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Jumbo Springs Wilderness Area -- Southern Ridges Loop Route
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Gold Butte National Monument
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Jumbo Springs Wilderness Area
Windmill Mine Road trailhead (view S)

Overview

Jumbo Springs Wilderness Area, located at the far southern end of Gold Butte National Monument, is extremely remote, steep, and rocky. It is so steep and rocky that there are few places where even hardy hikers can penetrate the boundaries -- truly a desert land best left to the lizards.

The 3-mile Southern Ridges Loop route barely penetrates the wilderness area. Instead, the route climbs onto a ridgeline that more-or-less serves as the boundary for the wilderness area. Traversing the ridge, hikers can get views of the wilderness area better than those from within the boundaries, although technically parts of the ridge are inside the wilderness area. From Peak 1320 (1.28 miles out), hikers can return back along the ridge or make a loop returning through Jumbo Basin, the broad valley to the north.

The route leads hikers to surprisingly grand views that stretch from the Grand Wash Cliffs in Northern Arizona to high peaks in southern California.

Link to hiking map.

Jumbo Springs Wilderness AreaHillside (view SE towards highpoint on the ridge)

Watch Out

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. It is a big place and someone will find you eventually if you stay on a main road, but be prepared to survive alone for a day or two, or even longer on side roads. Consider signalling the tourist helicopters that traverse the area coming and going from the Grand Canyon.

This hike is relatively safe, but be extra careful on rocky outcrops and in places where hikers could fall into the wilderness area.

While out, 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.

Jumbo Springs Wilderness Area

Getting to the Trailhead

The Southern Ridges Route and the Jumbo Springs Wilderness Area 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 to Gold Butte Townsite. From the townsite, Scanlon Road is the main road running southwest. Drive south on Scanlon Road for 13.8 miles to Windmill Mine Road.

When Scanlon Road turns right down a wash, continue straight south on Windmill Mine Road. Windmill Mine Road forks about 0.4 miles out. Stay left to the turn-about at the end of the road (0.5 miles out). Don't follow the faint spur road left from the turn-about. Park here at the turn-about; this is the trailhead.

Jumbo Springs Wilderness Area

The Hike

From the trailhead (Table 1, Waypoint 01), the route runs south towards a highpoint on the ridgeline (Jumbo Springs Peaklet). Hikers seem to enter the wilderness area about half-way to the ridgeline (Wpt. 02), but boundary lines on the map don't make geographic sense.

Jumbo Springs Peaklet (Wpt. 03) is only 0.21 miles out and barely 200 feet above the trailhead, but climbing onto the summit feels like arriving at the top of the world. Grand views of the south-facing slopes of Jumbo Springs Wilderness Area spread out below, and for those wishing only to visit the wilderness area, this view is about as good as it gets.

More broadly, views from Jumbo Springs Peaklet cover a vast landscape, including the Grand Wash Cliffs in Arizona, the mouth of the Grand Canyon, the Colorado River, peaks down across Arizona, Lake Mead, Mt. Potosi southwest of Las Vegas, Bonelli Peak, Valley of Fire, the Sheep Range, and the Jumbo Peak mountains.

Jumbo Springs Wilderness AreaHillside (view SE towards highpoint on the ridge; Wpt. 05)

Atop Jumbo Springs Peaklet, hikers planning to do the loop should look northeast (54° true) and take note of an unusually large outcrop of bright-white quartz that can be seen near a hilltop in the distance (0.4 miles out; twice the distance back to the trailhead, which is also visible). This white outcrop serves as a useful landmark during the return across Jumbo Basin. Take note of it here, but relocate it from time to time while hiking along the ridgeline as the view changes.

From Jumbo Springs Peaklet (Wpt. 03), the route turns left and runs southeast along the top of the ridge. Passing a rock spire, the route continues southeast. When the ridge turns northeast, a rocky point juts out to the south. Out on the point, Jumbo Springs Overlook (Wpt. 04), hikers get a bird's eye view of Jumbo Springs Wilderness Area. Although not a summit, this is a great place to stop for lunch, or at least a place to stop and contemplate the meaning of wilderness. Except for aircraft and a few structures in the haze to the south, the entire view is wild county unblemished by modern civilization.

Continuing northeast along the ridgeline, the route dips through a saddle (Wpt. 05), then turns southeast and climbs back along the ridgeline to another highpoint (Wpt. 06), again with grand views.

Jumbo Springs Wilderness Area
Approaching Jumbo Springs Peaklet

Continuing southeast and dipping through a second saddle, this one not so low, the route climbs the ridgeline again and soon arrives at Peak 1320 (Wpt. 07). Note that 1,320 is the elevation (in meters) marked on the USGS topo map, which is 4,331 ft. In contrast, the river below is only 330 m (1080 ft), about 3,000 feet difference, making this similar to standing atop El Capitan in Yosemite and looking down at the floor of Yosemite Valley.

