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Red Butte Airfield

Colorado River Grand Canyon, Arizona

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Red Butte Airfield

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  • The backside of the hanger and an adjacent building.- Red Butte Airfield
  • Tracks for the large sliding doors and a porch off the west side of the hangar.- Red Butte Airfield
  • Wildflowers fill the field near the hanger in September.- Red Butte Airfield
  • The hanger makes a great foreground element in night photography compositions.- Red Butte Airfield
  • Summer monsoons bring lightning to the nearby forests.- Red Butte Airfield
  • Horses as well as cattle and elk can frequently be seen in the field containing the old runway.- Red Butte Airfield
  • The adjacent field containing the old runway and a myriad of gopher holes.- Red Butte Airfield
  • It is not uncommon to run into groups of people camped out in the Hangar.- Red Butte Airfield
  • Sublimely dark night skies make for great astrophotography.- Red Butte Airfield
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Great views. Easy access.
Cons: 
None.
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Region:
Colorado River Grand Canyon, AZ
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Contributor

The abandoned Red Butte Airfield is situated in the Kaibab National Forest near Red Butte and a few miles south of the Grand Canyon. This place was once the home of Scenic Airways Inc., which provided the first commercial air tours of the Grand Canyon. Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart were said to have used these facilities.

The compound is situated on the edge of a large meadow grazed periodically by cattle, elk, and horses. The old dirt runway has since become occupied by a sizable population of gophers, who have created a number of holes that could easily injure the ankle of an unsuspecting pedestrian. The main attraction here is the hangar, built in 1927 by entrepreneur Parker Van Zandt. It was used on and off from the late 1920s until the early 1960s, when the construction of a new airport in Tusayan led to its abandonment.

The hanger contains large sliding doors and several rooms on either side. The grounds contains several other buildings, too, all in various states of decay. Peeling paint (probably lead-based), broken glass, rusted metal, and rotting wood floors make entering any of these structures a hazard, but even from the outside, these structures have an eerie charm to them.

Conveniently located within 20 minutes of the Grand Canyon National Park entrance station, this place is a great location to kill half of a day on your way in or out of the park. It’s also a good hideout to escape the crowds at Grand Canyon. The hangar is still used by ranchers and is a favorite camping spot for local hunters.

Wide open views of the San Francisco Peaks and Red Butte couple with sublimely dark skies, which make this an ideal spot for photography. The road in is a well-maintained gravel road that is easily traversed by most vehicles in all but the wettest of weather. Access in the winter may be restricted by a gate at the highway. It is common to see shotgun shells, beer cans, and other litter; please do not add to this. As with all public land, be sure to pack out all trash and refrain from taking any historic artifacts from this place.

More information on the historic past of Red Butte airfield can be found here: http://www.harrietquimby.org/pages/REDBUTTE.html.

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(7 within a 30 mile radius)

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(16 within a 30 mile radius)

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