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Wee Thump West Road
Hiking Southern Nevada Wilderness Areas, Backroads
Wee Thump West Road
Wee Thump West Road
Highway 164 at Wee Thump West Road (view N)

Overview

Wee Thump West Road is a graded dirt road off Highway 164 near Searchlight, Nevada, that runs north from the pavement along the west side of the Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness Area. The road provides sightseeing, camping, and hunting opportunities, plus hiker access to several routes. I've described the road as running south to north (away from the pavement), but I've included extra photos for those driving the other way. By connecting Wee Thump West Road, Wee Thump North Road, and Wee Thump East Road, driver can circumnavigate the wilderness area.

The road is in fairly good condition overall, but it can be a bit rough and sandy in a narrow canyon about 0.6 miles north of the pavement. Assuming good weather, the road is fine for 2-wheel-drive high-clearance (2WD-HC) vehicles.

Link to map.

Wee Thump West Road
Wee Thump West Road at Highway 164 (view N)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about the desert ... Wee Thump West 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 West Road
Wee Thump West Road near Highway 164 (view N)

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 13.2 miles to a large pullout on the right (north) side of the highway (Site 1305) just past a shiny new guardrail on a curve. The intersection is marked with a stop sign.

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 5.4 miles to a large pullout on the left (north) side of the highway (Site 1305).

Wee Thump West Road
Cattle guard and mine roads (view N)

The Road - Northbound

For southbound photos, click here.

Wee Thump West Road runs north from the paved Highway 164 (Site 1305). The road runs north along a fence line, then crosses a cattle guard (Site 1342) at about 0.4 miles out.

Just past the cattle guard, a road runs left at a T-intersection and leads into a mining area. The most dangerous of the mine shafts have been closed, but use caution if traveling in that direction.

Wee Thump West Road
Cattle guard and fence (view N)

Wee Thump West Road runs north, trending right onto a saddle. Old, faded roads run in different directions, but the main road is obvious and continues generally northward.

At about 0.6 miles out, the road enters a narrow canyon where the condition of the road depends on recent storms. I've seen this section washed out and rocky, thick with soft sand, and nice and smooth, but always passable in a 2WD-HC vehicle (at least when coming downhill; south). Drivers should use good judgement and walk sections of the road if necessary to assess the current conditions.

Wee Thump West Road
Entering narrow, sandy canyon (view N)

At the top of the canyon, about 1.0 miles out, the Wee Thump West Road intersects a powerline road at a T-intersection (Site 1306). The road turns right and follows under the powerlines from this point on, but I still refer to it as the Wee Thump West Road (others might just call this Powerline Road).

Turning in the other direction on the powerline road, the road gets rough and rocky, but it can be used to exit the area onto Highway 164. I've done it once, and I don't need to do that again.

Wee Thump West Road
Wee Thump West Rd at Powerline Rd (view NW)

Continuing northeast, Wee Thump West Road runs up over a low saddle, then winds a bit as it runs down out of the hills and onto the desert flats. The road is maintained by the power company and is in pretty good condition. It also mostly runs straight, with only a few jogs to one side or the other, as it runs between power towers. There is a lightly used access road to each power tower, but the main road always is obvious.

In the desert flats, the road parallels the edge of the Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness Area: watch for carsonite signs some 200 feet from the road, they mark the actual wilderness boundary.

Wee Thump West RoadStay straight at tower side roads (view NW)

Along the southern part of this road, the vegetation is a diverse mix of Mojave Desert Scrub Species, including Joshua trees, creosote bush, Mojave yucca, banana yucca, bunchgrasses, globemallow, matchweed, desert almond, and many other species. Farther out, the vegetation becomes less diverse, and the landscape is dominated by Joshua trees and blackbrush, with a scattering of buckhorn cholla mixed in.

Eventually, at 5.0 miles from the pavement, Wee Thump West Road reaches a 4-way intersection. To the right is Wee Thump North Road, which in 1.1 miles intersects Wee Thump East Road and can be used as a roadway to circumnavigate the Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness Area.

Wee Thump West Road
Stay straight at tower side roads (view NW)

To the left is Pine Spring Road, which runs up into the South McCullough Mountains and to the edge of the South McCullough Wilderness Area. I drove this road, including both forks, in 2WD, but I would not recommend driving to the road ends without 4WD.

The powerline road continues north, eventually connecting with Highway 95 near El Dorado Dry Lake. I've not driven that part of the road, but the aerial photos make it look like a fine road.

Wee Thump West Road
Wee Thump West Rd is mostly straight ...
Wee Thump West Road
... but there are a few curves and dips
Wee Thump West Road Wee Thump West Road
Wee Thump West Road Wee Thump West Road
Wee Thump West Road
Wee Thump West Rd at road intersection
Wee Thump West Road
Wee Thump West Rd at WT North Road (right)
Wee Thump West Road
Wee Thump West Rd at Pine Spring Road (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 140209

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