Gold Butte National Monument is huge – covering nearly 300,000 acres of remote and rugged desert landscape in southeastern Nevada. Yes, I said Nevada and it is listed under Southern Utah hikes. It’s actually near Mesquite, Nevada, which isn’t far from Southern Utah. Don’t argue with me. It is not a very well-known gem, but it definitely is one! It’s most known for Little Finland, located within the national monument. When I say remote and rugged, I mean it. Make sure you read to the bottom to get full directions.
You’ll find dramatically chiseled red and white sandstone, twisting canyons, and Joshua Trees sprawling the desolate stretches of the Mojave Desert. The brightly contrasting sandstone provides a stunning canvas for the area’s famously beautiful red and white rock art. You’ll find out why Mother Nature is truly the greatest artist.
Gold Butte National Monument is new! Meaning, it just officially became a national monument on December 28th, 2016. So if you haven’t heard of it until now, that’s probably why.
This place is extremely remote. As you plan for your trip please note that the road to Gold Butte was last maintained decades ago, which means you’ll end up on a semi-paved road with potholes everywhere. You’ll then continue onto a dirt road.
I read other places online that you need a 4-wheel-drive vehicle. I think that highly depends on the current weather conditions. I took my Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, which is all-wheel-drive, and it did just fine. I would never do this trip during or after any rain or precipitation, or if you don’t know how to properly drive in sand. There are also zero facilities or cell service, so please be sure to gas up prior to heading off the beating path and bring plenty of water and food.
WHITNEY POCKET GOLD BUTTE NATIONAL MONUMENT
After driving for what feels like forever on a dirt road going nowhere, you’ll hit Whitney Pocket. This is your first stop after you’ve officially entered Gold Butte National Monument. You’ll first see the towering white sandstone formations.
Joshua trees, mountainscapes, and desert. Sort of my thang. Also, I’m a Victoria’s Secret model. It’s such a secret, not even Victoria Knows.
By far, my favorite part of Whitney Pocket was seeing all the amazing split colors in the rock formations! The red and white contrast gives you some of the neatest mountain colors. It also helps if you match…
I hope you got what I was saying there, but in case you didn’t get it – I was calling the mountain my bestie. And yes, we matched unintentionally. I really did almost break my face. It was a genius idea to lay over the side of the mountain with my matching colors, though. I won’t apologize for trying. #doitforthegram
LITTLE FINLAND, Gold Butte
Let’s first point out the fact that Little Finland is not pronounced the same as the country in Europe. It’s literally Fin-LAND. Named for a land full of rock formations that look like fins. We can move on now.
From Whitney Pocket, our next stop planned was Little Finland. Keep in mind that the rough “paved” road ends here at Whitney Pocket. The road now turns to a dirt road that only gets rougher as you go along. Let me also tell you when it comes to signs, they are far and in-between. You just sort of drive semi-lost until you find something you want to see. As mentioned earlier, there is zero cell service.
I had screen-shot some directions from a video I watched prior to our trip, so I thought I was prepared.
Keyword: thought. No, no I wasn’t. Ok, listen, I’m not here to call anyone out, but let me just show you what “directions” I brought and “followed”.
Looks simple enough, right? It’s not. I’m laughing right now just writing this. Let’s just say that we ended up hiking about 8-10 miles looking for it. That arrow is so generic. Once you start hiking up, every rock looks like you could go around it and magically find Little Finland.
At the same time, I’m not mad at it. We found some amazing rock formations and it is an AWESOME place to get lost in the scenery.
We were exploring for quite a while (lost) when we stumbled across this amazing area below! Flat-top hoodoos, awesome sandstone swirling formations, and killer views of the entire valley. We thought we had literally stumbled across the best hidden gem EVER.
I know this is true with most places, but believe me when I say nothing does the photos justice like seeing it with your own eyes. The colors, the towering rock formations, it’s all breathtaking! That says a lot coming from the sandstone queen.
