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Gold Butte Townsite Lower Mines
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Gold Butte National Monument
Gold Butte Townsite Lower Mines
Gold Butte Timesite
Gold Butte Road at Gold Butte Townsite Road (view S)

Overview

The Gold Butte Townsite Lower Mines are an interesting place to visit and commune with the mining history of this wild and rugged region.

In 1905, gold was discovered on Gold Butte Peak, and when the news got out, miners poured into the area. The town of Gold Butte was established in 1906 with a post office, and by 1908 there was a hotel, livery stable, saloon, mercantile, and some 2,000 residents. By 1909, the mines had played out, the post office closed, and the town was abandoned.

Art Coleman and Bill Garrett arrived at Gold Butte Town in 1916, after the town had been abandoned, and intermittently worked the mines and ran cattle until 1958 and 1961, respectively. Today the area is littered with evidence of mining, including mine shafts and adits, old equipment, the remains of old mills, can dumps, and cement foundations, but all of the buildings are gone.

Link to map.
Gold Butte Timesite
Gold Butte Townsite Road (view S)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ... this area is fairly safe if you stay out of the mines. Old holes in the ground are never safe to enter, and these were dug over 100 years ago into decomposed granite, which is a bit like stuck-together gravel that is coming apart. Most of the tunnels have already collapsed. Stay out; stay alive. The access road requires at least a 2WD-HC vehicle.

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 occasionally 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 don't work in this area.

While visiting, 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 Townsite
Gold Butte Lower Mine Road passes the grave sites

Getting to the GB Townsite Lower Mine

Gold Butte Townsite 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, then drive south on the paved Gold Butte Road for 21 miles to Whitney Pocket where the pavement ends. Continue south on the scenic unpaved Gold Butte Road for 19.8 miles; a cattle guard marks entry into the Gold Butte Townsite area.

Continuing on GB Road, at about 0.4 miles past the cattle guard (20.2 miles total), Gold Butte Townsite Road East forks left into the Townsite area, proper. Gold Butte Townsite Road East runs through an old fenceline and into Gold Butte Townsite (Site 0460), which is an open area about 110 yards wide.

From the fenced grave sites on the left (east) side of the open area, Gold Butte Lower Mine Road continues southeast into the hills. In 0.3 miles, the road forks. The ends of both forks are visible, and there are mines at each end. The mill site is to the right.

Gold Butte Townsite
GB Lower Mine Road runs towards the hills (view SE)

GB Townsite Lower Mines

From the fork in the road just before the road ends, the right fork leads 40 yards to an old mill site. The concrete foundation remains, but everything useful is gone. Only the concrete, a few rusting metal parts, and an old pair of shoes remain.

Above the mill site, mine tailings on the hillside reveal the presence of mines. There are several mine openings on the hillside. Most are adits (horizontal openings), but there is one shaft (vertical opening). Two of the adits collapsed, one leaving an opening to the surface, proving that the rock is not solid and the mines are not safe.

The rock here is decomposed granite, so it is not particularly hard, and as the collapsed tunnels reveal, the mines are not safe to enter.

One of the adits goes in a short ways to a vertical shaft that seems pretty deep. This one has wooden infrastructures, but the floor also seems to be wooden, and nothing in an old mine is more dangerous than a rotten wood floor. Father back, this adit is collapsed to the surface.

Gold Butte Townsite
GB Lower Mine Road runs into the hills (view SE)

Another of the adits goes in a short ways to a collapse that completely blocks the tunnel. Above the adits, one "shaft" is the collapsed roof of the adit, and the other shaft is shallow. Don't get too close to the edges of the shafts because the rim is collapsing.

Also above the mill site, an ATV trail can be seen climbing the steep hillside to a saddle. This road leads to surface prospects, but not to more mines or other items of historical interest.

From the fork in the road just before the road ends, the left fork leads to a turn-around loop. From the end of the loop, the fencing around another adit can be seen a few yards off. Upon approaching this mine, it can be seen from the decomposing rocks around the entrance that the rock is not solid and the mine is not safe to enter. This mine goes back a few yards, bends to the left, and ends.

Gold Butte Townsite
Mine and mill site (view SW)
Gold Butte Townsite
Mill foundation
Gold Butte Townsite
Concrete pedestal with assorted metal debris
Gold Butte Townsite
Worn-out shoes
Gold Butte Townsite
55-gallon drum used as a tub
Gold Butte Townsite
Funnel
Gold Butte Townsite
Mill site (view N from above)
Gold Butte Townsite
Mine opening
Gold Butte Townsite
Mine entrance
Gold Butte Townsite
Collapsed tunnel
Gold Butte Townsite
Back of collapsed tunnel
Gold Butte Townsite
Fractured rock walls inside mine
Gold Butte Townsite
Another mine opening
Gold Butte Townsite
Inside mine -- stay back from wooden floor!
Gold Butte Townsite
Inside mine - wooden timbers (view down)
Gold Butte Townsite
Inside mine - wooden supports and air vent (view up)
Gold Butte Townsite
Inside mine - wooden timbers and air vent (view down)
Gold Butte Townsite
Inside mine - wooden timbers and air vent (view down)
Gold Butte Townsite
Hillside above mine looking towards collapsed tunnel
Gold Butte Townsite
Hillside above mine looking into collapsed tunnel
Gold Butte Townsite
Another mine opening - don't fall in!
Gold Butte Townsite
Campsite at old mill site
Gold Butte Townsite
Cold winter campsite at old mill site
Gold Butte Townsite
Historic site or low-impact campsite? I'm not so sure ...
Gold Butte Townsite Lower Mine
Fencing visible from end of left fork road (view SE)
Gold Butte Townsite Lower Mine
Mine adit (view SW from outside fence); odd place for fire pit
Gold Butte Townsite Lower Mine
Crumbling rock and surface collapse around entrance
Gold Butte Townsite Lower Mine
Adit (view from entrance to bend)
Gold Butte Townsite Lower Mine
Adit (view from bend to end)
Gold Butte Townsite Lower Mine
End of the adit; nothing to see here

Table 1. Highway Coordinates Based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Highway GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Site Location UTM Easting UTM Northing Latitude (N) Longitude (W) Elevation (ft)
0460 Gold Butte Townsite 751564 4018463 36.28017 114.19926 3,749
1850 Gold Butte Lower Mine Road at Fork 751912 4018179 36.27752 114.19549 3,866

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 170909

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