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Gold Butte Peak
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Gold Butte National Monument
Gold Butte Peak
Gold Butte Peak
Trailhead 2. End of old road (view S)

Overview

Gold Butte Peak is a fun little hike in the heart of the wild and remote Gold Butte National Monument. The hike to the summit and back, for people in regular vehicles, is 3.6 miles. In an old jeep or other narrow vehicle, hikers can drive 0.97 miles closer, effectively making the hike only 1-1/2 miles round trip. Some ATV riders drive to the mine, nearly to the summit, but I doubt that is legal and it isn't really safe.

Despite the short distance, the hike is strenuous because the old mining road is quite steep; hiking poles are recommended. The last 0.1 miles climbs through a steep boulder field liberally sprinkled with loose sand, gravel, and bushes.

Hikers who make the summit are rewarded with what is among the best 360-degree views in southern Nevada. Although getting there is long and the hike is short, Gold Butte Peak is a real hidden gem.

Link to hiking map.

Gold Butte Peak
Trail starts into canyon (view S)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ... this area is fairly safe, but there are old mines around, and holes in the ground are never safe to enter. The "mine" near the summit is not a mine, per se, rather it is a couple of bulldozed prospects more like a gravel quarry. Cell phones don't work here.

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. The roads require a 2WD-HC vehicle or a carefully driven sedan.

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 hike, so be sure to bring the 10 Essentials.

Gold Butte Peak
Trail switchbacks out of canyon bottom (view S)

Getting to the Trailhead

Gold Butte Peak is located out in Gold Butte National Monument at the northeast end of Lake Mead, about 3-1/4 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 19.8 miles to a cattle guard that announces entry into the Gold Butte Townsite area.

Just past the cattle guard, turn left onto Voight Well Road and drive south to the historic corral. At the corral, the road forks. Voight Well Road bends right along the corral, but stay left onto Gold Butte Peak Road. The road splits around a rock pile and continues east (stay left of the next fenceline). In normal vehicles, park in the campsite or where the road widens just before squeezing between two enormous boulders. Park here, this is the regular-vehicle trailhead.

Gold Butte Peak
Trail climbs onto the ridge (view NE)

The Hike

Either on foot or in a narrow vehicle, the route continues east on Gold Butte Peak Road and squeezes through the gap that is just wide enough for a jeep.

Gold Butte Peak Road, now mostly used by ATVs, generally runs east and a bit south following a wash. At about 175 yards past the squeeze, the route passes an historic arrastra below cliffs on the right. Take a minute to walk over and see this historic gold mill.

At 0.46 miles out, the road turns left against the side of the North Ridge of Gold Butte Peak. At one time, this was the end of the legal road, but now a well used road continues north.

Hikers should continue southeast here, short-cutting the road by climbing over the ridge. Otherwise, the road runs north, turns east around the toe of the ridge, and loops back south along the other side of the ridge. The road ends at a turn-around loop at the base of a steep canyon. This is the second trailhead. Most vehicles, even most ATVs, stop here.

Gold Butte Peak
The views start getting good (view NE)

Continuing on foot from the second trailhead (Table 1, Waypoint 01), the narrow old mining road runs steeply up into the canyon. Much of this area burned a few years ago, but the bottom of the canyon remains well vegetated with lots of Shrub Live Oak and a few Singleleaf Pinyon Pines. In addition, many shrub species survived the fire here on the shady, relatively moist north side of the mountain, including Narrowleaf Goldenbush, Paperbag Bush, Virgin River Brittlebush, and Needlegrass-type bunchgrasses.

Turning out of the canyon, the old mining road steeply climbs across the hillside and arrives at the first of many grand views. The old road switchbacks up the hillside (7 turns depending on what is counted). The old road is consistently steep and covered in rocks and loose gravel, but with every turn hikers are rewarded with better and better views. In this area, a few Eastern Joshua Trees survived the fire, as did some Hairspine Pricklypear and Engelmann's Hedgehog Cactus.

Gold Butte Peak
Steep trail along ridge (view S)

The old road eventually splits (not really noticed on the way up) and in a few yards crests a low ridge (Wpt. 02) to arrive at the upper portion of the mine site (Wpt. 04). Little work was done here, except for pushing rocks around with a bulldozer. A few bits of mining debris remains, but the large white-quartz vein surely excited somebody. The unusually large mica crystals, exposed at the lower mine site (Wpt. 03), excite me.

