Mount Trumbull Scenic Loop Drive
Stunning views into the Grand Canyon, raging volcanoes, Native American petroglyphs, cattle and cowboy line shacks, and an historic schoolhouse make the Mount Trumbull Scenic Drive from St. George, Utah to Pipe Spring National Monument one of the most popular drives in the region. This drive will introduce you to some of the incredible stories of the Arizona Strip.
You will need a high clearance vehicle with a full tank of gas and rugged tires because this loop includes about 150 miles of unpaved roads. There will be not be another gas station until you reach Arizona Highway 389 at the Kaibab Reservation or in Colorado City, AZ.
This guide starts in St. George. Mileages listed below are approximate. Be aware that some trucks and SUVs have minor differences in odometer readings if tire size differs from the factory setting. All turns are very well marked by road signage. Rangers recommend you bring the 2016 BLM Arizona Strip Visitor Map with you before starting out. There are over 6,000 miles of roads on the Arizona Strip.
• High Clearance Trucks or SUVs (passenger cars, crossovers, minivans, and RVs not advised)
• Four Wheel Drive
• Rugged All-Terrain Tires
From Interstate 15, take Exit 2 east onto the Southern Parkway (Hwy 7) toward the airport. Take Exit 3 (River Road) and turn south. Set your vehicle trip odometer to 0 where the pavement ends at the state line.
BLM Road 1069
You have now crossed into Arizona and are on BLM Road 1069. The road is well maintained gravel. For the first 4 miles you will be on Arizona State Trust Land. At mile 4.4 you will pass the BLM Arizona Strip sign. You are now on BLM land. BLM1069 winds its way up to Quail Hill Pass. At mile 20.6 you will reach the BLM1004 junction in Wolf Hole Valley. Continue straight.
Mohave County Road 5 (CR5 - Western Section)
At the BLM1004 junction in Wolf Hole Valley, BLM1069 turns into CR5. Travel 30.1 miles south through the broad Main Street Valley on this road. Between Wolf Hole Valley and the Mt. Trumbull Schoolhouse the road is usually in very good condition when dry. The road varies from gravel to clay. The clay sections will be impassible for a few hours after mild rain. After heavy rain or snow, the clay section near the schoolhouse can be impassible for days due to deep mud. Contact us at the bottom of this page to get current road conditions.
At mile 50.7 you will reach the replica Mt. Trumbull Schoolhouse. Take a few minutes to see the exhibits inside. Historic family photos of the first ranchers here and a raised relief map show historic homesteads. There is a vault toilet at the schoolhouse. There will not be another vault toilet on the loop except at the old Tuweep Ranger Station (no longer staffed) near Toroweap. Both vault toilets are open 24 hours/day all year.
Mohave County Road 5 (CR5 - Southern Section)
At the schoolhouse CR5 turns east. This section is hazardous after rain or snow. At any time of year the road is at least moderately rough. East of the schoolhouse the road ascends the Hurricane Cliffs including a half-mile long dugway only wide enough for one vehicle at a time.
This dugway was constructed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corp, one of many projects they undertook on the Arizona Strip during the Great Depression.
The road shoulder on the downhill side is soft. The dropoff is very steep. Vehicles can not pass here. Vehicles traveling downhill on the dugway get the right of way. It is unsafe for vehicles to attempt to go into reverse and try to back up the steep dugway. The rear wheels will spin and hop on the loose gravel. This can bounce a vehicle off the road. It is much easier for uphill traveling vehicles to slowly back down to a wide spot.
Once on top of the Hurricane Cliffs dugway, the clay roadbed through Potato Valley is dry and passable for high clearance vehicles most of the year. However, after heavy rain it can be deeply rutted and impassible for a few days. The elevation at Potato Valley is over 6,000 feet so it is usually impassible in winter because of snow and ice.
Attractions in the Mt. Trumbull and Mt. Logan Area
Historic Sawmill Site and Nixon Spring
There are no ruins remaining here but this is where the lumber mill processed the giant ponderosas for the frame of the St. George LDS Temple. The sounds of the steam-powered lumber mill would have rumbled in this valley, punctuated by the metallic screams of a blade cutting logs to size. The boards were loaded onto wagons and ox teams pulled the wagons over 80 miles back to St. George in the 1870s.
Nixon Spring still produces water today. It is now capped to support the Administrative Site and fire fighting efforts. A spigot at the Mt. Trumbull trailhead may have water in summer but the water has not been treated. It must be boiled before drinking.
Hikers who want to climb to the top of Mt. Trumbull should be advised that while the rim seems close, the trail gains 1,400 feet to the top.
Mt. Logan Overlook
Just east of the Sawmill memorial at the Nixon Administrative site is the BLM1044 spur road that heads south to Mt. Logan. Reset your odometer to zero at the Fire Danger sign. Look for the grey Kaibab squirrels with their bright white tails in these woods. They were released here from a population taken from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in the 1970s. The new population took the area well and should be easily seen.
