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Mail Summit Road
Backroads Around Las Vegas, Basin and Range National Monument
Mail Summit Road
Mail Summit Road
Highway 318, approaching Mail Summit Road (view N)

Overview

Mail Summit Road is a maintained dirt road that normally is suitable for 2WD vehicles, but is a bit rougher than the others getting over the mountains. The road starts along Highway 318 north of Hiko and runs northwest up a canyon, over a mountain pass, down across Coal Valley, through Murphy Gap in the Golden Gate Range, up Wild Horse Valley, and then all the way across Garden Valley, ending at an T-intersection with Cherry Creek Road. For the other direction, see the bottom of this page.

Mail Summit Road is a scenic way to get into the south ends of Coal and Garden valleys, and it provides sightseers spectacular scenery and ranchers access to their herds, but it isn't the quickest way to get to Heizer's City or to Cherry Creek. This is, however, the route to Leviathan Cave.

Link to Area Map or Road Map

Mail Summit Road
Highway 318 at Mail Summit Road (view E)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ... this road is pretty safe, but be sure your vehicle is in good working condition, carry plenty of water (radiator and drinking), and pack a lunch. Always drive carefully; even though the road is maintained, there are occasional hazards such as errant boulders in the roadway. Climbing over the mountains, there is a section where the road splits to make two parallel roads. This section should be considered one-way -- stay right at the fork coming and going. There are no signs and no laws, but both are steep, narrow, and winding.

While out, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. This road goes into remote areas, so be sure to bring the 10 Essentials. Cell phones don't work.

Mail Summit Road
Mail Summit Road (view NW from Highway 318)

Getting to the Road

Mail Summit Road is located in the southeast part of Basin and Range National Monument, about 1-3/4 hours (116 miles) northeast of Las Vegas driving directly, or about 10 minutes (9.4 miles) north of the intersection of Highway 93 and Highway 318.

From Las Vegas, drive north on Interstate-15 for 21 miles to Highway 93. Turn left onto Great Basin Highway (Hwy 93) and top off the gas tank if necessary. Drive north past the towns of Alamo (95 miles from Las Vegas) and Ash Springs (102 miles) to the intersection of Highway 93 and Highway 318 (107 miles). Gasoline is available in Alamo, Ash Springs, and Lund, but not Rachael.

Turn left onto Highway 318 and drive west then north for 9.4 miles to Mail Summit Road on the left. Marked only by a stop sign, the intersection is hard to see from a distance. The intersection is also near the crest of a hill where north-bound drivers can't see oncoming traffic.

Mail Summit Road

The Road

From the pavement (Table 1, Site 0886), Mail Summit Road runs northwest and gently climbs an alluvial fan heading towards a gap in the mountains between the Mt. Irish Range (left) and the Seaman Range (right) in the distance.

In about 1.5 miles, the road begins into a canyon and gently winds its way upward. At about 5 miles out, the canyon narrows and the road becomes more curving, and then at 5.7 miles out, the road forks (Site 1115). The next 0.7 miles of road should be considered one-way -- stay right at the fork. At about 6.4 miles out, the two forks merge (Site 1116) and arrive on Mail Summit at about 5,650 ft elevation.

The pass, a low point in the Seaman Range, is broad and without much of a view, but the summit and higher peaks around Mt. Irish can be seen to the south and the tops of the Golden Gate Range and Worthington Range can be seen to the west.

Mail Summit Road

Continuing, the road runs north-northwest as it descends gentle grades in the Pinyon-Juniper Woodland. At about 8.5 miles out, the road forks. Mail Summit Road stays right (straight) to descend through the trees.

At about 9.1 miles out, a side road turns off to the right, and by this point, the trees are thinning out. By 9.5 miles out, the trees are gone and the view down into Coal Valley becomes grand and sweeping. At 9.9 miles, a sign on the right announces Coal Valley as the road continues its gentle, straight descent into the valley.

At about 11.2 miles out (Site 0888), Mail Summit Road bends to the left while a well used, lesser road continues straight towards the bottom of Coal Valley.

Mail Summit Road

Now running west-northwest, the road cuts across the south end of Coal Valley where nothing obstructs the view. At about 14.0 miles out, the road crosses a cattle guard (Site 1571), then continues west towards Murphy Gap in the Golden Gate Range.

