Bullhead Valley Wash

Destroyed Long Ago, Today The Middle of Nowhere

Categories: Nevada, Road Trips, Utah

The winter is a good time to go on road trips in the Mojave, because you might not die if your car breaks down, so that is when I do most of my travelling. One rather cold winter day we decided to go on a loop through the a portion of the maze of dirt roads between far southwestern Utah and far eastern Nevada. This trip would take us along the eastern portion of the remote Clover Mountains, and also the farthest northeastern portion of Nevada’s Mojave Desert.

I had been on the Snow Valley Road between old Utah Hwy 91 and Meadow Valley/Rainbow Canyon in Nevada a couple of times. I had also taken the Crestline Road from Enterprise, Utah to Panaca, Nevada and even the old Veyo Shoal Creek Road from Veyo to Enterprise. I had never been anywhere in the vast area in between except for Pine Park and the Beaver Dam Mountains. So we set out to make a 70 mile loop and take a look at several things along the way, including the polygamous outpost of Motoqua.


The road we were taking as a shortcut to Red Arch. Looks great here but there were very rough high clearance areas where it was washed out.

Square Top Mountain, Utah, as seen from Nevada. To the right at the bottom of the mountain of it you can see the redrock outcroppings that contain the arch.

The terrain looks very nondescript but those hills in the distance are part of the border between the Mojave Desert and the Basin and Range Desert. There was already a mixture of plants from two regions.

The first stop was to check out “Red Arch” at the bottom of Square Top Mountain. There is a sandstone butte outcropping long the south side of the mountain and on the west end of it is a break in the cliffs with an arch about halfway up. We took an old side road to shave off a few miles but it was so rough I don’t think it saved any time. It’s also washed out at the point where it connects to the road leading to the large Goldstrike strip mine.

Since moving to Utah I had gotten several flat tires on basalt roads and had recently gotten some more robust off road tires and wheels. This trip was my first outing with this new setup. Somehow the new tires had actually lowered my 4Runner by about 1/2 an inch, and, not being used to this difference in clearance, I scraped the bottom of my back bumper while crossing the washed out area. It ended up popping the back fender off even though it did not dent it. Very annoying.

Once at the arch it was so incredibly windy and cold that we decided not to go up there. It was the closest of all the places we were visiting, so we decided to return during better weather. Being knocked around and having sand constantly blown into our eyes didn’t feel very recreational.

After wandering around dozens of unrememberable hills and valleys we suddenly came across this big red outcrop with an arch in it.

You can see there are two arches here nad a hollow out alcove between. The rocks seemed more volcanic in origin rather than being sandstone, possibly 

We decided to park and climb up the hill.

Getting high above the road we were able to see the Beaver Dam Mountains in a gap between hilltops.

Maree looks through the arch. It was smaller than it looked from the road. That’s weird because some arches end up being a lot bigger than they look from afar.

Maree and Kona under the hollow. There was a tree inside it that i think someone dragged up there to try and climb into a higher recess.

The rocks seemed more volcanic in origin rather than being sandstone, possibly related to the giant calderas nearby. We may have even been in one of them.

On the top looking west at the Clover Mountains. Going that way will offer about as much of a wilderness experience as you can get around here, for 20 miles.

Kona is really happy for some reason, maybe just glad to be out of the car.

Our next stop was Motoqua. It’s populated by a smattering of polygamist outlaws who live in the bottom of a river gorge that periodically floods catastrophically. It was a very disappointing site, and still being on the verge of dust storms, I wasn’t compelled to stop and take pictures of their junk. They occasionally have to be rescued from floods or ask for aid to rebuild their homes. Some of them feel forsaken by God, but I personally think it has more to do with building your town in a riverbed at the bottom of a flood carved gorge along a major faultline. There’s a long history in this region of building towns on flood prone river beds and then not learning anything about it after the town is destroyed. If anything, beavers will be blamed. This tradition goes back to the 1850’s.

From Motoqua we entered the empty lands of Eastern Nevada. We headed northwest towards a place called Halfway Camp, then south along Bunker Peak Road to Bull Valley Road, where we stopped for our little hike. The Bunker Peak Road is the last connecting north/south road for about 18 miles, until the Rainbow Canyon Road, known as SR317, so it’s a good one to know about. Eventually we worked our way back to the Lytle Ranch Road and following it out to Old Hwy 91.

Our next destination was that distant mountain. Lime Mountain.

Coming back out of the mountains down to Beaver Dam Wash.

Beaver Dam Wash is a perennial stream emerging from a group of springs between Enterprise and Panaca. The stream runs through harsh desert all the way to the Virgin River but today no longer makes it due to irrigation for ranches.

The Egyptian looking bluffs above Lytle Ranch.

Back on Eardley Road and into the Joshua Tree Forest.

Once we were back on Eardley Road it was so well maintained it felt like a highway. From there it only took about 20 minutes to get back to Hwy 91.

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