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Alamo Road -- Northbound
Backroads Around Las Vegas, Desert National Wildlife Refuge
Alamo Road
Dangerous condition: deep, heavy playa dust at Desert Dry Lake

Alamo Road Conditions

Jim Boone writes (Dec 2017): I drove the entire road northbound in my jeep entirely in 2WD, even crossing the playa. Most of the road had been graded since my last visit, but it was in rough shape between Sheep Pass and Desert Dry Lake. The lake crossing was badly rutted with deep playa dust, and I would not have tried it without the ability to shift into 4WD.

Craig writes (Feb 4, 2018): We did Alamo Road from Corn Creek to Pahranagat NWR. LONG trip. We had zero problems and ran into two other traveling the road as well. Even the road by the lake bed was traversable in a 2WD-HC vehicle if done carefully.

Drivers: please send an email with current conditions.

Alamo Road
Sign at the intersection of Corn Creek Road, Alamo Road,
and Mormon Well Road (view E)

Overview

Alamo Road connects Corn Creek Field Station in the south with the town of Alamo in the north. This bumpy, 70-mile dirt road runs along the west side of the Sheep Range until crossing over to the east side near the north end of the road. Perhaps not surprisingly, this road is called Old Corn Creek Road by people living in Alamo because, from the northern perspective, it was the road to Corn Creek.

For several years, Alamo Road was closed to vehicles where it crosses Desert Dry Lake. However, the road is now open all the way from Highway 95 to Highway 93, but crossing the playa requires a 4WD-HC vehicle even when dry because of deep playa dust.

Alamo Road North provides access to wild and rugged country, including Desert Dry Lake, sand dunes (northern and southern), and historic ranching sites (corral and well).

Link to map.

alamo roadJoe May Road sign (view NNW from Alamo Road)

There are a number of primitive campsites along Alamo Road. Camping is unrestricted, so campers can stop anywhere, but be kind to the land and choose an existing campsite; don't drive off-road into the bushes to camp, and be sure to practice Leave No Trace techniques in these undeveloped campsites.

Except for crossing the playa, which requires 4WD, the road usually is suitable for 2WD-HC vehicles, but it can also be rough, washed out, and muddy. Drivers should inquire at the visitor center about road conditions. This road runs into wild and remote country where one storm can change the road conditions to 4WD-only or worse.

Alamo Road
The wildflowers can be extraordinary

Alamo Road North traverses typical middle-elevation Mojave Desert Scrub habitat with species such as Creosote Bush, White Bursage, and scattered Joshua Trees. The road often traverses washes, so Cheesebush and Mojave Rabbitbrush can be common too. During spring, there can be many flowers along the road, including Bigelow's Monkeyflower, Desert Woollystar, and Golden Evening-Primrose.

Typical mammal species along Alamo Road North include Black-tailed Jackrabbit, Desert Cottontail, White-tailed Antelope Squirrel, Mule Deer, and even Desert Bighorn Sheep. At night, Desert Woodrats can be found in rocky areas, Merriam's Kangaroo Rats are widespread, and Desert Kangaroo Rats live in the sand dunes.

Alamo Road
White Dirt Campsite (view N)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about being in the desert ... Alamo Road North generally is a good dirt road, but it runs out into wild and remote country. There are no services (no fuel) or developments of any kind. Cell phones don't work. Bring water and food, a spare tire, a shovel, tools, a tow rope, bailing wire, and anything else needed to survive a night or two stuck in the desert. Close in, the road is graded occasionally, but farther out the road has rocky spots and washouts that tend to sneak up in a way that could break an axle. The speed limit is 25 mph, and sticking to the speed limit will help prevent breaking axles on unseen rills or shredding tires on unexpected rocks in the road (friends experience).

Alamo Road
Flowers can be good out near Desert Dry Lake

At the southeast edge of Desert Dry Lake, signs used to prohibit crossing the playa. The deeply rutted road and extremely deep playa dust, which is surprisingly difficult to drive through even in 4WD, resulted in too many people getting stuck and stranded on the playa in life-threatening summer conditions, so the refuge closed the section of road across the playa. The road is open now, but drive carefully on the playa and be prepared.

