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Gold Butte Backcountry Byway
Red Bluff Spring Road - Northbound
Backroads Around Las Vegas, Gold Butte
Red Bluff Spring Road - Northbound
Red Bluff Spring Road
Gold Butte Road approaching Red Bluff Spring Road (view SW)

Alert (Nov 2017): Northbound, the road is fine in 2WD-HC. Southbound, 2WD is not recommended because of two (one in particular) steep, washed-out hills.

Overview

Red Bluff Spring Road is a 14.6-mile scenic dirt road that connects the unpaved Gold Butte Road (at Gold Butte Townsite) in the south with Mud Wash Road in the north (near to Red Bluff Spring). Doing so, the road runs between Lime Ridge to the west (Lime Canyon Wilderness Area) and Tramp Ridge to the east.

Red Bluff Spring Road was "graded" in April 2017, but it remains rough. The road normally can be driven northbound in a 2WD-HC vehicle (e.g., Subaru Forrester), but when driving southbound, it is easier with 4WD because in that direction the road climbs several steep, rocky hills.

Red Bluff Spring Road is one segment of the Gold Butte Backcountry Byway, a 99-mile scenic drive that starts near the town of Mesquite and loops south into the wild and rugged Gold Butte region.

Link to road map.

Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road sign (view SW from Gold Butte Road)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ... 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.

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.

Red Bluff Spring Road
Gold Butte Road at Red Bluff Spring Road (view SW)

Getting to Red Bluff Spring Road

The south end of Red Bluff Spring Road is located out in Gold Butte northeast of Lake Mead, about 3 hours northeast of Las Vegas in a wild, remote, and scenic area.

From town, drive out to Gold Butte. Drive south on the paved Gold Butte Road to Whitney Pocket where the pavement ends. Continue south on the scenic unpaved Gold Butte Road for 20 miles to Gold Butte Townsite on the left. A few yards farther along the main road, a road sign announces Red Bluff Spring Road, ahead on the right.

Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road (view NW from Gold Butte Road)

The Road

From Gold Butte Road (Table 1, Site 0806), Red Bluff Spring Road heads northwest across the desert running towards the valley between Tramp Ridge to the east and Lime Ridge to the west.

Running past the toe of Tramp Ridge, the road skirts the hillside and passes an old corral, on the left (0.7 miles out). The road gets washed out in this area, so pick the track most used by others staying to the right along the steep hillside.

Past the old corral, the canyon opens as the road passes a very minor side road to the right (1.1 miles out). This road runs out towards cliff and ends at a quail guzzler. The side road actually loops back into the main road at about 1.3 miles out.

At about 1.6 miles out, a very minor side road forks right. This is a road to nowhere that rejoins the main road about 1.9 miles out.

Red Bluff Spring Road
Approaching road signs at start of Red Bluff Spring Road (view NW)

The road eventually runs back into the main wash and passes through a gap between rocky ridges. Just beyond, about 2.3 miles out, the road passes Lincoln Mine Road (Site 1692). This road loops out east, passing below the Lincoln Mine, and eventually returns to the main road many miles ahead.

At about 2.7 miles out, the road drops rather steeply down a narrow section with loose rocks and gravel. There are several sections like that along Red Bluff Spring Road, making it easier to drive this road northbound in 2WD vehicles than to drive it in the opposite direction.

Beyond the steep hill, the road bends right to run more due north and a large sign can be seen ahead on the left. The sits at the head of Lime Canyon Road (Site 1690), which provides cherry-stem access into the Lime Canyon Wilderness Area. This side road leads about 1 mile to the Lime Canyon Trailhead, and the hike down the narrow canyon is very nice. By this time, and for the next many miles, all of the land west of the road is Lime Canyon Wilderness Area.

Red Bluff Spring Road
Road sign face the other way (view NW)

Beyond Lime Canyon Road, Red Bluff Spring Road continues northward climbing towards a pass in the distance. At about 3.8 miles out, the road passes another quail guzzler (Site 1689) on the left, then continues over the pass at about 4.3 miles out. From here on, it is essentially all downhill.

The road runs down into what becomes Gold Butte Wash and continues north between Lime Ridge and Tramp Ridge. At about 5.9 miles out, Lincoln Mine Road (Site 1623) returns to the main road, on the right.