Nearing Murphy Gap, Mail Summit Road bends to the left and forks (17.2 miles out). Both forks merge ahead beyond the hill, but the main road stays left. Shortly, at about 17.3 miles out, the road forks again (Site 1570), this time with a very hard bend to the right. This is Coal Valley West Road, which descends into the bottom of coal Valley and follows up along the east edge of the Golden Gate Range.

Shortly, Mail Summit Road descends a steep hillside (17.4 miles out) towards Cold Springs Wash. The road stays above the bottom of Cold Springs Wash as it runs through Murphy Gap. Just beyond the gap, at about 18.6 miles out, there is a directional sign on the left with no apparent road intersection. It seems the intersection was realigned but the sign was left in the original place. Shortly, at 18.7 miles out, Wild Horse Road (Site 0889) branches off to the left and runs south to Highway 375.

Mail Summit Road

Continuing, Mail Summit Road begins to curve to the right and head northwest again. The curve at 19.3 miles out is the sharpest along this well-maintained, high-speed road. The road runs up a broad wash and eventually crests out on a broad saddle and visitors get their first views down into Garden Valley.

The road winds gently as it descends into Garden Valley. At about 24.7 miles out, a sign on the right announces Garden Valley.

Mail Summit Road

At 25.2 miles out, road skirts the end of a rocky ridge, a scenic place to stop for a photo and stretch the legs. Shortly thereafter, at 25.5 miles, Mail Summit Road passes an intersection (Site 1552) with a two-track road. The road to the left (Garden Valley South Road) cuts across the valley to another two-track (Garden Valley West Road), which leads to Leviathan Cave in the Worthington Range.

Continuing on Mail Summit Road, the views are more and more grand as the straight and smooth road glides into the bottom Garden Valley.

At 29.5 miles out, Mail Summit Road crosses a lesser road (Site 0890). To the left, Garden Valley West Road runs southwest towards the Worthington Range and provides access to to Leviathan Cave from the north. To the right, Garden Valley Southeast Road winds about, but runs northeast to Water Gap (near Heizer's City) and off to the pavement at Highway 318.

Mail Summit Road
Starting into the mountains (view W)

Continuing, Mail Summit Road descends into the bottom of Garden Valley where little but Shadscale Saltbush can survive in the salty muds. Climbing out the other side, the road curves right to parallel the base of the Worthington Range.

At about 33.8 miles out (Site 1569), a minor road forks left that leads to the Worthington mining district, and one forks right that leads towards Water Gap.

At 35.5 miles out, the road forks (Site 1568). Mail Summit Road stays right, while the left can be used to exit the area to the pavement near Rachael. At 36.0 miles out (Site 1567), a road to the left connects back to the road to Rachael. At 36.2 miles out, the road forks and Mail Summit Road stays right. This and several more left turns lead westward into Cottonwood Canyon.

Mail Summit Road
The road forks -- stay right assuming a one-way road (view NW)

At 39.2 miles out, Mail Summit Road arrives at a cattle guard (Site 1566) and road intersections. Here, the road left (before the cattle guard) runs northwest into Pine Creek Canyon, while the road right (after the cattle guard) runs southeast towards Water Gap.

Continuing northeast, Mail Summit Road eventually bends hard to the right (45.6 miles out), descends the hillside, and then drop into and crosses Cherry Creek Wash (46.1 miles) in a rough, narrow, and steep way that is uncharacteristic of this road.

Climbing out the other side of the wash, Mail Summit Road ends at a T-intersection with Cherry Creek Road (Site 1594). To the left, the road runs up to the community of Cherry Creek and the historic townsite of Adaven, while to the right the road crosses Garden Valley, passing Heizer's Ranch and Water Gap, and returns to the pavement at Highway 318.

