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Gold Butte National Monument -- Area Overview
Gold Butte Region

Gold Butte National Monument!

Many people worked for over 15 years to get the Gold Butte region permanently protected.
Slow, but steady progress was made in protecting this area, and 71% of Nevadans support designated as a National Monument.
Join these people and visit Friends of Gold Butte for more information.

Overview Getting There Hours Fees Camping Watch Out Rules and Regs
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Grand scenery and great roads in Gold Butte National Monument

OVERVIEW

The Gold Butte region, administered by the BLM and the U.S. National Park Service, is a 500,000-acre area located about 2 hours east of Las Vegas: south of Mesquite, north of the Colorado River, east of the Virgin River and Overton Arm of Lake Mead, and west of the Arizona state line.

Gold Butte is wild and remote with high peaks, low valleys, grand views, lots of historic and pre-historic history, mixed up geology, fossil dinosaur tracks, and huge solitude.

Activities in Gold Butte include hiking, horseback riding, driving on designated roads and trails, camping, sightseeing, and fishing along Lake Mead and in the Colorado River. The geology of this sandstone-limestone-granitic-metamorphic faulted-twisted-contorted-eroded land, while nearly impossible to comprehend in total, is stunningly stark and beautiful. Three major ecosystems (Mojave Desert, Great Basin Desert, and the Colorado Plateau) meet here, providing a varied and diverse flora and fauna.

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Dinosaur track in Gold Butte sandstone

Link to hiking, camping, and driving adventures in Gold Butte or a map of the area. Link to Official Gold Butte boundary map (PDF, 0.9 mb).

Much of Gold Butte is relatively low desert (the elevation of the lake surface is about 1,200 feet), and temperatures often are about 10 degrees higher at the lake than they are in Las Vegas. In these areas, dry-land activities generally are restricted to the cooler months (e.g., October through May). There are, however, higher mountains (to 8,100 ft) that provide a respite from the summer heat. As elsewhere in the desert, winters can bring snow and bitter cold temperatures.

Gold Butte includes two designated wilderness areas: the Lime Canyon Wilderness Area (23,233 acres) and the Jumbo Springs Wilderness Area (4,631 acres) that were designated in 2002 under the Clark County Conservation of Public Land and Natural Resources Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-282). Several other parts of Gold Butte were considered for inclusion in wilderness areas, but opposition by Republican members of congress have blocked conservation efforts. Over the years, even the local community has come to understand the value of wilderness in preserving their own way of life, and a local, grassroots organization (Friends of Gold Butte) was established to work towards protecting the entire area from indiscriminate and damaging use by the establishment of a National Conservation Area (like Red Rock Canyon NCA).

Gold Butte
Falling Man Petroglyph: Amazing Native American rock art

GETTING TO GOLD BUTTE

This land is wild and remote, and it offers outstanding recreational experiences, but make no mistake: this is wild and remote country where visitors are on their own. Be prepared to take care of yourself.

Gold Butte is located northeast of Las Vegas. To get there, drive north on Interstate-15 for about 70 miles to Exit 112 towards Riverside and Bunkerville (Table 1, Site 0684), which is about 5 miles before the town of Mesquite. Exit onto Highway 170 and drive south about 3 miles to the Virgin River Bridge.

Cross the bridge and immediately take a hard right turn onto the unmarked, but paved Gold Butte Road (Site 0686). Watch for a sign to Meadowland Farm. Note that the slope of the road makes the turn look like a pullout rather than an intersection.

Follow the paved Gold Butte Road southwest along the river about 6.5 miles until it abruptly bends (Site 0687) southeast and leaves the river. Stay on the rough paved road as it runs south towards the heart of Gold Butte. At 19.7 miles out, the unmarked Black Butte Road forks right just before a sandstone crag and runs southwest to the Falling Man area.

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Eroded sandstone: natural rock art

Continuing on the Gold Butte Road, the pavement ends (21.1 miles out) at Whitney Pocket, a popular camping area. It takes about 2-1/2 hours to get to this point from Las Vegas, counting time to top-off the gas tank at Glendale.

