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Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Gold Butte National Monument
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
CCC Dam
Trailhead parking adjacent to watering trough (view E)

Overview

Whitney Pocket is a popular undeveloped camping and picnic area way out in the desert nestled up against sculpted red-and-white sandstone crags at the foot of Virgin Peak. Humans have a long history here, evidenced by rock art and agave-roasting pits left by the ancients, and by cement dams and other structures left by ranchers and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

It is a short walk (about 450 feet round-trip) to the dam, which was built by the CCC during the Great Depression when the federal government put men to work so they could send money home to feed their families. People really worked for their welfare during those days! The quality of the work is evident in the design and workmanship of the dam.

Link to map.

Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Watering trough (view SW)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ... this area is fairly safe, but the stairs are steep and without a railing, so be careful when high enough to fall and get hurt.

This is wild and remote country 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.

While visiting Whitney Pocket, 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.

Be sure to bring trash bags to clean up after people who care less about wild places than we do.

Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Watering trough (view SE)

Getting to the Trailhead

Whitney Pocket CCC Dam is located out in Gold Butte National Monument at the northeast end of Lake Mead, about 1.5 hours northeast of Las Vegas in a wild, remote, and scenic area.

Drive out to Gold Butte National Monument and follow the paved Gold Butte Road south to Whitney Pocket. At Whitney Pocket, turn left and drive east on the Arizona Road about 500 yards (0.27 miles) to a wide spot on the left (north) side of the road. This is just before the road curves right and dips across a wash. Park here; this is the trailhead.

Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Watering trough (view S; CCC Store Room in background)

The Hike

From the trailhead (Table 1, Waypoint 01), the route runs east about 40 feet to the watering trough (Wpt. 02), which is just outside a narrow canyon on the left. From the watering trough, the route turns north into the narrow canyon and runs about 130 feet to the dam (Wpt. 03). Steep, narrow stairs lead up the east edge of the dam to the top.

Hikers can walk across the dam, but it is high, so be careful. From atop the dam, hikers can look upstream to a small dam farther up the canyon. Apparently this small dam was build by Old Man Whitney himself.

From atop the dam, consider making a loop by returning to the trailhead by walking west down the side canyon. There is a short pour-over to slide down on this route, so it is better for going down than up.

Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Watering trough near entrance to CCC dam (view E)

Given the dry desert landscape and lack of water behind the dam, visitors might wonder why it was built. If we look back, we find that during settlement times in the late 1800s, the west had been unusually wet, historically. That gave early ranchers plenty of bunchgrasses and other forage for cattle, but gave them a false impression about the local climate.

By the early 1900s, the land was drying out. As a result, ranchers began building dams and other water control structures in the Gold Butte area (e.g., this dam and Black Butte Dam). As the land continues to dry, even dams like this one don't fill anymore, and with so little forage, ranchers are forced to move operations northward where water and forage remain more abundant.

Please take care to protect historic sites like the CCC Dam. This dam has stood since the 1930s, and we hope that it stands for years to come.

When finished here, consider making the short walk across the Arizona Road to another historic structure: the CCC Store Room.

Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Watering trough and entrance to CCC dam (view E)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Entrance to the dam (view N)
CCC Dam
Sign: this is not a toilet (view N)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Approaching the dam (view N)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Nearing the dam (view N)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Base of the dam (view N)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Base of the dam (view N)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
The stairs are as well constructed as is the dam (view E)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
The dam (view N)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Release valve at the base of the dam (view N)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Details of construction (view N)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Details of construction (view N)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Interesting erosion patterns (view S)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Interesting erosion patterns (view S)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Base of the dam (view N)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
The stairs are as well constructed as is the dam (view E)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Details of construction (view N)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Details of construction (view N)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Valve at the base of the dam (view N)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Hikers on the steep stairs (view N)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Top of the CCC dam (view W towards Arizona Road)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Top of the dam (view E)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Exiting the dam alcove (view S)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Hiker returning down steep stairs (view E)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Returning towards the watering trough (view W)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Returning past the watering trough (view W)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Watering trough near entrance to CCC dam (view NNE)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Watering trough near entrance to CCC dam (view NNW)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
CCC dam (view north from outside the canyon)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
CCC dam from inside the canyon (view north)
Whitney Pocket Dam
CCC dam (view north)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
CCC dam (view north)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
CCC dam (view N from outside canyon (view N)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Stairs lead to above main dam (view N)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Trailhead parking adjacent to watering trough (view W)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Additional trailhead parking along Arizona Road (view W)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
The dam sometimes holds water after storms
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
The dam sometimes holds water after storms
CCC Dam
Water seeping through the bottom of the dam
CCC Dam
The dam sometimes holds water after storms
CCC Dam
The dam sometimes holds water after storms
CCC Dam
The dam sometimes holds water after storms
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Looking down the back of the dam
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
We need to keep an eye on this crack!
Original, Upper Dam built by Mr. Whitney
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Upper check dam as seen from atop the CCC dam (view N)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Upper check dam as seen from atop the CCC dam (view N)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Upper check dam built by Mr. Whitney (view N)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Original dam built by Mr. Whitney (view N)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Original dam (view N)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Above the main dam, the smaller original dam (view N)
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
Whitney Pocket CCC Dam Whitney Pocket CCC Dam
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) Verified
01 Trailhead 756569 4045600 3,069 0.00 0.00 Yes
02 Watering Trough 756581 4045603 3,075 0.01 0.01 Yes
03 CCC Dam 756588 4045639 3,088 0.02 0.03 Yes
01 Trailhead 756569 4045600 3,069 0.03 0.07 Yes

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 161003

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