Thursday

Daytrip – Mount Potosi

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Image Title Bar 17 Mount Potosi
                   
MAP- Goodsprings & Mt Potosi
(Fig. 02)
Directions: To reach the town of Goodsprings from Las Vegas, travel 27 miles southward on I-15 to the Jean-Goodsprings exit, then turn west on Nevada Highway 161 for seven miles. To reach the road that leads to the top of Mount Potosi, follow West Spring Street to Fayle Street and head north. Follow this for about 3/4 of a mile until it intersects with the Goodsprings Bypass. Follow the Goodsprings Bypass road northwest for about 5.5 miles until it splits (Fig. 02). Turn left onto the dirt road and begin the 5 mile trek up Mount Potosi Road.

Potosi Mountain, a.k.a. Mount Potosi is a notable peak located about 30 miles southwest of Las Vegas in the Spring Mountains, in Clark County of southern Nevada. Home to 7 full power FM broadcasting stations that transmit from the top, it is best known as the site of the TWA Flight 3 air crash that killed 22 passengers, most notably the actress Carole Lombard, on January 16, 1942. At 8,515 feet it is one of the larger peaks in the Spring Mountain Range that boarders the Las Vegas metro area on the west.
            
The site of the crash site is kept secret by the Forest Service, although dedicated (and sometimes lucky) searchers have been able to find the site, at which some remains of the plane can be found. At the time, most of the plane was salvaged for its metals, so no big pieces remain.
           
Potosi Mountain is also well-known to tower builders, who have built communications towers on the tops of the three main summits of the mountain. To that end, a road was constructed from the south to allow service vehicles to rumble into the range. The road, of course, makes an easy option for a hike to Potosi Mountain.

EFP-P1030158-P1030160
(Fig. 03)
08/20/2013 Trip Notes: After parking the truck and unloading the 4WD Rhino, we headed out across the foothills toward the mountain range. After only about 1.8 miles, we encountered a large steel gate (Fig. 04) with a large hardened steel lock blocking the road. Luckily, we were able to navigate around the gate to the left, albeit a little dangerous. Even though this service road is paved in places, there is a gain of over 3,000 vertical feet in slightly less than five miles to the top, making it a very strenuous workout for anyone who decides to hike it. NOTE: Be sure to check out the video at the end of the page.
            
EFP-P1030165
(Fig. 04)
Just past the gate the road hangs a sharp left and starts up very steeply. After a short distance, quite unexpected, we encountered more pavement. This goes on for roughly a half mile, during which time the road becomes very steep, climbing nearly 500 feet (Fig. 05).
       
EFP-P1030167
(Fig. 05)
After reaching the top of this small knob, you can see the remaining steep section of road as it climbs upward towards a saddle onto the main range crest. Over the course of this two mile stretch, the road climbs about 1,800 feet. After reaching the saddle we stopped to take some pictures. Harvey spotted two deer, one with a huge rack, take off running in a patch of trees below us on the northwest side. Unfortunately they disappeared before we were able to get a picture. Rounding the bend here and looking northward, you are presented with a grand view of the first of the main Potosi summits, South Peak (Fig. 06). Unfortunately, due to a fire in 2005 that scorched this particular section of mountain leaving nothing in its wake, no trees or grasses or anything, the hillsides are rather barren. The views looking down to the west into the Potosi Valley and the peaks and deserts toward Sandy Valley to the south (Fig. 07) and Pahrump to the north (Fig. 08) were absolutely outstanding.
             
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(Fig. 06)
EFP-P1030255
(Fig. 07)
EFP-P1030210-P1030212
(Fig. 08)
Once we rounded the peak in (Fig. 06) the road drops slightly at first then gains steeply before moderating again. A side-road zooms up to the summit from here to this first set of small towers, but we ignored it. From here the grade seemed very lenient and even level with some slight downhills. After about a mile you reach another summit where you can see the other two tower complexes and the true summit, still about a mile and a half north. Now higher in elevation, the forest is thicker here with smatterings of mainly bristlecone pine. Upon reaching the second set of towers (Fig. 09), we hiked up the hill to take some pictures. The view in (Fig. 10) is looking due north toward our goal, the last set of towers at the very top of Mount Potosi. The views to the southeast (Fig. 11) looked out over Cottonwood Valley and the portion of the mountain where Carole Lombard’s plane crashed.
             
Even though we knew that the site of the Lombard plane crash laid somewhere on one of these ledges near the top, we weren't sure of the exact location and didn't make any concerted attempt to located it. However, after talking with some locals at the Pioneer Saloon upon our return, we now have a better idea of where the site is located and how to reach it, and may make an attempt on a future visit to the mountain top.
                 
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(Fig. 09)
EFP-P1030227-P1030229
(Fig. 10)
EFP-P1030237
(Fig. 11)
The remaining distance to the summit took about 35 minutes, including stops for pictures. All toll, I think it took us 2-1/2 hours to reach the top. Other than occasional steepness, there were no real difficulties to mention. At the top we parked, walked around the towers and buildings, and scrambled to the base of the towers on the east side. The views from this summit (Fig. 01) top, were tremendous. You can see Mount Charleston in the upper left corner of this picture and Red Rock Canyon on the right just left of the guide wires. We spent quite a bit of time roaming and exploring around the buildings and towers (Fig. 12) seeking out beautiful views in every direction. Probably the most exciting part of the day was the amazing number of seabed fossils (Fig. 13) that we found in some of the large rock faces along the east side of the road just below the summit. For more pictures and information, click this link ... Mount Potosi Fossils. After leaving the summit, we stopped along the road about half-way down and had a picnic lunch that was topped off with a couple of frozen margarita's.
Mt Potosi Towers
(Fig. 12)
Potosi Fossils
(Fig. 13)
In addition to seeing two deer, several hawks, jackrabbits, and some humming birds, none of which did we get any pictures, we did capture a few pictures of some Chukar Partridges and lizards (Figs. 14 thru 17 - Click to enlarge). Go to this link for more pictures and information on the partridges ... Chukar Partridge (Alectoris graeca). The last three shots (Figs. 18-20) are just a few final pictures I took on the way down.
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(Fig. 14)
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(Fig. 15)
EP-P1030190
(Fig. 16)
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(Fig. 17)
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(Fig. 18)
EFP-P1030353-P1030355
(Fig. 19)
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(Fig. 20)
Check out this 5-1/2 minute video I found on YouTube. Even though it is not us, and they only drive about three-quarters of the way up, it provides you with almost exactly what we experienced while driving up the mountain.