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Gold Butte Road -- Unpaved Section Southbound
Backroads Around Las Vegas, Gold Butte
Gold Butte Road -- Unpaved Section
Gold Butte Road
Start of the dirt on Gold Butte Road (view S)

Overview

The Gold Butte Road, which starts near the town of Mesquite, Nevada, is the gateway to the wild and rugged Gold Butte region. The first 21 miles to Whitney Pocket are paved, such as it is. Beyond Whitney Pocket, the road becomes graded dirt and the real wildness begins, but the road normally is suitable for carefully driven sedans. As for October 2016, the summer rains have made the road medium-clearance only. Until it is regraded, sedans are not adivsed.

The sometimes maintained road runs through spectacular country and leads to places such as Gold Butte Townsite, Devil's Throat, Scanlon Dugway, tall peaks, deep canyons, and a whole lot of grand scenery. Gold Butte Road is part of the Gold Butte Backcountry Byway, a grand loop that runs through this wild, remote, and scenic land.

Link to map.

Going the other direction? See Gold Butte Road -- Unpaved Section Northbound

Gold Butte Road
On the right, first Whitney Pocket campsite (view W)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ... there are no unusual hazards on this road, but it can suddenly become rough, so drive carefully and don't drive too fast even if you can. The first two miles, in particular, are pretty rough with a cobblestone-like surface where dirt has washed and blown away revealing the underlying rocky surface. Several of the steeper downhill runs in the first 10 miles are booby-trapped with road 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 don't work here.

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.

Gold Butte Road
Road sign at start of dirt road at Whitney Pocket (view S)

Getting to Gold Butte Road -- Unpaved

The unpaved section of Gold Butte Road is located out in Gold Butte northeast of Lake Mead, about 2 hours northeast of Las Vegas.

From Las Vegas, drive north on Interstate 15 to Highway 170 (Exit 112), about 8 miles before Mesquite. Drive south on Highway 170, cross the Virgin River, and turn right onto Gold Butte Road (paved section). Then, staying on the pavement, head south to Whitney Pocket.

Road Guide

The pavement ends (Table 1, Site 0491) at Whitney Pocket, a scenic area with upturned and sculpted red-and-white sandstone crags. This area is a popular with campers, and it makes a good place to stop and enjoy the solitude and scenery for those who don't want to stray far from the paved road.

Gold Butte Road
Road sign: Arizona Road, with more campsites, forks left (view S)

From the end of the pavement, Gold Butte Road continues south between sandstone crags and into Whitney Pocket, proper. Immediately, the road passes a large campsite back in the rocks on the right, and then shorty, a side road forks to the right into a large day-use parking area with information signs. This parking area is a good place to drop trailers and unload ATVs. The side road actually continues west through the parking area and leads to several campsites nestled among the sandstone crags.

Only a few yards farther, Gold Butte Road passes Arizona Road (Site 0462), which forks off to the left and runs east up over the mountains and down into Arizona. There are several more camping areas along the sandstone bluffs and farther into the desert along Arizona Road. Birders might want to take Arizona Road up into the Virgin Mountains to look for birds of the desert mountains, and history buffs will enjoy seeing the CCC Dam.

For adventuresome drivers, Gold Butte Road continues south as a graded dirt road into the wildness and grandeur of Gold Butte. The road generally runs downhill for the first 7 miles or so, which eases somewhat the bumpy cobblestone-surface of the road.

Gold Butte Road
"Gold Butte 19" mean 19 miles to Gold Butte Townsite (view S)

At about 3.5 miles out, the road crosses an old cattle guard (now covered with sand) and passes through an old fenceline. Just past the fence, a large camping area (Site 1670) on the right is suitable for several trailers and RVs.

At 3.9 miles out, Gold Butte Road passes a signed intersection (Site 1649) with Mud Wash North Road. To the right, Mud Wash North Road runs down the North Fork of Mud Wash for 3 miles to a confluence with Mud Wash and Mud Wash Road and eventually to Little Finland. To the left, a faint pur road runs 0.6 miles up the wash (stay right leaving the main road) and ends at an old cattle fence. In effect, this road runs, for no apparent reason, to nowhere.

