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Sunday, May 18, 2014


Kaibab National Forest
Looking north toward Grand Canyon

Impossible to miss along AZ64 twenty miles south of the Grand Canyon, the russet stone pinnacle
known as Red Butte commands the landscape. Rising 866 feet above the flatlands of the Colorado Plateau, this geological wonder is comprised of ancient layers of sand, ocean deposits and river rubble capped with a layer of inky basalt.  Over the past 270 million years, the forces of nature have whittled away much of the rock, but the basalt cap preserved this sugarloaf-shaped cross section of earth history for us to climb.  A clean trail ascends the west face in a series of gradually steepening switchbacks with excellent views all the way up.  On the summit,  footpaths wander among scenic viewpoints, forest service relics, survey markers (see if you can locate all 8 of them) and a lookout tower which is staffed during fire season.  To the north, a primitive airstrip stretches across juniper and sagebrush plains with hazy views of the Grand Canyon shimmering on the horizon while the silhouettes of the San Francisco Peaks and Bill Williams Mountain are visible to the south.

Fire tower on the summit

LENGTH: 2.5 miles roundtrip
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION:  6460' - 7426'

Bill Williams Mountain on the horizon

From Flagstaff, go north on US 180 to the AZ 64 junction in Valle. Turn north (right) and continue 11 miles to FR 320 at milepost 224.  Turn right and go 1.3 miles to FR 340, turn left and drive 0.9 mile to the FR340A, turn right and continue 0.3 mile to the trailhead. Dirt roads are sedan friendly and well signed.

Tusayan Ranger District, Kaibab National Forest, 928-638-2443

Access roads are well signed


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