 251 and take a left. This is the road to Bullet Canyon which is the area we are camping in and hiking around. Continue on FR 251 for about 2-3 miles and we hope be located on the north side of the road near the trees. If you pass the trailhead or the pit toilet you’ve gone too far. Signs will be posted for directions on the FR once we (Kevin and I) get there around 9ish on Thursday but we believe Pat will beat us there on Wednesday so look for Pat J If we are not in the trees (it may be taken or may not be big enough for us) keep an eye out because we will be in the general facility.
Thursday: Set up camp and hike Natural Bridges, if you’re interested. Water is available at Natural Bridges if you need it.
Friday: Bullet Canyon to Shiek’s Canyon. This requires a short car shuttle or is a short 4 mile hike back to camp from the Shiek’s Canyon exit. About 13 miles not including the car shuttle/hike back.
Saturday: Kane Gulch to Coyote Canyon, again about 13 miles. The option also provides for a short side trip into Todie Canyon. This requires a longer car shuttle for those going straight through but the option for an in/out is always possible.
Sunday: Drive home. People can go straight home or stop at Valley of the Gods or Monument on the way home or Bridges if you missed in on Thursday. Four Corners is in the general area also on the way home but will not be in direct route.
There is a $5 use fee for the Grand Gulch payable at the Bullet Canyon TH right near camp. This is good for the entire duration of the trip.
There is a $10 per car entrance fee to Natural Bridges, which is a National Monument. Free if you have the National Parks pass on someone in your vehicle.