Exploring the McCullough Range

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This page last updated on 11/20/2017
(Fig. 01)
(Fig. 02)
Area Description: The map above shows the area of the North McCullough Range that we explored. This area is huge and encompasses more than 45 thousand acres. This area of the north-south trending range is comprised of ancient metamorphic rock. Upon closer inspection, you will see that the peaks and ridges are rocky and rough, with heights spaning from 2,000 feet at the eastern base of the range to 5,092 feet at Black Mountain (refer to Fig. 02). The peaks are volcanic in origin, rounded to flat-topped, and have a steep eastern escarpment and a gradual western slope. In addition the North McCullough Wilderness Area is within the newly designated Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area which allows further protection and enhancement. There is a wide, deeply cut bajada on the east side of the mountains. The lower slopes are comprised of gently tilted alluvial deposits of unsorted sand, gravel, and cobbles.  Infrequent visitor use and the need for route finding skills provide great opportunities for solitude and four wheel exploring. The landscape ranges from approximately 3,000 to 7,000 feet in elevation and displays a thriving Mojave Desert filled with creosote bush, Mojave yucca, banana yucca, buckhorn cholla, catclaw acacia, apache plume, blackbrush and Joshua trees. As we explored the area shaded in yellow on the map in Fig. 02, we encountered several jackrabbits and one coyote.

11/11/2017 Trip Notes: Today Harvey Smith and I decided to explore the hills of the Northern McCullough Range. Our mode of transportation for the day was Harvey's 4WD Polaris Ranger (Fig. 03). Our starting point was from the backyard of some friends behind the Mission Hills development, upper right corner of (Fig. 02). Only a short distance from the start, encountered the view in (Fig. 01) above. As we reached the first ridge we looked down into the large bajada that borders the east side of the McCullough Range. As you can see, there are power lines in almost every picture. There are no less than 8 separate power lines that cross the entire area, some wooden old, some steel new ones (Figs. 05, 06 & 07). I assume that most of them originate at the Boulder Dam and wind their way into the Las Vegas valley. (con't below)
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Trip Notes Continued:  Once we reached the large bajada, looking due south, we could see off in the distance the panels of the large solar sites (center of Fig. 08) that border Route 95 south. (Refer to the map in Fig. 02). As we continued west towards the mountains and the Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area we made several attempts to get over the mountains for a view of Las Vegas. Unfortunately, both roads we tried to follow ended up as washes (Fig. 09) that dead-ended (Fig. 10). At one point we ended up at a place looking up at the back side of the array of TV and radio towers that can be seen from Henderson. I captured this picture with my 720-zoom lens (Fig. 11). (Refer to the map in Fig. 02) At one point we did reach a ridge that provided a view of the west side of Henderson (Fig.12). After more than two hours we headed back to our starting point (Fig. 13). As we approached the area of Mission Hills, it provided us a view of  Black Butte in the background, located on the northeast end of Las Vegas (Fig. 14). As you can see from these pictures, it was a sunny day that was in the mid 70's. Just another beautiful day to be out in the quiet wilderness, away from the sounds of the city of Las Vegas.

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