A bit farther ahead, there is a wire fence along the right side of the road, and where the fence ends (6.1 miles out), the road passes a sign with information about the Tramp-And-Fork Fire that burned 71,131 acres in 2005. The fence is intended to keep vehicles on the roadway so that the vegetation can better recover from the fire. In the years ahead, I expect this and similar fences to come down.

At about 6.8 miles out, the crosses a cattle guard (Site 1688) with old barbed wire fencing. This is historic junk left over from the days of legal ranching in this area, back before the land really dried out.

Red Bluff Spring Road
Looking back at front of the road sign (view SW)

Past the cattle guard, the road runs up over a low saddle on the left, then at about 7.4 miles out, passes a large campsite area (Site 1687) on the right with a nice view down the canyon to the north.

Passing the campsite, the road drops through another steep section where, as before, it is easier to drive north in 2WD than to drive south.

Below the steep hill, the road passes another sign about the 2005 Tramp-And-Fork Fire (about 8.3 miles out).

Still between Lime and Tramp ridges, the valley opens into what seems like a broad plain. The road seems to run on forever, but eventually pass striking red-sandstone outcrops on the right (about 11.6 miles out). This is an interesting place with some shade for a picnic and a bit or rock art to explore.

Red Bluff Spring Road
Fencing to keep vehicles out of the burn area (view NW)

Beyond the red-sandstone outcrops, the road stays on high ground above Gold Butte Wash. At about 12.6 miles out, Gold Butte Wash Road (Site 1624) branches to the left. This road runs back down into Gold Butte Wash and eventually to Mud Wash. For drivers wanting to do the Whitney Pocket to Red Bluff Spring Loop, this is the turn.

Continuing, the main road runs below more red sandstone crags high on the right, then reaches Mud Wash Shortcut Road (Site 1625), on the right. For drivers doing the Whitney Pocket to Red Bluff Spring Loop or the Gold Butte Backcountry Byway, this is a shortcut back to Whitney Pocket.

Continuing north on the main road, another fork of the Mud Wash Shortcut Road (Site 1626) is passed on the right. This actually is a large triangular intersection.

Red Bluff Spring Road
One of many historic can dumps along the road (don't clean up!)

Beyond Mud Wash Shortcut Road, Red Bluff Spring Road stays on high ground and eventually runs out onto a peninsula of land to a fork (Site 1627; 14.3 miles out). Here, Red Bluff Spring Road stays right and drops off the side of the hill, but it is worth staying left and driving 100 yards to an overlook with nice views down into Mud Wash and Red Bluff Spring.

This overlook would make a great campsite, but backtrack to the main the road and drop steeply off the east (left when backtracking) side of the peninsula and down into the sandy Mud Wash below (Site 1685).

Red Bluff Spring Road ends 14.6 miles out at Mud Wash. Red Bluff Spring, proper, is a short walk downstream, but to continue the Backcountry Byway, turn right and drive up Mud Wash Road. It is still some 8 miles to get back to Gold Butte Road.

