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Granite Spring Arrastra
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Gold Butte National Monument
Granite Spring Arrastra
Granite Spring Arrastra
Passing last campsite along Gold Butte Peak Road (view E)

Overview

An arrastra is an early type of mill used for grinding ore in which a small boulder is dragged in a circular path to crush ore-bearing rocks to dust (see Wikipedia article). Four arrastras are known in the Gold Butte region.

Located in the Gold Butte Townsite area, the Granite Spring Arrastra probably represents the earliest efforts at gold mining in the region. Some sources suggest that Spanish explorers mined this region and built this arrastra during the 1700s. Others suggest that early miners simply used inexpensive technology to mill their ore. Regardless, the Granite Spring Arrastra is an interesting historical artifact and well worth the short walk to see it.

Overall, the Gold Butte Townsite area is an interesting place to visit and commune with the mining and ranching history of this wild and rugged region.

Link to hiking map.

Granite Spring Arrastra
Historic metal water tank along Gold Butte Peak Road (view E)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ... this place is fairly safe, but there are old mines in the area, and holes in the ground are never safe to enter.

This is a wild and remote area without services of any kind (no restrooms, no water, no gas, no food). Bring what you need to survive. Be prepared and be self-reliant. Someone will find you eventually if you stay on a main road, but be prepared to survive alone for a day or two. Cell phones only work along parts of the paved road.

While hiking, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. Also, this is a remote area, so be sure to bring the 10 Essentials.

Be sure to bring trash bags to clean up after people who care less about wild places than we do, but don't remove "historic" junk and rusty old cans.

Granite Spring Arrastra
Trailhead parking (view E)

Getting to the Granite Spring Arrastra

The Granite Spring Arrastra is located out in Gold Butte National Monument at the northeast end of Lake Mead, about 3 hours northeast of Las Vegas in a wild, remote, and scenic area.

From town, drive out to Gold Butte National Monument. From Whitney Pocket, continue south on the unpaved Gold Butte Road towards Gold Butte Townsite. At about 19.8 miles from the pavement, Gold Butte Road crosses a cattle guard, and then in about 20 yards, Voight Well Road forks to the left. Angle left onto Voight Well Road and drive south 1/4-mile into the historic area and the old corral. Some people might wish to park by the corral.

At the old corral, stay left onto Gold Butte Peak Road and continue east another 250 yards (stay left inside the fence) to a loop-about at a campsite. Stay right past the campsite another 50 yards to the trailhead, a wide spot in the road opposite the bottom-half of an old, rusting water tank. Park here; this is the trailhead.

Granite Spring Arrastra

The Hike

From the trailhead (Table 1, Waypoint 01), the route continues east along Gold Butte Peak Road. In about 30 yards, the road passes between boulders (Wpt. 02) set wide enough apart to let narrow, short-wheel-base vehicle pass through.

Continuing east, Gold Butte Peak Road winds a little left and a little right, but runs generally east. By about 175 yards out, the road is passing the north edge of a large rock pile (the largest in the immediate area). At this point (Wpt. 03), the arrastra is visible against the cliffs to the south.

Departing the road, the route crosses a sandy wash and runs up the gentle slope to the arrastra (Wpt. 04). Shrub live oaks have grown over the back 1/3 of the arrastra, but the track, the center-pivot hole, and part of the drag stone are clearly visible. Beyond the arrastra, up under the cliffs, more recent miners left a can dump. Please consider these part of the historic junk that remains in the area.

Granite Spring Arrastra
Approaching narrow gap between boulders (view E)
Granite Spring Arrastra
Route follows the road (view E)
Granite Spring Arrastra Granite Spring Arrastra
Arrastra (view S from near Gold Butte Peak Road)
Granite Spring ArrastraArrastra (view S)
 
Granite Spring Arrastra
Arrastra (view SW)
Granite Spring Arrastra
Arrastra (view SW)
Granite Spring Arrastra
Center pivot hole and drag-stone (view SW)
Granite Spring Arrastra
Arrastra (view W into the Voight Well area)
Granite Spring Arrastra
Center pivot hole
Granite Spring Arrastra
Center pivot hole
Granite Spring Arrastra
Vandals tried to remove drag-stone
Granite Spring Arrastra
Arrastra
Granite Spring Arrastra
drag-stone (broken end view)
Granite Spring Arrastra
Drag-stone (side view)
Granite Spring Arrastra
Drag-stone (top view)
Granite Spring Arrastra
Drag-stone (top view with foot for scale)
Granite Spring Arrastra
Center pivot-post hole (view down)
Granite Spring Arrastra
Center pivot-post hole (view down with foot for scale)
Granite Spring Arrastra
Arrastra without drag-stone (view NW)
Granite Spring Arrastra
Arrastra and drag-stone (view NW)
Granite Spring Arrastra
Historic can dump beyond the arrastra (view E)
Granite Spring Arrastra
Don't remove historic cans associated with historic sites!

Table 1. Hiking Coordinates and Distances based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Hiking GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Wpt. Location UTM Easting UTM Northing Elevation (ft) Point-to-Point Distance (mi) Cumulative Distance (mi) Verified
01 Trailhead 752301 4018810 3,829 0.00 0.00 Yes
02 Narrow Gap 752328 4018804 3,845 0.02 0.02 Yes
03 Depart Road 752448 4018807 3,868 0.08 0.10 Yes
04 Arrastra 752443 4018778 3,868 0.02 0.12 Yes
01 Trailhead 752301 4018810 3,829 0.12 0.24 Yes

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 161018

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