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Bonelli Peak -- Northeast Ridge Route
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Gold Butte National Monument
Bonelli Peak
Bonelli Peak
Trailhead parking along Garnet Valley Road (view W)

Overview

Bonelli Peak, via the northeast and north ridges, is a fun hike deep in the remote southwest portion of Gold Butte National Monument. The hike to the summit and back, for people in well pin-striped vehicles, is 4.5 miles. In other vehicles, hikers can add 2.8 miles, round trip, to the day.

The hike ascends fairly steep and strenuous, but safe, side-ridges to gain the main North Ridge, which is followed south to the summit. Much of the upper ridgelines are rocky, but the more craggy portions can be bypassed on one side or the other. Hiking poles are recommended.

Hikers who make the summit are rewarded with what is among the best 360-degree views in southern Nevada (summit views), and when back in Las Vegas, they can point to the peak and brag to their friends.

Link to hiking map.

Bonelli Peak
Start of the route (view W)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ... this area is fairly safe, but watch for loose rocks on the ridgeline. The craggy areas look like prime rattlesnake habitat, so be sure to watch carefully -- especially when using the rocks for handholds. Some of the craggy sections, which can be bypassed, are minimal 3rd-class, so always be careful when high enough to fall and get hurt -- help is a long ways away. The roads require a stout 2WD-HC vehicle, but a 4WD is safer in this remote region.

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. Law enforcement no longer patrols the area. 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 very remote hike, so be sure to bring the 10 Essentials.

Bonelli Peak

Getting to the Trailhead

Bonelli Peak is located out in Gold Butte National Monument at the northeast end of Lake Mead, about 5 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 for 20 miles to Gold Butte Townsite. Continuing southwest, the main road becomes Scanlon Road. Drive south on Scanlon Road for a total of 9.8 miles to Garnet Valley Road, on the right.

For those who don't want vehicle pin-striping, park here. Otherwise, turn right onto Garnet Valley Road and drive southwest 1.4 miles to the second quail guzzler. Park here; this is the trailhead.

Bonelli Peak
Summit ridge (view SW from low on the route)

The Hike

From the trailhead (Table 1, Waypoint 01), the route runs west into the obvious side canyon with the goal of gaining the low ridgeline on the north (right) side of the wash. At any of several easy spots, the route climbs onto the ridgeline (Wpt. 02) where the walking is easier. This area burned some years ago, so the Mojave Desert Scrub vegetation is sparse, especially on the ridgeline.

Following the ridgeline west, the grade soon increases considerably, but the footing is dirt, so the walking remains fairly easy. The route climbs onto a rocky highpoint (Wpt. 03), and from there the grade lessens as the ridgeline turns more due south. Although the grade is less, rocky outcrops become more frequent.

Bonelli Peak

Approaching a major peaklet on the ridgeline (Wpt. 04), it is advantageous to contour across the steep west-facing hillside towards the next saddle, although it is easier to climb higher onto the peaklet and gain the next ridgeline (Wpt. 05) well before the saddle.

Past the major peaklet, the ridge remain steep and rocky, but never is the route dangerous. Eventually, the views increase and even the Overton Arm of Lake Mead can be seen over the main North Ridge. Before long, the Northeast Ridge merges with the North Ridge (Wpt. 06), and the North Ridge is followed to the summit. Just below the summit, the route passes a decommissioned radio tower, and then hikers are greeted by a working tower, a solar panel, two equipment boxes, and a summit register on the summit (Wpt. 07).

Bonelli Peak

Views from the summit are surprisingly grand. To the west are Las Vegas and the Spring Mountain Range. To the north in the "near distance" are Lime Ridge, Tramp Ridge, and Virgin Peak, while in the far distance, the Mormon Mountains and the Pine Valley Mountains above St. George, Utah, fade into the desert haze. To the east lies the Jumbo Peak complex, and beyond are the Grand Wash Cliffs in Arizona. To the south is Lake Mead and peaks running into the distance across Arizona, Nevada, and California.

When ready, follow your footprints back down the ridge to the trailhead. Pay particular attention when the North Ridge and Northeast Ridge split, and especially when the Northeast Ridge splits again (stay right) aiming for the peaklet bypass during the ascent. See photos of the descent.

Bonelli Peak
Mojave Buckwheat blooming on the ridgeline (view SW)
Bonelli Peak
Steep ridgeline (view SW)
Bonelli Peak
Approaching the first highpoint (view S)
Bonelli Peak
Ridgeline (view S from first highpoint)
Bonelli Peak
Bypassing a rocky outcrop (view SE)
Bonelli Peak
Rocky ridgeline (view SE)
Bonelli Peak
Banded metamorphic rock
Bonelli Peak
Rocky ridgeline (view SE)
Bonelli Peak
Open ridgeline (view SE)
Bonelli Peak
Approaching high peaklet on ridgeline (view SE)
Bonelli Peak
Traversing west face of peaklet (view S)
Bonelli Peak
Regaining the ridgeline (view S)
Bonelli Peak
Open ridgeline with a few rocks (view S)
Bonelli Peak
Some shrubs survived the fire (view S)
Bonelli Peak
Edge of the fire (view S)
Bonelli Peak
Approaching rocky outcrop (view S)
Bonelli Peak
Rocky outcrop can be bypassed, otherwise 3rd-class (view S)
Bonelli Peak
First view over North Ridge into Overton Arm (view NW)
Bonelli Peak Bonelli Peak
Bonelli Peak
Rocky ridgeline with blooming penstemon (view S)
Bonelli Peak
Blue-diamond Cholla and grand view (view SE)
Bonelli Peak
Rocky ridgeline (view S)
Bonelli Peak
Open ridgeline (view S)
Bonelli Peak
Blue-diamond Cholla on summit ridge (view S)
Bonelli Peak
The views have gotten good (view E to Jumbo Peak)
Bonelli Peak
Rocky ridgeline (view S)
Bonelli Peak
Approaching decommissioned radio antenna
Bonelli Peak
Radio antenna and solar panel in summit (view S)
Bonelli Peak
USGS benchmark "Bonelli"
Summit Views
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Returning to the Trailhead
Bonelli Peak
Starting down off the summit (view N)
Bonelli Peak
Passing the lower radio tower (view N)
Bonelli Peak
Helipad (view N)
Bonelli Peak
Open ridge (view N)
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Bonelli Peak Bonelli Peak
Bonelli Peak Bonelli Peak
Bonelli Peak Bonelli Peak
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Bonelli Peak
Burro scat and animal trail (view NE)
Bonelli Peak
Returning to the trailhead (view E)

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 Bonelli Trailhead 747642 4006257 3,285 0.00 0.00 GPS
02 Ridgeline 747352 4006187 3,452 0.22 0.22 GPS
03 First Highpoint 747053 4005551 4,067 0.59 0.81 GPS
04 Depart Ridgeline 747350 4005115 4,346 0.38 1.19 GPS
05 Regain Ridgeline 747381 4004993 4,321 0.08 1.27 GPS
06 Main North Ridge 747371 4003937 5,063 0.78 2.05 GPS
07 Bonelli Peak Summit 747562 4003770 5,302 0.20 2.25 GPS
01 Bonelli Trailhead 747642 4006257 3,285 2.25 4.50 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 161231

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