Gold Butte Backcountry Byway

Mesquite, Nevada (Clark County)

Last Updated: 03/14/2019
5/5 (1 review)
Nearby Trails
Status: Open
Typically Open: Year Round
Difficulty: 3-3
Length: 65.4 miles
Highest Elevation: 4092 feet
Duration: About 6 hours
Shape of Trail: Out & Back
Best Direction to Travel: N/A
Nearest Town: Mesquite
Nearest Town w/ Services: Mesquite
Official Road Name: Gold Butte Byway
Management Agency: Bureau of Land Management
District: Southern Nevada District
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Highlight: Gold Butte Backcountry Byway

The Gold Butte Backcountry Byway offers a glimpse into Southern Nevada’s most beautiful landscapes and the history of the Anasazi and Paiute Indians, as well as early American Miners. The Gold Butte Backcountry Byway is built from historic mining roads and cattle trails that wind its way through the hills and washes of the Gold Butte country. You'll enjoy some great views and plenty of opportunities to see desert wildlife, ancient petroglyphs, sinkholes and red and white sandstone formations with Lake Mead and the Muddy Mountains off to the west.



7 day forecast for Gold Butte Backcountry Byway

Route Information

Technical Rating: 3-3

Typically, more rock or undulated road surface. Potential rocks and/or tree stumps less than 12" tall and/or vertical ledges less than 12" tall and/or near vertical ledges or waterfalls less than 24" inches. Tire placement becomes more difficult. Can be steep.

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Gold Butte Backcountry Byway is a 65-mile scenic drive that starts near the town of Mesquite and heads south into the wild and rugged Gold Butte region. There are four segments of the byway: (1) paved Gold Butte Road - any vehicle could do, (2) unpaved Gold Butte Road - any vehicle can do, and (3) Red Bluff Springs and Mud Wash Roads which follows a rough and rocky grade before heading into a wash - a high clearance 4 wheel drive SUV can do. You can return the way you came to the north back on Gold Butte Road. Many parts of the trail after segment 2 can be prone to flash floods and would not be safe during wet and threatening conditions. Mileage listed is pulled directly from the GPX file. We strongly recommend following the GPX track. To explore this area in its entirety allow for a full day.
Impassable when wet. Very remote.


1. Start

Follow the road to the southwest.

2. View (3.8 mi)

Continue straight.

3. View Looking Back (7.7 mi)

Continue straight.

4. View of Lake Mead (14.1 mi)

Continue straight.

5. Virgin River Access Road to Fishermans Cove (14.3 mi)

Follow the main road. Turning right (southwest) here would lead you to Lake Mead.

6. View (18.8 mi)

Continue Straight.

7. Limited Use Area (19.7 mi)

Continue Straight. The limited use area leads to Black Butte.

8. Whitney Pockets Intersection (21.1 mi)

Continue straight following Gold Butte Sign.

9. Parking Area (21.4 mi)

This would be the second parking area you come to. This parking area has a kiosk with camping regulations and an overview map. The road turns to dirt from here, air down if you have the capability as the road can get very washboard and bumpy.

10. Mud Wash Road Intersection (25.2 mi)

Stay straight to follow this guide, or turn right (west) to run the loop portion of the guide in reverse starting with waypoint 29.

11. Devils Throat Intersection (28.6 mi)

Continue straight. Devils Throat is a sink hole so large it is visible from satellite imagry.

12. 113 Intersection (30.3 mi)

Veer right southwest. Veering left will take you out into Arizona and the Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument.

13. Devils Cove Intersection (38 mi)

Stay straight to Gold Butte. Going left (southwest) will take you down to Lake Mead. Following this road to Devils Cove takes you down into a more lush vegetation zone, into a sandy wash and finally down to Lake Mead. We explored it a few miles in and would rate its difficulty a 4 to that point.

14. Corral (41.3 mi)

Continue straight. The corral is just on the side of the road.

15. Gold Butte Townsite (41.8 mi)

Turn left to the old townsite where there is plenty of parking, shade and interesting remnants of the old town to explore. Turn right (west, northwest) to continue onto Mud Wash Road to follow the Gold Butte Backcountry Byway. Following the two-track roads behind the townsite take you back to old mine sites and other roads we have not yet explored. Mica was first discovered here in 1873, and then gold in 1905. By the next year, a post office was built. A gold rush in 1908 brought in more people, and the townsite now had a hotel, livery stable, post office, mercantile, and several residences. Another camp named Copper City was started two miles west at the site of the short-lived Lincoln copper mine. Copper, gold, zinc and lead were mined at Gold Butte to their depletion in 1910.

16. Graves (41.9 mi)

The graves are of the founding fathers of the town. If you take either roads behind the old town site that intersect by the gravestones the hills are made of Monzogranite, sometimes called "Mormon Concrete" and hide several mine shafts.