Peak 1320 lies at a bend in the ridge, making this the southeast most point along the ridgeline and providing views from the northwest around the south to the northeast: more than a 180 degree view of the southern slopes of Jumbo Springs Wilderness Area. Peak 1320 has a rocky cap that makes for a nice place to sit, admire the view, and eat lunch. During spring migration, hawks, vultures, and other soaring birds use updrafts along these south-facing slopes to speed their journey to the breeding grounds farther north.

From Peak 1320, be sure to keep an eye on the white-quartz outcrop, now off to the northwest.

Jumbo Springs Wilderness Area
Arriving at Jumbo Springs Peaklet (Wpt. 03)

Continuing along the ridgeline beyond Peak 1320, the route runs northeast and down from the highpoint. The ridgeline eventually ends at an overlook (Wpt. 08) that provides perhaps the best view out across Jumbo Springs Wilderness Area.

While the view from Peak 1320 is grand, it only overlooks the southern slopes of the wilderness area. From the overlook, views north through east survey the heart of the wilderness area, and from here, it is even more apparent that this is a wild land most fit for lizards: vast, steep, unencumbered by vegetation, and rocky.

From the overlook (Wpt. 08), the route turns northwest running down what seems like a sideridge and exits (Wpt. 09) the wilderness area. Again, the boundary line makes no sense geographically.

Although it seems like a sideridge, this is the main ridge and provides additional views off the edge into the wilderness area. The route runs down the ridge to another overlook (Wpt. 10) that provides the last grand view out into Jumbo Springs Wilderness Area.

Jumbo Springs Wilderness Area
Jumbo Springs Peaklet (view W towards Bonelli Peak;
south-facing slopes are in the wilderness area)

Turning more to the west, the route starts out across the broad, rolling Jumbo Basin. Keeping an eye on the white-quartz outcrop, the route runs west-northwest towards the outcrop. Rolling terrain like this is difficult to traverse with map-and-compass, so keep an eye on the quartz outcrop. The route eventually runs through a low point off the north edge of a ridge (Wpt. 11), then approaches the isolated hill holding the white-quartz outcrop.

The quartz outcrop is located high on the side of an isolated hill. The route, however, runs west and up the valley on the south side of the hill. Except for geological curiosity, there is no need to climb to the quartz outcrop. Continuing west, the route follows the valley up to a north-south running ridgeline (Wpt. 12) and crosses into the valley on the other side.

Running down the next wash, the route passes a rocky crag on the left, then turns left over the ridge, and from there the trailhead (Wpt. 01) can be seen not far off to the southwest.