Gold Butte Road now begins to run south across a broad valley. Towards the far side of the valley, Gold Butte Road passes a signed intersection (Site 0807) with Mud Wash Road, which branches off to the right. Mud Wash Road runs out 0.4 miles to Devil's Throat and then on down Mud Wash 8 miles to Red Bluff Spring. Mud Wash Road is also part of the loop on Gold Butte Backcountry Byway.

Gold Butte Road
Turn into Day-Use Parking is just past the sign (view S)

It is worth taking a few minutes to see Devil's Throat, a deep sink hole that will make you look at terra firma in an entirely new way. From the main road, visitors can look down Mud Wash Road and see the chain-link fence that surrounds the sink hole.

Beyond Mud Wash Road, Gold Butte Road continues south and begins to climb towards the northeast edge of Tramp Ridge.

At about 8.3 miles out, a short side road (Site 1694) left leads 100 yards to the historic Mud Hills Corral, which can be seen from the main road. At 9.0 miles out, Gold Butte Road passes St. Thomas Gap Road (Site 0796), which forks off to the left and heads southeast into Arizona. This intersection was signed, and one sign post remains, but the actual sign (in the southbound direction) is long gone.

In this area, fencing appears along the side of the road, mostly on the right. This fence is two strands of smooth wire and was put up after the devastating Tramp and Fence Fire of 2005 to discourage thoughtless people from driving in the bushes while the vegetation recovers from the fire. After a decade of recovery, some of the fencing seems to be coming down.

Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road approaching Arizona Road intersection (view S)

At about 13.4 miles out, the road bends hard to the left and cuts up across a steep hillside with grand views off the cliff over into Arizona. At the top of the hill, the road cuts hard to the right, crosses a cattle guard, and continues south. On the way back, remember this cattle guard as it is easy to drive too fast and not see the cliff and sharp turn coming up (especially in the dark).

About 0.5 miles past the cattle guard, Gold Butte Road passes Horse Spring North Road, on the left. Continuing, the road runs up over gentle hills before dropping into and crossing Horse Wash, the major drainage in Horse Valley. Resuming the gentle climb, at about 0.6 miles past Horse Wash, Gold Butte Road passes Horse Spring Connector Road, on the left. Continuing another 0.2 miles, Gold Butte Road passes Horse Spring Road, on the left. All three of these road run northeast to Horse Spring, the site of a spring with flowing water and a historic stone corral.

Gold Butte Road
Day-use parking (on the right; view SW)

Continuing south along the edge of Tramp Ridge, at 16.5 miles out, Gold Butte Road passes a signed intersection (Site 0797) with Devil's Cove Road, on the left. Devil's Cove Road heads southeast down through some rough country to Lake Mead; or at least is did the last time Lake Mead was full. Now, hikers with serious 4WD vehicles can drive this washed out road down to a trailhead from where they can hike out to the Colorado River (Devil's Finger Route).

Gold Butte Road continues south and begins to swing around the south end of Tramp Ridge. Bending west, Gold Butte Road passes an obscure side road (Site 1696) to the left, an intersection best marked by a gap in the roadside fence. Here, Vermiculite Mine Road runs south to the old mine site, which also serves at the trailhead for Mica Peak, visible straight down the side road.

Gold Butte Road
Info signs at day-use parking (view N)

A few miles farther, Gold Butte Road arrives in the Gold Butte Townsite area. The road crosses a cattle guard, and just beyond, Voight Well East Road (Site 1650) forks left and runs south into the Voight Well area (this is the east end of the Gold Butte Townsite area). There is an old corral and some water structures in the area, and staying left on the access road leads visitors back towards the spring (now dry) that served the area and the old "Spanish" arrastra (like a grist mill) that probably represents to oldest gold mining feature in the region.

Beyond Voight Well East Road, Gold Butte Road continues southwest and passes Voight Well West Road (Site 1651) on the left, which leads back into the Voight Well area.