This higher-elevation, north-facing hillside is fairly well vegetated with lots of shrubs and even a few Utah Juniper Trees. Unexpectedly, there are lots of Desert Almond shrubs up here (normally a desert wash species), plus some Desert Princesplume (Stanleya pinnata) and Parry's Lipfern growing among the boulders

From the west side of the upper mine site (Wpt. 04), a steep use-trail cuts up the dirt bank adjacent to the excavation and then follows steeply up along the west side of the quartz vein.

Gold Butte Peak
Joshua Trees, Shrub Live Oak, lots of shrubs, and mule deer

At the top of the quartz vein, there are many possible routes. Perhaps the easiest aims up and a bit left to run underneath a very large, overhanging boulder visible on the skyline. After cresting out adjacent to the overhanging boulder, the summit block (Wpt. 05) lies only a few yards away.

Views from the summit are surprisingly grand for such a low mountain. To the west are Las Vegas and the Spring Mountain Range. To the north are Lime Ridge, Tramp Ridge, and Virgin Peak, also the Mormon Mountains and the Pine Valley Mountains above St. George, Utah. To the east lies Mica Peak and beyond are the Grand Wash Cliffs in Arizona. To the south are granite domes, Jumbo and Bonelli Peaks, and in the distance mountains in Arizona.

When ready, follow your footprints back to the trailhead.

Gold Butte Peak
Road switchbacks right ...
Gold Butte Peak
... with nice view of Mica Peak (view E)
Gold Butte Peak
Road switchbacks right
Gold Butte Peak
Road switchbacks left
Gold Butte Peak
Getting pretty high (view S)
Gold Butte Peak
A bit of not-so-steep road (view N)
Gold Butte Peak
Steep switchback (view NW)
Gold Butte Peak
Grand view north
Gold Butte Peak
Steep approach to mining area (view W)
Gold Butte Peak
Old road runs over low saddle (view W)
Gold Butte Peak
Past saddle, old road drops into upper mining area (view W)
Gold Butte Peak
Upper mine (no mine opening; view S)
Gold Butte Peak
Steep dirt slope just past mine area (view S)
Gold Butte Peak
Steep hillside above mine area (view S)
Gold Butte Peak
End of the quartz dike at left (view SE)
Gold Butte Peak
Hikers aiming for overhanging boulder on ridgeline (view SE)
Gold Butte Peak
Hiker nearing ridgeline (view SE)
Gold Butte Peak
Hiker on summit (view W into late afternoon sun)

Summit and Summit Views

Gold Butte Peak
Summit Register
Gold Butte Peak
Summit Register
Gold Butte Peak
Summit Register
Gold Butte Peak
Summit Register placed by MacLeod and Lilley
gold butte peak
Summit area (view NE)
gold butte peak
Summit area (view E)
gold butte peak
Summit area (view NE)
gold butte peak
Summit area (view NE)
Gold Butte Peak
Summit (view E to Mica Peak and granite domes)
Gold Butte Peak
Summit (view E to Mica Peak)
Gold Butte Peak
Summit (view E to granite domes)
Gold Butte Peak
Summit (view S to Jumbo Peak and Bonelli Peak)
Gold Butte Peak
Summit (view NW to Lime Canyon)
Gold Butte Peak
Summit (view N to Tramp Ridge and Virgin Peak)
Gold Butte Peak
Summit (view NW and down to Granite Spring camp area)
Gold Butte Peak
Summit (view N and down to Trailhead 2)

Mine Site

Gold Butte Peak
Returning to Upper Mine (view SE)
Gold Butte Peak
Upper Mine (view NE and down to Lower Mine)
Gold Butte Peak
Lower Mine (view SW and up to Upper Mine)
Gold Butte Peak
Lower Mine (view S)
Gold Butte Peak
Large quartz vein (view S; hiking poles for scale)
Gold Butte Peak
Mica embedded in the quartz
Gold Butte Peak
Mica embedded in the quartz
Gold Butte Peak
Mica embedded in the quartz
Gold Butte Peak
Large mica crystals in the quartz
Gold Butte Peak
One of several huge piles of Chukar scat
Gold Butte Peak
Hiker anticipating an evening hike back down (view NW)
Gold Butte Peak
Hiker anticipating an evening hike back down (view NE)

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 Gold Butte Peak Trailhead 753090 4018318 4,096 0.00 0.00 GPS
02 Old Road at Saddle 752931 4017819 4,849 0.73 0.73 GPS
03 Lower Mine Site 752913 4017828 4,819 . . GPS
04 Upper Mine Site 752909 4017807 4,846 0.02 0.75 GPS
05 Gold Butte Peak Summit 752955 4017738 4,992 0.08 0.83 GPS
01 Gold Butte Peak Trailhead 753090 4018318 4,096 0.83 1.66 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 151031

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