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Joseph City Fissures, AZ

Guide 1 Triplog  0 Topics
  4 of 5 
no permit
67 1 0
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Difficulty 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,500 feet
Elevation Gain 50 feet
Accumulated Gain 50 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 6 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 2.25
Interest Off-Trail Hiking
Backpack No
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Photos Viewed All MineFollowing
8  2007-11-06 TM1ssKDMac
59  2004-05-16 TM1ssKDMac
Author TM1ssKDMac
author avatar Guides 9
Routes 10
Photos 4,110
Trips 38 map ( 348 miles )
Age 60 Male Gender
Location Joseph City, Arizona
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred Apr, Oct, Mar, Nov → 8 AM
Seasons   ALL
Sun  5:28am - 7:28pm
0 Alternative

The Cracks!
by TM1ssKDMac

Tucked into a remote and seldom visited section of the Colorado Plateau of northeastern Arizona is an unusual geological feature that I will call the "Joseph City Fissures" I have looked on several maps and have not been able to determine any other name for them. Locally they are known as the "Cracks," and few people outside the local population know of their existence. The "Cracks" consist of an area about one and a half miles wide by about 2 or 3 miles long where the Coconino Sandstone lies bare and jagged, exposed to the artistic hand of Mother Nature.

What makes this area unique is the large number of faults that crisscross this whole area in all directions. The visible fissures range from a half-inch, up to 30 or 40 feet across, and may run for hundreds of feet. Most are no deeper than 50 to 60 feet, but there are some that you cannot see clear to the bottom. In addition to the thousands of fissures that have split apart horizontally, countless others have shifted vertically, with separations of their original surfaces that can measure as much as 20 feet or more.

The Hike
There is no established trail or route to follow in exploring the area. Follow your nose and create your own experience once you are in the area of the fissures. You may want to roam about on the surface or possibly take rappelling gear with you to drop down into some of the larger fissures. If you drop in, you will need to be prepared to ascend your rope to get back out. There are many, however, that you can easily climb or walk down into as well.

Caution: None of these fissures are marked or protected in any way. If you have pets or small children with you, you must closely control their movement lest they fall into a fissure. This is not an area suitable for running and playing. One of my photos of this area is of a skull resting at the bottom of a rather large fissure. The elk that fell in there never had a chance of getting back out and is but one of many victims that have met their demise in these fissures over the years. Don't be the next one!

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2007-11-11 TM1ssKDMac
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    High Clearance possible when dry

    To hike
    From Flagstaff: Travel east approximately 80 miles on I-40 to Joseph City.

    From Joseph City: At the corner of Westover Ave and Main Street in Joseph City (one block east of the "Speedys" convenience store) head south on Westover. After you cross over I-40, you will come to a stop sign at a T intersection with 3rd South. Turn right on 3rd south, and go 1 block to an intersection with a road on your left that doubles back towards the east at a 45-degree angle. Turn left onto this road and follow it about 1 mile to a railroad crossing. Turn right or south and cross over the railroad tracks.

    Zero your trip odometer at the railroad crossing. From the railroad crossing, continue south on Obed Road over an old single-lane country bridge that crosses the LCR. In approximately 3.6 miles, you will come to a stop sign at the junction of Obed Road and McLaws road, also known as Territorial Road. This road connects Holbrook and Winslow on the south side of the LCR parallel to I-40. Continue south at this junction on a gravel road. This road will start curving towards the west and will generally run southwest. Several lightly used dirt tracks take off from this road. Continue, on the most heavily used main road to mile 11 on your odometer at: 34.8195,-110.3988, here you will bear right or northwest on a lightly used dirt road. You will pass through 2 gates as you proceed towards 2 large power transmission lines to the west. Both transmission lines have roads that run below them. You may use either transmission line road to access the fissures as they lie across a large area between the two lines.

    Turn left on either road and follow them southwest under the power lines about 2 miles to the area where the fissures are located all around in an area that is probably several miles in size at: 34.8223,-110.4395. Both of the roads under the power lines are pretty rough and or sandy, and 4 wheel drive is recommended. You could use a non-4x4 vehicle but would need to hike a short distance to the fissures when the road starts getting rough. The dynamic map here on the website in the satellite mode has some great resolution, and the fissures are very clearly visible so that you can get a good idea of the fissures' location.
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills

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