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Garden Canyon
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Gold Butte National Monument
Garden Canyon
Garden CanyonAzure Miner's Cabin and debris (view N)

Overview

Garden Canyon is a curious geologic feature where a wash cuts through a limestone mountain range. Usually, washes flow around mountains, but here, because of earthquake faulting, the canyon gives narrow access to the core of the mountain range.

Starting from the Azure Ridge Cabin at the end of Garden Wash Road, the route runs down into the canyon. At about 1/4 miles out, the route passes Azure Ridge Copper Mine with dangerous open adits.

Beyond the mine, the route continues down the narrowing wash. At the narrowest point, there are curious fossils in the rock walls. The route eventually exits Garden Canyon into a broad open area with perhaps the northernmost stand of Ocotillos growing on the hillsides, which is about 1.3 miles from the trailhead. A bit farther down the wash, a second (shorter) narrows cuts through a smaller ridge and opens onto vast views east towards the Grand Wash Cliffs in Arizona.

Link to map.

Garden Canyon
Debris in front of Azure Miner's Cabin (view E)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this is a wild and remote area. I encountered no unusual hazards in the wash, but be careful on smooth rocks as a twisted ankle would be more serious here than in less-remote areas. The mine looks interesting, but it is never safe to enter holes in the ground.

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. Cell phones don't work in this area.

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. Don't even bring your cell phone.

Garden Canyon
The old road continues past Azure Miner's Cabin (view SE)

Getting to the Trailhead

Garden Canyon is located out in Gold Butte National Monument at the northeast end of Lake Mead, about 4 hours northeast of Las Vegas in a wild, remote, and scenic area adjacent to the Arizona Border.

From town, drive out to Gold Butte National Monument. From Whitney Pocket, continue south on the unpaved Gold Butte Road for 16.2 miles to a fork in the road. Stay left onto Devils Cove Road and drive southeast for an additional 1.0 miles to Garden Spring Road, a sandy road in the wash on the left.

Following Garden Spring Road 0.7 miles to Garden Spring and Corral, Garden Wash Road forks left in front of the corral. Driving 4 miles northeast on Garden Wash Road, the road ends near the mouth of the narrow Garden Canyon and 20 yards before the historic Azure Ridge Cabin.

About 20 yards before the road ends, there is a convenient place to turn around and stop. Park here; this is the trailhead.

Garden Canyon
The route drops back into the wash (view E)

The Hike

From the trailhead (Table 1, Waypoint 01), the route passes the old Azure Ridge Cabin (Wpt. 02). Little is left except for the shell of one cabin and the collapsed boards of another one or two. Nothing of particular interest remains, but it is interesting to consider the lives of men who lived and worked here in the 1890-1920 time frame. The plywood on the walls probably post-dates 1928, so the standing cabin may have been built or retrofitted by hopeful prospectors in the 1950s during resurgent, but unsuccessful, copper mining activity in this area.

From the cabin, the route runs down the wash into the canyon. Before long, the canyon walls narrow (Wpt. 03) and the hike gets more interesting.

After winding around a few bends, hikers pass Azure Ridge Copper Mine (Wpt. 04), on the right. The mine was active from about 1890 to 1918, and possibly in the 1950s, and it yielded zinc and copper with smaller amounts of gold, silver, and other metals.

Garden Canyon
The wash quickly narrows (view E)

In the mine area, the north side of the wash appears to have been used as a work or staging area. The mine openings are on the south side. The lowest mine opening is just above wash level and had been shorn up with timbers, but they are falling apart after so many years. There is a bundle of timbers at the entrance, and this adit goes into hard rock and is relatively safe, but holes in the ground are never safe to enter, and certainly the timbers are falling away so don't touch anything that could let the mountain side crumble away.

There is a work area and two additional adits higher up the slope. The work area is just above and left of the lower adit, and there is a pile of dark-colored ore, some pipes, and what remains of a wooden table. The middle adit is directly above the work area, and the third adit is up and right from there.

Continuing down the canyon, the wash winds around a big horseshoe bend, and at the end of the long, straight section, a pile of timbers washed down by floodwaters marks the end of the illegal ATV tracks in the canyon (Wpt. 05; note that the road is closed beyond the cabin).

Garden Canyon
The canyon walls begin to rise (view NE)

From this point down, the canyon is narrow and the wash runs over lots of exposed limestone bedrock.

After winding around a bit, the canyon reaches the narrowest point. Here, odd paint splotches on the south wall (Wpt. 06) appear to have been left by geologists marking interesting fossils in the limestone. I can imagine that the white paint was background for writing that since disappeared.