17. Red Bluff Wash Road (42.2 mi)

Turning around from the townsite travel generally northwest onto Red Bluff Wash Road. Turning to the southwest takes you to Catclaw Wash Road and Scanlon Bay on Lake Mead.

18. Lincoln Mine Intersection (44.5 mi)

Continue straight and stay to the left. The road forks off to the right up to the Lincoln Mine on top of Tramp Ridge.

19. Lime Canyon (45.8 mi)

Continue Straight. Lime Canyon is off to the left.

20. Red Rock Views (53.6 mi)

Continue straight. The road will take you to the edge of this rock formation and it is a fascinating place to explore.

21. Unknown Road Intersection (55.3 mi)

Follow the main road up and out of the wash.

22. Unknown Road Intersection (55.4 mi)

Stay straight.

23. Mud Wash Road to Devils Throat and Whiney Pockets (57 mi)

Head downhill to the right (northeasterly). The road will reach the bottom of the wash where you will turn to the right (east). This is the final stage of the loop that takes you back to Gold Butte Road.

24. Into the wash (57.3 mi)

Travel east following the wash. There are sporadic markers along the way.

25. Unknown Road Intersection (58.5 mi)

Stay generally straight and to the right.

26. Historic Corral (60.7 mi)

Continue straight following the main road. You can scout for the petroglyphs along the road at these coordinates. 36.43888 -114.1998

27. Y Intersection (62.4 mi)

At the Y stay right. Unknown road splits left (northeast).

28. Unknown Road Intersection (65.1 mi)

Stay left (northeast).

29. End (65.4 mi)

Turn left (north) onto Gold Butte Road.

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 36.733139, -114.219826

Starting Point: Las Vegas

From Las Vegas, drive north on Interstate-15 for about 70 miles to Exit 112 (Highway 170 to Riverside and Bunkerville). This exit is about 5 miles south of (before) Mesquite. Follow the road to just over the bridge and turn southwest onto New Gold Butte Road.



The entire route is on BLM land and primitive campsites are all along the byway. The best places are at Whitney Pockets and around Gold Butte. Use proper camping etiquette by packing out all your trash, using established sites, and camping at least 600 feet from a water source.

Camping: Gold Butte Backcountry Byway

Writer Information

James and Mimi Nicholson

Mapping Crew - Nevada

We are James and Mimi Nicholson, married for 19 years, living in Nevada. We are not new to Off-roading; having owned Jeeps for 18 years. We started with a 1979 CJ-5. Other 4 wheel vehicles owned include CJ-7, Cherokees, Grand Cherokee and a Liberty. We like to overland, camp, whitewater raft and kayak. We have been off-roading in Oregon, Washington, Georgia, South Carolina, California, Arizona, Utah, Louisiana, Texas and Nevada Our focus while off-roading is safety, treading lightly and simply enjoying the outdoors with friends and family. Our current rig: 2015 Jeep Wrangler JKU Tank Rubicon. AEV 3.5" lift with 315/75/16 GY Duratracs with level 8 Tracker wheels. C gussets, control arm skids, ACE rock sliders, Engo 10,000 winch, OR-Fab tire/can carrier. M.O.R.E. skid plate, Gobi stealth roof rack. S-pod. ARB OBA. Adams front and rear drive shafts.


Questions & Answers (2)

Q: why no odometer readings from waypoint to waypoint? there are hundreds of trails/roads in this area and can be very easy to make a wrong turn and get way off course.
–Curt (12/17/2018)
A: Hi Curt, thanks for pointing that out. The mileage has been added and is pulled directly from the gpx file. We recommend following the track in the gpx by clicking download and importing into your GPS device or application. Remember, all mileage is an approximate due to the way the road was driven in recording the track which might include points where the vehicle pulled over for photography and such. Have fun out there and never go alone, its a very remote area. Most importantly, thanks for visiting!
–Todd (12/19/2018)
Q: Do you have any information on the Devil's Cove spur? Silver State Nissans is looking at a small group run on the Byway between Christmas and New Years (weather permitting); I'm wondering if this might be a nice add-on to the main trail. Thanks!
–Sue Ward (11/26/2017)
A: Hi Sue, Devils Cove guide can be found here: Its a great trail and lots of camping opportunities along the way. Have fun out there!
–Todd (11/27/2017)

Trail Reviews (2)

Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Great area that offers so much to anyone that has the time to explore it. Hundreds of historical sites from horse corals to townsites to mining operations to petropglyphs. This is an area that you will be coming back month after month to continue exploring. Timelapse is of the Gold Butte Rd from Whitney Pockets to town of Gold Butte.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Don't let the "backcountry byway" designation fool you, this is a fantastic road to explore for an entire day or weekend. The road goes from pavement to dirt and then some fun wash type terrain. There is so much to see along this route and the side roads down to the water are really fun also. I have been in the area twice and only have seen one other vehicle.