Gordon got a new Can-Am so he and Hugh decided to give it a test run up to one of their favorite locations: Grand Gulch Mine, down there in the Parashant wilderness. The Parashant arm of the Grand Canyon is to the southeast of the Virgin Mountains from Mesquite Nevada. The Grand Gulch Mine is on the bench between Grand Gulch Canyon and North Fork Canyon in western Mohave County, Arizona.
Their ride, taken in late winter from Whitney Junction, turned out to be a 96-mile (round trip) to the mine and back over the same route. It was cool late winter and, of course, taken in their side-by-side UTVs. Even so, they rate the trail very difficult due, in large part, to the portion beyond the Savannic Mine – i.e. over the top to the Grand Gulch.
Grand Gulch Mine – the hard wayThey say that it's a lot easier to get to the mine from the north, but either way is picturesque and worth the trip. This route requires a very full day, high-clearance ATVs with 4-WD and good power. One should definitely bring food, extra water and fuel. [A free Google Earth file of this route is available at: Offroading Home.]
Begin at any of the parking 'corrals' in the Whitney Junction area. The trail runs south down the New Gold Butte road, part of the legislatively designated Gold Butte Backcountry Byway, past the turnoff to Devil's Throat and to the next major intersection… probably only marked with an "Arizona to the left" marker. Turn left to Arizona.
The road is an unmaintained county road for several miles, across the Arizona border and then down into Cottonwood Wash. Most of the trail is not signed and you will need to watch your GPS track because several trails cross this one and there is only one way into the mine.
You cross Cottonwood Wash keeping due East on the trail, which runs just north of Whiskey Spring (in case you have a map marked such).
Then the trail begins to run southeast, looking more like a wash than a trail. Once in awhile you follow a short segment around some obstacle or other and notice tire tracks to comfort your sense of being lost or having missed the turnoff.
If you have questions, just point your vehicle toward waypoint "#1" on the accompanying Google Earth map which is the farthest south the trail takes you [Lat: 36.254244, Lon: -113.854854]. At that point you will be north of Nevershine Peak and south (if you could see it) of Pigeon Canyon.
The trail will turn north and become interestingly dramatic along a rim trail over Pigeon Canyon. The remains of Savannic Mine consists of a couple of shafts and a broken winch. The Grand Gulch Mine is up over the top from here and the trail is not only as steep as it looks but very, very rough.
Once on top, continue to the intersection and turn left, to the right would be Cunningham Mine. Continue to the next intersection and turn left again which will circle back around to the west to the Grand Gulch Mine.
The mine was once a very thriving operation, as witness the many ruins. Be careful as there are many dangers in the rubble.
You can return by back-tracking the route and, believe me, see an almost entirely different trail due to the different perspective and lighting.
Learn A Little MoreWe haven't been a bit nostalgic in a while so I thought that I'd pull out the good ol' George Burns videos again. Gosh, they don't seem to make 'em like that any more. And, if you don't believe me, just watch the ending where he exits and see how much he was actually respected by his audiences – not just being glittery-eyed, star-struck.
…I talk to some young folks, hey they don't understand the words this old man's got to say: I wish I was eighteen again, and going where I've never been. But old folks and old oaks standing tall just pretend, I wish I was eighteen again. Lord I wish I was eighteen again.”
At a bar down in Dallas, an old man chimed in, and I thought he was out of his head, just being a young man I just laughed it off when I heard what that old man had said. He said I'll never again turn the young ladies heads, or go running off into the wind, I'm three quarters home from the start to the end and I wish I was eighteen again.
I wish I was eighteen again, and going where I've never been, but old folks and old oaks standing tall just pretend, I wish I was eighteen again.
Now time turns the pages, and old life goes so fast, the years turn the black hair all grey. I talk to some young folks, hey they don't understand the words this old man's got to say: I wish I was eighteen again, and going where I've never been, but old folks and old oaks standing tall just pretend, I wish I was eighteen again – Lord I wish I was eighteen again.