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Black Butte Road
Backroads Around Las Vegas, Gold Butte
Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road
Gold Butte Road at Black Butte Road (view S)

Overview

Black Butte Road is a 5.3-mile side road off Gold Butte Road that provides 2WD-HC vehicle access to wild and rugged parts of Gold Butte west of Whitney Pocket. From the pavement, Black Butte Road runs southwest to the Falling Man Petroglyph Site. After the trailhead, the road gets rougher and is better suited for 4WD vehicles. The road continues southwest, crosses a sandy wash (access to 21 Goats), climbs over a low ridge, crosses another wash, passes KC Trailhead, and eventually climbs high on the south side of Bitter Ridge. From there, the road drops steeply into a wash, then follows the wash uphill, eventually climbing onto a ridge overlooking the Overton Arm of Lake Mead.

Link to area road map or regional road map.

Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road (view SW from the pavement)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ... this is a wild and remote area without services of any kind (no restrooms, no water, no gas, no food). Bring what you need to survive. Be prepared and be self-reliant. A BLM Ranger patrols the area, but it is big country out there. Someone will find you eventually if you stay on a main road, but be prepared to survive alone for a day or more on side roads.

While out, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. Also, this is a remote area, so be sure to bring the 10 Essentials.

Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road (view SW from the pavement)

Getting to the Roadhead

Black Butte Road is located out in Gold Butte northeast of Lake Mead, about 1.75 hours northeast of Las Vegas.

From Las Vegas, drive out to Gold Butte. From Whitney Pocket, turn around and drive back 1.5 miles on Gold Butte Road to just past the last big red sandstone crag on the left. An unmarked dirt road leaves the pavement to the west: this is Black Butte Road.

Alternatively, from Gentry Ranch Road, drive southeast for 5.4 miles on Gold Butte Road to Black Butte Road.

Black Butte Road

The Road

From the pavement (Table 1, Site 050), Black Butte Road angles away from the pavement and passes along the north side of a large sandstone crag with a number of informal campsites around the base. Spur roads lead to the campsites, but the main road continues to the southwest.

Farther along, more side roads branch off to the left, but they are obviously not the main road. These roads lead back to Gold Butte Road, but they are not better than Black Butte Road and are not a shortcut to Whitney Pocket.

Black Butte Road

At 1.2 miles from the pavement, the road forks equally (Site 210). The two forks rejoin about 1.1 mile ahead, but the left (south) fork leads to the Falling Man petroglyph site and is the much better road. The right road, Black Butte Alternate Road, seems long, slow, and bumpy.

Staying left, at 1.9 miles out, the road arrives at a pole-fencing corral that delineates trailhead parking area for the Falling Man Petroglyph Site (Site 220). The walk is short and the area is interesting, so be sure to stop and take the walk.

The road continues southwest, passing out of the other side of the trailhead parking corral. At 2.4 miles out, Black Butte Alternate Road rejoins from the right, and together, they continue southwest.

Black Butte Road
Stay left to the Falling Man Site (view SW)

At about 2.7 miles out, the road crosses a wash, and shortly post-and-cable fencing appears along the left side of the road. The fencing is intended to keep vehicles off the gypsum-rich soils that serve a habitat for the rare and protected Las Vegas Bearpoppy. Unfortunately, the fencing blocks the old road to the 21 Goats petroglyph site, and some people drive illegally around the fence and onto the old road. For those wanting to see this wonderful rock art site, continue southwest on the main road. The road turns a sharp corner and drops into a broad wash (Site 223; 3.2 miles out). In the wash, 21 Goats Road runs upstream (left) 0.4 miles to 21 Goats Trailhead. From there, it is a short walk to the rock art panel.