A bit farther along Gold Butte Road, Gold Butte Townsite Road, a well-used side road, forks left and leads into Gold Butte Townsite, proper. Here, in the open area on the right, the historic mining town is remembered only by two concrete foundation slabs, some rusting equipment, and a covered mine shaft. On the left is the site of the historic post office and the graves of the last two inhabitants (Mr. Coleman and Mr. Garrett). Beyond the graves, a narrow road leads up to one of their last working mines.

Gold Butte Road
Rough road surface beyond Whitney Pocket

Continuing on Gold Butte Road, in only a few more yards, Gold Butte Road ends (20.2 miles out) at a signed intersection (Site 0806) with Red Bluff Spring Road, on the right. At this point, to the left, another dirt road runs back into the Townsite. The main road continues southwest (straight) as Scanlon Road.

Scanlon Road continues south deep into the most wild and rugged parts of Gold Butte, giving access to such places as Jumbo Springs Wilderness Area, Bonelli Peak, and the infamous Scanlon Dugway. In a jeep, Scanlon Road is drivable to the top of Scanlon Dugway in 2WD, but it wouldn't be wise to drive the road without a 4WD vehicle.

Somewhat less wild and rugged, Red Bluff Spring Road runs northwest between Lime Ridge and Tramp Ridge, giving access to hikes in the Lime Canyon Wilderness Area and on Tramp Ridge. Currently (late 2015), Red Bluff Spring Road is drivable northbound in a medium-clearance vehicle (Subaru Forrester), but driving the other direction is better in a 4WD. This road is also part of the loop on the Gold Butte Backcountry Byway. Heading north, drivers can connect with Mud Wash Road to return to Gold Butte Road and then Whitney Pocket.

Gold Butte Road
Smooth road surface (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Rough road surface (view SW)
Gold Butte Road
Smooth road surface (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road (view SW)
Gold Butte Road
Cattle guard; note campsite on the right (view SW)
Gold Butte Road
Stormy sunrise at campsite on the right (view SW)
Gold Butte Road
Dropping into Mud Wash Valley (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Approaching Mud Wash North Road (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Approaching Mud Wash North Road (view S)
Sign Mud Wash Road (view S)
Sign at Mud Wash North Road (view S)
Sign Mud Wash Road (view S)
Sign at Mud Wash North Road (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Mud Wash North Road (view W from Gold Butte Road)
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road (view S)
Gold Butte RoadDropping into Wechech Basin (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Crossing Wechech Basin towards Tramp Ridge (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Crossing Wechech Basin towards Tramp Ridge (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Crossing Wechech Basin towards Tramp Ridge (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Approaching Mud Wash Road, ahead in the distance (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Approaching Mud Wash Road (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Road sign Mud Wash Road (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Road sign Mud Wash Road (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road at Mud Wash Road (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Mud Wash Road (view W from Gold Butte Road)
Gold Butte Road
Info sign at Mud Wash Road about the 2005 Tramp and Fork Fires
Gold Butte Road
Info sign about 2005 Tramp and Fork Fires vandalized with bullets
Gold Butte Road
Intermittent fence starts along old burn area (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Intermittent fence ends after old burn area (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Approaching Mud Hills Corral on left (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road at Mud Hills Corral on left (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Backcountry Byway sign (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Sign post from former St. Thomas Road sign (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Former road sign for St. Thomas Road (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Campsite just before road intersection (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Left fork to St. Thomas Road (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road (view S towards vehicle causing dust)
Gold Butte Road
Running along Tramp Ridge (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Running along Tramp Ridge (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road (view S)
Gold Butte Road Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road
Road crosses major wash (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Flashflood damage to roadway (view S; Oct 2015)
Gold Butte Road
Road climbs out of major wash (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Road crosses major wash (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Stopping to smell the yellow poppy flowers
Gold Butte Road
Flashflood damage to roadway (view S; Oct 2015)
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Road runs through rolling country (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Large campsite on the left (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Well casing is the focus of this campsite (view NE)
Gold Butte Road Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road
Flashflood damage to roadway (view S; Oct 2015)
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road climbs towards ridgeline (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Road cuts up and across hillside (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Road cutting across hillside; approaching sharp curve (view SE)
Gold Butte Road
Grand view into Arizona (view NE)
Gold Butte Road
Sharp curve at top of hill (remember on the return; view E)
Gold Butte Road
Sharp curve at top of hill (remember on the return; view E)
Gold Butte Road
Beyond sharp curve, cattle guard ahead (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road at cattle guard (view S)
Gold Butte RoadRoad dips across wash (view SW) Gold Butte Road
Ponded water and storm damage to roadway (view SW)
Gold Butte Road
GB Rd approaching Horse Spring North Road (view S)
Gold Butte Road
GB Rd at Horse Spring North Road (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Horse Spring North Road (view E from Gold Butte Rd)
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road (view S across Horse Valley)
Gold Butte Road Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road at Horse Spring Road connector (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Horse Spring Connector Road (view E from Gold Butte Road)
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road at Horse Spring Road (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Approaching side road and campsite to the left
Gold Butte Road
Side road and campsite to the left
Gold Butte Road
Joshua trees along the road
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road approaching Devil's Cove Road (view S)
Gold Butte Road Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road at Devil's Cove Road (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Cross road back to Devil's Cove Road (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Back Country Byway road sign (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Short side road to quail guzzler (view SW)
Gold Butte Road Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road (view SW)
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road at Vermiculate Mine Road (view SW)
Gold Butte Road Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road
Highpoint on Gold Butte Road (view SW)
Gold Butte Road
Beginning descent towards Gold Butte Townsite (view SW)
Gold Butte Road Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road (view SW)
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road approaching cattle guard (view SW)
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road at cattle guard (view SW)
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road approaching Voight Well East Road (view SW)
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road at Voight Well East Road (view SW)
Gold Butte Road
Voight Well East Road (view S from Gold Butte Road)
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road at Voight Well West Road (view SW)
Gold Butte Road
Bundy trespass cattle at Gold Butte Townsite (view N)
Gold Butte Road
Prospects near Gold Butte Townsite? (view N)
Gold Butte Road
Approaching Gold Butte Townsite (view SW)
Gold Butte Road
Approaching Gold Butte Townsite (view SW)
Gold Butte Road
Approaching Gold Butte Townsite Road on the left (view SW)
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road at Gold Butte Townsite Road (view SW)
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Townsite Road (view S from Gold Butte Road)
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road approaching Red Bluff Spring Road (view SW)
Gold Butte Road
Red Bluff Spring Road sign
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road at Red Bluff Spring Road (view SW)
Gold Butte Road
Red Bluff Spring Road (view NW from Gold Butte Road)
Gold Butte Road
Scanlon Road (view SW from Gold Butte Road)
Gold Butte Road
more to come ...

