Gold Butte – March 2016

March 11, 2016

A few years ago, our friends Clyde and Karla, suggested we go explore an area south of Mesquite, Nevada called “Little Finland”. We decided to go check it out during Jason’s spring break from college.

“Little Finland” seems to be a nickname for a portion of a rock formation called “Devil’s Fire”. There are several other rock formations in the Gold Butte area, about 30 miles south of Mesquite. Other formations that we visited include “Black Butte” and “Whitney Pockets”. There are also numerous rock panels with petroglyphs and pictographs.

Watch the video in HD on YouTube:

After researching the area, I planned a 32-mile loop that would allow us to visit these points of interest. It turned out that about 1/3 of my loop was in an old sandy wash that is now closed to motorized travel. So our loop ride turned into two out-and-back rides. Our route is shown below.

Gold Butte Mar2016

Our GPS track

You can access the trailhead by taking Hwy 170 from Mesquite, and then take the Old Gold Butte road, which is paved, but has a lot of rough sections making it fairly slow travel – especially with a trailer.

There is a nice staging area at “Black Butte” or a little further down the road where the pavement ends at “Whitney Pockets”. Neither trailhead has restrooms, but there are several nearby primitive campsites.

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Black Butte as seen from the parking area

We parked at “Black Butte” and rode southwest to another parking area near the “Falling Man” petroglyph. We spent about 45 minutes looking for “Falling Man”, without success. We did find several other rock panels of Indian art, but not the main one we were looking for. We later learned that you have to crawl through a hole in a rock to get to it. I think we found the hole, but we didn’t realize we had to crawl through – which would have been challenging in our motorcycle boots and gear. If we attempted it, we may have learned why they call the area “Falling Man”.

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The trail to “Falling Man”

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I think the hole in question is in the shadow on the right

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One of several art panels

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This rock had many works of art

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More Indian artwork

After giving up our search, we continued southwest along the road. Some sections of this road were really fun, while other sections were somewhat rocky.


Jason enjoying the rolling terrain

The turnoff into the dry wash was closed, so we continued on the main road. This turned out to be a dead end. Near the end, the road got fairly steep. We sent Jason on to see if the road continued on the other side, but it did not.

Gold Butte HD Mar2016-019

The road gets steep near the top, and then dead ends

So we turned around and rode back the way we came. Rather than stop at the car, we decided to ride over to “Whitney Pockets” for lunch. We thought they might have restrooms, but they did not. We did happen to find an old dam in a small side canyon that was fun to explore after lunch.

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Lunch stop in “Whitney Pockets”

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Jamie and Jason climbing up the dam

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They made it!

From “Whitney Pockets” we rode south about 7 miles on the Gold Butte road. This road is a fast paced gravel road.

Our next stop was “Devil’s Throat”. This is a large sink hole out in the middle of the desert. There is a safety fence around the hole, and you can see that the fence has been moved outward over the years as the sink continues to expand.


“Devil’s Throat” sink hole


I would guess the hole is about 100′ across and 40′ deep

Our next stop was “Devil’s Fire” – another large red rock formation in the middle of the desert. This section of road was not difficult, but it was very rough with lots of embedded rocks and sections of wash board.


Jamie giving her suspension a workout on the wash board

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“Devil’s Fire”

From here the road follows the wash bottom, which was also very rough with wash board. The following map is a close-up of this section of our ride.


Little Finland Mar2016

Close up of the “Little Finland” area

“Devil’s Throat” is off to the lower right of the map. We rode down the wash to “Devil’s Fire” and continued on until we came to a side wash, which led us back to “Little Finland”, which is on the western edge of “Devil’s Fire”.

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Kim approaching “Little Finland”

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Kim, Jason, and Jamie at the base of “Little Finland”

Jamie and Jason climbed up on top while Kim and I took a break under a palm tree. Here are a few of Jamie’s pictures of the area.

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“Little Finland”

St George Jamie Mar2016 (11)

“Little Finland”

After our break at “Little Finland”, we continued west until we came to another junction. Jason and I rode over a fairly technical section of trail to see if we could get to “Mead Narrows”. It turns out that the narrows is now closed to motorized travel, so we continued back to where Kim and Jamie were waiting.

Rather than ride the wash back, we took a dirt road along a ridge line that paralleled the wash. This was a much faster and smoother ride. We considered taking a side spur out to “Kurt’s Grotto”, but it was getting late so we decided to skip that section.

The road eventually dropped back into the wash. Rather than ride all the way back to Devil’s Throat, we took a shortcut by riding up “Mud Wash”. This wash was also covered with wash board bumps, but it still saved us a lot of time. Once back on the main road, it was a quick ride back to the car.

Since the elevation is so low here, we feared it would be really hot, but we really lucked out on weather. The skies were mostly overcast and there was a gentle breeze blowing, keeping the temperatures very mild and pleasant. But a storm-front moved in just as we were loading the trailer to head back to St George. The wind started blowing really hard and sand blasting everything. But we were soon on our way back to town.

This is an interesting area to explore, but it wasn’t the best dirt biking/ATV riding we have done. Most of the roads are really rough. They aren’t difficult, but they are rough. I suspect this area would be more enjoyable in a side-by-side with a longer wheelbase and better suspension.

About gardinerfamilyadventures

A really great family!
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