Bonelli Peak P1K DS / RS
Lime Canyon Wilderness HP P1K
Salt BM P900

Dec 9, 2018

With: Scott Barnes
Iris Ma
Matt Yaussi

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2 Profiles: 1 2


We had spent the night camped at the old townsite of Gold Butte in the national monument. In the morning we piled into the jeep to head south about 8mi for Bonelli Peak, a P1K in the southern part of the monument. The outing took all of the morning and then some, with almost as much driving as we had hiking. With a long drive back to Southern California, my companions called it a day a bit early to start back while I went off to tag a few more peaks until almost sunset.

Bonelli Peak

The crux of Bonelli Peak is undoubtedly the drive to reach it. Any vehicle can get as far as the Gold Butte Townsite on decently maintained roads. The continuing road going south, called Scanlon Rd, appears to see almost no maintenance. It is suitable only for high-clearance vehicles and 4WD is recommended by the NPS. It is considered a "classic" desert drive and it didn't disappoint. The jeep handled it with little trouble, though I did manage to scrape bottom at one tricky spot. It helps to know where you're going because the signs along the route are not so nice as they had been north of Gold Butte. We turned off on a spur road north of Bonelli that goes to Ruby Spring, but I decided not to drive to the end because it gets a bit brushy and we weren't driving much faster than we could walk at that point.

Our starting point would make for almost 6mi roundtrip, easily the longest hike of the weekend. We followed the continuing road towards Ruby Spring. As we neared the location, I noticed it was diverging some from Bonelli so I struck off to the south while the others, interested in seeing if there really was a spring (there wasn't) continued on the road. This left me on my own for the entire journey to the summit. Much of it was a pleasant hike through a small side canyon west of Garnet Valley, easy class 1 terrain and surprisingly green for December. Recent rains have left the ground wet and plants eager to spring to life. I eventually started up one of several possible side ridges leading the North Ridge. This was steep, over broken limestone rock, and somewhat enjoyable, getting a good workout in brisk early morning temps. Arriving not long after 9a, I'd spent just over an hour and half in the effort. There is a small antenna at the summit (and a larger, decomissioned one a bit lower on the ridge) powered by a solar array. The views overlooking Lake Mead and the southern section of the monument were quite nice. It was pleasant sitting at the summit in the sunshine, though I eventually had to put on my fleece as I was getting a bit chilled. Matt showed up 10min behind, the others further back. Scott was feeling a bit sluggish and didn't arrive until after 9:30a.

A busy register had some 25 pages of entries, quite surprising for so remote a peak. I photographed them all for posterity as we snacked (courtesy Iris' Halloween candy collection) and took in the views. It was almost 10a before we started down, taking the NE Ridge, for at least a short while. Ahead of the others, Scott and I briefly discussed whether we should drop off the ridge sooner rather than later. We shrugged our shoulders and started down, a steep, not all that safe route, as it turned out. Not exactly dangerous, there were plenty of cliffs and loose rocks to work around. We were spread out far enough from each other to keep from knocking rocks on our noggins. After about 20min of this, we reached easier ground where we reconvened and walked the remaining route back to the jeep, following the original route through the little canyon we'd hiked earlier.

We spent another hour driving back to Gold Butte. There was more discussion and a half-hearted attempt to find a way to do Tramp Ridge and get back before 2p so the others could start their drive home. The elevation gain is something like 1,700ft and 2mi one-way from the east side, probably a three hour effort. Scott was the first to ditch the idea and quite shortly they all decided to start back. I was still planning for a few more days in the area, so I immediately started off for another hike once they left.

Lime Canyon Wilderness HP/Salt BM

From Gold Butte, I took another road for about 4mi to Lime Canyon towards the northwest. This canyon splits the North-South trending Lime Ridge, the 2-mile hike down the canyon said to be a worthwhile adventure. My interest lay in the two highpoints on either side of the canyon, atop Lime Ridge. The southern point, a P1K, is the highpoint of the Lime Canyon Wilderness. The northern point, Salt BM, has 900ft of prominence. It was after 1p by the time I was starting off, but I figured I ought to be able to combine the two before sunset. I was able to do this handily, with 2,600ft of gain over almost 5mi. I first ascended the Lime Canyon WHP from the northeast, gaining the main crest at a false summit with the highpoint almost a quarter mile further south. This leg took just under 45min at a pretty good clip. The slopes were steep, broken limestone, but good footing and not much brush to contend with. A register here was only two years old and all the names on the two pages were among the usual suspects. Ron Moe had been the most recent visitor back in April. I decided to avoid the more tedious walking along the ridge and drop down the east face to take advantage of the easier walking at the base of the peak on that side.

I stopped off briefly at the jeep before starting up the other side of Lime Canyon to Salt BM. I thought this was going to be easier since the summit is several hundred feet lower, but I misjudged how far north the summit was from the canyon and ended up spending almost the same amount of time on the ascent as the earlier summit. There were the remains of a survey tower and the expected benchmark, but no register on this summit - no love for P900s around here. My return followed much the same route. I showered in the shade of the WHP where I'd parked, and once refreshed, started the drive back up towards Gold Butte. I got waylaid, however, in looking at the maps and discovering a westside route to Tramp Ridge the next morning. I found a place to park at a saddle in the middle of the spur road I drove up, stopping a few miles from the summit. It would do for a campsite and allow me an early start in the morning...

Matt's Video


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