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
0461 Gold Butte Rd at End of Pavement 36.52425 114.13964 3,023 0.00 00.00 Yes
0462 Gold Butte Rd at Arizona Road 36.52333 114.13919 3,013 0.07 00.07 Yes
1670 Gold Butte Rd at Campsite 36.48007 114.16678 2,441 3.47 03.54 Yes
1649 Gold Butte Rd at Mud Wash North Rd 36.47546 114.16339 2,388 0.37 03.91 Yes
0807 Gold Butte Rd at Mud Wash Rd 36.43258 114.14300 2,244 3.33 07.24 Yes
1694 Gold Butte Rd at Mud Hills Corral Rd 36.42203 114.12963 2,379 1.08 08.32 Yes
0796 Gold Butte Rd at St Thomas Gap Rd 36.41359 114.12277 2,427 0.70 09.02 Yes
0797 Gold Butte Rd at Devils Cove Rd 36.31315 114.15450 3,509 7.56 16.58 Yes
1696 Gold Butte Rd at Vermiculite Mine Rd 36.29655 114.16610 3,723 1.34 17.92 Yes
1650 Gold Butte Rd at Voight Well Rd E 36.28510 114.19398 3,755 1.85 19.77 Yes
1651 Gold Butte Rd at Voight Well Rd W 36.28353 114.19569 3,751 0.14 19.91 Yes
1648 Gold Butte Rd at Gold Butte Townsite Rd East 36.28113 114.19960 3,727 0.27 20.18 Yes
0806 Gold Butte Rd at Red Bluff Spring Rd 36.28093 114.20028 3,727 0.05 20.23 Yes

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 161119

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