Hotshot Memorial State Park: Challenging Hike, Somber Destination

Hotshot Memorial State Park: Challenging Hike, Somber Destination

People around the country were shocked and saddened in late June 2013, when a raging wildfire near Yarnell killed 19 Prescott-area firefighters. The state has memorialized the fallen with the 320-acre Granite Mountain Hotshot Memorial State Park, which opened Nov. 30, 2016.

hotshots memorial
The Hotshot Memorial seen from the observation platform. Photos courtesy Arizona State Parks

A 7-mile hike to the solemn site involves two trails. The 2.85-mile Hotshot Trail, considered difficult, rises roughly 1,200 feet from the trailhead to the observation deck. Every 600 feet, a granite plaque shares the photo and story of one of the victims. Interpretive signs explain wildland firefighting.

At the observation deck, visitors can look into a small valley upon the fatality site and eastward to Yarnell. Personal thoughts, patches and mementos can be left on a tribute wall.

Granite Mountain Hotshot Memorial State Park map
The 7-mile hike to the Granite Mountain Hotshot Memorial State Park is a somber one.

From the observation deck, the 3/4-mile Journey Trail descends 400 feet, following the same path the Hotshots rushed down while clearing ground brush in a failed attempt to survive the howling wildfire.

At the site of the tragedy, 19 gabion baskets encircle 19 crosses that mark the closely bunched, fallen positions. Each gabion is filled with rock from the surrounding hills and has an attached large metal, purplish ribbon. The gabions are joined by chains that tie the firefighters in eternity. A path with reflection benches surrounds the site and leads to a memorial flagpole.

Granite Mountain Hotshot Memorial State Park gabions
Each gabion wire basket represents one of the Hotshots.

Gov. Doug Ducey called the memorial “a place to reflect, to mourn, and to learn.”

The hike can take 4–5 hours. In winter it may snow; in summer it can be hot. There are no restrooms on the trails. Hikers are advised to bring water and food and remove all trash. Leashed dogs are welcome as long as owners pick up after them. There are 15 parking spaces at the trailhead.

IF YOU GO: Granite Mountain Hotshot Memorial State Park

LOCATION: Two miles south of Yarnell on the southbound lane of Highway 89A. The park is 67 miles from Carefree Highway & I-17.
COST: Free
HOURS: Daily, sunrise to sunset
Trail Map

Linda and Dr. Dick Buscher
Linda & Dr. Dick Buscher are retired Arizona public school educators who brought their wealth of Arizona knowledge to the In&Out Publications team in 2007. Together they have been teaching and writing about the state since the 1970s. The Buschers co-authored an Arizona history program titled “Ali-Shonak: The Story of Arizona,” which is still used in many of the 4th grade classrooms in Anthem and around the state. The Arizona history portion of this program is available in the iTunes bookstore under the title “Arizona: The Grand Adventure.” The Buschers are also authors of “Historic Photos of Arizona,” available at local bookstores.
Linda and Dr. Dick Buscher on Email
  • Hotshot Memorial State Park: Challenging Hike, Somber Destination
  • Hotshot Memorial State Park: Challenging Hike, Somber Destination
  • Hotshot Memorial State Park: Challenging Hike, Somber Destination
  • Hotshot Memorial State Park: Challenging Hike, Somber Destination
  • Hotshot Memorial State Park: Challenging Hike, Somber Destination