The ride to find Cottonwood Wash has been on my "to do" list for 3 whole years but Gold Butte is such a looong ride, and there are sooo… many other things before that and there is soooo much controversy over trail closures and other political things to distract us. But Monday was the day it finally happened.
You do know that you can double-click on the photo above to download a FULL-sized copy don't you? It's a bit large but this one is well worth the effort!
Gordon and I have been down on "The Butte" so many times now that there's not too much to say anymore — so we were mostly alone with our thoughts. That is until we turned left off the Gold Butte road toward Willow Springs and the Million Hills.
We ran smack dab into a Pinyon-Cedar forest! Completely unexpected and awesome!
The trail is graded but quite varied in both terrain and pitch. There is an unexpected view around every corner and down every pitch. Soon the trail turns southward again and you are in Cottonwood Wash.
Steep red cliffs surround the trail on both side — the favorite home for Barrel Cactus. The rocks are as varied in type as anywhere on the Butte. One boulder, the size of Gordon's RZR, stood out to us along the trail — being the bright red of Rose Quartz but looking for all intent and purpose like monzogranite - (which I'm not sure is possible).
We named it "ladybug rock" due to the fact that we watched a solitary ladybug wander around its crystals for nearly 15 minutes - it never wanting to "fly away home." Perhaps it WAS home – or it was Offroading Home. [I tell you, at Gordon's age it doesn't take much to entertain us.]
After Ladybug Rock the road becomes a bit more "rustic." At a wide sandy area where Cottonwood Spring meets the wash the NRA or somebody has created a pipe and cable blockade across the wash. That's another absurd fence because the only trail between the Gold Butte side and the Cottonwood Wash side comes right down here! This changes a 10 mile trip into a nearly 70 mile ordeal. [And, yes I know it crosses a miniscule corner of the 'wilderness area' - an obvious boondoggle as the small corner of the boundary jumps to the other side of the draw where the trail runs and completely ignores what should have been a 'grandfathered' historic trail!]
He who chooses the beginning of the road chooses the place it leads to. It is the means that determines the end.”
The trail does continue down the wash to Devil's cove. There are signs from the Lake Mead NRA that 4x4's are recommended and that "in case of rain, climb to higher ground."
According to both of our GPS units we were soon swimming in the Lake! A dense thicket of willows and scratchy things keeps you back about 20 feet from the water, but this definitely is worth the trip.
Return was back the same way – there IS no other way. Feeling in too much "withdrawal" taking a trip without seeing a mine – Gordon had to take the side-trip up the mountain at Willow Spring. We had been seeing a trail come over the cliff and along a white band toward the Nada mine for months.
This time we climbed the cliff and down the other side. Along the path in the front of the cliff we soon found that the RZR was too wide to fit. So we never actually made it to the "Snada" mine [South-Nada or "Snada"] but we could see that it had been about as productive as it's sister hole along the cliff – nada!