Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park is a state park located near Yarnell, Arizona. This memorial was established to honor and memorialize the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots firefighters who lost their lives on June 30, 2013, while fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire and selflessly protecting their community.
In this article, you will learn more about who and what Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park is known for, the must-see spots, the Hotshots memorial hiking trail, open hours, and nearby accommodation and restaurants.
1. What Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park is Known For
In 2016, Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park was dedicated as a place to honor and remember the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshot Firefighters who were tragically lost while fighting against the Yarnell Hill Fire on June 30, 2013. In its first year, over 18,000 visitors came to pay their respects and express gratitude for the bravery of Wildland firefighters at the park. Today, the park remains very well known for its history, the fallen Hotshots heroes who it honors, and its memorials.
On June 28, 2013, lightning struck in the Weaver Mountains at approximately 5:36 pm. This lighting strike started the Yarnell Hill Fire, which continued to rage overnight. The next morning, on June 29, the Granite Mountain Hotshots were assigned to work the fire. They worked tirelessly against the fire for hours and tragically became trapped as the wildfire reached the eastern edge of the canyon that they were crossing. On the evening of June 30, all 19 of the Hotshots working against this fire lost their lives as they worked to protect their community.
Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park individually honors each of the 19 fallen Hotshots:
- Andrew Ashcraft, 29
- Robert Caldwell, 23
- Travis Carter, 31
- Dustin DeFord, 24
- Christopher MacKenzie, 30
- Eric Marsh, 43
- Grant McKee, 21
- Sean Misner, 26
- Scott Norris, 28
- Wade Parker, 22
- John Percin Jr., 24
- Anthony Rose, 23
- Jesse Steed, 36
- Joe Thurston, 32
- Travis Turbyfill, 27
- Travis Turbyfill, 27
- Clayton Whitted, 28
- Kevin Woyjeck, 21
- Garret Zuppiger, 27
Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park showcases several profound memorials to honor the fallen heroes of the 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire. Park visitors are able to hike a 3.5-mile trail to the site where the Hotshots lost their lives, walk 200 stairs that honor the individual Hotshots in order of seniority, leave mementos at a Tribute Wall, and view a large sculpture dedicated to the families of the Hotshots.
2. Top Spots to See in Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park
Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial Park is full of tributes to the 19 Hotshots heroes. Hundreds of visitors come to this memorial every year to honor the fallen and to learn more about who they were and what their work meant to them. If you want to get the most out of your experience, we recommend stopping by the Hotshot Sculpture, the Tribute Wall, and visiting the nearby Interagency Hotshots Learning & Tribute Center.
The latest addition to Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park is a bronze Hotshot sculpture. This statue was donated to the park in 2018 by the Wildland Firefighter Guardian Institute (WFGI) by way of the Facebook Watch program Returning the Favor, starring Mike Rowe.
The donation of this statue increases the visibility of Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park and pays tribute to the Granite Mountain Hotshots who lost their lives on June 30, 2013. By visiting the park, viewing the statue, hiking the trail, and viewing the gabion baskets at the Fatality Site memorial, visitors can deeply honor the sacrifice that the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots made that day, as well as express gratitude for the work of all Wildland Firefighters across the United States.
Found on the Hotshot Trail, the Tribute Wall at the park’s overlook is one of the most emotional aspects of Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park. Visitors from all around the country come here to leave items of tribute, remembrance, and gratitude at the site where 19 Wildland firefighters lost their lives. Everyone who comes to the memorial site is welcome to leave mementos on the Tribute Wall that overlooks the Fatality Site.
To avoid overcrowding, the Arizona State Parks and Trails Department will periodically collect the items left at the Tribute Wall to preserve them as part of a permanent collection. Feel free to ask a Park Ranger more about this larger collection!
Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshots Learning & Tribute Center
This Center is not located inside of Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park but is worthwhile to mention for those who may be interested in learning more about the Hotshots. It is a wonderful idea to dedicate a full day to honoring the fall Hotshots by spending your morning at the Tribute Center and your afternoon at the state park memorial.
The Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshots Learning & Tribute Center is located in Prescott Valley at the Gateway Mall and features displays highlighting each member of the Hotshots, information on fires they fought, items that were left by the public at their station in Prescott, and a display for the Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park in Yarnell.
They also sell merchandise and accept donations that benefit the Wildland firefighter community. The tribute center is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 10:00 am- 4:00 pm and on Sundays from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. The center’s brochure can be found here.
3. Hiking and Trails Information
Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park invites everyone to hike the Hotshots Trail to better understand the experience of these fallen heroes, as well as to appreciate the true beauty of the small town of Yarnell, Arizona. The full hike is roughly 3.5 miles long from the trailhead to the Fatality Site, for a full length of about 7 miles out and back.
The Hotshots Trail
From the parking lot, you can set out on the Hotshots Trail from the parking lot trailhead. You will work your way up to the overlook where you can see far-stretching views in every direction. Also at the overlook, you will have the opportunity to leave stickers, patches, and other mementos in honor of the sacrifice the Granite Mountain Hotshots made to protect their community on the memorial’s Tribute Wall.
After this, you can choose to continue your hike down the 0.75 mile Journey Trail. This somber trail follows the last steps of the Hotshots down to the Fatality Site where they made their last stand. There are 19 gabion baskets surrounding the Fatality Site. These 19 baskets are united by chains and represent the individual Hotshots as well as their eternal team bond. Visitors are strongly encouraged to take a moment to pay their respects, but the area within the gabions at the Fatality Site is regarded as reverent ground; no visitor should enter it for any reason.
The Hotshots Trail goes through the Weaver Mountains and includes a 1,200 ft. elevation gain. As you make your way up and down, you will traverse over 200 stairs carved from the surrounding rock, interpretive signs, and 19 memorial plaques. There are benches dispersed throughout the trial.
As always, please remember to dress appropriately for the weather, bring more water than you think you will need, and plan for over a four-hour round-trip hike. There is no access to drinking water along the trail. Any visitors who are making the seven-mile hike should begin before noon and be sure to carry a flashlight in case of hiking out after dark. All trash should be packed in and packed out. Leashed dogs are welcome on the trail but owners must pick up after them.
Trail Shuttle Service
With the help of the Yarnell Fire Department, the Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park is able to offer a shuttle service from the city of Yarnell to the park on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The shuttle runs every half hour from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm. The last shuttle pickup is 4:00 pm. Please contact the park office for questions regarding the shuttle service.
4. Park and Camping Information
Park and Facility Hours
Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park is open every day from sunrise to sunset.
Park Entrance Fee
It is free to enter Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park. However, those who feel so inclined may make donations at the park. Or tax-deductible online donations are accepted through the Arizona State Parks website.
There is no camping at Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park. The nearest Arizona state park to Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial that contains campgrounds is Alamo Lake State Park, roughly 57 miles away.
5. Where to Stay Near Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park
If you are looking for lodging around Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park, your best bet is probably going to be Yarnell, Arizona. Here, you will find a number of hotels and Airbnbs that are located near the memorial park.
If visitors would like to support the local community of Yarnell, they can also find a number of local shops and restaurants in town, including the Cornerstone Bakery and Cafe, Gilligan’s Pizza and Bar, Hilltop Hot Dogs, Ranch House at Yarnell, Shear Delight Coffee Shop & Deli, and the Yarnell Family Diner.
There is no doubt that visiting the Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park is a profound experience. While it is different from most other Arizona State Parks, it remains an incredibly important place for area locals and visitors to pause and reflect on their gratitude for fallen heroes.