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Black Butte Road
Backroads Around Las Vegas, Gold Butte National Monument
Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road
Gold Butte Road at Black Butte Road (view S)

Overview

Black Butte Road is a 5.3-mile side road off Gold Butte Road that provides 2WD-HC vehicle access to wild and rugged parts of Gold Butte National Monument west of Whitney Pocket. From the pavement, Black Butte Road runs southwest to the Falling Man Petroglyph Site. Past the trailhead, the road gets rougher and is better suited for 4WD vehicles, but still usually is passable in 2WD-HC vehicles. The road continues southwest, crosses a sandy wash (access to Twenty-one Goats), climbs over a low ridge, crosses another wash, passes KC Trailhead, and eventually climbs high onto the south side of Bitter Ridge. From there, the road drops steeply into a wash, then follows the wash uphill until climbing onto a ridge overlooking the Overton Arm of Lake Mead.

Link to road map or regional road map.

Black Butte Road

Watch Out

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

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. Cell phones might work in this area, but don't count on them.

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.

Black Butte Road

Getting to the Road

Black Butte Road is located out in Gold Butte National Monument northeast of Lake Mead, about 1.75 hours northeast of Las Vegas.

From Las Vegas, drive out to Gold Butte National Monument. Drive south on the paved Gold Butte Road for 19.7 miles to the unmarked intersection with Black Butte Road, on the right.

Alternatively, from Whitney Pocket, drive back north on the paved Gold Butte Road for 1.5 miles to just past the last big sandstone crag on the left. An unmarked dirt road leaves the pavement to the left: this is Black Butte Road.

Black Butte Road
Long since vandalized, this sign still is true

The Road

From the pavement (Table 1, Site 1004), Black Butte Road angles away from the pavement and passes along the north side of a large sandstone crag with a number of informal campsites around the base. A spur road (Site 1662) leads left to the campsites on the backside of the crag, but the main road continues to the southwest.

Farther along, more side roads branch off to the left, but all are obviously not the main road. These roads lead back to Gold Butte Road and Whitney Pocket, but they are not better than Black Butte Road and are not a shortcut to either place.

Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road (view SW from the pavement)

At 1.2 miles from the pavement, the road forks equally (Site 1005). The two forks rejoin about 1.1 mile ahead, but the left (south) fork leads to the Falling Man petroglyph site and is the much better road. The right road, Black Butte Alternate Road, seems long, slow, and bumpy.

Staying left, at 1.9 miles out, the road arrives at a pole-fencing corral that delineates trailhead parking for the Falling Man Petroglyph Site (Site 1006). The walk is short and the area is interesting, so be sure to stop and take the walk.

Black Butte Road continues southwest, passing out the other side of the trailhead parking corral. At 2.4 miles out, Black Butte Alternate Road rejoins from the right, and together, they continue southwest.

Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road (view SW from the pavement)

At about 2.7 miles out, the road crosses a wash, and shortly post-and-cable fencing appears along the left side of the road. The fencing is intended to keep vehicles off the gypsum-rich soils that serve a habitat for the rare and protected Las Vegas Bearpoppy.

Unfortunately, the fencing blocks the old road to the Twenty-one Goats petroglyph site, and some people drive illegally around the fence onto the closed road. For those wanting to see this wonderful rock art site, continue southwest on the main road. The road turns a sharp corner and drops into a broad wash (Site 1664; 3.2 miles out). In the wash, Twenty-one Goats Road runs upstream (left) 0.4 miles to Twenty-one Goats Trailhead. From there, it is a short walk to the rock art panel and to Black Butte Dam.

Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road at First Rock campsites access road (view SW)

From Twenty-one Goats Road, Black Butte Road crosses the wash and heads up into a fairly narrow canyon where 4WD can be useful. The road winds through hills, then drops into the broad and sandy Sand Wash (Site 1666; 3.5 miles out).

Here, Black Butte Road continues straight across, Black Butte Peak Trailhead is the wash on the upstream side, and Sand Wash Road goes downstream. Sand Wash Road can be used to connect with Gentry Road to the north to make a loop back to Whitney Pocket using the paved Gold Butte Road, or connect with Mud Wash Road to the south to make a loop back to Whitney Pocket using the unpaved Gold Butte Road.

Black Butte Road
First Rock campsites access road (view S)

Continuing, Black Butte Road runs southeast running above Sand Wash to another post-and-cable fence that delineates the KC Trailhead (Site 1667; 3.8 miles out). From there, the road deteriorates even more as it climbs, steeply at times, up onto the flanks of Bitter Ridge.

