Side Trips Along Wheeler Pass Road – Pahrump Side

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(Fig. 01) - Along Groundsmoke Road
BLM-Hemlock Rd to Mine Site
(Fig. 02)
Directions - Wheeler Pass Road
About seven miles in from the start of Wheeler Pass Road (behind the Preferred RV Resort next to the Golden Nugget Casino in Pahrump), you come to the intersection, WP-01 on (Fig. 02), of the Wheeler Pass Road that comes in from NV-160 on the southeast edge of town. About a quarter-mile past this point, BLM Road heads north, WP-02 (Fig. 02), and runs into Hemlock Road. Hemlock Road comes to an end at a large steel gate, WP-03, as it turns into more of a “wash” road. After a total of roughly five miles, you come to the house and site of an abandoned mine, circa 1940.

(Fig. 03)
Area Description: Once you leave Wheeler Pass Road, a high clearance 4x4 vehicle is required. Driving in from WP-02, elevation 4,793 feet, you pass through mid-elevation slopes, hillsides, and washes with alluvial fans through what is commonly referred to as typical Mojave Desert Scrub. The desert here is mostly dominated by creosote bush (Larrea tridentata) and a diverse mixture of other shrubs, cacti, and Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia) (Fig. 03).  The last couple of miles climb through what is known as Pinion-Juniper Woodlands. This forest area is dominated by short (usually less than 20-feet tall) evergreen trees; dominated by two species of conifers: pinyon pine trees (Pinus spp.) and juniper trees (Juniperus spp.)(Fig. 04). In the Spring Mountains region, there are two species of Pinyon Pine and several species of Juniper. The elevation of the mine site is 6,008 feet. The road behind the mine travels up a relatively steep, half mile slope that ends at an elevation of 6,347 feet. Sometimes it’s more about what you see than what you capture. Today we saw a good sized deer, a huge Great Road Runner, a Horny Toad Lizard and what appeared to be a beautiful Great Horned Owl, none of whom I was able to capture a picture. I would have loved to have captured a shot of the owl; it’s the first I have observed one out here in the desert.
(Fig. 04)
Wheeler Pass Mine
(Fig. 05)

06/18/2013 Trip Notes: Armed with a Google Earth printout of the area and additional information, Harvey and I packed up his ATV ((Fig. 01) and headed back to the Spring Mountain Wilderness area that surrounds Wheeler Pass Road north of Pahrump, NV, in search of an (un-named) abandoned mine site, WP-04 in (Fig. 02). It was a beautiful, cloudless, sunny day for four-wheeling and hiking. At altitudes between 4,500 and 6,300 feet, and strong breezes, the temperatures remained in the mid 80’s vs. the 100 plus degrees back in Vegas. After turning off Wheeler Pass Road onto BLM Road, WP-02 on (Fig. 02), we road for what seemed like a long, bumpy, five-mile drive; finally reaching our goal, the site of an abandoned miner’s cabin and mine, lower right corner of (Fig. 05). The triptych in (Fig. 06) provides front, rear and interior views of the well weathered and ransacked cabin. We were surprised to see that it was once quite “posh” with wallboard, plastered ceilings, wall-to-wall carpet in the living room and wallpaper and a linoleum tiled floor in the kitchen/dining area.
Miner's Cabin
(Fig. 06)
Though my research on this mine has come up empty, and that we were unable to determine what was mined here, the mining operation itself, spread over the entire area seen in (Fig. 04), appears to have been quite extensive. There was evidence of three additional buildings that may have been living quarters, a man-made basin for collecting runoff water, a large wooden platform that appeared to be the base for a water tank, a fairly large tool and equipment shed, a filled in mine shaft, and a fairly deep adit into the side of the mountain with ore cart tracks leading to as many as three separate tailing dumping areas. We also found some large diameter pipes sunk deep into the ground that appeared to have been “fresh air shafts” for the mine. The polyptych in (Fig. 07) shows the area of the primary mine adit. After spending well over an hour hiking around the area trying to get a grasp for its history, we continued following the road that took us to a final elevation of 6,348 feet and a point, top of (Fig. 05), about a half mile above the site. Looking to the east (Fig. 08) provided views of Bonanza Peak and Charleston Peak. Looking west (Fig. 09) we were able to see the town of Pahrump in the distant background. Unfortunately, as we continued to follow this road down the back side of this steep little ridge, refer to (Fig. 05), it deteriorated rapidly, eventually turning into a single track route. To put it mildly, navigation of this very narrow route, squeezing between trees, etc., caused us much difficulty before finally reaching a point where it intersected the access road at the bottom.
Mine Site
(Fig. 07)
(Fig. 08)
(Fig. 09)
On the return back down Hemlock Road we turned onto Groundsmoke Road, a side road that took us to WP-05 on (Fig. 02). After crossing a wide expanse of desert (Figs. 10 & 11), this road traveled along the upper edge of a very deep wash that finally dead-ended in a deep canyon (center of the picture in Fig.12)  at the base of the distant ridge-line. After retracing our steps back to Wheeler Pass Road, we then took Wallace Canyon Road down into Wheeler Wash (Figs. 13 & 14). Upon reaching the bottom of this deep wash we headed south towards the canyon, marveling at the high walls on both sides of the wash (Figs. 15, 16 & 17). After driving for a considerable distance, we were eventually confronted with a very narrow, slot like canyon (Figs. 18 & 19) that prevented us from driving any further. After walking through the slots, we hiking around the other side for a while admiring the scenery. (This is where we missed the picture of the owl) We eventually returned to the Rhino and headed back up to wash to the truck, whereupon we loaded up the equipment to start the journey back home. Before turning and heading back down Wheeler Pass Road to Pahrump, I captured one last view looking east towards Mount Charleston (Fig. 20). Officially named Charleston Peak, at 11,916 feet, it is the highest peak in southern Nevada’s Spring Mountains and the state's eighth highest mountain peak.
(Fig. 10)
(Fig. 11)
Wallace Canyon Road
(Fig. 13)
(Fig. 14)
(Fig. 15)
(Fig. 16)
(Fig. 17)
(Fig. 18)
(Fig. 19)
(Fig. 20)