Rescue finds family stranded by bad GPS directions near Arizona Strip

Jan 16, 2020, 12:12 PM | Updated: 2:17 pm
Photo: Bureau of Land Management

ST. GEORGE, Utah — A family on the way to the Grand Canyon wound up stranded near the Arizona Strip instead — so far from help or cell phone signal that a father and son walked 20 miles to get help in freezing temperatures. The culprit? Bad GPS directions.

The BLM Arizona Strip Field Office says the family was driving back to Colorado from their vacation in California over New Year’s, and wanted to see the Grand Canyon on the way.

A family road trip meets bad GPS directions

Their smartphone maps app told them to take backcountry roads.  So they went through the high desert east of Mesquite.

The GPS led them over about 30-40 miles on the dirt roads in the Arizona Strip. But then the car got stuck in the deep mud, clay and snow on Black Rock Mountain.

That’s 7,500 feet elevation.

The mom and two younger kids stayed in the car while the dad and teenage son tried to walk back to a town. After about 20 miles, they finally got a cell signal.

Mohave County officials determined the father and son were at the Lime Kiln Canyon area.

A Mesquite police officer got to the pair and put them in a patrol car to warm up. Then BLM and National Park Service rangers followed tracks to the rest of the family.

“What they did was pretty miraculous”

The news release from the Bureau of Land Management says rangers got to the family before they got too cold and dehydrated. They said it is a miracle the family survived in such a vast, remote area.

“They were actually pretty lucky. They weren’t prepared for the conditions, and this time of year there are very few people out there,” said BLM Law Enforcement Ranger Jason Bulkley. “The father and the son, what they did was pretty miraculous. I don’t know how they did it.”

The rangers said they could see the relief on the woman’s face when they told her the husband and son were ok.

“Getting lost and stranded in the backcountry in cold weather like this could have proven disastrous, and we’re thankful that the family involved was rescued without any injuries or loss of life,” said BLM Deputy Director for Policy and Programs William Perry Pendley.

A history of bad trips

This is not the first time bad GPS directions resulted in stranding someone in or near the Arizona Strip. The BLM’s official Tumblr account offers a similar tale about a Pennsylvania family from several years ago. Rangers told KSL they also rescued someone from the same spot just about a year ago.

Today’s Top Stories


Man dies at flight show during his performance in shockwave jet truck....
Waverly Golden

Man dies during performance at Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show

Battle Creek Police Department, Federal Aviation Administration Officials, and the fire department are still investigating the accident. 
23 hours ago
Two people have been gored by bison at Yellowstone National Park in less than a week. An expert at ...
Mark Jones

Expert says to give bison their space and distance

An expert at Antelope Island State Park says bison need to be given their space and distance. This message comes after two people were gored by bison at Yellowstone National Park
2 days ago
A female bison and calf are seen near the Yellowstone River in Wyoming's Hayden Valley, on Wednesda...
Mark Jones

2nd visitor in 3 days gored by Yellowstone National Park bison

In less than a week, two visitors to Yellowstone National Park have been gored by bison. Park officials say to stay at least 25 yards away from a bison.
2 days ago
Travelers wait in for a TSA security check at the Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles,...

Pre-pandemic sized crowds descend on US airports for holiday

TSA is reporting crowds of pre-pandemic size are traveling this Independence Day.
2 days ago
Vehicles enter Zion National Park   on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. With Independence Day set for Mond...
Mark Jones

Busy weekend expected at Zion National Park

With it being Independence Day on Monday, Zion National Park officials are expecting a busy weekend at the park and say visitors should expect long lines.
3 days ago
Rockfall along Zion-Mt Carmel Highway...
Waverly Golden

A rockfall briefly closes highway through Zion National Park

This morning a rockfall happened on the Zion-Mt Carmel Highway, it has since been cleared by maintenance crews. No injuries or damages were reported.
4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
Rescue finds family stranded by bad GPS directions near Arizona Strip