Fisherman’s Cove ~ Gold Butte National Monument

Fisherman’s Cove ~ Gold Butte National Monument

Some destinations in the Desert Southwest are best visited during the cool weather seasons.  This is especially true for remote desert wilderness locations that are way out in the middle of nowhere.  Remote desert destinations may require driving more than 20 miles on rough dirt roads just to get there and this can certainly be tough on any kind of vehicle when the summertime temperatures are well over 110ºF.  Off highway vehicle overheating problems during the hot summer season can easily cause a lighthearted excursion to quickly turn into a survival situation, so it is best to wait to plan such a trip during the cool winter months.  By doing so, the overall experience will be much better, because nobody will be complaining about the extreme heat all day long!  

As one can imagine, it is much easier to stay warm in a desert wilderness area than it is to stay cool.  When camping during the winter, just tending a small fire with twigs, sticks and dried up sagebrush by the shelter will be enough to break the chill of a cold desert night.  With cool daytime temperatures, dehydration becomes less of a concern and the water supplies will last much longer.  There will be no need for an afternoon siesta in the shade when the weather is cool and daytime activities can be done with ease.  Most important of all, off highway vehicle breakdowns are less likely to occur when overheating is not a concern, so the excursion can likely go off without a hitch. 

Even though cooler outdoor temperatures increase vehicle reliability, there are a few safety precautions to be aware of.  It is best to check the vehicle before heading out to the wild blue yonder and make sure the fluids are topped off.  Flat tires will still be a problem and getting stuck in loose sand or rubble will certainly happen on occasion.  One spare tire is enough for most off highway driving excursions, but for the extremely remote locations it is best to bring two spares.  A tire repair kit and air pumps are a necessity too.  Packing a shovel will help to get a vehicle unstuck in most situations.  Depending on the distance and the vehicle’s miles per gallon rating, it may also be necessary to bring along some extra fuel.  An extra five to ten gallons is enough in most cases.  Packing extra water instead of radiator coolant is best, because in a survival situation the water can be consumed. 

The reason why off highway vehicle precautionary measures were mentioned in the start of this article is because several extremely remote desert destinations that can only be accessed with a 4×4 are featured in this website and more will be published in due time. Gold Butte National Monument and the Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument are places where few have traveled to before, which means that whoever goes there will be pretty much be on their own, with no hope for help if trouble arises.  With some forethought and preparation, a remote desert wilderness trip can be a fun exciting safe adventure that provides good memories for a lifetime! 

The 10 mile long rough dirt that runs to Fisherman’s Cove in Gold Butte National Monument is a good primer for those who want to venture further into what this desert wilderness has to offer.  There is only one way in and one way out, so one does not have to worry about getting lost.  This location is within a one day walk to get back to civilization if the unexpected happens, so there is some security in this thought. 

After getting on the Gold Butte National Monument entrance road, the access point for the Fisherman’s Cove Jeep trail is located just a couple miles short of Whitney Pockets.  The 4×4 trail signage is easy to spot on the slope that runs downhill to the Virgin River, which feeds Lake Mead.  In fact, the Fisherman’s Cove riverside site is actually located within the Lake Mead National Recreation Area boundaries, so an adventurer that does the trek will get to check out two big desert wilderness areas in one day!

The downhill run to Fisherman’s Cove is a fairly easy 4×4 trail by standards.  This dirt road runs through a heavily eroded mountain dry wash that has some sandy patches.  Overall, this road can be conquered by any high ground clearance vehicle, but 2 wheel drive vehicles may have to build up a head of steam before entering the sand patches. 

One last item of importance concerns the weather.  Because the Fisherman’s Cove dirt road runs down a dry wash, it is best to avoid this trip on a rainy day.  Flash flooding will likely occur in any mountain dry wash when it rains and the volume of water can quickly turn into raging white water rapids. If heavy rain is in the forecast, it is best to save this trip for another day.

On the day that I drove to Fisherman’s Cove, it was shortly after trading my Dodge muscle car for a Jeep in Las Vegas.  The daytime temperatures were well over 105ºF that day, so I figured it would be a good time to check the reliability of the new Jeep by doing a rough 4×4 trail in these extreme conditions.  The new Jeep certainly proved to be reliable, the motor ran cool and the air conditioning actually conquered the extreme heat, so I was impressed! The last time that I previously owned a Jeep, the only option was a tent top with no hope for A/C or even a radio, so the modern “luxury liner” Jeeps are not too shabby!

The Fisherman’s Cove dirt road is fairly smooth, till is enters the dry wash canyons.  In the dry wash the road does get rough, but it is passible.  Driving through a long deep dry wash like this is pure eye candy, because one will have a view of the sedimentary ground strata on the ravine walls, which used to be an ancient ocean bottom.  The layers upon layers of hardened sediment all have geological stories to tell and they read like a book when looking at the dry wash ravine walls. 

There is not much wildlife to see out here by day during extreme heat conditions, because most desert creatures are nocturnal.  Lizards basking in the sun and an occasional snake can be seen, as well as taunting ravens and gloomy vultures soaring overhead.  There are green patches of lush flora than can be seen in the dry wash where water seepage occurs underground and there are a few mesquite trees that will provide some shade.  Coyote Squash grows in dry washes like this, as can be seen in the photos above.  For those who are into surviving in the wild, every part of every squash plant is edible, so in a pinch, the Coyote Squash can be eaten even though they do not taste great. 

When a visitor finally makes it to the Fisherman’s Cove destination, the reward is a private beach down by the Virgin River, which is like a sigh of relief after the long dusty ride.  The water in the Virgin River is comfortably cool on a hot day, so splashing around in the river is part of the game.  The Virgin River is shallow in these parts, so it is only navigable by raft, canoe or kayak.  The river delta that feeds Lake Mead is only a few miles downstream, so floating to this big lake is possible.  With the lake close by, this means that this section of the river is a hatchery, so the seasonal fishing can be good when permitted.  This all has the makings of cooking fresh fish in a skillet next to a desert river, which sounds like a dream come true for those who like to escape from it all!  

For those who do not own a 4×4 vehicle, there is no need to fret.  Jeep and ATV rentals can be found nearby in the city of Mesquite.  Organized off highway excursion companies and guided tours can also be found in this town, along with plenty of outdoor outfitters.  Mesquite is the base camp for adventure in these parts and the parking lots at the resorts look like Jeep dealerships, because there are so many off-highway vehicle owners that call this town their second home!  If you have an ATV or a Jeep, you will be in good company while in Mesquite! 

If a private beach down by a river in a vast desert wilderness area sounds like the ultimate great escape destination, then doing the trek to Fisherman’s Cove at Gold Butte National Monument will be right up your alley!  The dirt Jeep trail getting there is as scenic as can be and the cool water in the river certainly is inviting on a hot day.  All it takes to get this adventurous trip rolling is to build up the gumption to get up and go!                        


Author: wildwestdestinations

I worked as a chef in remote resorts and National Parks, which provided the time to explore western travel destinations. I have a BA Degree in Culinary Management with high honors and currently I am working on a Masters Degree in Adult Education. My food and travel blog writing began as a means to generate income during college and now photo journalism has become my lifestyle.

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