From the fossil area, the canyon remains narrow until it begins to open onto a bajada (Wpt. 07) on the east side of Azure Ridge. Just beyond the canyon walls, northern-most population of ocotillo can be seen growing on both sides of the wash.

The open wash continues another 0.4 miles to a second canyon cut through a second ridge. The lower narrows (Wpt. 08) is shorter, only about 1/4 miles long, and opens onto the final bajada with grand views out across the Grand Wash in Arizona.

From whereever one gets, turn around and hike back out.

Garden Canyon
Winding down Garden Canyon (view NE)
Garden Canyon
Winding down Garden Canyon (view S)
Garden Canyon
Winding down Garden Canyon (view NE)
Garden Canyon
Winding down Garden Canyon (view SE)
Garden Canyon
Azure Ridge Mine (view S)
Garden Canyon
Continuing down canyon past Azure Ridge Mine (view NE)
Garden Canyon
Continuing down canyon (view E)
Garden Canyon
The longest straight section in the canyon (view S)
Garden Canyon
End of the illegal ATV ride (view S)
Garden Canyon
Wooden debris washed down from the mine by flooding (view S)
Garden Canyon
Wooden debris in canyon (view E)
Garden Canyon
Winding down Garden Canyon (view NE)
Garden Canyon
First of the bedrock limestone outcrops in the wash (view NE)
Garden Canyon
Bedrock limestone outcrops in the wash (view NE)
Garden Canyon
Winding down Garden Canyon (view E)
Garden Canyon
Winding down Garden Canyon (view E)
Garden Canyon
Water-carved stone (view W)
Garden Canyon
Winding down Garden Canyon (view E)
Garden Canyon
Pretty little pour-over (view NE)
Garden Canyon
Winding down Garden Canyon (view SE)
Garden Canyon
Winding down Garden Canyon (view S)
Garden Canyon
More mining timbers (at right) moved by flooding (view S)
Garden Canyon
Fresh rock fall in the wash (view S)
Garden Canyon
Winding down Garden Canyon (view NE)
Garden Canyon
Winding down Garden Canyon (view S)
Garden Canyon
Winding down Garden Canyon (view S)
Garden Canyon
(view S)
Garden Canyon
Smooth, water-polished limestone walls (view S)
Garden Canyon
Narrowest part of the canyon (view S)
Garden Canyon
Hiker stopping to look at curious fossils (view S)
Garden Canyon
Paint spots mark curious fossils (view W)
Garden Canyon
Paint spots mark curious fossils (view W)
Garden Canyon
Curious fossils (view W)
Garden Canyon
Curious fossils (view W)
Garden Canyon
Curious fossils (view W)
Garden Canyon
Curious fossils (view W)
Garden Canyon
Curious fossils (view W)
Garden Canyon
Curious fossils (view W)
Garden Canyon
Curious fossils (view W)
Garden Canyon
Curious fossils (view W)
Garden Canyon
Curious fossils (view W)
Garden Canyon
Paint spots mark downstream end of interesting fossils (view W)
Garden Canyon
Exiting the fossil zone and continuing down Garden Canyon (view E)
Garden Canyon
Winding down Garden Canyon (view SE)
Garden Canyon
Polished stone (view SE)
Garden Canyon
Winding down Garden Canyon (view SE)
Garden Canyon
Winding down Garden Canyon (view E)
Garden Canyon
More mining timbers (at left) moved by flooding (view NE)
Garden Canyon
A puddle of water with honey bees (view NE)
Garden Canyon
Winding down Garden Canyon (view NE)
Garden Canyon
Winding down Garden Canyon (view NE)
Garden Canyon
Winding down Garden Canyon (view NE)
Garden Canyon
Another puddle of water (view E)
Garden Canyon
Winding down Garden Canyon (view SE)
Garden Canyon
Winding down Garden Canyon (view SE)
Garden Canyon
Approaching the old boiler (view NE)
Garden Canyon
Approaching old mining equipment (view NE)
Garden Canyon
Mining equipment (pressure tank) washed down by flooding (view NE)
Garden Canyon
Mining equipment washed down by flooding (view SE)
Garden Canyon
Mining equipment washed down by flooding (view E)
Garden Canyon Garden Canyon
Garden Canyon Garden Canyon
Garden Canyon Garden Canyon
Garden Canyon
Continuing down Garden Canyon (view NE)
