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Gold Butte Adventure Route

Updated: Mar 7

Nestled between Las Vegas and Saint George lies one of the Unites States' newest national monuments, Gold Butte. With its red rocks and numerous historical and archeological sites, this hidden gem is quickly becoming noticed by more adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts every year. The proximity to Las Vegas makes Gold Butte a great day trip, or multi-night adventure.



Route Overview


Trip Length & Season

Adventure Rating: Epic

Trip Length:  349 miles, 4-7 days

Season: Recommended October - May. The route can be driven anytime of year, but summer temperatures regularly exceed 100 F during the day. If you're running the route in winter, check with BLM regarding potential snow on Black Rock Mountain (it is possible to bypass Black Rock Mtn).

Digital Maps & GPX Files

Technical Rating & Terrain

Recommended Vehicle / Moto / Adventure Vans

Alternative Routes

Fuel, Provisions, and Recommended Gear

Camping Recommendations

Discovery Points

Lands Managers & Other Resources

Permits & Papers


 

Route Details

Gold Butte National Monument was officially established by President Obama in 2016. At first, locals voiced their concern that the new designation would limit off road access for OHV crowd. Luckily, BLM has indicted they have no plans to change the current road management plan, which provides access to hundreds of miles of dirt and jeep roads within the national monument. The route begins on the western edge of greater Las Vegas, in Henderson. The scenery as you enter Lake Mead NRA is spectacular, with the silhouettes of rugged mountains looming in the distance over Lake Mead. As the route heads east, it circumvents Lake Mead on the paved North Shore Road. From the pavement, take a left onto the bumpy Bitter Springs Scenic Byway. The monotonous brown and beige mountains begin to shows hints of blazing red and orange, a precursor of what lies ahead. The Buffington Pockets are an impressive array of rugged rock formations, with some red aztec sandstone thrown in as well. A few short miles from Interstate 15, the byway intersects with Valley of Fire Highway (paved). You'll need to pay the nominal fee at the ranger kiosk to enter Valley of Fire State Park, but the fee is well worth the scenery. The hills give way to massive rocks of reddish orange that seem to come in all shapes and sizes. Some of the rocks and formations worth visiting include Seven Sisters, the Beehives, Atlatl rock (petroglyphs), silica domes, and white domes. We recommend spending at least 1-2 hours exploring some of the dsicovery points in Valley of Fire-- the Firewave hike is a must do! If you're seeking out more civilized camping options, the park provides one campground next to Atlatl Rock.


From Valley of Fire State Park, the route heads north on pavement, and then onto I-15 for a short distance before reaching Gold Butte National Monument. If your rig isn't equipped with an oversize fuel tank or extra fuel sources, it would be a good idea to refill in Moapa Valley or Meqsuite before entering Gold Butte National Monument. From I-15, head south on Riverside Road. Not far from the interstate, you'll be back on dirt as you make a hard left onto Gold Butte Road. The vast majority of the route within Gold Butte National Monument are wide and well kept dirt roads. However, there are numerous roads and jeep trails in the surrounding hills, canyons, and mountains that afford access to more technical terrain. Gold Butte Road also happens to be designed as scenic byway by BLM. Some of the more interesting geological formations to check out along the way include Whitney Pocket (also has fantastic campsites), Little Finland (another great place to camp), and the Devil's threat sinkhole. Little Finland is a fantastic place to explore on foot. You can access the Little Finland Mesa by going to the south end of the camping area, and following the rock wall to wall of Little Finland. From here there's a pair of palms and rocks that enable you to scramble atop Little Finland, and once you make it up there you'll be impressed! As you head south, you'll pass through the former townsite of Gold Butte. The hills surrounding the former townsite are littered with dozens of mines. One of the cooler and more accessible mines is Radio Crystal Mine, which is definitely worth checking out. The route snakes its way east to the Colorado River and Grand Wash Bay. Not far downstream, the once mighty Colorado feeds into Lake Mead. Another historic site worth visiting is Tassi Ranch, where numerous old adobe ranch houses and buildings still remain. The final stretch of the route heads north towards the final destination of Saint George, Utah. Rising above the surrounding hills and mesas stands Black Rock Mountain (elev. 7,364). As you gain elevation, the desert shrub and cacti give way give way to mountainsides filled with green pine trees. The route tops out at about 6,800 feet, so snowpack can become an issue. We recommend checking with BLM, but there is a southern bypass at lower elevation via County Highway 101, which is actually a wide dirt road. From Black Rock Mountain, the route gradually loses elevation as you make your way towards the interstate once again. Once you reach I-15, the route heads north across the Arizona-Utah border, before concluding in the bustling city of Saint George.

 

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Terms of Use: Should you decide to travel a route that is published on Overlandtrailguides.com, you do so at your own risk. Always take the appropriate precautions when planning and traveling, including checking the current local weather, permit requirements, trail/road conditions, and land/road closures. While traveling, obey all public and private land use restrictions and rules, and carry the appropriate safety, recovery, and navigational equipment. The information found on this site is simply a planning resource to be used as a point of inspiration in conjunction with your own due-diligence. In spite of the fact that this route, associated GPS track (GPX and maps), and all route guidelines were prepared under diligent research by Overland Trail Guides, the route accuracy and current conditions of roads and trails cannot be guaranteed.

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BW Smith
BW Smith
13 apr 2021

Just ran the trail from St. George south to Wolf Hole, right on local county 101 down to Gold Butte town ruins. From town site (there were a bunch of side-by-sides in that area), I took the Gold Butte Wash trail up to Little Finland. Camped a couple of nights. The wash trail was narrower but had been recently somewhat graded. This road has washed out in years past but is good now. From Little Finland, back out past Whitney Pocket to Mesquite. This trip was about 180 miles. 4x4 lifted Sprinter, only used 4WD a couple of times and probably didn't need it at all, but it was dry. A nice weekend trip. You can connect this w…

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