While out, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. Also, this road leads into remote country, so be sure to bring the 10 Essentials. This is a wildlife refuge, so pay extra attention to respecting the land.

alamo road
North Dunes (view NE from Alamo Road; zoom)

Location

Alamo Road is located on west side of Desert National Wildlife Refuge. As described here, Alamo Road starts at Corn Creek (Desert NWR Visitor Center near Highway 95) and runs northeast to Pahranagat NWR Visitor Center, exiting onto Highway 93.

From town, top off the gas tank and drive out Highway 95 to Corn Creek Road, then turn right onto Corn Creek Field Station (DNWR Visitor Center). A few yards past the Visitor Center, Corn Creek Road ends at the T-intersection. Turn left onto Alamo Road.

For the other end, drive north on Interstate 15 to Highway 93. Turn left onto Highway 93 and drive north to Pahranagat NWR. Follow signs to the Visitor Center, which is at the north end of Alamo Road (called Corn Creek Road in this area).

alamo road
Corn Creek Rd at Alamo-Mormon Well roads intersection (view E)

Alamo Road -- Corn Creek Road to Hidden Forest Road

From Corn Creek Road, Alamo Road heads north leaving the desert oasis passing mesquite-stabilized sand dunes on the left and the Sheep Range on the right. Eventually the road bends right and heads northeast for a total of 14.8 miles to Hidden Forest Road.

This road usually is graded and suitable for carefully driven medium-clearance vehicles. After storms, however, the road can be badly wash from the many little washes that cross the road.

This part of Alamo Road provides access to campsites, Joe May Canyon (with campsites), Cow Camp Road (with campsites), and some interesting desert birding in the mesquite thickets.

Alamo Road
Alamo Road at White Rock Road (20.6 miles N of Corn Creek)

Alamo Road -- Hidden Forest Road to Sheep Pass

From Hidden Forest Road, Alamo Road heads north for 14.7 miles across a broad, flat valley before climbing into the East Desert Range and eventually reaching the saddle at Sheep Pass for a total of 29.6 miles from Corn Creek.

This part of the road is graded from time to time and usually is suitable for high-clearance vehicles. After storms, however, the road can be badly wash from the many little washes that cross the road, and rills across the road can sneak up when unexpected and threaten to break axles of the unwary.

This part of Alamo Road provides access to campsites, White Rock Rd, White Dirt Camp, Deadhorse Road (with campsites), and grand scenery north and south from Sheep Pass.

Alamo Road
Alamo Road with first views of Desert Dry Lake (view N)

Alamo Road -- Sheep Pass to Cabin Canyon Road

From Sheep Pass, Alamo Road heads north 8 miles to Desert Dry Lake and then east 2 miles to an intersection with Cabin Canyon Road for a total of 39.6 miles from Corn Creek.

This part of the road is graded from time to time and usually is suitable for high-clearance vehicles. After storms, however, the road can be badly wash from the many little washes that cross the road, and rills across the road can sneak up when unexpected and threaten to break axles of the unwary.

This part of Alamo Road provides access to campsites, White Rock Rd, White Dirt Camp, Deadhorse Road (with campsites), and grand scenery north and south from Sheep Pass.

Alamo Road
Dangerous condition: deep, heavy playa dust at Desert Dry Lake

Alamo Road -- Cabin Canyon Road to across Desert Dry Lake Playa

From Cabin Canyon Road, Alamo Road heads north and east for 2.7 miles crossing the deep playa dust on the southeast corner of Desert Dry Lake for a total of 42.4 miles from Corn Creek. Because of the deep playa dust, this is the most technically difficult part of the road.

This part of the road never is graded and usually is suitable only for high-clearance 4WD vehicles. After storms, the road can be wet and impassible.

This part of Alamo Road provides access to a couple of cattle tanks, but in reality it just provides a way to get across the playa.

alamo road
North Sand Dunes are getting closer (view N)

Alamo Road -- Desert Dry Lake Desert Sand Dunes

From the north side of the playa crossing, Alamo Road heads north for 6.2 miles along the edge of Desert Dry Lake to the parking area and trailhead for the walk to the north side of Desert Dry Lake Dunes for a total of 48.5 miles from Corn Creek.

