Nevada Strip AKA Gold Butte National Monument

Explorer 1

Been a while since I've posted one of my trips. Lots of interest in the Arizona Strip but little known or written about its next door neighbor, The Nevada Strip. That portion of infrequently visited land bordered on the North by Interstate 15, The east by Arizona, the south, Lake Mead and the west by the Virgin River. This strip of land encompass the newly formed Gold Butte National Monument. I've done some exploring in the past years to Whitney Pass, The Devils Throat, Little Finland, Catsclaw Wash, The Virgin River access and the actual Gold Butte mountain and grave site. This trip I will conclude my exploring of major "trails" or "roads" visiting Lakeside Bay, Scalon Ferry, Cottonwood Wash and Jumbo Pass before heading out of the Nevada Strip east to Oak Grove and Twin Point on the Grand Canyon.

Early in the season to be passing through Oak Grove, we'll see it he snow depth is too much to travel.

Either way this has all the ingredients of a great adventure on lonely rarely driven roads a long way away from any pavement.

Here is my Google Earth traced map of the places I'll be going.

Explorer 1


Oak Grove and surroundings are around 6,000 feet in elevation so keep that in mind. This has been an exceptionally wet year so it may be a while before it all dries out. I've camped there a few times now but one time in the middle of May coming down from St George I had to turn around. The snow had melted off - but the roads were wet and very soft. These are not gravel roads, just dirt so no solid foundation under them. When I saw that I was starting to leave ruts I turned around. I hate seeing roads all torn up with deep ruts because someone just had to prove their rig could get through the mud.

Have you ever taken the road from Tassie Ranch up to the Savanic and Cunningham mines? It's possible to access Oak Grove that way if the road isn't too washed out. Beautiful drive up through Snap Canyon to get onto the plateau where Oak Grove is.

Love that area...I go out there quite a bit to hike, camp & explore (tons of petroglyphs & pictographs all over the place, including areas that aren't document heavily). Have fun and can't wait to see your trip report once you get back.

Explorer 1

Got back last night, (Thursday). Now for the real challenge......writing up the trip report!

For now here are a few pictures in order of the trip.

A few trip statics:

Total off road miles - 349.5

Average MPG on trip 10.1

Started trip with full 23 gallon main tank and 27 gallons extra fuel, finished the trip with a solid 1/4 main tank and 4 gallons still on roof.

More later,

Explorer 1


2007 Expedition Trophy Champion, Overland Certifie
Looking forward to the write up of the story that goes with the pics...
Being in Phx this is an area I want to explore and check out since the elevation helps vs our summer heat.

Explorer 1

Day 1

Whittier to Little Finland

I’ve always been an early riser and even more so when the morning before daylight involves a start on an off road adventure. At such an early hour, it never fails to amaze me as I leave the greater Los Angeles basin through Cajon Pass, how many cars are on the road making their way down from the upper desert to thousands of work places. All those headlights, look like a bright moving snake.

Most trips I take involve others coming along in their own vehicles. I usually have firsthand experience on the trails we’ll be taking so I can with some accuracy answer the questions like “ when and where will we be having lunch” and “ how long before we reach camp” along with those other questions regarding the topography and geography.

This trip will be different; I’m on an “exploring expedition” of an area and trails I’ve never driven and have only read about and studied on maps. I’ve visited what I call the “Nevada Strip” on prior explorations trips but most of those places are a short distance from pavement and are known, written about and rather popular to the “day explorers”. This trip will involve following every known trail/road in the “strip” to their end destination. Not knowing what condition these trail/roads are, just how much fuel I will burn and what to expect at “trails end”.

On this trip I had only one other vehicle following, Mike who recently retired and now has the time to take week long trips without consulting his work schedule.

Our final fuel point before hitting dirt would be Mesquite. Mike would fill his main tank of his third generation Tacoma along with 25 gallons of extra fuel and I would do likewise with my 2012 Jeep JK with 27 gallons of extra fuel. As far as I could know there would be no place on the trail where we could secure and fuel much less any supplies of any kind. My prior experience and reading of this area would also suggest that once we got beyond the closer and more popular destinations, we might not see another human for days.

After fuel up we backtracked our way south on Interstate 15 to the Riverside exit and headed south toward the newly named Gold Butte National Monument road, just a couple of miles southwest of the interstate and just across the last bridge across the Virgin River.

Interesting enough there was a new attraction announce on a sign at the exit off the interstate, it was camel expeditions. The can be found on the west side of the Virgin river just before the bridge. I saw plenty of camels and have no idea what the plans are with them!

Gold Butte road follows a course roughly parallel to the Virgin River past several ranches and farms before it turns away southeast and eventually comes to a major intersection where what is called the Whitney Pockets area. This is about as far as most visitors bring their 2wd vehicles and RV’s. There are several “unimproved” dry campsites around the beautiful red, white and brown sandstone formations near this intersection.

A left turn takes you over Whitney Pass and into the Grand Cliff Wash area of the Arizona Strip. A right turn takes you through a more primitive road back to where the Virgin River and to some excellent Indian sites. Our route was straight ahead on the graded Gold Butte Rd.

Two of the most popular destination in Gold Butte is the Devils Throat and Little Finland. I'll include a few pictures but you can goggle both of these and find better pictures and directions. Now that has “monument status" both are well signed including distances so the're easy to find.

At the Devils Throat we saw one family out for the day and then after setting camp at Little Finland we saw one vehicle pass through, that was our last contact with any people and vehicles for the next 5 days.

As most of you know, this has been a rather wet winter here in the southwest. This is the most snow I have ever seen in the nearby mountains. Along with the cool night temps., has discouraged the less hardy visitors. Our first morning at Little Finland saw my digital mercury stand at 27 degrees.

Here is the view toward the Nevada Strip from Interstate 15 just before Mesquite.

Tomorrow, Day 2 Unexplored Lakeside Bay, Scalon Ferry and Jumbo Pass.

Explorer 1
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