|Hwy 160 at Cottonwood Valley Road (view S)
Cottonwood Valley Road, also called Goodsprings Road, runs north-south between Highway 160 (the road to Pahrump) and Highway 161 at Goodsprings. The northern 10.8 miles of Cottonwood Valley Road is an unmaintained dirt road, and the southern 1.6 miles run on pavement. The road provides access to hiking, biking, equestrian, and camping opportunities along the east side of Mt. Potosi and in the Birdspring Range.
The northern few miles of road have become quite washed out and rough, and the north side of Cottonwood Pass has degraded to the point where it requires a 4WD vehicle.
Link to map.
Start of Cottonwood Valley Road (view S)
Other than the standard warnings about driving in the desert, ...this road is getting to be a pretty rough drive, at least on the north end. Cell phones work in some areas. This is a major mountain biking area, so keep an eye out for inattentive bikers careening across the road (bike trails cross the road many times) or just careening down the road.
While out, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. Also, be sure to bring what you need of the 10 Essentials.
Approaching Cottonwood Valley Trailhead (view S)
Getting to the Roadhead
For the north end of Cottonwood Valley Road, from Las Vegas, drive west on Highway 160 (Pahrump Highway) to the Cottonwood Valley Trailhead.
For the south end of Cottonwood Valley Road, from Las Vegas, drive south on Interstate-15 to Jean (Table 1, Site 1370). Exit the interstate and turn right onto Highway 161 (watch for signs to Goodsprings and Sandy Valley). Drive northwest for about 6.7 miles to the Pioneer Saloon (Site 1367) in Goodsprings.
Continuing past the Pioneer Saloon, drive west about 0.2 miles to a T-intersection. Turn right onto Esmeralda Street and drive north 3 blocks to another T-intersection. Turn right onto West Pacific Avenue. Drive east two blocks to the end of the pavement, turn left, and drive north on an unpaved road, which is Cottonwood Valley Road.
Cottonwood Valley Trailhead (view W)
Continue northward 0.35 miles to a paved road that joins from the right (Truck Bypass Road). After about 1.3 miles on the pavement, the road forks (Site 1368). The pavement (left) runs out to a gravel pit, while the dirt road to the right is Cottonwood Valley Road.
For drivers not interested in visiting Goodsprings, consider bypassing town using the paved Truck Bypass Road. On Highway 161, at about 1.2 miles before Goodsprings, turn right onto the truck route and follow the pavement around the east side of town. After about 1.9 miles, the unpaved road from town joins the Truck Bypass Road at a hard turn to the right. About 1.3 miles past the right turn, the road forks (Site 1368). Turn right onto the dirt road, which is Cottonwood Valley Road.
|Approaching a minor side road (view S)
From the pavement at Highway 160, Cottonwood Valley Road crosses a cattle guard, runs out into the dirt, and heads south. Initially, the road is relatively well maintained and two lanes wide.
At about 200 yards out, Cottonwood Valley Road passes Cottonwood Valley Trailhead, a popular trailhead for mountain bikers, and at about 0.7 miles out, passes Badger Pass Trailhead (Site 1542), another popular trailhead used by mountain bikers and hikers.
By this time, it is apparent that Cottonwood Valley Road is running up a valley, with Mt. Potosi (Spring Mountains) on the west and the Birdspring Range on the east, which is the case all the way south to Goodsprings.
Road in gravel (view S)
Just past Badger Pass Trailhead, the road narrows and becomes washed out and rocky. The road passes several side roads, but the Cottonwood Valley Road always is the obvious, straight ahead, main-road.
At about 1.5 miles out, the road drops into the wash and more-or-less remains in the wash, where some parts are quite rocky, until about 3.0 miles out when the road starts to climb over Cottonwood Pass.
Climbing the north side of Cottonwood Pass, the road is steep, rutted, and rocky. I've taken to driving this section in 4WD just to make it easier to control my jeep, but it probably isn't absolutely necessary. Near the top of the pass, the road leaves Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and enters the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area. The road eventually climbs onto Cottonwood Pass (Site 0850; 3.2 miles out).
