Above: the fatality site in Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park honoring the 19 firefighters. Arizona State Parks photo.
A new state park that honors the 19 firefighters who were killed on the Yarnell Hill Fire is set to open to the public on November 30, 2016.
On June 30, 2013 the Granite Mountain Hotshots were fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire near Yarnell, Arizona, 90 miles northwest of Phoenix. A passing thunderstorm created very strong outflow winds that suddenly changed the direction the fire was spreading, forcing it to make a right turn. The fire raced toward 19 men on the crew, trapping and killing them in a box canyon.
Legislation appropriated funds to purchase the 308 acres of land on June 30, 2015. The park came to life thanks to public donations, volunteers, staff from Arizona State Parks, and a generous donation from the Arizona Public Service Foundation.
From the trailhead on Highway 89 approximately two miles west of Yarnell, hiking 2.85 miles up a steep slope then along a ridge will take the visitor to an observation deck overlooking the fatality site. Another .75 mile downhill and you will be at the location where the Hotshots deployed their fire shelters. There is an approximate 1,200 foot elevation gain.
Along the trail are 19 stone plaques honoring each of the fallen Granite Mountain Hotshots and six interpretive signs that tell their story. At the end of the trail steel and stones now surround the barren earth to protect and preserve the area where the hotshots bravely made their last stand. A quiet path and benches offer a space to reflect.
“The families and the communities of Prescott and Yarnell have worked hand-in-hand with the state to develop Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park,” said Sue Black, Executive Director of Arizona State Parks. “We truly want the memorial to be a place for healing and to honor the lives and legacy of 19 hotshots.”
A dedication ceremony for family members and involved officials is scheduled for November 29, and the park will open to the public the following day.
(Maps are below)