When we began writing this book, we thought of including everything even minimally associated with the Great Western Trail. We soon realized that describing every rock formation, every plant, every animal, as well as every nearby city, town, or park, would result in an encyclopedia and not a guidebook. The Great Western Trail is an adventure, and to experience it fully you must explore it, study it, and live it. As a result we chose to give you the important, difficult-to-find information about it and enough of its interesting geology, history, botany and zoology to stimulate you to research it before you drive it. Books and references that will help you in this task are in the bibliography. Trail Names We assigned numbers to each of the trails for convenience only. Where they exist, we also used their official or semi-official names.
For example, 4-wheelers know Great Western Trail 7 as Smiley Rock. Maps refer to it as Martin Canyon. Others trails take their names from where they start and end, such as Great Western Trail 9: Interstate 40 to US 180. Open Months/Best Time to Travel The trails in the southern part of the state are open year-round, but because of the intense desert heat in the summer, it is better to travel them in the spring, fall, and winter. In the northern part of the state, the trails may be closed from December to the middle of May because of snow or flooding.
Official campsites are also closed during the winter months, but if the trails are open, dispersed camping is allowed. The nighttime temperatures in the desert can be 30 degrees colder than daytime temperatures, so bring warm clothing with you. A sleeping bag will come in handy if your vehicle breaks down and you have to spend the night under the stars. Rain is scarce until monsoon season, but when it begins, roads become impassable and flash flooding occurs. Do not camp in washes and stay out of narrow canyons when rains are predicted. Permits At this time you need a permit drive on state lands, in the Tonto Forest, on Indian Lands, and to drive Bulldog Canyon. You can buy them in person, through the mail, or online. Addresses are listed in Appendix B.
You may need other permits in the future, so check with the ranger stations before setting out. Mileage The total mileage indicated for each trail is taken from tracks we recorded in Terrain Navigator Mapping Software using a Navibe GM720 receiver, and is presumed to be accurate. However the distance between waypoints is approximate. We made every