Update: February 2004

whitney pocketsBack Road Get Away

January was hectic. We decided it was time to take a couple days away from civilization and head to some of the most remote areas of Arizona/Utah/Nevada.

Our adventure began on Old Highway 91 west of St. George, Utah. When Annette's family lived in this area in the mid 1960s, this was the only road from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas. The highway runs through an Indian Reservation (Shivwitts band of Paiutes), meanders around mountains and through the high desert scrublands featuring a Joshua Tree forest. Today, Interstate 15 cuts right through the mountains to the east, so few people use this two-lane road.

Although the drive was nice, it wasn't quite as scenic as we had hoped. Trash along the road, recent fire-burnt areas, and abandoned buildings were scattered along the roadside.

GeocacheWarm Springs Geocache

After several miles of travel, we rejoined I-15 and continued west to the Glendale exit in Nevada. We followed GPS coordinates to reach our first stop, the Warm Springs View geocache. Hidden at the top of a hill, the geocache location (Photo to right) provided scenic views of mountains in the distance.


Arrow Canyonpetroglyphs

We proceeded down the road to our main goal, a back-country dirt & gravel road leading to Arrow Canyon. This rough road led to the entrance of a huge rocky area and a narrow slot canyon just wide enough for our Jeep. Before entering the narrow canyon, we noticed a huge petroglyph panel (Left photo). We could tell that this was an early gathering place. Ancients left their record in a varied assortment of rock art including pictures of hands, feet, big horn sheep, people, and many geometric designs.


narrow canyon entranceThe canyon floor roadway was covered in river rock and gravel which made our driving relatively easy. Since we were the only people around there this day, we decided to drive on into the slot canyon. If there had been hikers and climbers, we would have left our car and hiked. Today, we proceeded a few miles down the canyon to reach a fork. Here the roadway took a left turn and shortly exited the canyon. There the wash and its larger boulder field slowed our progress. We decided not to risk our oilpan and fenders and managed to turn the jeep around in the tight area. Thank goodness for our short wheelbase length. We returned down the canyon to the fork junction and parked the Jeep.

The hike back into the right fork of the slot canyon was great. This even tighter canyon section greeted us with pockets of lush grass and scenic views around every bend. Unfortunately there were also many signs of climbers who had left their equipment hanging in place at several locations along the steep cliffs. Even here on the narrow trail, we found the tracks of 4-wheeler traffic. After a short hike passing a large cave/alcove and a few more petroglyphs, the canyon was blocked with a small dam. The canyon was a great place to explore for a few hours, and we felt privileged to have had it entirely to ourselves this day.


On our drive and walk into the canyons, we noticed several interesting geological formations and stopped to explore many. The area is rich in eroded formations, layered rock strata, uplifts and bluff cuts, as well as a section of embedded formations (Below photo).

Larry and rocks

After a great day of driving and hiking, we headed back to Mesquite, Nevada. Situated on the Nevada-Utah state line, it's known for casinos. We found a $21.99 hotel room at the Virgin River Casino and enjoyed a fantastic $4.95 prime rib dinner. After watching "The Calendar Girls" at the casino theatre, we donated $20 in nickels to the casino slots and headed back to our room.


Whitney Pockets, Devil's Throat, and the Quest for Lake Mead

signback country road

After a good night's sleep, we were ready for another day of backroading adventure. This time we headed south on the Gold Butte Scenic Byway into a remote area of south western Nevada.

Our first stop was Whitney Pockets, an interesting rock formation. The CCC built a small dam in the rocks. We located a virtual geocache near the dam before continuing south.

Whitney Pockets virtual cache

Our next stop was called Devil's Throat. Devil's Throat

This giant sink hole was formed only a few decades ago. People speculate that it is a result of the creation of Lake Mead and its impact underground.

We continued south to Gold Butte, the site of an old mining town. We carefully explored around the open mine shafts and tailing dumps before continuing on our way.


old truck at mineWe visited several other old mining sites that were on rough 4-wheel drive roads. Much of the roadway was actually a wash rather than road, but old wheel tracks showed that others had been here recently. Eventually we decided that the road was too rough and it was time to turn around for the day. We never made it to the Grand Canyon/Lake Mead overlook, but a hike to a hilltop gave us a distant view.

On the way back we decided to take a different mountain route, looping to the northeast to circle back to Mesquite. Although we ran into some snow and steep icy places over the pass, it wasn't anything our Jeep and 4-wheel drive couldn't handle. This Lime Kiln Canyon area is a place we'd like to return sometime in the fall or spring season.

We only saw three people that day on the backroads: an operator on a Clark County road grader, the driver of a Clark County water truck spraying down a dusty section of road, and another worker in a government vehicle.

joshua tree

When we arrived back at the hotel, we decided that another prime rib dinner sounded good. This meal was just as tender and tasty again this second night. We also caught another movie, "Something to Talk About" with Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson. We ended our evening with a few more slot machines on the way back to our room.

After two nights away from home, we decided it was time to head back to catch up with our classes and email, so we drove home after eating the ham and eggs breakfast special at the Casino Chuckwagon restaurant. We had a great time.



Created by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 2/04.