What to expect: Hiking Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park

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(Source: 3TV/CBS ) (Source: 3TV/CBS )
(Source: 3TV/CBS ) (Source: 3TV/CBS )

With the movie "Only the Brave" hitting theaters Friday, Arizona state park rangers are bracing for extra visitors looking to honor and pay their respects at Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park.

However, before you visit, park rangers want you to “know before you go.”

So far, park officials said the park has had approximately 18,000 visitors since it opened on November 30, 2016.

Mark Knapp, the park ranger and  manager, said the most common misconceptions are that people they think the memorial is located right off the road or that the shuttle takes them right to it.

The memorial is actually a 7-mile round-trip hike and rangers say plan for it to take up at least five hours.

The Trail

The entrance to the Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park is located off Highway 89, about 2 miles south of Yarnell. It’s about an hour and a half drive northwest of Phoenix.

It takes about 3.5 miles to hike to the site where the 19 men walked their final steps.

There, you’ll find 19 rock wall baskets or gabions, one for each hotshot, placed in a circle.

Park rangers highly recommend you arrive early and start your hike no later than noon. That way, you can ensure you’re back before it gets dark.

The terrain is rough and steep.

It took hiker Bob Miller and his wife five and a half hours to complete.

“It’s tough,” he said. “There were 19 wonderful young men and it’s well worth the effort I’ll tell ya."

“Be physically prepared. It’s not  easy. Bring water, bring food, and take your time,” he added.

Along the trail, you'll find 19 granite memorial plaques fixed to rocks placed about 600 feet apart. Each one has a photo of the fallen hotshot and his story.

Memorial benches are placed throughout the trail too.

For detailed info, click https://azstateparks.com/hotshots


Parking at the trailhead is limited.

There are only 13 spaces.

Park rangers advise you park at the Assembly of God church in Yarnell and use the free shuttle. A $5 donation is suggested, but not required.

The shuttle is about 3 miles and a 10-minute drive from the trailhead. It starts operating at 7 a.m. and runs every 30 minutes.

The church’s address is 17125 W. Fountain Hill Ln. in Yarnell. 


There are two portable bathrooms located in the trailhead parking lot.

You won’t find any bathroom facilities or water along the trail.

Dogs and Trash

Dogs are allowed but must be on leashes. There are no trash cans along the trail. You must pack in and pack out.


The Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park is not complete.

There are plans to install bronze memorial statues and better bathrooms.

However, more money needs to be raised to do that and keep up with park maintenance.

For more information and to find out how you can donate, click HERE..

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