Safety

Toyota sedan stuck in deep water and mud on an unpaved road
A motorist made a fatal decision here. Drenched in mud from trying to free his car, we can only imagine his fear as hypothermia set in and no one came by. He lacked food, water, and warm clothing. No one knew where he was headed or where to look for him. Cars don't belong in the Parashant.

Photo courtesy of the Saint George Police and Saint George News.

Driving Dangers

Parashant is a scenic monument but recreating there must not be taken lightly. Appropriate equipment in good working order and adequate supplies are critical to having a safer experience. Roads are narrow and winding. Getting stuck or having a mechanical breakdown are two of the highest risks on the Parashant because of the remote nature of the monument.

People have died here because their vehicle got stuck or broke down and no one came by who could help them.

In February 2017, a motorist died from complications of exposure after getting his car stuck in the mud just outside the monument boundary on a remote road near Black Rock Mountain. (photo above) He did not have the right vehicle or tires for the conditions. No one knew where he had gone or where to start a search. No one came by for three days. It was winter and conditions were cold. The driver was wet and hypothermic after trying to free his car from the mud. Even a high clearance 4x4 pickup with mud tires could have gotten stuck in a puddle like the one in the photo. Mud and deep puddles on the monument are common after rain and snow events.

Do not trust recommended routes from digital navigation systems. Roads in the Parashant are not shortcuts to ANYWHERE!

Recent Near Misses

2017 - A visitor drove his dirt bike over 100 miles into the Parashant to Kelly Point, a dead-end 4x4 road. He ran out of gas "trying to get to Kanab, Utah." He ended up walking over 30 miles in motorcycle boots down a rocky muddy road. Luckily he stumbled upon a group of campers and was rescued.

Numerous incidents of visitors following their GPS down remote dirt roads include

  • Family of six trying to find the Grand Canyon Skywalk (it is located on the other side of the Grand Canyon, a 6 hour drive from St. George via Las Vegas)
  • Two women trying to find the St. George Airport (stranded - near fatality)
  • Man looking for the North Rim Village of Grand Canyon National Park, which is a 3 hour drive east of the Parashant.

Off-road driving is prohibited. The desert environment is more fragile than it may look. Off-road driving creates ruts, upsets delicate drainage patterns, compacts the soil, and leaves visible scars for years. Crushed and uprooted plants may not recover.

Travel with extra water, food, blankets, and any other personal health items you need to last several days. If you experience car trouble, stay with your vehicle. Some roads are seldom traveled.

Watch out for reckless motorists. Some UTV/ATV and dirt bike drivers exceed safe speeds and can come flying around a corner into your vehicle. Do not swerve as you risk sending your vehicle out of control. Use your brakes to slow down as much as possible.

 

Trip Plan
It is strongly recommended that visitors file a trip plan with a friend or relative. This plan should include:

  • Your route, and backup route.
  • When you expect to return from the backcountry.
  • Communication equipment you will be carrying.
Instruct your friend or relative to call the monument and initiate a search if they do not hear from you by a prearranged date and time.

Backcountry Communications
It is a good idea for each party venturing onto the monument to carry some type of emergency signaling device. Each member of the party should know how to use the device in the event of an emergency and it is often a good idea to carry more than one device.

Useful:
  • Satellite Phones/Messengers work in some areas of the monument other than canyons. Sometimes they require hiking up to a higher elevation and/or multiple tries before a satellite is in range.
  • Signaling Mirrors are the least technologically advanced but have been the most useful over the years. Used with ground markings (rocks, tarps, clothing, etc. spelling HELP or SOS), they will most likely be seen by pilots flying through the area.
Not Useful:
  • Cell phones do not have service in the monument
  • Flares are not always visible to pilots flying overhead during hours of sunlight or in heavy overcast skies. More importantly, they can start forest fires.
 

Flash Floods
Storms and flash floods can be powerful and sudden. Avoid canyons and washes during rainstorms and be prepared to move to higher ground. While driving, be alert for water running across dips in the road. Remember: turn around, don't drown

 

Hiking & Biking
Planning to hike, or cycle in hot weather? Plan to bring along two gallons (8 liters) of water per person, per day. Drink the water and do not economize. When the water is half gone, it's time to turn back.

Avoid hiking alone. Whether or not you're with a group, always inform a friend of family member of your planned route and expected return time. Carry a map and compass and know how to use them. Check the weather forecast before departing for your hike, but recognize that desert weather can change suddenly. Remember that the first principle of Leave No Trace is plan ahead and prepare.

Carry a comprehensive first aid kit. Suggested items for desert hikers include tweezers, safety pins, bandages of various sizes, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic towelettes, wound closure strips, moleskin or duct tape for blisters, compression bandage, ibuprofen, aspirin, antihistamine tablets, extra food and salty snacks, and an emergency blanket. This is not a comprehensive list, but will help you get started in your planning.

Know your skill level and do not take chances. The desert can be deadly.
 

Stay Out, Stay Alive
Many old mine sites are found within the monument. If you choose to visit them, use extreme caution and never enter mine tunnels or shafts.

 

Winter Visits
Winter temperatures can drop well below freezing. Hypothermia can be a hazard even at temperatures above freezing. Always carry extra layers of clothing during the cooler months.

The short days of winter lead some hikers to miscalculate how much time they need to complete a hike. Plan to be back at the trailhead by 4:00 pm Arizona time/5 p.m. Utah time.

 

Wildlife
Keep wildlife wild. Any wild animal may be dangerous if approached. Additionally, wild animals can carry deadly diseases such as hantavirus, plague, and rabies. Always view wildlife from the safety or your car or from a distance. Do not approach animals to take pictures, and teach children not to chase or pick up animals.

Never feed wildlife; it is unhealthy for animals and may lead them to become aggressive towards humans. Store food in hard-sided containers or in your vehicle to prevent ravens, coyotes, and other animals from eating it.

It is exciting to see wildlife, but remember: the park is their home and it is our responsibility to allow animals to live their lives undisturbed.

A few venomous animals live in the park, including rattlesnakes, scorpions, black widow spiders and gila monsters. When outside of your vehicle in the monument, always look before you place your hands or feet. Avoid stepping or reaching into places you cannot see.

Bees may attack when their hives are threatened. Africanized bees live in the Parashant.

Last updated: July 17, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

345 East Riverside Drive
St. George, UT 84790

Phone:

(435) 688-3200
Phones are answered Monday - Friday 7:45 a.m. - 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. The center is closed on Sundays as well as all federal holiday with the exceptions of Memorial Day and Labor Day.

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