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Wee Thump East Road
Hiking Southern Nevada Wilderness Areas, Backroads
Wee Thump East Road
Wee Thump East RoadHwy 164 at Wee Thump East Road (view NW)

Overview

Wee Thump East Road is a dirt road off Highway 164 near Searchlight, Nevada, that runs north from the pavement along the east side of the Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness Area. The road provides sightseeing, camping, and hunting opportunities, plus hiker access to the Heart of the Wee Thump route, the El Dorado Wagon Road route, and several other hiking routes.

The road is in fairly good condition overall, but it gets a bit rougher farther out. The road is fine for low-clearance vehicles (e.g., sedans) to a washout about 2.4 miles out, but sedan drivers should stop at an intersection 1.6 miles out. Beyond there, the road is suitable for 2-wheel-drive high-clearance (2WD-HC) vehicles in good weather.

Link to map.

Wee Thump East Road
Start of road, just off the pavement (view N)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about the desert ... Wee Thump East Road generally is a good dirt road, but it runs out into wild and remote country. There are no services or developments of any kind. Cell phones might work, but don't count on it. Bring water and food, a good spare tire, a shovel, tools, a tow rope, bailing wire, and anything you might need to survive a night stuck out in the desert.

While hiking, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. This road runs along Wilderness, so pay particular attention to respecting the land. Be sure to bring the 10 Essentials. For ATVs, spark arresters are required on roads in this area.

Wee Thump East Road
Approaching the cattle guard to start the road

Getting to the Roadhead

This road is located adjacent to the Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness Area, about 1 hour south of Las Vegas, just west of Searchlight.

From town, drive south on Highway 95 to Searchlight (Table 1, Site 0927). In downtown Searchlight, turn right onto Highway 164 (Joshua Tree Highway) and drive west for 8.2 miles to a large pullout on the right (north) side of the highway (Site 1007). The road starts in the corner of the pullout.

Alternatively, from town, drive south on Interstate-15 for about 53 miles to Nipton Road (Site 1008) in California. Exit the Interstate and drive east, through Nipton, and back into Nevada. From the Nevada state line, continue east another 10.4 miles to a large pullout on the left (north) side of the highway (Site 1007).

Wee Thump East Road

The Road

Wee Thump East Road runs north out the northeast corner of the large pullout. The road was marked with a large wilderness area sign, but it has been torn down. Nonetheless, pass the highway fence at a cattle guard and continue north past information and designated route signs. Keep an eye out to the west for carsonite signs about 200-feet out that mark the edge of the actual Wilderness Area.

At about 0.2 miles out, the road passes an historic corral with fencing, a windmill, water tank, and watering trough, all of which are aging poorly. Although there is no water here, a few cows still roam this area.

Wee Thump East Road
Designated Road sign

At about 0.5 miles out, the road passes a large campsite on the left. This is a good campsite for RVs and low-clearance vehicles, and it is also the east trailhead for the El Dorado Wagon Road trail.

The road continues north, passing one campsite on the right, to arrive at a T-intersection (Site 0946) 1.6 miles out where the Piute Valley Road runs to the right. There is a small campsite about 0.1 miles down Piute Valley Road, a couple of quail guzzlers farther along, and the pavement at Hwy 164 about 3.0 miles distant. In good weather, Piute Valley Road is a good, 2WD road that probably could be navigated in a carefully driven sedan.

The T-intersection (Site 0946) is a convenient trailhead for the Heart of the Wee Thump Loop Route.

Wee Thump East Road
Historic corral with windmill

Continuing northwest another 0.4 miles, Wee Thump East Road crosses a wash and a few yards farther arrives at another T-intersection (2.0 miles out). The wash is the end of the Heart of the Wee Thump Loop route. The spur road to the right leads about 0.1 miles to a gamebird guzzler, and another 0.1 miles to a turnabout. I found no reason to drive past the guzzler.

Continuing yet another 0.4 miles, Wee Thump East Road arrives at a washout that blocks passage for low-clearance vehicles. At this point, a driver would have to back out a long ways before turning a sedan around without risking getting stuck on the shoulder of the road. In fall 2012, this was the worst spot on the road.

Shortly past the washout, the road passes another campsite, and at 3.0 miles out, arrives at a large campsite on the right. This is the most convenient trailhead parking for the Heart of the Wee Thump Direct Route.

Wee Thump East Road
0.5-Mile Campsite (left) and road (right)

Beyond this camp, the road continues to deteriorate, but remains fine for 2WD-HC vehicles. At about 3.6 miles out, the road passes an earthen dam on the right designed to capture rainwater for cattle. During wet years, look for birds and tadpole shrimp in the pond, and the tracks of coyote, bobcat, and other animals in the mud.

Just beyond the dam, a road forks right at a T-intersection. The road provides access to the dam pond, a campsite 0.1 miles out, a guzzler 0.9 miles out, and continues about 2 miles total (I did not drive past the campsite).

Wee Thump East Road

Continuing, the road gets into slightly hilly country and becomes more rocky, but still is a fine 2WD-HC road. On a low rise about 4.4 miles out, Wee Thump North Road can be seen ahead to the left, and shortly thereafter (4.5 miles out) it arrives at a T-intersection with that road (Site 1300).

I've not driven farther, but maps and aerial photos show the road continuing north then curving left to connect with a powerline road some 2.6 miles distant.

To continue the loop around Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness Area, turn left onto Wee Thump North Road and drive east. For details of the rest of the loop, see the Wee Thump North Road and Wee Thump West Road webpages.

Wee Thump East Road Wee Thump East Road
Wee Thump East Road
Smooth road and easy driving
Wee Thump East Road
T-intersection 1.6 miles out; trailhead parking
Wee Thump East Road Wee Thump East Road
Wee Thump East Road Wee Thump East Road
Wee Thump East Road Wee Thump East Road
Wee Thump East Road
Road is getting rougher
Wee Thump East Road
Driving through the washout (view coming back out; south)
Wee Thump East Road
Large campsite 3.0 miles out; trailhead parking
Wee Thump East Road
Large campsite 3.0 miles out; trailhead parking
Wee Thump East Road Wee Thump East Road
Wee Thump East Road Wee Thump East Road
Wee Thump East Road Wee Thump East Road
Wee Thump East Road
Somewhat hilly, more rocky road
Wee Thump East Road
Wee Thump North Road; ahead to the left (view NW)
Wee Thump East Road
Wee Thump North Road on the left
more to come ...

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
0946 WT East Rd at Piute Valley Rd 675896 3933190 35.52853 115.06002 4,242 Yes
1299 Hwy 164 at Wee Thump East Rd 676352 3930785 35.50678 115.05551 3,960 GPS
1300 Wee Thump East Rd at Wee Thump North Rd 674061 3937257 35.56551 115.07937 4,375 GPS
1301 Wee Thump West Rd at Wee Thump North Rd 672453 3937265 35.56586 115.09710 4,560 GPS
1305 Hwy 164 at Wee Thump West Rd 668839 3930740 35.50768 115.13832 4,795 GPS
1306 Wee Thump West Rd at Powerline Rd 668681 3932106 35.52002 115.13978 5,013 GPS
1342 Wee Thump W Rd at Cattle Guard 668844 3931418 35.51379 115.13812 4,880 GPS
1349 Wee Thump W Rd at Campsite 674901 3935063 35.54559 115.07058 4,327 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 121025

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