Kohta Circus and Bitter Ridge

Categories: Nevada

Kohta Circus is a pretty spectacular petroglyph panel in Gold Butte National Monument, in Nevada. The panel is loaded with information and animals and stretches over 80 feet. I had already been to Little Finland and Falling Man and I wanted to climb up Bitter Ridge so, since that would not take all day I decided to throw in Kohta Circus. Bitter Ridge has these prominently displayed hanging sand dunes that you can’t miss if you visit Little Finland. The dunes look almost impossible, suspended over the valley on a very steep slope. I wanted to get a closer look so I drove up an old jeep road until it washed out, and I walked the rest of the way up the ridge. I didn’t have any interest in traversing the dunes and the old road got me up there much faster than I expected so it wasn’t long before I headed back down to begin the panel hike.


A surprise arch right next to the dunes. I assume it must be called Bitter Arch.

The hanging dunes of Bitter Ridge. Crazy!

The arch from the downhill side.

The site is not a long walk from the road, only one or two miles, and it’s about that far from other notable sites such as the Falling Man site, Little Finland and the 21 Goats site. Because all these places are so close while at the same time requiring a very long drive you’d get a lot more for  your effort by creating a loop connecting several of the sites into one hike. Gold Butte is continually vandalized so don’t rely on finding your way around using road signs.

There is a sand field that must be crossed on the Kohta Circus Trail.

You will find Joshua Trees scattered around the monument, especially on the Falling Man trail.

It’s bright! Definitely bring sunglasses. They will also help keep sand out of your eyes.

Shortly before your destination the trail drops into a hidden valley.

Kohta Circus

The panel stretches for over 80 feet and contains a huge variety of figures and animals. The lower portions seem to be washed away but what’s left includes sheep, deer, gees, snakes, rabbits, turtles, parrots, ants, quail, eagles, water birds, coyote, bear and turkey tracks and a hummingbird. I didn’t see the parrot but I’d like to know more about that.

From the big wall there are a lot of other places to explore in the immediate area.

A little pass that leads out of the canyon.

From here, if you had to, you could head over to that hazy mountain and take a right. It will lead you to the Virgin River and Lake Mead. It’s a desolate journey.

There was some red sediment coming from somewhere but I did not see it.

The late-day light was looking very nice.

Near the big wall is another, higher panel.

The high panel has carvings on the cliff face and also the ground.

A very unusual and unstable rock formation. If you see this do not touch it. The base is about to give way at any moment.

That doesn’t look safe.

The end of the canyon is choked by a stack of 3 huge cubes of rock about 10 feet high. You can find a way to climb up them if you want.

Still more symbols!

Heading back from the giant cubes.

Heading back towards Black Butte. Fun day!

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