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Gold Butte Road -- Paved Section
Backroads Around Las Vegas, Gold Butte Region
Gold Butte Road
 
Gold Butte Road
I-15, approaching Riverside/Bunkerville exit (view SE)

Overview

The Gold Butte Road, which starts near the town of Mesquite, Nevada, is the gateway to the wild and rugged Gold Butte Region. The first 21 miles are paved, although a bit rough. The road begins running downstream along the Virgin River, then turns south and climbs over the flanks of Virgin Peak. Long stretches of open desert along the west side of the Virgin Mountains leads to Whitney Pocket, an historic and scenic area nestled among outcrops of colorful red and white sandstone.

Beyond Whitney Pocket, the road becomes graded dirt and the real wildness starts. Continuing south leads to places such as Gold Butte Townsite, Devil's Throat, the Gold Butte Backcountry Byway, Scanlon Dugway, and a whole lot of grand scenery.

Link to map.

Gold Butte Road
I-15 (Exit 112) off ramp (view southeast)

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 a big place out there. Someone will find you eventually if you stay on a main road, but be prepared to survive alone for a day or two.

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 10Essentials.

Gold Butte Road
I-15 (Exit 112) off ramp (view southeast)

Road Guide

Gold Butte Road is located out in the Gold Butte Region northeast of Lake Mead, about 1.5 hours northeast of Las Vegas.

From Las Vegas, drive out Interstate 15 to about five miles before Mesquite. Take Exit 112 (Table 1, Site 010) onto Highway 170 (towards Bunkerville). Exiting the Interstate starts the journey into the wildlands as Highway 170 winds down 3.5 miles of sparsely vegetated desert hillsides towards the Virgin River. Just across the river bridge (Site 020), Gold Butte Road starts on the right (watch for signs to Meadowland Farm) and runs down along the south side of the verdant Virgin River for about 6.5 miles.

Gold Butte Road
Approaching Virgin River Bridge (view S)

Gold Butte Road abruptly bends to the left, away from the Virgin River (Site 030), and climbs through desert canyons towards the northwestern flank of Virgin Peak. The paved (but rough) road passes Gentry Ranch Road (Site 040), then continues south with the Virgin Mountains off to the left. As the road approaches the first large sandstone outcrops on the right side of the road, it passes Black Butte Road (Site 050). Shortly thereafter, the pavement ends (Site 059) at Whitney Pocket (Site 060), a scenic area with upturned and sculpted red-and-white sandstone crags. This is a popular camping area, and it makes a good place to stop and enjoy the solitude and scenery for those who don't want to stray far from the paved road.

Gold Butte Road
Approaching Virgin River Bridge (view S)

For the more adventuresome, continue south on the mostly well-graded unpaved Gold Butte Road. The road can suddenly get rough, so drive carefully and don't drive too fast. Birders might want to take the Arizona Road up into the Virgin Mountains to look for birds of the desert mountains.

Gold Butte Road
Approaching Gold Butte Road turnoff (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Across the bridge, the road forks (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Highway signs
Gold Butte Road
Highway signs
Gold Butte Road
Highway signs
Gold Butte Road
Info signs in pullout of left past turnoff (view W)
Gold Butte Road Gold Butte Road

Virgin River farms area along Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road, Paved
Virgin River farms area along Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road
Virgin River farms area along Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road
Watch for oncoming traffic on tight, narrow curves!
Gold Butte Road
Information sign
Gold Butte Road
Information sign
Gold Butte Road
Notice "Back Country Byway" sign
Gold Butte Road
Back Country Byway sign
Gold Butte Road
Heading into the open desert
Gold Butte Road
Climbing into the hills (view SE)
Gold Butte Road, Paved
Approaching an oasis and private ranch
Gold Butte Road
Approaching "Local Color" signs (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Local color. Sign on private property along the Gold Butte Road: "The most exciting thing I have seen out here was a flat tire and a hot radiator."
Gold Butte Road
Local color. Backside of sign on private property along the Gold Butte Road: "Wasted time? What a 'shame'. In loving memory of Keith Nay." Keith Nay apparently was a rancher in the area.
Gold Butte Road
2013: vandalized sign
Gold Butte Road
2013: vandalized sign
Gold Butte Road
2013: vandalized sign
Gold Butte Road
2013: vandalized sign
Gold Butte Road
Little Virgin Peak (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Approaching Virgin Peak (Little Virgin Peak to the right)
Gold Butte Road, Paved
Turnoff to roads along N side of Virgin Peak (view SW)
Gold Butte Road
Little Virgin Peak trailhead (view S)
Gold Butte Road Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road, Paved
Fisherman's Cove Road (view SW)
Gold Butte Road, Paved
Fisherman's Cove Road (view SW)
Gold Butte Road
Campsite at gravel pit (view NW)
Gold Butte Road
Tall mojave yucca (view S)
Gold Butte Road, Paved
Tall Mojave Yucca along the road
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road on long, rolling flats; notice rough pavement
Gold Butte Road, Paved
Road hazards (especially at night)
Gold Butte Road
Side road (view S)
Gold Butte Road Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road
Approaching Whitney Pocket; notice rough pavement
Gold Butte Road
Turnoff to Black Butte Road (Falling Man Road) (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Approaching Whitney Pocket; notice smooth pavement
Gold Butte Road
Approaching Whitney Pocket; notice smooth pavement
Gold Butte Road
End of the pavement in Whitney Pocket; notice smooth pavement
Gold Butte Road, Paved Section
Campers at Whitney Pocket
Gold Butte Road
Red and white sandstone at Whitney Pocket
more to come ...

 
Table 1. Highway Coordinates Based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Highway GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Site Location Latitude Longitude Easting Northing Elevation Point-to-Point Distance (mi) Cumulative Distance (mi) Verified
010 I-15 at Hwy 170 (Exit 112) 36.77126 114.23724 746587 4072856 1,864 . . GPS
020 Hwy 170 at Gold Butte Road 36.73177 114.21729 748496 4068526 1,474 0.0 0.0 GPS
030 Gold Butte Rd turns away from River 36.67149 114.28952 742234 4061652 1,399 6.5 6.5 GPS
040 Gold Butte Rd at Gentry Ranch Rd 36.59583 114.21061 749532 4053459 2,692 7.8 14.3 GPS
050 Gold Butte Rd at Black Butte Rd 36.53040 114.16105 754180 4046328 2,785 5.4 19.7 GPS
059 Gold Butte Rd at End of Pavement 36.52435 114.13968 756114 4045714 3,023 1.4 21.1 Yes
060 Gold Butte Rd at Arizona Rd (Whitney Pocket) 36.52346 114.13926 756154 4045616 2,998 1.5 21.2 GPS

 
Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
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© 2014 Jim Boone; Last updated 130406

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