birdandhike.com logo
Home | Wilderness | Backroads | Hiking | Gold Butte
Sand Wash Road
Backroads Around Las Vegas, Gold Butte
Sand Wash Road
Black Butte Road at Sand Wash Road (view S)

Overview

Sand Wash Road is a 5.9-mile two-track that runs east-west between Black Butte Road on the east and Narrows Road North on the west, which is inside Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Sand Wash Road runs down a nice canyon and out across a big flat bajada providing access to wild and rugged parts of Gold Butte out towards the Overton Arm of Lake Mead.

This road runs through the Mojave Desert Scrub life zone where shrub species can be dense and diverse. The road starts following the wash where extra water supports a large number of shrubs and many kinds of shrubs. The wash contrasts with the dry bajada where few shrubs and few kinds of shrubs survive.

This road provides access to no particular destination, but it is part of the Sand Wash - Mud Wash Loop that starts and ends at Whitney Pocket. The road also connects with roads that lead to Lake Mead.

Link to road map.

Sand Wash RoadSand Wash Road (view W from Black Butte Road)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ... this road is fairly safe, but it runs into 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 main roads, but be prepared to survive alone for a day or more on side roads. Cell phones probably work towards the west end of the road.

I drove my jeep down the road using 2WD, but it was reassuring that I could lock in the hubs and continue in 4WD if necessary. Road conditions change; use your own good judgement.

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.

Sand Wash Road

Getting to the Roadhead

Sand Wash Road is located out in Gold Butte northeast of Lake Mead, about 2 hours northeast of Las Vegas.

From Las Vegas, drive out to Gold Butte. From Whitney Pocket, turn around and drive north on the paved Gold Butte Road for 1.5 miles (just past the last big red sandstone crag on the left) to Black Butte Road, an unmarked dirt road on the left.

Make a hard left turn onto Black Butte Road and drive southwest, passing Falling Man Trailhead, for 3.5 miles to Sand Wash Road, on the right.

Sand Wash Road
Roadside campsite (view W towards the glow of Las Vegas)

The Road

From Black Butte Road (Table 1, Site 1666), Sand Wash Road branches off to the right and heads down the sandy Sand Wash.

The road runs down the wash between the base of the towering Bitter Ridge on the left and lesser hills on the right. In this area, the canyon bottom is narrow in places and the walls push in from one side or the other. Eventually the canyon widens and the walls lay back, providing longer views out over the area.

At about 2.2 miles out, the road turns left (Site 1628) out of Sand Wash to ascend a shallow valley. The road eventually climbs along an odd ridge (3.1 miles out) and then begins a long, gradual descent towards Lake Mead.

Sand Wash Road
Cliffs on the left (view W)

The two-track runs west descending the gently sloping bajada where little more than scattered creosote bushes cover the landscape.

Eventually the wash comes back into view, now below cliffs on the right. The road follows the edge of the cliffs and arrives at a fork (Site 1629; 4.3 miles out).

Drivers can take either fork, as the two eventually merge where Sand Wash Road ends at Narrows Road North.

The South Fork of Sand Wash Road stays left on the bajada and runs west about 1.1 miles to merge with Narrows Road North (Site 1632) just inside the boundary of Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

Sand Wash Road
Cliffs on the right (view W)

The North Fork of Sand Wash Road stays right and runs northwest along the top of the cliffs overlooking Sand Wash, then eventually runs over the edge and back into the wash (Site 1630; 4.9 miles out).

Continuing down the wash, the road eventually turns left out of the wash (Site 1631; 5.5 miles out) to climb southward up a narrow side canyon. Back above the cliffs, the road quickly merges with the South Fork Road and ends as they both merge into Narrows Road North (Site 1632; 5.9 miles out).

From the intersection of Sand Wash Road and Narrows Road North (Site 1632), drivers can continue south on Narrows Road North to complete the Sand Wash - Mud Wash Loop. Narrows Road North runs southeast, exits Lake Mead National Recreation Area, and drops into Mud Wash. From there, drivers can continue the loop and return to Whitney Pocket.

Maps conflict, but it might be legal to continue west in Sand Wash to connect with Fisherman's Cove Road.

Sand Wash Road
Broad, open canyon (view W)
Sand Wash Road
Broad, open canyon (view W)
Sand Wash Road Sand Wash Road
Sand Wash Road
Road exits Sand Wash (view W)
Sand Wash Road
Two-track road runs up shallow valley (view W)
Sand Wash Road Sand Wash Road
Sand Wash Road
Road climbs over odd ridge (view W)
Sand Wash Road
Sand Wash below on the right (view W)
Sand Wash Road Sand Wash Road
Sand Wash Road
Road follows along cliffs above Sand Wash (view NW)
Sand Wash Road
Sand Wash Road forks (view NW)
South Fork of Sand Wash Road
Sand Wash Road
Staying left onto the south fork of Sand Wash Road (view NW)
Sand Wash Road
Sand Wash Road (view W)
Sand Wash Road
Approaching Lake Mead NRA boundary sign (view W)
Sand Wash Road
Approaching Lake Mead NRA boundary sign (view W)
Sand Wash Road
Sand Wash Road at Narrows Road North (view W)
Sand Wash Road
Sign at start of Narrows Road North
North Fork of Sand Wash Road
Sand Wash Road
Sand Wash Road forks (view NW)
Sand Wash Road
North Fork of Sand Wash Road (view NW)
Sand Wash Road
North Fork drops towards Sand Wash (view NW)
Sand Wash Road
North Fork in Sand Wash (view W)
Sand Wash Road
Lake Mead NRA Road #114 sign (view W)
Sand Wash Road
North Fork continues down Sand Wash (view W)
Sand Wash Road
North Fork exits Sand Wash (view W)
Sand Wash Road
Road climbs steep, narrow side canyon (view S)
Sand Wash Road
Road climbs steep, narrow side canyon (view S)
Sand Wash Road
Road climbs steep, narrow side canyon (view S)
Sand Wash Road
Road climbs hillside (view S)
Sand Wash Road
Sand Wash Road at Narrows Road North (view S)

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
1666 Black Butte Rd at Sand Wash Road 36.49791 114.20377 2,219 0.0 0.0 Yes
1628 Sand Wash Road exits wash 36.50518 114.23629 1,959 2.2 2.2 Yes
1629 Sand Wash Road forks 36.49921 114.27245 1,727 2.2 4.4 Yes
1630 Sand Wash Road enters wash 36.50359 114.28114 1,591 0.6 4.9 Yes
1631 Sand Wash Road exits wash 36.50174 114.29069 1,511 0.6 5.5 Yes
1632 Sand Wash Road at Narrows North Road 36.49904 114.29198 1,571 0.3 5.9 Yes

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 160909

Backroads Around Las Vegas Hiking Around Las Vegas Glossary Copyright, Conditions, Disclaimer Home

 

Google Ads