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Gold Butte Backcountry Byway
Red Bluff Spring Road - Southbound
Backroads Around Las Vegas, Gold Butte
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road
Mud Wash Road at Red Bluff Spring Road (view S)

Overview

The Gold Butte Backcountry Byway is a 99-mile scenic drive that starts near the town of Mesquite and heads south into the wild and rugged Gold Butte region. At first, the byway is paved (a bit rough), then it becomes graded dirt, and finally, it is just a narrow dirt track across the desert and up a sandy wash.

Red Bluff Spring Road is a 14.6-mile section of the byway. This scenic dirt road runs north-south between Lime Ridge to the west (Lime Canyon Wilderness Area) and Tramp Ridge to the east connecting Mud Wash Road in the north with Gold Butte Townsite in the south.

Red Bluff Spring Road usually can be driven northbound in a 2WD-HC vehicle, but for southbound, it is easier with 4WD because of several steep hills to climb when driving in this direction.

Link to map for the northbound page (use back button to return). For GPS waypoints, the the northbound page.

Red Bluff Spring Road

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ... this is a fairly safe drive, but the region is wild and remote 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
Narrow spot is sometimes wet (view SE)

Getting to Red Bluff Spring Road - Southbound

Red Bluff Spring Road, southbound, is located out in Gold Butte northeast of Lake Mead, about 2-3/4 hours northeast of Las Vegas.

From Las Vegas, drive out to Whitney Pocket at the end of the paved Gold Butte Road. Continue south on the unpaved Gold Butte Road for 3.9 miles to Mud Wash North Road on the right. Turn onto Mud Wash North Road and continue 3.2 miles southwest to a Y-intersection with Mud Wash Road. Stay right onto Mud Wash Road and continue generally west for 5.1 miles until the road abruptly turns left to exit Mud Wash up a side canyon to the south. For drivers who miss the turn out of Mud Wash, the wash is fenced a few yards farther.

The fence is intended to keep cattle and feral burros from trampling sensitive marsh vegetation at Red Bluff Spring. Unfortunately, vandals have cut the fence to allow ATV passage, but please keep vehicles out of this area.

See also the Gold Butte Area overview map.

Red Bluff Spring Road
Washed out road after flooding (view SE)

The Road

From Mud Wash Road (Site 1685), Red Bluff Spring Road heads southeast into a side canyon. The road follows the winding canyon until it turns and climbs steeply to the mesa top above. Atop the mesa, Red Bluff Spring Road merges with a spur road (Site 1627) on the right, and a sign alerts drivers heading in the other direction to the turn.

For a nice overlook and traditional campsite, turn right and drive 60 yards north to the edge of the mesa. The view down and left looks into the Red Bluff Spring area, and the view up is the ragged side of Bitter Ridge.

Continuing south, Red Bluff Spring Road runs along the top of the mesa, although in time, it becomes apparent that it is not really a mesa, rather it is a ridge between a wash on the left and a canyon on the right. From time to time, a road can be seen in the canyon below: this is Gold Butte Wash Road. Looming large on the right is Lime Ridge, and in this view, everything visible beyond Gold Butte Wash Road is inside the Lime Canyon Wilderness Area.

Red Bluff Spring Road

At about 1.7 miles out, Red Bluff Spring Road passes a faint road (Site 1626) to the left. This road can be used to loop back into Mud Wash. Then again, at about 1.8 miles out, Red Bluff Spring Road passes another faint road (Site 1625) to the left. This road runs back north to connect with the previous faint road, forming a big triangular intersection, and it runs southeast towards red sandstone crags in the distance.

Shortly farther along Red Bluff Spring Road, Gold Butte Wash Road (Site 1624) branches off hard to the right. Gold Butte Wash Road returns to Mud Wash, but below the springs area with the sensitive vegetation. Drivers can use Gold Butte Wash Road to return to Whitney Pocket. From here south nearly to the end of the road, almost everything on the right side of the road is inside the Lime Canyon Wilderness Area.

