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Horse Thief Canyon Road
(aka Horsethief Canyon Road)
Backroads Around Las Vegas, Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Horse Thief Canyon Road
Horse Thief Road
Horse Thief Canyon Road

Overview

Horse Thief Canyon Road (NPS Road 66) is a backcountry road off Highway 93 south of Hoover Dam in Arizona. The road follows the bed of Horse Thief Wash through the wild backcountry of Lake Mead National Recreation Area up to the base of Wilson Ridge and the Mount Wilson Wilderness Area (no vehicle access to the edge of wilderness). The road dead-ends about 4 miles out where a high pour-over blocks the wash at Horse Thief (primitive) Campground, but drivers in 2WD-HC vehicles should stop before entering the camp area because of deep sand.

This road provides hiker access to Mount Wilson Wilderness Area and 4WD vehicle access to Horse Thief Canyon Backcountry Campground.

Link to map.

Horse Thief Road

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this is a bumpy but easy drive for most of the way out, but the road gets narrower and rougher, but firm, until reaching the sandy campground at the end of the road (my jeep handled it in 2WD. Check with NPS rangers on road conditions before driving into the backcountry. Maps of approved backcountry roads are available online and at the Alan Bible Visitor Center.

While out, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. Also, even though this road is short, be sure to bring what you need of the 10 Essentials.

Horsethief Road

Getting to the Roadhead

This road is located in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, about 45 minutes southeast of Las Vegas. From town, drive out towards Hoover Dam, then continue south on Hwy 93 for about 4 miles to White Rock Canyon Trailhead.

At the trailhead parking area, watch for a brown backcountry road sign giving the name of the road and a numbered yellow arrow. Approved roads are signed with yellow arrows and a number, which is the road number. Driving on roads or trails not marked with the yellow arrow is prohibited. Driving off roads, in washes, or cross country damages the fragile desert soil and is prohibited by National Park Service regulations.

Horsethief Road

The Road

From White Rock Canyon Trailhead parking area (Table 1, Site 1392), the graded dirt road runs out the east end of the parking lot (Site 1417), adjacent to the information kiosk. The road descends gradually into White Rock Wash below (Site 1417).

In the wash, the road might have been graded, but for the most part, it is now just a two-track in the wash. Early on, the roadbed is firm, and there are few rough spots or rocks in the road. Farther out, the road is less well used and becomes rougher with more rocks, but the roadbed remain firm and suitable for 2WD-HC vehicles.

Horsethief Road

At about 3.1 miles out (Site 1419), the road passes a small "Horsethief Canyon Road" sign, which marks about where the road begins to deteriorate. At 3.7 miles out, the road passes a small "66A; Approved Road" sign, and thereafter the road is considerably rougher, but still suitable for a 2WD-HC vehicle. At about 4.0 miles out, the road splits for no apparent reason, but the two forks merge after about 150 yards.

Just before the end of the road, there is a campground symbol sign on the right side of the road, indicating that this is a legal backcountry campsite. Unfortunately, much of the campground is on soft sand, making this a dangerous place without 4WD. The road end (Site 1389) below a pour-over that blocks the wash.

Horsethief Road
Easy road in the wash (view NE)
Horsethief Road
Easy road in the wash (view NE)
Horsethief Road Horsethief Road
Horsethief Road Horsethief Road
Horsethief Road
Few rocks in the road (view NE)
Horsethief Road
One of the many "white rocks" in White Rock Wash (view NE)
Horsethief Road Horsethief Road
Horsethief Road Horsethief Road
Horsethief Road Horsethief Road
Horsethief Road Horsethief Road
Horsethief Road Horsethief Road
Horsethief Road
Horsethief Canyon Road sign (view E)
Horsethief Road
Rough road
Horsethief Road
Rough road
Horsethief Road
66A; Approved Road sign
Horsethief Road Horsethief Road
Horsethief Road Horsethief Road
Horsethief Road
Campground sign (view SE)
Horsethief Road
Road is becoming sandy (view SE)
Horsethief Road
Sandy campsite below pour-over
Horsethief Road
Pour-over at the end of the road (very slick; view E)

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

Site Location UTM Easting UTM Northing Latitude (N) Longitude (W) Elevation (ft) Verified
1038 White Rock Canyon Trailhead Parking 707623 3984013 35.98028 114.69717 1,544 GPS
1389 Horse Thief Canyon Road, End 712587 3985991 35.99703 114.64161 2,824 GPS
1417 Horse Thief Canyon Rd, Start 707688 3984006 35.98021 114.69645 1,540 GPS
1418 Horse Thief Canyon Rd, enter wash 707899 3984095 35.98096 114.69408 1,546 GPS
1419 Horse Thief Canyon Rd, 66A sign 711227 3986849 36.00506 114.65647 2,412 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 130201

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