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Garden Canyon
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Gold Butte National Monument
Garden Canyon
Garden CanyonMiner's cabin and debris (view N)


Garden Canyon is a curious geologic feature where a wash cuts through a limestone mountain range. Usually, washes flow around mountains, but here the wash 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 interesting 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, the there is a second (shorter) narrows, but I've not yet visited that area.

Link to map.

Garden Canyon
Debris by the 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.

The old road continues past the cabin (view E)

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.

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 Mine Cabin (Wpt. 02). Little is left except for the shell of one cabin and the collapsed boards of another. 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 in the 1950s during resurgent copper mining activity in this area.

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

After winding around a few bends, hikers pass Azure Ridge Mine (Wpt. 03), on the right. This mine was probably active from about 1890 to 1920 and provided zinc and copper with smaller amounts of gold, silver, and other minerals.

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 of the wash. The first 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. I have not visited the upper adits.

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).

The canyon walls begin to rise (view E)

From this point down, the canyon is narrow and the wash runs over 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.

Although the fossil area is the narrowest point in the canyon, it remains narrows until it begins to open onto a bajada (Wpt. 07). Just beyond the canyon walls, ocotillo can be see growing on both sides of the wash. This is perhaps the northern-most population of this species.

The open wash continues another 0.4 miles to a second canyon cut through a mountain. I've not yet visited the lower narrow canyon (Wpt. 08), but it runs narrow for about 1/4 miles before opening onto a second bajada with grand views out across the Grand Wash in Arizona.

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

Azure Ridge Mine (view S)

The route continues down the canyon (view E)

The longest straight section in the canyon (view S)

End of the ATV ride (view S)

Wooden debris washed down from the mine by flooding (view S)

First of the bedrock limestone outcrops in the wash (view E)

Pretty little pour-over

More mining timbers moved by flooding

Narrowest part of the canyon

Paint spots marking interesting fossils

Paint spots marking interesting fossils

Smooth, water-polished limestone walls

Rocky narrows (view E)

Mining equipment washed down by flooding (view E)

Mining equipment washed down by flooding (view S)

The end of the canyon appears to be within sight (view E)

Fossils in the limestone walls

Fossils in the limestone walls

Fossils in the limestone walls

The end of the canyon is within sight (view E)

Agave garden on the canyon wall (view S)

Utah agave (view S)

Appears to be a layer of red sandstone (view S)

The canyon begins to open (view E)

Last of the canyon walls (view E)

Open wash on broad bajada (view E)

Ocotillo along the wash (view E)

More ocotillo along the wash (view E)
Garden Canyon
Approaching the second narrow canyon (view E)
Garden Canyon
Grand Wash Cliffs can be seen through narrow canyon (view E)

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 Cabin 761592 4023127 2,820 0.01 0.01
03 Top - Upper Canyon 761767 4023087 2,792 0.12 0.13
04 Azure Ridge 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 170221

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