Bittersprings Road - LMNRA

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This page last updated on 05/26/2019

(Fig. 01)
(Fig. 02)
Directions: This road is located along Northshore Road in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, about 50 minutes east of Las Vegas. From town, drive out to Lake Mead. From the intersection of Lakeshore Road and Northshore Road, drive north on Northshore Road for about 25.9 miles. Shortly before the mile marker 26, watch for the sign (Fig. 02) and turn left onto Bittersprings Road.

Description of AreaBittersprings Road (NPS Rd 101), is a 6.4-mile backcountry road that runs north from Northshore Road to Bitter Spring, then continues northeast following Echo Wash back to Northshore Road. Bittersprings Road provides access to Bitter Spring Backcountry Byway that travels west to Buffington Pockets. From the pavement, the graded road runs northeast and then north as it descends gently through rolling hills (Fig. 01). The road surface here is firm dirt, and the Park Service maintains it from time to time. The road eventually follows washes descending towards a gap in Echo Hills (Fig. 03). Running down the bajada (Fig. 04), the road eventually reaches a signed road intersection (3.3 miles out). Here, the Bitter Spring Backcountry Byway runs left (also straight ahead), and Bittersprings Road continues to the right.

(Fig. 03)

(Fig. 04)
Turning right, the road runs out about 0.25 miles and drops into the sandy wash. For drivers in 2WD vehicles wishing to visit the spring, park on firm ground before dropping into the wash, and then walk the last few hundred feet to the spring (Fig. 05).

(Fig. 05)
05/23/2019 Trip Notes: When we reached the signed 3-way intersection, we turned right and headed to the Bitter Spring. It has been more than 4 years since I last visited the Bitter Spring. See the last visit of [Bitter Spring] In addition to this year's heavy rains, flash floods during the fall of 2010 and 2012 scoured away most of the emergent vegetation, but the cottonwoods survived and the other vegetation is slowly growing back. The two large cottonwoods at the source of the spring appear to have taken a real beating (Fig. 06). What used to be a sandy wash is pretty much down to the bare rock along the way (Fig. 07). Much of the vegetation on both sides of the waters leading down the wash from the source of the spring have been washed away. The remaining vegetation show evidence that the waters that washed through here was pretty strong (Fig. 08). The last time I visited there were thousands of animal tracks in the water saturated sandy areas. We found a wild horse feeding on the grasses along the edge of the spring and even spotted two coyotes. We found no sign of life here on today's visit. (Click the link above to see pictures of these on the previous visit.)

(Fig. 06)

(Fig. 07)
(Fig. 08)
Bitter Spring is a quiet little place for birdwatching where water flows into the desert and forms a spot of green amid the vastness of the dry Mojave Desert. At the spring, vegetation includes two cottonwood trees and a few sprouts, lots of narrowleaf cattail, honey mesquite and desert willow, some catclaw acacia, black-banded rabbitbrush, and arrowweed, plus saltcedar that Land Managers are trying to eradicate (feel free to pull up seedlings). Walking around the surrounding desert is dry creosote bush, white bursage, and a few other hardy species. After walking around the area we headed back to the parking area downstream. The flow of the water coming from the spring was actually flowing at a very steady rate. In fact the ground was so saturated, sometime your foot would seek into the sand. There seemed to be more water than in past years.

We finally turned around and drove back to the signed intersection and started driving up the Bitter Spring Backcountry Byway Road headed towards Buffington Pockets. Somewhere along the way we either got lost, taking a bad turn, or the road we were on had gotten washed out due to heavy rains. The road got so narrow and rocky, it became impassable and we thought we should abandon it and return. Disappointed we paused to have a picnic bag lunch. Disappointed, we then drove back to the Bitter Spring and beyond it to the exit that took us up onto the Northshore Road. 

Note: Every attempt is made to provide accurate information, but occasionally depictions are inaccurate by error of mapping, navigation or cataloging. The information on this site is provided without any warranty, express or implied, and is for informational and historical purposes only.

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