Sign at the intersection of Corn Creek Road, Alamo Road, and Mormon Well Road (view east)
The Alamo Road, which runs across the Desert National Wildlife Range, was so named because it once connected Corn Creek with the town of Alamo, is a bumpy, 40.0-mile dirt road that runs north along the west side of the Sheep Range to Desert Dry Lake. The road gets rougher farther out, and at the end, signs prohibit crossing Desert Dry Lake playa. Deeply rutted roads and extremely deep playa dust (surprisingly difficult to drive through) are the reason for closure. From Corn Creek to Hidden Forest Road, the road can be pretty good and suitable for sedans, but it can also be rough and washed out. In a high-clearance vehicle, this is a nice road for a drive in the desert or an easy way to get away from town to camp out in the desert, but it is wild and remote country.
Link to map.
Alamo Road just north of Corn Creek (view N)
Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert... the Alamo 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 work along the south end of the road where you can see the town of Indian Springs, but don't count on calling for help farther out. Bring water and food, a good spare tire, a shovel, tools, a tow rope, bailing wire (I learned the hard way) and anything else that you might need to survive a night stuck out in the desert. Close in, the road is graded occasionally, and for the most part can be driven at about 25 mph, but out past Hidden Forest Road, the road is slower as rocky spots and washouts sneak up on you.
While out there, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. Also, this road leads to remote country, so be sure to bring the 10 Essentials. This is a wildlife refuge, so pay extra attention to respecting the land.
Joe May Road (R) at Alamo Road (L) (view NE)
The Alamo Road is located on the Desert National Wildlife Range and starts about 30 minutes northwest of Las Vegas. To get there, drive out to the Information Kiosk (Table 1, Site 1) at the Corn Creek Field Station. Sign the visitor register so the Refuge will get credit for your visit (use a false name if you don't want the government to track your movements, but visitor records will lead to more funding for things like road grading). Continue east for about 250 feet to a T-intersection with a large sign. The Alamo Road starts here and runs north (left), while the Mormon Well Road starts here and runs south (right).
Cow Camp Road (R) at Alamo Road (L) (view N)
The Alamo Road runs north along the west side of the Sheep Range from Corn Creek (Table 1, Site 0106) to the south edge of Desert Dry Lake (Site 0489). Signs prohibit crossing the playa and connecting with the road down from Alamo, but tracks in the dust show that some drivers ignore the signs. Wildlife Refuge personnel say that they will fix the road someday, but it has been closed for years.
The first 15 miles north of Corn Creek, out to Hidden Forest Road (Site 0882), are relatively well graded and suitable for most sedans (depending on the weather). The road north from there is rougher, but it is fine for high-clearance, 2WD vehicles (depending on the weather). A 4WD vehicle would only be necessary if the road were wet or washed out. There is a narrow spot in the bottom of a canyon north of Sheep Pass (just beyond Site 0553) that could be sandy or a washout problem, so if it looks bad, don't drive down because it will be even harder to drive back up on the way home; you don't want to get stuck 30-some miles out.
Hidden Forest Road (view E from Alamo Road)
|From Corn Creek, the road runs nearly straight north and level for miles until bending slightly to the east, bounding across several gullies, and continuing nearly straight and level for many more miles. Even the rough road up Sheep Pass is nearly straight until near the top (Site 0553). Beyond Sheep Pass, the road winds down a narrow canyon before straightening out and running nearly straight north for most of the way to Desert Dry Lake. Near the lake, the road takes a turn to the east (right) and runs east along the south edge of the playa. After running nearly straight over a couple of low ridges, the road turns north (left) at a fork (Site 0098) and runs out onto the edge of the playa where signs prohibit (but do not block) further progress.
White Rock Road (R) at Alamo Road (L) (view NE)
With the exception of Sheep Pass (Site 0553), the road traverses middle-elevation Mojave Desert Scrub vegetation. Along the southern end of the road, the landscape is very dry and even the creosote bush is stunted and widely spaced. To the north, the vegetation is more typical of Mojave Desert Scrub. At Sheep Pass, the road climbs into the Blackbrush Zone where blackbrush is the dominant species, and Joshua Trees, yuccas, and many other low growing shrubs are common. During spring, there can be many flowers along the road, and when the temperatures begin to warm, this is a great place to see cactus flowers.
There are a number of undeveloped campsites along the Alamo Road. Camping is unrestricted, so campers can stop anywhere, but be kind to the land and choose an existing campsite; don't drive off-road into the bushes to camp or even to get off the road. White Dirt Campsite (22 miles out; Site 0738), located by some crags before Sheep Pass, is nice; and Desert Dry Lake Campsite (38 miles out; Site 0593) sits on a on the bajada overlooking Desert Dry Lake and also is nice. There are many other places to pull off the road and camp.