Red Bluff Spring Road
Historic can dump along the road (don't clean up!)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road, end of roadside fencing (view NW)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road, beyond roadside fencing (view NW)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road (view NW)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Parallel roads: right fork has washed out (view NW)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road approaching old corral (view NW; summer)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road at old corral (view NW; spring)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Passing the old corral (view NW)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road (view NW; spring)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road (view NW; summer)
Red Bluff Spring Road Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road at loop road to guzzler (view NW; spring)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road at loop road to guzzler (view NW; summer)
Red Bluff Spring Road Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road at loop road to guzzler (view NW; summer)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Side road to guzzler (view NW from Red Bluff Spring Road)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road passing road to guzzler (view NW; summer)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road (view NW; spring)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road, spring wildflowers (view W; spring)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road, spring wildflowers (view W)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road (view NW)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road (view NW; summer)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road (view NW; spring)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road at loop road to nowhere (view NW; spring)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road at loop road to nowhere (view NW; spring)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road at loop road to nowhere (view NW; summer)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road (view NW; summer)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Black-tailed jackrabbits in the shade (view NW; summer)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road (view NW)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road, spring wildflowers (view W)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road (view NW)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road (view NW; note designated road sign)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Grand scenery and the White Dove of Peace (view E from road)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road (view NW)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road drops into wash (view NW)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road follows the wash (view NW)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road (view NW)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road at south end of Lincoln Mine Road (view NW)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road at Lincoln Mine Road (view NW; spring)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road at Lincoln Mine Road (view NW; summer)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road at Lincoln Mine Road (view NW)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road (view N)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road (view N)
Red Bluff Spring Road
RBS Road approaching Lime Canyon Road (view N)
Red Bluff Spring RoadThe Wilderness sign was torn down by vandals Red Bluff Spring Road
The Wilderness sign was torn down by vandals
Red Bluff Spring Road
RBS Road at Lime Canyon Road (view N)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Lime Canyon Road (view W from Red Bluff Spring Road)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road runs across gentle hills (view N)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Quail guzzler (view NW from Red Bluff Spring Road)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road runs across rocky spots (view N)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Lime Peak (view N from Red Bluff Spring Road)
Red Bluff Spring Road Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road
RB Spring Rd at north end of Lincoln Mine Road (view NW; summer)
Red Bluff Spring Road
RB Spring Rd at north end of Lincoln Mine Road (view NW; summer)
Red Bluff Spring Road
RB Spring Rd at north end of Lincoln Mine Road (view NW; spring)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Wire fence along burned area (view NW)
Red Bluff Spring Road Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road at cattle guard (view NW)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road (view NW)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road (view NW)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road at campsite (view N)
Red Bluff Spring Road Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road
Looking back at signs about old burn (view S)
Red Bluff Spring Road
One of several land survey markers along the road (view W)
Red Bluff Spring Road
USGS benchmark
Red Bluff Spring Road
USGS benchmark; W194, placed 1935
Red Bluff Spring Road Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road
Approaching Red Sandstone picnic site (view NW)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road at Red Sandstone picnic site (view E)
Red Bluff Spring Road Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road dropping into Gold Butte Wash (view NW)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road at Gold Butte Wash Road (view NW)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road at Gold Butte Wash Road (view NW)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Gold Butte Wash Road (view W from Red Bluff Spring Road)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road at Mud Wash Shortcut Road South (view NW)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road approaching Mud Wash Shortcut Road North
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road at Mud Wash Shortcut Road North (view NW)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road (view NW)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Lime Ridge, north end (view W from Red Bluff Spring Road)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road (view NW)
Red Bluff Spring Road Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road
Approaching Red Bluff Spring Overlook Road (view NW)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road at Red Bluff Spring Overlook Road (view NW)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Road intersection sign (view N)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road descending towards Mud Wash (view NE)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Vehicle on Red Bluff Spring Overlook Road (view NW)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road descending towards Mud Wash (view NE)
Red Bluff Spring Road Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road descending towards Mud Wash (view N)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road crossing a wash (view N)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road crossing wash after flash floods (view N)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road flash floods (12-inch deep ditch; view NE)
Red Bluff Spring Road Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road
Crossing wash again before flash floods (view NW)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Crossing wash again after flash floods (view NW)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road approaching Mud Wash Road (view N)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road at Mud Wash Road-Eastbound (view N)

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)
0806 Gold Butte Rd at Red Bluff Spring Rd 36.28093 114.20028 3,727 0.00 0.00
1692 Red Bluff Spring Rd at Lincoln Mine Rd 36.30338 114.22562 3,194 2.29 2.29
1690 Red Bluff Spring Rd at Lime Canyon Rd 36.31193 114.23503 3,079 0.86 3.15
1689 Red Bluff Spring Rd at Guzzler 36.32110 114.23343 3,135 0.66 3.81
1623 Red Bluff Spring Rd at Lincoln Mine Rd North 36.34999 114.23763 2,930 2.11 5.92
1688 Red Bluff Spring Rd at Cattle Guard 36.36245 114.23700 2,808 0.90 6.82
1687 Red Bluff Spring Rd at campsite 36.37100 114.23852 2,720 0.63 7.45
1624 Red Bluff Spring Rd at Gold Butte Wash Rd 36.44140 114.23124 1,884 5.18 12.63
1625 Red Bluff Spring Rd at Byway Shortcut Rd South 36.44286 114.23152 1,908 0.11 12.74
1626 Red Bluff Spring Rd at Byway Shortcut Rd North 36.44415 114.23243 1,931 0.10 12.84
1627 Red Bluff Spring Rd at Spur 36.46051 114.24995 1,697 1.51 14.35
1686 Red Bluff Spring Overlook Rd End 36.46121 114.25072 1,647 . .
1685 Mud Wash Rd at Red Bluff Spring Rd 36.46288 114.25081 1,653 0.22 14.57

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 171109

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