Mail Summit Road
Mail Summit (view W towards Golden Gate and Worthington ranges)
Mail Summit Road
Mail Summit (view S towards Mt. Irish)
Mail Summit Road
Descending through the trees (view NW)
Mail Summit Road
Road forks; stay right (view NW)
Mail Summit Road
Almost the last of the trees (view NW)
Mail Summit Road
No more trees -- but oh what a view (view NW)
Mail Summit Road
Stormy day
Mail Summit Road
Sunny day
Mail Summit Road
Stormy day
Mail Summit Road
Sunny day
Mail Summit Road Mail Summit Road
Mail Summit Road Mail Summit Road
Mail Summit Road
Road curves left (view NW)
Mail Summit Road
Road now runs straight across south end of Coal Valley (view W)
Mail Summit Road Mail Summit Road
Mail Summit Road
Descending into Cold Springs Wash (view W)
Mail Summit Road
Coming out of Murphy Gap (view W)
Mail Summit Road
Road sign without an intersection?
Mail Summit Road
Wild Horse Valley Road intersection is now up here!
Mail Summit Road
Watch for sheep in the road
Mail Summit Road
Watch for sheep in the road
Mail Summit Road
Sunny day
Mail Summit Road
Stormy day
Mail Summit Road
Sunny day
Mail Summit Road
Stormy day
Mail Summit Road
Garden Valley sign (view NW)
Mail Summit Road
Worthington Range and Mt. Meeker (view W)
Mail Summit Road
Road passes edge of rocky ridge (stormy day)
Mail Summit Road
Road passes edge of rocky ridge (sunny day)
Mail Summit Road
Stormy day
Mail Summit Road
Sunny day
Mail Summit Road
Stormy day
Intersection with Garden Valley South Road (snow; view NNW)
Mail Summit Road
Sunny day
Intersection with Garden Valley South Road (sun; view NNW)

Mail Summit Road -- Southbound from Wild Horse Valley to Highway 318

Mail Summit Road
Mail Summit Road southbound in Wild Horse Valley (view SE)
Mail Summit Road
Wild Horse Valley (view SE)
Mail Summit Road
Approaching Murphy Gap (view E)
Mail Summit Road
Mail Summit Road at Wild Horse Road (view E)
Mail Summit Road
Murphy Gap (view E)
Mail Summit Road
Beyond Murphy Gap (view E)
Mail Summit Road
Mail Summit Road at Coal Valley West Road (view E)
Mail Summit Road
Coal Valley (view E)
Mail Summit Road
Coal Valley (view E)
Mail Summit Road
Mail Summit Road at one-way split (view S)
Mail Summit Road
Good, one-way road downhill (view S)
Mail Summit Road
Not-so-good, one-way road downhill (view S)
Mail Summit Road
End of one-way section (view SE)
Mail Summit Road
Two-way, but still narrow roadway (view SE)
Mail Summit Road
Dropping out of the mountains (view S)
Mail Summit Road
Dropping out of the mountains (view SE)
Mail Summit Road Mail Summit Road
Mail Summit Road Mail Summit Road
Mail Summit Road
Approaching Highway 318
Mail Summit Road
more to come ...

Table 1. Highway Coordinates and Distances based on GPS Data (NAD27). Download highway GPS waypoints (gpx) file.

Wpt. Location Latitude (N) Longitude (W) Elevation (ft) Point-to-Point Distance (mi) Cumulative Distance (mi) Verified
0886 Hwy 318 at Mail Summit Rd 37.65247 115.20742 4,125 0.00 00.0 Yes
1115 Mail Summit Rd Splits 37.69277 115.28748 5,347 5.71 05.7 Yes
1116 Mail Summit Rd Rejoins 37.70255 115.28603 5,649 0.69 06.4 Yes
0888 Mail Summit Rd at Coal Valley Rd 37.76390 115.31380 5,208 4.80 11.2 Yes
1571 Mail Summit Rd at Cattle Guard 37.77707 115.36252 5,332 2.80 14.0 Yes
1570 Mail Summit Rd at Coal Valley W Rd 37.79089 115.42029 5,733 3.30 17.3 Yes
0889 Mail Summit Rd at Wild Horse Rd 37.78768 115.44329 5,820 1.40 18.7 Yes
1552 Mail Summit Rd at Garden Valley South Rd 37.85384 115.50111 5,946 6.80 25.5 Yes
0890 Mail Summit Rd at Garden Valley Rd 37.90409 115.53761 5,509 4.00 29.5 Yes
1569 Mail Summit Rd at side road 37.96254 115.56138 5,466 4.30 33.8 Yes
1568 Mail summit Rd at Worthington N Rd-S 37.97911 115.58358 5,575 1.70 35.5 Yes
1567 Mail Summit Rd at Worthington N Rd-N 37.98631 115.58842 5,596 0.50 36.0 Yes
1566 Mail Summit Rd at Garden Valley Rd 38.03036 115.58113 5,657 3.20 39.2 Yes
1594 Mail Summit Rd at Cherry Creek Rd 38.11024 115.50888 5,596 7.20 46.4 Yes

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 161006

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