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Mud Wash Dunes Route
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Gold Butte National Monument
Mud Wash Dunes
Mud Wash Dunes
Mud Wash Dunes trailhead parking (view N)

Overview

The hike to the Mud Wash Dune Field is easy, nearly level, and runs only 1-1/4 miles round-trip, although in country like this, hikers are free to go as far as they like. The dune field is reached in about 300 yards, and from there it stretches northwest for another 0.6 miles.

Pushed up against red sandstone crags and dotted with Joshua Trees, the red dunes appear to be moving northward, but they don't get anywhere. This is a great place to wander around in the sand, look for the homes and tracks of wild animals, look for flowers during spring, and generally revel in the unusually red-colored sand.

Link to hiking map.

Mud Wash Dunes
Start of the trail (view N)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ... this is a fairly safe area without any unusual hazards.

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 hiking, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. Also, even though this hike is short, the area is remote, so be sure to bring what you need of the 10 Essentials. Cell phones don't work here.

Mud Wash Dunes

Getting to the Trailhead

The Mud Wash Dune Field is located out in Gold Butte National Monument at the northeast end of Lake Mead, about 3 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 3.9 miles to Mud Wash North Road.

Turn right onto Mud Wash North Road and drive southwest and downstream for 3.2 miles to Mud Wash Road. Stay right onto Mud Wash Road, continuing downstream for another 0.6 miles to Mud Wash Dunes Road, which climbs the steep bank of the wash on the right.

Turn right onto Mud Wash Dunes Road and drive north for 0.5 miles to the end of the road. Trailhead parking is on the right when entering the turn-about at the end of the road.

Mud Wash Dunes

The Hike

From the trailhead (Table 1, Waypoint 01), the route runs north following an old road along the base of red sandstone cliffs. The old road runs at a slight downgrade, but is essentially level. About 300 yards out, the old road reaches an intersection marked with a carsonite sign. Here, a spur-trail leads into the south end of the dune field.

The dune field stretches out for another 0.6 miles, and continuing, the old road runs north, bends a bit to the west, and generally follows the edge of the dune field, although farther out, some parts are obscured by the moving sand.

At about 0.6 miles out, the trail forks. The natural tendency is to stay right and wander down a wash, but the trail stays left on the edge of the dune field for another 200 yards. In this area, hikers can return to the trailhead or continue around the sandstone crags to Little Finland, and loop back over the hills to the trailhead.

Mud Wash Dunes
Main trail at spur leading to south end of dune field (view NW)
Mud Wash Dunes
Main trail continues north (view N)
Mud Wash Dunes
Heading off-trail into the dunes (view NW)
Mud Wash Dunes
Up in the dunes (view W)
Mud Wash Dunes
Kangaroo Rat burrow in the red sand (view W)
Mud Wash Dunes
Grasses growing in the red sand (view NW)
Mud Wash Dunes
Sand marching north (view W)
Mud Wash Dunes
Grasses and shrubs growing in the red sand (view NW)
Mud Wash Dunes
Old road continues ...(view NW)
Mud Wash Dunes
... but the old road becomes faint (view NW)
Mud Wash Dunes
Faint old road continues (view NW; stormy day)
Mud Wash Dunes
Faint old road continues (view NW; sunny day)
Mud Wash Dunes Mud Wash Dunes
Mud Wash Dunes
The main route stays left into the sand (view NW; stormy day)
Mud Wash Dunes
The main route stays left into the sand (view NW; sunny day)
Mud Wash Dunes Mud Wash Dunes
Mud Wash Dunes Mud Wash Dunes
Mud Wash Dunes Mud Wash Dunes
Mud Wash Dunes
Rock art along the trail
Mud Wash Dunes
Rock art along the trail
Mud Wash Dunes
Rock art along the trail
Mud Wash Dunes
Rock art along the trail
Mud Wash Dunes
Interesting concretions in the sandstone
Mud Wash Dunes
Interesting concretions in the sandstone
Mud Wash Dunes
Beyond the edge of the dunes (view W)
Mud Wash Dunes
Beyond the edge of the dunes (view SW)

Returning to the Trailhead

Mud Wash Dunes Mud Wash Dunes
Mud Wash Dunes Mud Wash Dunes

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 Mud Wash Dunes Trailhead 751079 4036857 2,039 0.00 0.00 GPS
02 Old Road into Dune Field 751081 4037116 2,029 0.17 0.17 GPS
03 Trail Junction 750918 4037712 1,977 0.41 0.58 GPS
01 Mud Wash Dunes Trailhead 751079 4036857 2,039 0.58 1.16 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 160905

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