Main First Rock campsite (campsite #1; view S)
The First Rock Campsites are part of the Whitney Pocket area, a popular undeveloped camping and picnic area way out in the desert nestled up against sculpted red-and-white sandstone crags at the foot of limestone-gray Virgin Peak. There are no formal campsites, but I've numbered the four main sites for reference (see site map).
There is no water, and there are no toilets, no trash cans, and no picnic tables. Bring what you need and take it home when you leave. There is truck parking a couple of miles west on Interstate-15 where campers can dump trash without taking it back to Las Vegas.
Four campsites are scattered around First Rock. The main campsite, suitable for several large trailers and RVs, is located on the east side of the crag. The remaining three sites are smaller and arranged along the southwest side of the crag.
This is an interesting place to visit and commune with the history and scenery of this wild and rugged region.
Link to map.
Evening at First Rock Campsite (view W)
Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ... 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 visiting the Whitney Pocket area, 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, even if you leave them in the car.
Be sure to bring trash bags to clean up after people who care less about wild places than you do.
Morning at First Rock Campsite (view SW)
Getting to First Rock Camp area (part of Whitney Pocket)
First Rock Camp area is located out in Gold Butte National Monument at the northeast end of Lake Mead, about 2 hours northeast of Las Vegas in a wild, remote, and scenic area.
From town, drive out to Gold Butte National Monument. Drive east on Interstate-15 to Highway 170. Take Exit 112 towards Riverside and Bunkerville. Drive south and cross the Virgin River, then quickly turn right onto the paved Gold Butte Road. Follow the pavement (there are no paved side roads) for 19.9 miles (Table 1, Site 1768). Turn right onto the dirt road and drive west about 100 yards to Campsite #1. Continue on the somewhat rougher road, staying right along the base of the crags, to the remaining campsites.
If you miss the turn on Gold Butte Road, the pavement will end in 1 mile at Whitney Pocket, proper, where there are several more campsites.
Friends of Gold Butte stargazing party at First Rock Camp (view E)
First Rock Camp
Nestled up against a towering sandstone crag, the First Rock camps provide grand views out across the desert. From Campsite #1, sunset views east towards the main Whitney Pocket crags is deep-red stunning, while from the other sites, sunset brings relief from afternoon heat as the sun sinks into the yellow, red, and purple haze.
The east side of the crag holds an enormous agave roasting pit, evidence that people have used this campsite for thousands of years. It appears that the site already has been dug up and looted, so if you find any artifacts, please leave them for future generations.
This area also is a good kick-off point for ATVs following some of the 500 miles of open road in Gold Butte National Monument. Rough roads lead south before looping back to Whitney Pocket, and Black Butte Road can be used to begin the Sand Wash--Mud Wash Loop.
Table 1. Highway Coordinates Based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Highway GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.
||Gold Butte Rd at Black Butte Rd
||Black Butte Rd at Campsites Rd
||Gold Butte Rd at First Rock Camp Rd
||First Rock Camp #1
||First Rock Camp #2
||First Rock Camp #3
||First Rock Camp #4