This part of the road is graded from time to time and usually is suitable for high-clearance vehicles. After storms, however, the road can be washed and muddy from the many little washes that cross the road.

This part of Alamo Road provides access to campsites, an historic wild mill site, an historic corral site, and Desert Sand Dunes.

alamo road
Alamo Road approaching Pahranagat NWR (view NE)

Alamo Road -- Sand Dunes Highway 93

From Desert Sand Dunes, Alamo Road heads north for 11.6 miles before bending northeast (3 miles) to pass through gaps in the East Pahranagat Range. The road descends 4.3 miles to the west edge of Pahranagat Valley. Following north 1.8 miles along the edge of the marsh, the road reaches Pahranagat NWR Visitor Center and shortly beyond reaches the pavement at Highway 93, for a total of 69.8 miles from Corn Creek.

This part of the road is graded from time to time and usually is suitable for high-clearance vehicles. After storms, however, the road can be washed at any of the many places where the road runs it or crosses washes.

This part of Alamo Road provides access to campsites, grand scenery, and the pavement at Highway 93.

Table 1. Highway Distances Based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Highway GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Wpt. Location Latitude (N) Longitude (W) Elevation (ft) Point-to-Point Distance (mi) Cumulative Distance (mi)
1295 Corn Creek Rd at Alamo-Mormon Rd 647311 4033593 2,933 0.00 00.00
1517 Alamo Rd at Corn Creek Campsite 647212 4034068 2,969 0.30 00.30
0780 Alamo Rd at Joe May Canyon Rd 646366 4038614 3,240 2.88 03.18
1336 Alamo Rd at Wellhead Camp Rd 643035 4044499 3,411 4.35 07.53
0992 Alamo Rd at Cow Camp Rd 643589 4046289 3,547 1.16 08.69
0882 Alamo Rd at Hidden Forest Rd 647279 4055442 4,490 6.15 14.84
1226 Alamo Rd at Pine Canyon Rd 647637 4057079 4,492 1.04 15.88
1227 Alamo Rd at Slate Mine Rd 648121 4058626 4,426 1.01 16.89
1228 Alamo Rd at White Sage Road 650049 4062820 4,249 2.87 19.76
0455 Alamo Rd at White Rock Rd 650590 4064035 4,230 0.83 20.59
0738 Alamo Rd at White Dirt Camp Rd 651421 4066033 4,264 1.35 21.94
0552 Alamo Rd at Deadhorse Rd 651727 4068747 4,272 1.70 23.64
0553 Alamo Rd at Sheep Pass 651931 4077996 4,981 5.92 29.56
0554 Alamo Rd at Desert Dry Lake Rd 652465 4087819 3,477 6.84 36.40
0593 Alamo Rd at Dry Lake Camp Rd 655369 4088573 3,283 2.14 38.54
0098 Alamo Rd at Cabin Spr Rd 656773 4087799 3,235 1.08 39.62
0489 Alamo Rd at South Closure 657093 4088514 3,231 0.49 40.11
0543 South Dunes Trailhead 659772 4089937 3,210 2.21 42.32
1789 Alamo Road North at Dry Lake Well Road 660691 4090867 3,233 0.82 43.14
1788 Alamo Road at Dry Lake Corral Road 660570 4096188 3,206 3.50 46.64
0736 Alamo Road at North-Dune Road South 660491 4096942 3,238 0.47 47.11
0735 Alamo Road at North-Dune Road North 659840 4098880 3,255 1.43 48.54
0542 Alamo Rd Jct 659672 4106391 3,653 4.73 53.27
0493 Alamo Rd Jct 661202 4115981 4,123 6.92 60.19
1541 Alamo Rd N at Service Road 662562 4115851 4,006 1.03 61.22
1878 Alamo Rd at Old DNWR Boundary 664312 4118684 3,924 2.32 63.54
0492 Pahranagat Rd at Alamo Rd 667067 4123522 3,282 4.00 67.54
0943 Pahranagat Rd at HQ Rd 666681 4126297 3,322 1.82 69.36
0486 Hwy 93 at Pahranagat VC Rd 667045 4126892 3,335 0.44 69.80

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 180214

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