Leaving Las Vegas, Nevada on 21 April 2022,
Zosia Zgolak and I took advantage of the last day of really good weather
in the area to climb Virgin Peak located in Gold Butte National Monument.
The peak is highly visible from many points along the I-15 as well as
nearby Valley of
Fire State Park, and although the approach entails a fairly long
drive into a remote corner of Nevada, the standard ascent route via the
south ridge is nothing more than a long and strenuous hike. For our
trip, we were aided by useful waypoints published in an excellent trip
From I-15, take Exit 112 (29 kilometres east of junction with Highway
169 or 18 kilometres west of the Arizona-Nevada state boundary) and head
south on Highway 170. Drive 4.7 kilometres and turn right onto Gold
Butte Road just after crossing the bridge over Virgin River. Ignore
all side roads and drive 34.0 kilometres to a 4-way junction near Whitney
Pockets parking area (with porta-potty). Turn left (east) and drive
4.0 kilometres to a 3-way junction. Turn left again and drive north
about 1.3 kilometres to an abandoned corral. Park here. This
last part of the drive is quite rough, and a high-clearance vehicle is
From the corral, Zosia and I walked northward along the continuation of
the road which soon becomes a wash snaking through a canyon at the very
south end of Virgin Peak. At a few bends in the wash, we were able
to take a short cut to save ourselves some extra distance. After
traveling about 3.3 kilometres from the corral, we probably took one
short cut too many and soon found ourselves on a bushy slope high above
the wash. Rather than descend back to the wash, we opted to keep
climbing uphill and eventually gained the crest of Virgin Peak's south
ridge without much difficulty. From there, we settled into a long
and gradual ascent up the south ridge. As we got higher, we ran
into more vegetation on the ridge, but travel was still relatively easy
as we found plenty of beaten paths to follow all the way to the summit.
Zosia and I stopped for a well-deserved break on the summit before
retracing our steps back down the south ridge. Similar to the
ascent, we enjoyed a fairly trouble-free descent all the way back to the
wash. The walk back to the corral felt long at the end of the day
but was otherwise uneventful. We subsequently drove out of the area
and headed to St. George, Utah to camp for the night, but given the
abundance of other attractions in Gold Butte National Monument, a return
visit in the future is definitely warranted.
Zosia begins hiking from the remnants of a corral. Virgin Peak is
visible at distant right.
Sonny hopes to hitch a ride up the road leading to Virgin Peak.
Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak
||The continuation of the access road
follows a wash below some impressive cliffs.
The wash goes through this narrow canyon.
||After taking a short cut and
inadvertently abandoning the wash, Zosia ascends easy slopes to gain
the south ridge of Virgin Peak.
||On the crest of Virgin Peak's south
ridge, Zosia studies the remainder of the route to the summit.
Part of Lake Mead is visible in the distance in this
view to the southwest.
Zosia prepares to leave the summit for the long trek
back down the south ridge.
||Back in the wash, Zosia hikes out the
Distance: 18.3 kilometres
Round-Trip Time: 9 hours 34 minutes
Net Elevation Gain: 1204 metres