September 20, 2017 – Exploring Gold Butte National Monument

Jonathan has sent us an email asking if we have heard of Little Finland which is located somewhere near Mesquite, NV. No, we have not but we are going to find out about it. As it turns out Little Finland, a formation full of rock fins, is in Gold Butte National Monument, just southeast of Bunkerville, NV and about an hour away.

Gold Butte National Monument was set aside by President Obama in 2016. It is, of course, now under attack from the Trump administration who wants to negate all the good things that President Obama did. Interior Secretary Zinke has put it on the list of National Monuments that he thinks should be shrunk in size. It probably is not good for Gold Butte being right next door to the Bundy family farm.

Anyway John and I stop at the BLM office in St. George and try to get as much information as we can about the Monument. There is not much. Loading up the car with sweatshirts, water, and food plus telling Jonathan to call out the rescue squad if we don’t return by nightfall, we head out.

Beware all ye who enter here

There are a lot of things to see in Gold Butte but there are very few signs telling you where they are. Our first stop is at Whitney Pocket which is relatively well-marked.

Rock formation with a window at Whitney Pocket
Vista from Whitney Pocket
Rock climber John
Intrepid trail girl
Rock fins but not Little Finland

Now we are on our own with no information in Gold Butte as to where the things we want to see are. Our plan is to see fabulous petroglyphs, an unusual big hole called the Devil’s Throat, and Little Finland. How hard can this be? Very hard as it turns out.

I say I have seen pictures of the petroglyphs and they are on red rocks. Our map indicates that the petroglyphs are just south of Whitney Pocket. There are several masses of red rock. Is it this one? Is it that one? How do we get there? What roads there are are very rough. We choose a red blob and try to get there. Part way there we decide if we go any further we will get stuck and abandon the car to walk the rest of the way on foot. We look and look at this red rock outcropping but cannot find petroglyphs while all the time we are both concerned as to whether we will be able to get the car out of the wash we stopped in.

Do you think its that one?
Or this one?

We have learned the mantra of not getting stuck in the desert, “Do not try to turn around. Back up!” John removes some big rocks from our path and manages to get the car out of the wash. Phew! Abandoning the petroglyphs for the meantime we head toward the Devil’s Throat which is sort of on the way, we think, to Little Finland. Amazingly we find it.

This is a large hole in the ground that nobody knows why it is there. It has a ramshackle fence around it.

Devil’s Throat
Big hole
Yay to WUF, our old faithful SUV

Now we will try to find Little Finland. It turns out the road is not really a road. It is a wide wash. It is up to the driver to find a route through it. On the way to where we think Little Finland is we make several wrong choices and have to back out and start again. The scenery is amazing. But we are a little concerned that we won’t recognize where the turnoff to the main dirt road is. We probably should have left a marker.

Finally we get to where we think it should be. We get out of the car and start to hike along a sort of path. I fall down and decide I have had enough. John continues on to see what he can find. He finds nothing. As it turns out when we got out of the car we hiked to the right and we should have gone left. We give up on Little Finland and go back to try to find the petroglyphs again.

The wrong trail to Little Finland

After two more attempts at trying to find the petroglyphs we give up. We have decided that we need GPS coordinates if we are going to find this stuff. We console ourselves with a chocolate shake at McDonald’s and decide to try again another day armed with more information.


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