I’m fully aware that I look like I’m trying too hard. I went from sacrificing myself on nature’s alter to posing awkwardly while looking like I was caught off guard. “Bae caught me gazing.” Don’t ask. We can’t all be Instagram models.
We got some awesome shots of the surrounding areas! If you haven’t seen my Instagram, I’m sort of the queen of hiking around Mars, so it’s not really a shocker than I went a state away to find more sandstone.
We decided we were done and ready to head out shortly after this. We had given up on trying to find Little Finland.
On our way out, we passed the only person we saw the entire trip and stopped to ask them about how to get to Little Finland. They told us we just needed to keep driving past where we had parked at the corral. We decided we would more than likely not come back out this way again, so we turned around and drove until we found signs (I say this loosely, maybe 1 sign after another 4 miles of rough-road driving) and continued to follow them.
Ready for the shocker?
Turns out we had already found it. Imagine our surprise. Ha! If you continue on the road, you’ll know you’ve hit Little Finland when you see the palm trees growing out of the side of the mountain.
I’m not sure about the back-story of these palm trees, but it’s definitely not a common occurrence to see it, so it’s pretty awesome! I’d imagine that more than likely they were planted, but hey, what do I know.
SEE THE LITTLE FINLAND PICTURES YOU’VE SEEN ONLINE, IN REAL LIFE
I’ll be honest, I was chasing images I had seen online and trying to match them up to the landscape. That’s why I thought we hadn’t found it. The trick: all those photos were taken from the bottom of Little Finland. We were on the mountain above it, so it was literally impossible for us to see this particular view until we drove around to the bottom.
You’ll notice a dirt road to your left that is gated off. Simply walk up that hill and you’ll see the perspective from the images you’ve seen online, if you’ve ever even heard of this place until now, anyway.
Lucky for you, we hiked the entire top area AND went to the bottom, so you get all the views and the extra images of the killer rock formations! I’ve also saved you about 10 miles of hiking. You’re welcome.
DIRECTIONS TO GOLD BUTTE NATIONAL MONUMENT
- Click HERE for directions to Gold Butte National Monument from Las Vegas, Nevada.
- Click HERE for directions to Gold Butte from St. George, Utah.
Once you get onto New Gold Butte Road, everything you’ll want to see is on this 62-mile highway. Following New Gold Butte Road will take you directly to Whitney Pocket.
DIRECTIONS TO LITTLE FINLAND
It took us about 2 hours from the freeway exit to get to Little Finland. This could be faster if you have a 4-wheel-drive vehicle like a Jeep, know how to drive off-road, and there hasn’t been any recent precipitation.
• Set Odometer to zero at Whitney Pocket. Watch for signs to Little Finland. They are far and in between.
• Drive 3.9 miles on the rough but low clearance Gold Butte Highway. Watch for signs for Little Finland and turn right after 3.9 miles<
• Take “Mud Wash Road North” 3.2 miles to the intersection with Mud Wash Road. This is through a canyon and 4×4 with high clearance would be preferred. (We didn’t have it, but we were fine)
• At the intersection, take a right and follow “Mud Wash Road” 4.0 miles to the fork in the road with Little Finland Road.
• At the junction, there’s a sign for Little Finland- take a right and take it 1.7 miles to the end. There’s no official trailhead but the road abruptly ends into what looks like a large dirt parking area. You’ll know you’re there when you see the palm trees along the base of the mountain. NOTE: there are NO signs for a trailhead, or any signs stating you are at Little Finland. But you are.
• To the left, you’ll see a dirt road that goes up a steep hill. You can simply park at the bottom, take the short walk up the hill, go through the fence, and hike around Little Finland to your right.
Okay, don’t kill me if I still get you “lost”. Honestly, getting lost here isn’t a bad thing. But the directions I gave you are far better than anything I saved online prior to my journey.
Remember that there is no cell service in the area. So take a map, plenty of screen-shots from this blog post (or print it), and most importantly – have FUN!