Garden Canyon
Winding down Garden Canyon (view SE)
Garden Canyon
Winding down Garden Canyon (view SE)
Garden Canyon
Winding down Garden Canyon (view SE)
Garden Canyon
More water-polished stone (view SE)
Garden Canyon
Winding down Garden Canyon (view SE)
Garden Canyon
Winding down Garden Canyon (view NE)
Garden Canyon
Thick bands of chert in the layered limestone (view SE)
Garden Canyon
Winding down Garden Canyon (view SE)
Garden Canyon
Winding down Garden Canyon (view NE)
Garden Canyon
Fossils in the limestone walls (view SE)
Garden Canyon
Fossils in the limestone walls (view SE)
Garden Canyon
Fossils in the limestone walls (view SE)
Garden Canyon
Fossils in the limestone walls (view SE)
Garden Canyon
Fossils in the limestone walls (view SE)
Garden Canyon
Fossils in the limestone walls (view S)
Garden Canyon
Winding down Garden Canyon (view E)
Garden Canyon
Curious layer of red sandstone (view S)
Garden Canyon
Agave garden on the canyon wall (view S)
Garden Canyon
Utah agave (view S)
Garden Canyon
The canyon begins to open (view E)
Garden Canyon
Old metal bucket possibly washed down from the mine
Garden Canyon
Winding down Garden Wash (view E)
Garden Canyon
Last of the canyon walls (view SE)
Garden Canyon
Open wash on broad bajada (view SE)
Garden Canyon
Garden Wash (view SE)
Garden Canyon
Garden Wash (view SE)
Garden Canyon
Ocotillo along the wash (view E)
Garden Canyon
More ocotillo along the wash (view E)
Garden Canyon
Northern-most population of ocotillo in Nevada (view NE)
Garden Canyon
Approaching the second narrow canyon (view SE)
Garden Canyon
Grand Wash Cliffs can be seen through narrow canyon (view SE)
Garden Canyon
Approaching Lower Garden Canyon (view SE)
Wild Burros (feral ass) (Equus asinus)
Lots of Wild Burro (feral ass) scat in the wash
Garden Canyon
Hiker entering Lower Garden Canyon (view SE)
Garden Canyon
Layers of red and white stone (view N)
Garden Canyon
Hiker in Lower Garden Canyon (view E)
Garden Canyon
Hiker in Lower Garden Canyon (view NE)
Garden Canyon
Fossils in the wall of Lower Garden Canyon (view NW)
Garden Canyon
Fossils in Lower Garden Canyon (view NW)
Garden Canyon
Fossils in Lower Garden Canyon (view NW)
Garden Canyon
Fossils in Lower Garden Canyon (view NW)
Garden Canyon
Fossils in Lower Garden Canyon (view NW)
Garden Canyon
Winding down Lower Garden Canyon (view E)
Garden Canyon
Winding down Lower Garden Canyon (view E)
Garden Canyon
Winding down Lower Garden Canyon (view E)
Garden Canyon
Small water-dissolved limestone cave in the canyon wall (view N)
Garden Canyon
Ferns! It is always fun to find ferns in the desert (view S)
Garden Canyon
Fossils in Lower Garden Canyon (view N)
Garden Canyon
Fossils in Lower Garden Canyon (view N)
Garden CanyonFossils in Lower Garden Canyon (view N) Garden CanyonFossils in Lower Garden Canyon (view N)
Garden Canyon
Winding down Lower Garden Canyon (view E)
Garden Canyon
Winding down Lower Garden Canyon (view E)
Garden Canyon
Hiker at the end of Lower Garden Canyon (view E)
Garden Canyon
End of Lower Garden Canyon (view SE into Grand Wash)

Table 1. Hiking Coordinates 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)
01 Trailhead 761569 4023129 2,821 0.00 0.00
02 Azure Cabin 761592 4023127 2,820 0.01 0.01
03 Top - Upper Canyon 761767 4023087 2,792 0.12 0.13
04 Azure Mine 761927 4023111 2,772 0.15 0.28
05 End of ATV Trail 762065 4023058 2,716 0.13 0.41
06 Fossils 762279 4022968 2,631 0.28 0.69
07 Bottom - Upper Canyon 762957 4022729 2,448 0.61 1.30
01 Trailhead 761569 4023129 2,821 1.30 2.60
. . . . . . .
08 Top - Lower Canyon 763568 4022514 2,362 0.42 1.72
09 Bottom - Lower Canyon 763942 4022561 2,297 0.26 1.98
01 Trailhead 761569 4023129 2,821 1.98 3.96

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 170920

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