Continuing, Red Bluff Spring Road runs south and passes the edge of the red sandstone crags at a place that make for a nice, shaded picnic site with a few petroglyphs hidden among the rocks.

Red Bluff Spring Road

The road continues south across a broad, gently sloping landscape. By this time, Lime Ridge looms large on the right, and Tramp Ridge can be seems a bit farther ahead on the left. For the next several miles, the road runs up Gold Butte Wash between these two massive ridges. Both ridges and the valley burned in the 2005 Tramp and Fork Fire. The Tramp Fire and the Fork Fire both started from lightning, but eventually they merged into a single, massive fire.

At about 6.2 miles out, the road passes a sign on the right announcing the 71,131-acre fire (also a flash flood warning sign). In an effort to rehabilitate the burn area, land managers have done some seeding, and in some areas, erected smooth-wire fencing along the roadway. The fence is intended to keep vehicles on the roadway until the vegetation begins to recover. In some places, the fencing is already coming down.

Maps show that the fire burned farther north of where the sign was placed, but at this point, it becomes quite apparent that the left (east) side of the road burned 10 years ago. It is interesting to see how little vegetation has regrown in that time.

Red Bluff Spring Road

Beyond the fire sign, the road climbs, rather steeply at times, up a canyon onto a low saddle (7.1 miles out). At the saddle, there is a broad area on the left with nice views back down the canyon to the north. This spot makes for a nice campsite tent campers.

Running over more gentle terrain, the road passes a cattle guard at about 7.8 miles out, and then another fire sign at 8.4 miles out.

Shortly ahead, at about 8.6 miles out, Red Bluff Spring Road passes the faint Lincoln Mine Road (Site 1623), which branches off to the left. This is a 6.7-mile horseshoe shaped loop that runs out to the base of Tramp Ridge, turns south, and eventually rejoins Red Bluff Spring Road several miles ahead.

Continuing south, Red Bluff Spring Road continues to climb towards the head of Gold Butte Wash Valley, and at about 10.2 miles out, climbs onto a saddle, which at 3140 feet, seems like the highpoint along the road.

Red Bluff Spring Road

The road generally descends the gentle, and at about 10.7 miles passes a quail guzzler on the right. For people who haven't seen one, this is about the easiest one to see up close and understand how they work.

The road continues to descend, and at about 11.4 miles out, passes Lime Canyon Road (Site 1690), on the right. The intersection is marked by a large wilderness area sign, and the side road leads down to the mouth of Lime Canyon, a great hike into a narrow canyon. Lime Canyon Road runs down a narrow corridor where both sides of the road are inside wilderness. The "road" a two-track that runs down Lime Wash, is about as close to driving in wilderness as it legally gets.

Beyond Lime Canyon Road, Red Bluff Spring Road continues southward and begins to climb up along Lime Wash. In only a few yards beyond Lime Canyon Road, the wilderness boundary curves away from the road and climbs onto the ridgeline on the right.

The road then climbs steeply over a low ridge before continuing more gently southward.

Red Bluff Spring Road

At about 12.3 miles out, Red Bluff Spring Road passes the north end of Lincoln Mine Road (Site 1692). This end of the road, at least as far out at the Lincoln Mine Trailhead, is in pretty good condition.

Red Bluff Spring Road runs south on the east side of Lime Wash until, at about 13.8 miles out, it is forced by a rocky ridge into the wash. The road crosses the wash to an old corral area, they staying left, continues up the wash.

In this area, smooth-wire fencing lines the road, but flashfloods have taken a toll, and at about 14.2 miles out, passes a gap in the fence that provides access to the old Gold Butte landing strip, which is not really suitable for aircraft.

Continuing, Red Bluff Spring Road ends (14.6 miles out) where it intersect Gold Butte Road (Site 0806). Signs here give directions and distances left and right, and the "straight" runs up into the historic Gold Butte Townsite.

