“Through the Great Southwest:” A Documentary about The Arizona Trail

Through the Great Southwest is a newly released documentary film in which Darwin Rakestraw makes his directorial debut, in partnership with the Arizona Trail Association. The film follows the community behind the 800-mile Arizona National Scenic Trail (AZT) that spans the length of Arizona, between Mexico and Utah.

A trail deeply diverse in geography and history, the AZT is truly a modern multipurpose trail—loved and used by an array of hikers, runners, riders, equestrians, and supporters from across the state. The film showcases the stunning landscapes of the trail, while exploring the impact this path has on users and community members.

In just 40 minutes, the film encourages people to participate in a broader conversation about the trail and its community. In a uniquely thoughtful manner, the film highlights the people most intimately involved with the AZT, like Matt Nelson, Executive Director of the ATA, and Rob Bauer, the volunteer who has made nearly 100 iconic gates for the Arizona Trail.

The Arizona Trail connects people and places.

Unlike other short trail documentaries before it, Through the Great Southwest focuses on the faces behind the scenes that give these iconic trails the energy and direction (quite literally) hikers see as end-users. It leaves the viewer with a deep sense of gratitude not only for the beauty of the trail itself, but the community members and advocates who are deeply proud to have put this trail on the map.

Want to learn more about the AZT, how to hike it, or how to get more involved? Visit the Arizona Trail Association’s website.

While you can’t catch a screening of the film right now, you can still watch the full film by downloading it here. 50% of the download cost is donated to benefit the Arizona Trail Association and their continued efforts to maintain the trail.

This documentary viewing was provided for the purpose of review—all images courtesy of Outdoor Evolution

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Comments 4

  • Lance Goehring : Apr 6th

    I really enjoyed the documentary. I was able to go to its premiere in Flagstaff several months ago. Very well done.


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