At mile 1.2 on BLM1044 look to your left to see a continuous wall of jumbled black boulders. This is the remnants of a 1,050 year old lava flow from the Little Springs Cinder Cone. The remains of the cinder cone itself are hard to see because the cone was mostly destroyed by the lava flow phase of its eruption. Continue on BLM1044.
At mile 4.5 you will come to a Y. Turn right and you will see the marker for BLM1064 after you round the corner. Note: Only UTVs and specially modified short wheelbase 4x4s should continue south on BLM1044 toward Whitmore Canyon past the 1044/1064 Y as the 1044 gets very rough. You will now be pointed north on BLM1064. At mile 5.2 you will be on top in a meadow. On the left side of the road are several lava rock boulders and a wide area to park. Stop here for the first of two stunning views. You are now at 7,600 feet above sea level. Between the boulders you’ll see the trail. Walk 200 yards out to the Mt. Logan overlook.
Continue 1.1 miles further to the end of BLM1064. You will find another overlook to the north. This is also the trailhead to the top of Mt. Logan and nearby Hell's Hole, an amphitheater of colorful clay bands.
As you head back to CR5, if you want a better view of the Little Springs Cinder Cone take a 1 mile diversion on BLM1029. This road wraps around the southern flank of what is left of the cinder cone. At mile 0.8 the cinder cone comes into clearer view. There is no trail but it is a short 1/4 mile walk over rough lava rocks to see what is left of the cinder cone. It was ripped in half by the lava flow that came up beneath it. Aerial View of the cone and the NW and SE lobes of the lava flow.
The first mile of BLM1029 is fine for all 4x4s. However, at Mile 1.5 the road becomes very rough and is only passible for UTVs, Jeeps, and modified short wheel-base 4x4s. If you have the right vehicle, BLM1029 is a shortcut to Nampaweap from BLM1044. All other 4x4s need to return to CR5 to get to Nampaweap.
Nampaweap Petroglyph Site and the Southeast Lobe of the Little Springs Lava Flow
Once you return to CR5, turn right. Travel east over the Mt. Trumbull pass. After 3.3 miles look for the sign and right turn to Nampaweap on BLM1028. Turn right and travel 1.1 miles to a 4-way intersection and a sign for the Nampaweap parking area on the east side of the road. A 2/3 mile trail down a gradually sloping old roadbed leads to a series of petroglyphs on ancient lava rock.
Tuweep Valley/Toroweap Overlook in Grand Canyon National Park
Return to CR5 from Nampweap and turn right. In 3.7 miles you will reach an intersection. If you want to visit Toroweap, turn right. You are now on CR115. The first 11 miles of the road is pressed gravel with some muddy areas after rain. There will be a vault toilet open 24 hours/day all year at the old Tuweep Ranger Station site. The final two miles of the road to the overlook require high clearance 4x4s as the road crosses extremely rough sandstone.
Visit go.nps.gov/tuweep for information on this area of Grand Canyon National Park. There are specific rules for Toroweap. Camping permits must be purchased days in advance. Only day use is allowed for visitors who do not have a camping permit. Unlike Parashant, dispersed camping or first come-first serve camping at the small campground is not allowed at Toroweap.
Mohave County Road 5 (CR5 - Eastern Section)
It is 6.4 miles from the CR5/BLM115 junction to the CR109 junction. This section is usually in good condition. Once you reach the CR109/CR5 Y intersection you can choose which route to take north. CR5 takes you to Colorado City. CR109 takes you northeast to Hwy 389 about 6 miles east of the Kaibab Reservation gas station.
CR5 to Colorado City
This route provides a great view of the western Vermillion Cliffs, especially as the sun gets low in the sky. The road at first winds through a scenic volcanic field and right up to a dramatic cinder cone and lava flow. CAUTION: This route is dangerous and impassible when wet or icy. The roadbed is made only out of clay, making it totally impassible after rain, especially the Clay Hole Wash crossing. If you have mud-rated tires, they will not help you on this clay. It is like peanut butter and packs into the treads and won't come out until it dries. You will have no traction. If it has rained recently or a storm is threatening, take CR109 instead. Gas is available in Colorado City on Hwy 389.
CR109 to the Kaibab Reservation
This is the preferred route to finish the Mt. Trumbull loop rather than the CR5/Clay Hole road any time rain or snow threatens. CR109 is usually in much better condition. However, it is still partially made of clay and can be impassible for at least a few hours after rain with some puddles remaining several days. Gas is available at the Kaibab Reservation on Hwy 389.
If you have questions about anything you saw on your drive, please don't hesitate to contact us.
Last updated: April 23, 2018