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Gold Butte Road -- Unpaved Section
Backroads Around Las Vegas, Gold Butte Region
Gold Butte Road -- Unpaved Section
 
Gold Butte RoadStart of the dirt on Gold Butte Road (view S)

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 to Whitney Pocket are paved. Beyond Whitney Pocket, the road becomes graded dirt and the real wildness starts. The relatively well maintained road runs through spectacular country and 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
First campsite at Whitney Pocket

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 if you get off the main road).

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.

Gold Butte Road

Road Guide

Gold Butte Road is located out in the Gold Butte Region northeast of Lake Mead, about 2 hours northeast of Las Vegas.

From Las Vegas, drive out Interstate 15 to about 8 miles before Mesquite (Exit 112), then head south to Whitney Pocket. For details of this section of the road, see the description of the Gold Butte Road (paved section).

Gold Butte Road
Road sign (view S)

The pavement ends 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.

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

Gold Butte Road
Day-use parking (view SW)

From Whitney Pocket, Gold Butte Road passes Arizona Road (Site 060), which runs east and up over the mountains into Arizona. Gold Butte Road heads south as it runs broad and smooth out into the wildness and grandeur of the Gold Butte Region. The road generally runs downhill for the first 7 miles or so. Towards the far side of a broad basin, Gold Butte Road passes Mud Wash Road (Site 070), which turns off to the west. This road runs 0.4 miles out to Devil's Throat and then on down Mud Wash to Red Bluff Spring. This is also one end of the Gold Butte Backcountry Byway.

 

As I describe it, this is the end of the backroad section of the Gold Butte Backcountry Byway loop.

Either now or when you get back, take a few minutes to see Devil's Throat, which is about 0.4 miles from the main road. From the main road, you can look down the side road and out into the desert to see the chain-link fence that surrounds the sink hole.

Continue south on Gold Butte Road. There are some side roads, but Gold Butte Road is the main road, and it trends generally south and slightly west staying to the right along the base of Tramp Ridge. When the Gold Butte Road swings around the south end of Tramp Ridge and runs west, keep an eye out for the Gold Butte Townsite on the south side of the road. There are some corrals, and shortly after that is the townsite (Site 100).

Gold Butte Road
Info signs at day-use parking (view N)

Beyond Mud Wash Road, Gold Butte Road continues south and begins to climb towards the northeast edge of Tramp Ridge. After only 1.8 miles, Gold Butte Road passes St. Thomas Gap Road (Site 080), which turns off to the east and heads for Arizona.

About 4 miles farther along, the road bends hard to the left and cuts up and across a steep hillside. At the top of the hill, the road cuts hard to the right and continues off to the south. Remember this spot on the way back, as it is easy to drive too fast and not see the cliff and sharp turn coming up.

Gold Butte Road continues south along the edge of Tramp Ridge. After another 7.5 miles, Devil's Cove Road forks off to the left (Site 090) and heads through some rough country and down to Lake Mead.

Gold Butte Road
Rough road surface beyond Whitney Pocket

Gold Butte Road continues south and begins to swing around the south end of Tramp Ridge. After another 3.6 miles, the road arrives at the Gold Butte Townsite (to the south) and the south end of the Gold Butte Backcountry Byway (to the north). This is the end of Gold Butte Road (Site 100).

In total, including the 3.5 miles on the Bunkerville Road (Hwy 170) and the 21.2 miles of pavement to Whitney Pocket, it is 44.9 miles from Interstate-15 to Gold Butte Townsite.

Explore the townsite, then return to the pavement by retracing your path to the townsite, or in a 4WD vehicle, return via the Backcountry Byway.

Gold Butte Road
Rough road surface (view SW)
Gold Butte Road
Cattle guard crossing (view SW)
Gold Butte Road
Smooth road surface (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Approaching Mud Wash North Road (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Sign at Mud Wash North Road (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Wide open road
Gold Butte Road
Wide open road
Gold Butte Road
Approaching Mud Wash Road (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Sign Mud Wash Road (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Turnoff to Mud Wash Road (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Info sign about Tramp and Fork Fires at Mud Wash Road
Gold Butte Road
Approaching old corral on left (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Wide-open country (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Road sign for St. Thomas Road (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Left fork to St. Thomas Road (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road Gold Butte Road
Road cuts up and across hillside (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Road cutting across hillside; approaching sharp curve (view SE)
Gold Butte Road
Beyond sharp curve, cattle guard ahead (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Watch for ATVs in the roadway (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Approaching side road to the left
Gold Butte Road
Side road
Gold Butte Road
Approaching side road to the left
Gold Butte Road
Approaching side road and campsite to the left
Gold Butte Road
Side road and campsite to the left
Gold Butte Road
Joshua trees along the road
Gold Butte Road
Devil's Cove Road (left); Gold Butte Road (right)
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Road
Cattle guard and side road to the left (view SW)
Gold Butte Road
Approaching side road to the left (view SW)
Gold Butte Road
Side road to the left (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Approaching side road to the left (view SW)
Gold Butte Road
Approaching Gold Butte Townsite Road on the left (view SW)
Gold Butte Road
Gold Butte Townsite Road (view S)
Gold Butte Road
Approaching Red Bluff Spring Road on the right (view SW)
Gold Butte Road
Red Bluff Spring Road sign
Gold Butte Road
Red Bluff Spring Road turnoff (view SW)
Gold Butte Road
Red Bluff Spring Road (view NW)
Gold Butte Road
Beyond Red Bluff Spring Road turnoff (view SW)

Gold Butte Road Northbound

Gold Butte Road
Driving north, cross cattle guard then slow for sharp curve left
Gold Butte Road
Driving north, approaching Whitney Pockets (view NE)
Gold Butte Road
Whitney Pockets road sign (view N)
Gold Butte Road
Finally, start of the pavement (view N)

 
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
060 Whitney Pocket 36.52346 114.13926 756154 4045616 2,998 0.00 0.00 GPS
070 Mud Wash Road 36.43259 114.14299 756119 4035524 2,279 7.22 7.22 GPS
080 St. Thomas Gap Road 36.41360 114.12277 757995 4033469 2,427 1.78 9.00 GPS
090 Devil's Cove Road 36.31321 114.15447 755481 4022247 3,509 7.53 16.53 GPS
100 Red Spring Road 36.28094 114.20025 751473 4018546 3,705 3.64 20.17 GPS

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

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