At about 4.5 miles out, there is a wide spot on the right (Bitter Ridge Peak trailhead; Site 1668) and suddenly the road runs over a ridgeline and starts steeply down into the canyon below.

The road drops steeply through an S-curve, then drops into the wash heading upstream. Following the wash, at about 4.9 miles out, the road steeply exits the wash and eventually climbs onto a ridgeline (Site 1669; 5.3 miles out) with what is reported to be a grand view of the Overton Arm of Lake Mead.

This is a dead end, so turn around and make another adventure on the way out.

Black Butte Road
Departing First Rock campsites area (view SW)
Black Butte Road
Water puddle adjacent to the road after a storm (view SW)
Black Butte Road
Water puddle on the road after a storm (view SW)
Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road (view SW)
Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road (view SW)
Black Butte Road
Left to Falling Man Site; right is not a better road (view SW)
Black Butte Road Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road
Approaching Falling Man Site (view SW)
Black Butte Road
Arriving at Falling Man Site parking (view SW)
Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road at Falling Man (view southwest)
Black Butte Road
Falling Man Site parking (view S)
Black Butte Road
Departing Falling Man Site parking (view W)
Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road
From previous fork, roads rejoin (view W)
Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road (view S)
Black Butte Road
Post-and-cable fence to protect Las Vegas Bearpoppy
Black Butte Road Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road (view SW)
Black Butte Road
Approaching Twenty-one Goats Road (view SW)
Black Butte Road
Arriving at Twenty-one Goats Road (view SW)
Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road (view SW)
Black Butte Road
Approaching Sand Wash (view S)
Black Butte Road
Approaching Sand Wash (view SE)
Black Butte Road
Arriving at Sand Wash Road, on right (view SE)
Black Butte Road
Black Butte Trailhead Parking (view SE)
Black Butte Road
Black Butte Trailhead Parking (view E)
Black Butte Road
Designated Road Sign just past Sand Wash (view SE)
Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road (view SE)
Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road, approaching KC Trailhead (view SE)
Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road at KC Trailhead (view S)
Black Butte Road
KC Trailhead Parking (view E)
Black Butte Road
KC Trailhead Parking (view E)
Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road beyond KC Trailhead (view SW)
Black Butte Road Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road
Fairly steep road (view SW)
Black Butte RoadBlack Butte Road approaching Bitter Ridge Trailhead (view SW)
Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road approaching Bitter Ridge Trailhead (view SW)
Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road at Bitter Ridge Trailhead (view SW)
Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road passing Bitter Ridge Trailhead
Black Butte Road
Bitter Ridge Trailhead parking (view E at sunset)
Black Butte Road
Trailhead on Black Butte Road (view east)
Black Butte Road
View from Bitter Ridge (view east)

Returning up Black Butte Road (northeast bound)

Black Butte Road
Returning past KC Trailhead (view NE)
Black Butte Road
Returning towards base of Black Butte (view N)
Black Butte Road
Returning towards Falling Man Trailhead (view NE)
Black Butte Road
Returning to Falling Man Trailhead (view NE)
Black Butte Road
Returning towards Gold Butte Road (view NE)
Black Butte Road
Returning to Gold Butte Road (view NE)

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

Wpt. Location Latitude (N) Longitude (W) Elevation (ft) Point-to-Point Distance (mi) Cumulative Distance (mi) Verified
1004 Gold Butte Rd at Black Butte Rd 36.53039 114.16102 2,776 0.00 0.00 Yes
1662 Black Butte Rd at Campsites Rd 36.52822 114.16210 2,699 0.16 0.16 Yes
1005 Black Butte Rd at Black Butte Alt Rd East 36.51797 114.17499 2,530 1.07 1.23 Yes
1006 Black Butte Rd at Falling Man Trailhead 36.51165 114.18454 2,393 0.70 1.93 Yes
1663 Black Butte Rd at Black Butte Alt Rd West 36.51045 114.19195 2,326 0.43 2.36 Yes
1664 Black Butte Rd at 21 Goats Rd 36.50146 114.20113 2,234 0.88 3.24 Yes
1666 Black Butte Rd at Sand Wash Rd 36.49791 114.20377 2,219 0.30 3.54 Yes
1667 Black Butte Rd at KC Trailhead 36.49483 114.20189 2,289 0.24 3.78 Yes
1668 Black Butte Rd at Bitter Ridge Trailhead 36.48825 114.20952 2,566 0.69 4.47 Yes
1669 Black Butte Rd End 36.48408 114.21952 2,877 0.79 5.26 Yes

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

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