At Whitney Pocket, the unpaved Gold Butte Road forks (Site 0462) three ways. To the left, Arizona Road heads east, passes several campsites, and eventually climbs over the mountains into Arizona. To the right, a dirt road runs through a day-use parking area and down to a couple of campsites. The main road, now the unpaved Gold Butte Road, continues straight south.

From Whitney Pocket, continuing south on the unpaved Gold Butte Road for 3.9 miles brings visitors to Mud Wash North Road (Site 1649) and the turnoff to Little Finland. At 7.0 miles out, the road passes Mud Wash Road (Site 0807), the turnoff to Devil's Throat (take the time to see it; it's only 0.25 miles out). Both of these roads can be used as part of the Gold Butte Backcountry Byway.

Continuing south on the unpaved Gold Butte Road, the main road stays right at St. Thomas Gap Road (9.0 miles out; Site 0796) and again at Devil's Cove Road (16.6 miles out; Site 0797).

Gold Butte Region
Hikers atop Billy Goat Peak

Continuing south on the unpaved Gold Butte Road, the main road eventually crosses a cattle guard at about 19.8 miles out that announces entry into the Gold Butte Townsite area. To the left, Voight Well Road loops into (Site 1650) and out of (Site 1651) this eastern section of the Townsite area.

At about 20.2 miles out, the unpaved Gold Butte Road arrives at the first (Site 1648) of two roads left into the main Gold Butte Townsite area.

In another 100 yards, the unpaved Gold Butte Road ends at a 4-way intersection (Site 0806). The left is the second turn into the main Gold Butte Townsite area. The right, Red Bluff Spring Road, runs north into the distance as part of the Gold Butte Backcountry Byway. The main road continues southwest as Scanlon Road, but it gets rough pretty quickly.

HOURS

Gold Butte is always open.

There are no concessions in Gold Butte (i.e., no food, no marinas, no boat tours, no gasoline, no designated campgrounds, no nothing).

Gold Butte Region
Small part of Twenty-one Goats petroglyph panel

ENTRANCE FEES

None.

CAMPING

Car camping in Gold Butte is unregulated, but be sure to choose an existing or low-impact site and practice your Leave-No-Trace skills.

There are two popular camping areas at Gold Butte. The first is Whitney Pocket, which is at the end of the paved road, and the second is Gold Butte Townsite, which is 20 miles past the end of the pavement. There are a plethora of other camping opportunities in Gold Butte.

Scattered throughout the Gold Butte region are wide spots and short spurs along the major roads that make generally quiet campsites. For those seeking even more solitude, there are many wide spots along minor roads that make nice campsites.

Backpacking is unregulated, so backcountry permits are not required. When backpacking, be sure to choose a low-impact campsite and hone your Leave-No-Trace skills.

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Stormy campsite at Gold Butte Townsite

WATCH OUT

Other than the standard cautions about hiking in the desert, ...this area generally is safe, but there are many old mines and this is wild and remote county, so even under the best of circumstances, help would be long in coming. Given that, exercise extra caution when hiking and give yourself a little wider margin of safety. Don't push it.

In case of emergency, cell phones generally work north of Whitney Pocket, but don't count on them. Farther south, cell coverage is spotty and unreliable. For example, I once called my wife from far southern Gold Butte, but a few minutes later, I could get no cell signal at all.

Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back. Satellite phones or personal locator beacons are a good idea.

Gold Butte

SOME RULES AND REGULATIONS

This is BLM land, so there are few regulations. However, vehicles are restricted to designated roads and trails; Pack it in, pack it out; and don't mess with the rock art or other historical artifacts.

For details on these issues and other information, visit the Lake Mead website. Driving maps are available online of the Lake Mead section of Gold Butte.