Red Bluff Spring Road
Road climbs rather steeply (view SW)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Road climbs rather steeply (view SW)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road at Red Bluff Spring Overlook Road (view S)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Good roadway runs atop ridge (view S)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Low, rolling hills (view SE)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road at Mud Wash Shortcut Road-North (view SE)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road at Mud Wash Shortcut Road-South (view SE)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road at Gold Butte Wash Road (view SE)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Road passes west edge of red sandstone ridge (view SE)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red sandstone picnic area (view SE)
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
Tramp and Fork Fire sign (Summer 2015, view S)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Tramp and Fork Fire sign (Spring 2013, view S)
Red Bluff Spring Road Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road
Steep road with loose rocks and gravel (view S)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Steep road with loose rocks and gravel (view S)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Primitive campsite with view back to the north
Red Bluff Spring Road
Road runs more gently up the valley (view S)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Cattle guard (view S)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Road runs gently up the valley (view S)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Approaching Tramp and Fork Fire sign (Summer 2015, view S)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Tramp and Fork Fire sign (view S; note fencing here)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road at Lincoln Mine Road-North (view SE)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Road runs gently up the valley (view S)
Red Bluff Spring Road Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road
Another steep hill (view S)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Steep hill continues (view S)
Red Bluff Spring Road Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road
Apparent highpoint along the road (view S)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Road runs gently into Line Valley (view S)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Road runs gently (view S)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road approaching quail guzzler (view S)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Quail guzzler (view SW from Red Bluff Spring Road)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Road runs gently across rolling hillside (view S)
Red Bluff Spring Road Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road approaching Lime Canyon Road (view S)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road at Lime Canyon Road, on the right (view S)
Red Bluff Spring Road Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road
One last steep hill (view SE)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Descending gently back into Lime Wash Valley (view SE)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Road runs along Lime Wash (view SE)
Red Bluff Spring RoadRed Bluff Spring Road approaching Lincoln Mine Road-South (view SE)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road at Lincoln Mine Road-South (view SE)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road runs up wash (view SE)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Crossing gravel side wash (view SE)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road at side road to nowhere (view SE)
Red Bluff Spring Road Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road at side road to guzzler-north (view SE)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road at side road to guzzler-south (view SE)
Red Bluff Spring Road Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road
Crossing Lime Wash towards old corral (view S)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Road runs up along wash (view SE)
Red Bluff Spring Road Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road
Side road to old air strip (view SE)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Smooth-wire fencing on both sides of the road (view SE)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Smooth-wire fencing on both sides of the road (view SE)
Red Bluff Spring RoadRed Bluff Spring Road approaching Gold Butte Road (view SE)
Red Bluff Spring Road Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road
Road sign (view SE)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road at Gold Butte Road (view SE)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road at Gold Butte Road (view SE; summer)
Red Bluff Spring Road
Red Bluff Spring Road at Gold Butte Road (view SE; spring)

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)
0806 Gold Butte Rd at Red Bluff Spring Rd 36.28093 114.20028 3,727
1692 Red Bluff Spring Rd at Lincoln Mine Rd 36.30338 114.22562 3,194
1690 Red Bluff Spring Rd at Lime Canyon Rd 36.31193 114.23503 3,079
1689 Red Bluff Spring Rd at Guzzler 36.32110 114.23343 3,135
1623 Red Bluff Spring Rd at Lincoln Mine Rd North 36.34999 114.23763 2,930
1688 Red Bluff Spring Rd at Cattle Guard 36.36245 114.23700 2,808
1687 Red Bluff Spring Rd at campsite 36.37100 114.23852 2,720
1624 Red Bluff Spring Rd at Gold Butte Wash Rd 36.44140 114.23124 1,884
1625 Red Bluff Spring Rd at Byway Shortcut Rd South 36.44286 114.23152 1,908
1626 Red Bluff Spring Rd at Byway Shortcut Rd North 36.44415 114.23243 1,931
1627 Red Bluff Spring Rd at Spur 36.46051 114.24995 1,697
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

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 170501

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