Black Butte Road From 21 Goats Road, Black Butte Road crosses the wash and heads up into a fairly narrow canyon where 4WD can be useful. The road winds through hills, then drops into the broad and sandy Sand Wash (Site 227; 3.5 miles out). Here, Black Butte Road continues straight across, Black Butte Peak Trailhead is the wash on the upstream side, and Sand Wash Road goes downstream. Sand Wash Road can be used to connect with Gentry Road to the north to make a loop back to Whitney Pocket using the paved Gold Butte Road, or with Mud Wash Road to the south to make a loop back to Whitney Pocket using the unpaved Gold Butte Road.
Black Butte Road

Continuing, Black Butte Road runs southeast following above Sand Wash to another Post-and-cable fence that delineates the KC Trailhead (Site 228; 3.8 miles out). From there, the road deteriorates even more as it climbs, steeply at times, up onto the flanks of Bitter Ridge.

At about 4.5 miles out, there is a wide spot on the right (Bitter Ridge Peak trailhead; Site 230) and suddenly the road runs over a ridgeline and starts steeply down into the canyon below.

The road drops steeply through and S-curve, then drops into the wash heading upstream. Following the wash, at about 4.9 miles out, the road steeply exits the wash and eventually climbs onto a ridgeline (Site 232; 5.3 miles out) with what is reported to be a grand view of the Overton Arm of Lake Mead.

Black Butte Road
Approaching Falling Man Site (view SW)
Black Butte Road
Arriving at Falling Man Site parking (view SW)
Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road at Falling Man (view southwest)
Black Butte Road
Falling Man Site parking (view S)
Black Butte Road
Departing Falling Man Site parking (view W)
Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road
From previous fork, roads rejoin (view W)
Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road (view S)
Black Butte Road
Post-and-cable fence to protect Las Vegas Bearpoppy
Black Butte Road Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road (view SW)
Black Butte Road
Approaching 21 Goats Road (view SW)
Black Butte Road
Arriving at 21 Goats Road (view SW)
Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road (view SW)
Black Butte Road
Approaching Sand Wash (view S)
Black Butte Road
Approaching Sand Wash (view SE)
Black Butte Road
Arriving at Sand Wash Road, on right (view SE)
Black Butte Road
Designated Road Sign at Sand Wash (view SE)
Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road (view SE)
Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road, approaching KC Trailhead (view SE)
Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road at KC Trailhead (view S)
Black Butte Road
KC Trailhead Parking (view E)
Black Butte Road
KC Trailhead Parking (view E)
Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road beyond KC Trailhead (view SW)
Black Butte Road Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road
Fairly steep road (view SW)
Black Butte RoadBlack Butte Road, approaching Bitter Ridge Trailhead (view SW)
Black Butte Road
Black Butte Road at Bitter Ridge Trailhead, just before drop-off
Black Butte Road
Bitter Ridge Trailhead parking (view E at sunset)
Black Butte Road
Dead end on Black Butte Road (view east)
Black Butte Road
View from Bitter Ridge (view east)

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
0050 GB Rd at Black Butte Rd 754180 4046328 36.53039 114.16105 2,785 Yes
0210 Black Butte Rd fork 752972 4044912 36.51797 114.17499 2,530 Yes
0220 Black Butte Rd at Falling Man Trailhead 752138 4044187 36.51165 114.18454 2,393 Yes
0221 Black Butte Rd at Black Butte Alt Rd 751477 4044034 36.51045 114.19195 2,326 Yes
0223 Black Butte Rd at 21 Goats Road 750684 4043012 36.50146 114.20113 2,234 Yes
0227 Black Butte Rd at Sand Wash Road 750459 4042611 36.49791 114.20377 2,219 Yes
0228 Black Butte Rd at KC Trailhead 750639 4042275 36.49484 114.20188 2,289 Yes
0230 Black Butte Rd at Bitter Ridge Trailhead 749975 4041524 36.48825 114.20952 2,566 Yes
0232 Black Butte Rd End 749093 4041036 36.48408 114.21952 2,877 Yes

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
© 2015 Jim Boone; Last updated 150526

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