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Paleozoic fossils
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Paleozoic fossils
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Early mammal tracks in Gold Butte sandstone
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Bug tracks (beetle or scorpion?) in Gold Butte sandstone
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Bug tracks in Gold Butte sandstone
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Rock art
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Devil's Throat -- an enormous sinkhole
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Granite Spring Arrastra
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Undeveloped campsite
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Gold Butte: grand open spaces
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Typical trailhead parking area
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Typical trailhead gate and information sign
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Desert Tortoise on Gold Butte the road - I couldn't stop in time
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Yes, Desert Tortoise can climb the roadside berm
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Desert Tortoise past the road
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Desert Tortoise, resting in the shade after crossing the road
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Stone tool
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Stone tool
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Stone tool
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Paiute hunting blind near a spring
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Sunrise colors on eroded hills
Gold Butte National Monument
Stormy day in Gold Butte National Monument
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Winter in the Virgin Mountains (view SE from Mormon Mesa)
Gold Butte National Monument
Winter in the Virgin Mountains (view SE)
Gold Butte National Monument
Winter in the Virgin Mountains (view SE)
Gold Butte National Monument
Winter in the Virgin Mountains (view SE)
Gold Butte National Monument
Winter in the Virgin Mountains (view SE)
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Virgin Peak (view E from Gold Butte Road)
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Possible grave site in NE Gold Butte
Gold Butte National Monument
Possible grave site in NE Gold Butte
Gold Butte National Monument
Southern end of Virgin Ridge (view E)
Gold Butte National Monument
Southern end of Virgin Ridge (view SE to Grand Wash Cliffs)
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Gypsum hills, greater Mud Wash area (view SW)
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Red sandstone outcrops near Whitney Pocket
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Bitter Ridge, central Gold Butte
Gold Butte National Monument
Bitter Ridge, central Gold Butte
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Anderson Ridge, southwestern Gold Butte
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Anderson Ridge, southern Gold Butte
Gold Butte National Monument
Anderson Ridge, southwestern Gold Butte
Gold Butte National Monument
Anderson Ridge, southwestern Gold Butte
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South side, Anderson Ridge, southwestern Gold Butte
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Gigantic agave roasting pit, Virgin Peak, northeast Gold Butte
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Mountain ranges at sunset
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Lake Mead (view W from the southwestern corner of Gold Butte)
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Table 1. Highway Coordinates based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Highway GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file

Site Location UTM Easting UTM Northing Latitude (N) Longitude (W) Elevation (ft) Verified
0461 Gold Butte Rd at End of Pavement 756116 4045702 36.52424 114.13966 3,023 Yes
0462 Gold Butte Rd at Whitney Pocket 756161 4045596 36.52327 114.13920 3,013 Yes
0684 Hwy I-15 at Hwy 170 746902 4072795 36.77063 114.23374 1,804 Yes
0686 Hwy 170 at Gold Butte Rd 748500 4068528 36.73179 114.21724 1,444 Yes
0687 Gold Butte Rd at turn away from river 742272 4061700 36.67191 114.28907 1,384 Yes
0796 Gold Butte Rd at St Thomas Gap Rd 757995 4033469 36.41359 114.12277 2,427 Yes
0797 Gold Butte Rd at Devil's Cove Rd 755481 4022247 36.31321 114.15447 3,509 Yes
0806 Gold Butte Rd at Red Bluff Spring Rd 751471 4018545 36.28093 114.20028 3,727 Yes
0807 Gold Butte Rd at Mud Wash Rd 756119 4035522 36.43258 114.14300 2,244 Yes
1648 Gold Butte Rd at Gold Butte Townsite Rd East 751531 4018569 36.28113 114.19960 3,727 Yes
1649 Gold Butte Rd at Mud Wash North Rd 754150 4040226 36.47546 114.16339 2,388 Yes
1650 Gold Butte Rd at Voight Well Rd E 752023 4019023 36.28510 114.19398 3,755 Yes
1651 Gold Butte Rd at Voight Well Rd W 751874 4018845 36.28353 114.19569 3,751 Yes

Happy hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 170913

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