Deadhorse Road (R) at Alamo Road (L) (view NE)
There are a number of side roads along the Alamo Road that lead to interesting hikes and more campsites.
Joe May Road (3.1 miles out; Site 0780) leads to hikes up Joe May Canyon and Black Gate Canyon. Joe May Road is a fine (depending on the weather), high-clearance, 2WD dirt road that runs up the bajada for about 4 miles to undeveloped campsites at and near the end of the road. This was a graded road, but it is not maintained. (details and map)
Alamo Road at Sheep Pass (view N)
Cow Camp Road (8.7 miles out [note that the road sign incorrectly says 12 miles]; Site 0992) is a good, high-clearance road that leads up through an interesting canyon (can be sandy) that cuts through the Black Hills. Beyond there, the canyon opens up and the road traverses an open bajada until reaching the base of the Sheep Range, which abruptly jut up out of the ground. About 4.6 miles up the road, a Rock Shelter Campsite on the north (left) side of the road. About 0.8 miles past the campsite, the road forks. The south (right) fork, Cow Camp Corral Road, leads for another 0.6 miles to an old corral and watering trough at the base of a pour-over. The north fork (left) runs 0.73 miles to a turn-around at the edge of a sandy wash. Hiking up the closed road for about 1/2 miles leads to an overlook at the base of the cliffs and a deep, narrow canyon with a pour-over that blocks upstream passage.
Alamo Rd; Desert Dry Lake in the distance (view N)
|Hidden Forest Road (14.8 miles out; Site 0882) leads east to the Deadman Canyon trailhead. Hikes up Deadman Canyon lead to the Hidden Forest, Wiregrass Spring, the old Warden's Cabin, Hayford Peak, and the summit of Sheep Peak. Hidden Forest Road is a fine (depending on the weather), high-clearance, 2WD dirt road that runs up the bajada for about 4 miles to undeveloped campsites at the end of the road. This was a graded road, but it is not maintained. (details and map)
Alamo Road south of Desert Dry Lake (view E)
White Rock Road (20.6 miles out; Site 0455) is a rough (depending on the weather), high-clearance, 2WD dirt road that runs up the bajada for 3.0 miles and ends on the edge of a wash. The road leads around one set of black cliffs and runs up to some rocky bluffs at the base of the Sheep Range that appear to be formed from volcanic ash (the white rocks). There is a campsite at the end of the road. (details and map)
Campsite south of Desert Dry Lake (view N)
|Deadhorse Road (23.6 miles out; Site 0552) is a 4WD road that runs for 9.2 miles up into the Sheep Range. The road runs in a wash with deep, soft gravel in several places, but generally seems suitable for 2WD. However, one time when I was several miles out, a soft bit of gravel at a narrow spot in the wash swallowed up my truck; I shifted into 4WD and drove out, but that would have been a bad spot in a 2WD. The road runs out around the south side of the Deadhorse Range (the mountain that the Alamo Road crosses at Sheep Pass), then continues east, crossing the Mule Deer Range, towards the Sheep Range for 8.5 miles to a broad area with a big campsite. At that point, the road forks three ways. The right and middle forks are blocked by signs, but the left fork turns north and continues down a canyon for another 0.8 miles to a small campsite on the edge of a wash. (details and map)
Cabin Spring Road near the end (view E)
Cabin Spring Road (39.5 miles out; Site 0098) leads east from Desert Dry Lake to Cabin Spring (dry). Cabin Spring Road is a high-clearance, marginally 4WD road that runs for about 9 miles to undeveloped campsites at the end of the road. There is a nice campsite on a low bluff 5.2 miles up Cabin Spring Road, but beyond there, the last 3.6 miles get pretty rough. The road was graded at one time, but it has not been maintained for many years. The spring has been dry for years.
The Alamo Road makes for a great place to get away from it all, but remember that this is wild and remote country -- you could be the only person out there for a very long time.
Road sign a few hundred yards north of Corn Creek
Table 1. Highway Distances Based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Highway GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.
|| Elevation (feet)
|| Point-to-Point Distance
|| Cumulative Distance
||Corn Creek T-intersection
||Joe May Rd
||Cow Camp Rd
||Hidden Forest Road
||Pine Canyon Road (service road only)
||Unnamed Road West (service road only)
||White Sage Road (service road only)
||White Rock Road
||Turn to Campsite by Crags
||Dead Horse Road
||Fork in road (service left; Alamo right)
||Turn to Campsite overlooking Playa
||Fork in road (Cabin Sp. right; Alamo left)
||Sign to stop travel across playa