Jumbo Springs Wilderness Area
Jumbo Springs Peaklet (view N towards Jumbo Peak)
white outcrop
Jumbo Springs Peaklet (broad view NE towards quartz outcrop)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness Area
White quartz outcrop (zoom view NE from Jumbo Springs Peaklet)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness Area
Jumbo Springs Peaklet (view SE towards Peak 1320)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness Area
Jumbo Springs Peaklet (view SW across the wilderness area)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness Area
Ridgeline past JS Peaklet (view SE towards rock spire)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness Area
Approaching rock spire (view SE)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness Area
Rock spire (view SE along rocky ridgeline)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness AreaApproaching Jumbo Springs Viewpoint (Wpt. 04; view SE) Jumbo Springs Wilderness Area
Jumbo Springs Viewpoint (view ESE; slopes are in wilderness)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness Area
Jumbo Springs Viewpoint (view S; slopes are in wilderness)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness Area
Jumbo Springs Viewpoint (view E towards Peak 1320)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness Area
Continuing out the ridge (view NE)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Black-throated Sparrow on Mojave Yucca
Jumbo Springs Wilderness Area
Route runs down the ridgeline (view NE)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Chalk Dudleya (Dudleya pulverulenta)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Lots of Blue-diamond Cholla along the ridge
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Gentle ridgeline (view NE)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Route drops through deep saddle on the ridgeline (view NE)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Crossing the saddle (Wpt. 05), route continues along ridge (view E)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Beyond the saddle, the ridgeline is fairly steep (view SE) ...
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
... but the crest is gentle, if a bit rocky (view SE)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
The steep slope is in the wilderness area (view SE)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Lots of false summits along the rocky ridge (view SE)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Another false summit along the rocky ridge (view SE)
Jumbo Springs WildernessApproaching highpoint (Wpt. 06) along this part of ridge (view SE)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Mojave Yucca stands as a sentinel guarding wilderness slopes
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Route drops through shallow saddle before true summit (view SE)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Crossing the shallow saddle (view ESE)
Jumbo Springs WildernessRoute continues up the ridgeline (view E)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Route continues along the ridgeline (view E)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Route continues along the ridgeline (view E)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
True summit finally comes into view (view E)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Veins of white quartz and sparkly mica (view E)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Approaching Peak 1320 (view SE)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Peak 1320 (view S towards Lake Mead)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Peak 1320 (view SW; slope in wilderness)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Peak 1320 (view SW back along the route; slope in wilderness)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Peak 1320 (view NE towards Jumbo Peak)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Peak 1320 (view E towards Grand Wash Cliffs; slope in wilderness)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Peak 1320 (view SE; slope in wilderness)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Peak 1320 (view SE towards Colorado River Delta)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Peak 1320 (view SE; Colorado River exiting Grand Canyon, zoom)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Peak 1320 (view SE; end of Colorado River Delta)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Peak 1320 (view SW towards Lake Mead and Temple Bar)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Peak 1320 (view SW; Temple Bar, zoom)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Peak 1320 (view W; Bonelli Peak)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Peak 1320 (view W; Bonelli Peak, zoom)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Continuing out the ridge (view NE)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
White quartz, Barrel Cactus, and Blue-diamond Cholla
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Mojave Yucca and Blackbrush along the ridgeline (view SE)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Mojave Yucca along the ridgeline (view NE)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Cryptic resident: Desert Horned Lizard
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Buckhorn Cholla
in flower (view E)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Route continues down the ridgeline (view NE)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Blooming Utah Agave along the ridgeline (view E)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Route along edge of the ridgeline (view NE)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Another local resident: Side-blotched Lizard
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Ridgeline begins to curve northwards
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Jumbo Basin (view NE towards white-quartz outcrop)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Approaching Jumbo Springs Overlook (view E)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
JS Overlook (view NE; best view of Jumbo Springs Wilderness Area
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
JS Overlook (view N; Jumbo Springs Wilderness Area; zoom)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
JS Overlook (view NNE; Jumbo Springs Wilderness Area; zoom)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
JS Overlook (view NE; Jumbo Springs Wilderness Area; zoom)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
JS Overlook (view ENE; Jumbo Springs Wilderness Area; zoom)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
JS Overlook (view E; Jumbo Springs Wilderness Area; zoom)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Exiting wilderness area (view NW)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Route continues down the ridge (view NW)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Jumbo Basin (view NW towards white-quartz outcrop)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Ridgeline (view E into the wilderness area)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Route continues down rocky ridgeline (view NW)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Large granite outcrop with shade (view NW)
Jumbo Springs WildernessRidgeline (view N off the side of the ridge)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Ridgeline is flattening out into Jumbo Basin (view NW)
Jumbo Springs WildernessRoute runs across Jumbo Basin (view NW)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Last view into Jumbo Springs Wilderness Area (view NE)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Jumbo Basin (view W)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Natural cairns seem to mark the way across Jumbo Basin (view W)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Natural cairn (art in the park) in Jumbo Basin (view N)
 Jumbo Springs Wilderness
North-south ridgeline (Wpt. 12; view N towards white outcrop)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
North-south ridgeline (Wpt. 12; view W towards trailhead)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Route runs down ridge into wash, then over ridge past outcrop
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Route runs down wash, then over ridge past outcrop
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
On ridge past rock outcrop (view W to trailhead)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness
Returning to the trailhead (view W)

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 Windmill Trailhead 752700 4005254 4,032 0.00 0.00 GPS
02 Entering Wilderness Area 752646 4005093 4,105 0.12 0.12 GPS
03 Jumbo Springs Peaklet 752651 4004978 4,195 0.09 0.21 GPS
04 Jumbo Springs Viewpoint 752864 4004832 4,186 0.19 0.40 GPS
05 Saddle 753159 4005038 4,061 0.28 0.68 GPS
06 Highpoint 753392 4004697 4,297 0.29 0.97 GPS
07 Peak 1320 753714 4004529 4,344 0.31 1.28 GPS
08 Jumbo Springs Overlook 754216 4004819 4,213 0.44 1.72 GPS
09 Wilderness Boundary 754175 4004844 4,190 0.04 1.76 GPS
10 Last Good View 753898 4005232 4,063 0.38 2.14 GPS
11 Toe of Ridge 753352 4005341 4,011 0.39 2.53 GPS
12 Crossing Ridgeline 753132 4005310 4,058 0.16 2.69 GPS
01 Windmill Trailhead 752700 4005254 4,032 0.33 3.02 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 151101

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