Road in deep gravel (view S)
Atop the pass, an old road to the left, now a trail, runs east 100 yards to an overlook. The road to the right (Toiyabe Forest Road [FR] 800A) runs a short distance to a red sandstone outcrop. Beyond that point, FR-800A becomes extremely rough and better suited for ATVs than trucks or jeeps.
Beyond Cottonwood Pass (Site 0850), the road south becomes much better as it runs gently down Goodsprings Valley. In places the road recently washed out with deep ruts down the center, but drivers have pounded out parallel road segments.
Continuing south on the comparatively smooth and gentle road, the road bends to the east and arrives at parking area on the left; this is the trailhead for Birdspring Peak (Site 0851; 3.5 miles out). The old road here, now a trail, runs 0.7 miles to a nice overlook with views of Las Vegas.
Few rocks in the road (view S)
Continuing south, Cottonwood Valley Road runs on easy terrain curving gently to the left and right following the bottom of the Cottonwood Valley to a side road on the right (Site 0488; 4.7 miles out). The old intersection here washed out and is blocked by a ditch, but drivers have connected to the road from both ends of the ditch. This is Ninetynine Mine Road (FR-800B), which runs out to the Dawn Mine, Ninetynine Mine, and the trailhead for the tough climb to the Carol Lombard Crash Site. FR-800B is badly washed out and rocky, but still passable in 4WD.
Continuing south, Cottonwood Valley Road runs another 0.3 miles to an intersection to the left. Here, the Wilson Tank Overlook Road (Site 1543) branches and climbs about 0.2 miles to a large parking area (that can be seen from the main road) with grand views over the other side into the Las Vegas Valley. All of the taller building area visible.
Campsite below the pass (view S)
Continuing south another 0.3 miles, Cottonwood Valley Road reaches an intersection (Site 1543) to the left. This road curves to the east as it climbs over the ridge, then drops through a canyon, passing Wilson Tank (a guzzler) and eventually runs northeast to connect, eventually, with Highway 160.
Continuing south another 0.3 miles, Cottonwood Valley Road crosses a gas pipeline, a wide gash in the vegetation that can be seen running across the desert for miles. Shortly, the road reaches another side road to the right; this is FR-800C, which runs about 1.1 miles northwest to connect with Ninetynine Mine Road.
Approaching Cottonwood Pass (view S)
Cottonwood Valley Road continues south for another 5.1 miles (total distance from Hwy 160 of 10.8 miles) to intersect a paved road (Site 1368). The route turns left onto the pavement, which still is Cottonwood Valley Road, and continues south.
At a sharp curve to the left, the paved road bypasses the town of Goodsprings. For drivers in a hurry, stay on the pavement, bypass town, and continue southeast to Interstate 15. For others, consider driving into the historic town by staying straight on the dirt road. The dirt road bends right, then turns right onto Pacific Ave. Turn left at the second road (Esmeralda St.) through town. Esmeralda runs south to intersect the paved Goodsprings Road. Turn left, stop at the Goodsprings Saloon for a cool beverage, then let the designated driver continue southeast to Interstate 15 and home.
Table 1. Highway Coordinates based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Highway GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.
||Cottonwood Rd at 99 Mine Rd
||Hwy 160 at C-wood Valley Rd
||Cottonwood Rd at C-wood Pass
||Cottonwood Rd at Birdspring TH
||Lombard Rd Trailhead (est)
||Cottonwood Valley Parking
||FR800B at FR800C
||FR800C at FR800
||FR800 at FR800D
||FR800 at FR800A
||FR800 at 99 Mine Rd
||Cottonwood Valley Rd at S Pvmt
||Potosi Mtn Rd at Gate
||Hwy I-15 at Hwy 161 (Jean)
||Cottonwood Rd at Badger TH Rd
||Cottonwood Rd at Wilson Tank Overlook Rd
||Cottonwood Rd at Wilson Tank Rd
||Wilson Tank Overlook