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Deadhorse Road
Backroads Around Las Vegas, Desert National Wildlife Range
Deadhorse Road
Alamo Road at Deadhorse Road

Note (Aug 28, 2014). Monsoon rains washed out this road. It is closed, perhaps for some time.

Overview

Deadhorse Road is a 9.4-mile spur road that runs east from the Alamo Road, crossing the shoulder of the Deadhorse Range and the Mule Deer Range, to two traditional camping areas and trailheads high in the Pinyon Juniper Woodland life zone. On this road, drivers spend a lot of time in loose-gravel washes, making this is one of those roads where unlucky drivers of 2WD high-clearance vehicle get stuck.

Link to map.

For general information on camping, hiking, regulations, other issues, and the natural history of the Wildlife Refuge, see Desert National Wildlife Range -- Area Overview.

Deadhorse Road
Road sign along Alamo Road

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert... Deadhorse Road runs in washes with loose, deep gravel, making it most suitable for 4WD vehicles, especially given that it runs out into wild and remote country. There are no services or developments of any kind. Cell phones don't work. 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 day or two stuck out in the desert.

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 and stay on the roadway.

Deadhorse Road
Parts of Deadhorse Road are smooth and easy

Location

Deadhorse Road is located on the Desert National Wildlife Range and starts about 2-1/4 hours northwest of Las Vegas. To get there, drive out to the Information Kiosk (Table 1, Site 0106) 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 should lead to more funding for things like grading roads).

Continue east for about 250 feet to a T-intersection. Turn left onto Alamo Road, and follow it north for 23.6 miles to Deadhorse Road (Site 0455), which is to the east (right).

Deadhorse Road
Parts of Deadhorse Road have deep gravel

The Road

From Alamo Road (Site 0455), Deadhorse Road runs east towards the Sheep Range. It may have been graded long ago, but now the road essentially is a two-track with shrubs in the center or it follows washes. Despite this, much of the road is suitable for 2WD high-clearance vehicles, but patches of deep, loose gravel can swallow a truck.

Lower down, close to Alamo Road, Deadhorse Road is a bit sandy, but shorty the road runs up into low hills and the road surface firms. When the road crosses the first set of low hills, it drops into a wash and follows the wash uphill. The road runs in loose gravel, but it generally is suitable for 2WD-HC vehicles

deadhorse road
Traditional Bighorn Basin campsite

The road eventually leaves the wash, climbing into hills on a firm base to a saddle on the south shoulder of the Deadhorse Range. After saddle, the road crosses broad open basin on firm dirt with a few rocky spots, and then drops into a broad valley with lots of sagebrush. The road continues east, crossing the flats and climbing the bajada towards next canyon.

Towards next canyon, the road get quite rocky as it climbs the bajada, then drops into a wash with lots of deep gravel. The wash narrows, the grade steepens, and the gravel gets deep, making for spinning tires and finally requiring 4WD. Eventually, however, the canyon opens, pinyon pine and Utah juniper line the road, and the road base becomes firm again.

deadhorse road
Traditional Mule Deer Camp at the end of the road

Passing through the Mule Deer Range, the road arrives at a broad, open area used as a traditional camping area (8.5 miles out; Site 0546). Closed roads, used for trails, run southeast into Bighorn Basin and the Sheep Range from here.

From the Bighorn Basin camping area, the road turns hard to the left and runs north as a two-track road. This part of the road is narrower than before, and one steep section runs down into and crosses a wash. This road ends, about 0.9 miles out, at the edge of a wash with a boulder barricade. This site, Mule Deer Camp, is used as a traditional campsite, but the spot is not unusually scenic, and it seems odd that the road even goes here. Beyond the barricades, hikers can wander farther northeast on gently rolling hills with grand views north along the rugged northern extension of the Sheep Range.

deadhorse road
Deadhorse Road at Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 0.32 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 0.91 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 1.22 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 1.45 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 1.58 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 1.74 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 2.39 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 2.56 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 2.76 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 3.27 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 3.57 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 3.88 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 4.17 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 4.45 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 4.62 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 5.28 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 5.67 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 6.56 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 6.73 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 6.91 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 7.07 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 7.09 miles east of Alamo Road
deadhorse road
Deadhorse Road, 7.16 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 7.34 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 7.55 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 7.74 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 8.01 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 8.54 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 8.54 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Bighorn Basin Campsite (May 2005)
Deadhorse Road
Bighorn Basin Campsite (May 2005)
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 8.54 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 8.70 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 8.79 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 9.08 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 9.35 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 9.37 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 9.37 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Deadhorse Road, 9.37 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Heading out: Deadhorse Road, 9.10 miles east of Alamo Road
Deadhorse Road
Heading out: Deadhorse Road, 1.94 miles east of Alamo Road

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
0106 Corn Creek parking area 647225 4033632 36.43845 115.35745 2,814 Yes
0514 Deadhorse Rd End 663310 4071219 36.77452 115.17009 5,674 Yes
0546 Deadhorse Rd Camp 663405 4069912 36.76273 115.16930 5,883 Yes
0552 Alamo Rd at Deadhorse Rd 651727 4068747 36.75418 115.30031 4,272 Yes

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
© 2014 Jim Boone; Last updated 140828

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