Prospects Peak P300 RS
Thin Peak P500 RS
Peak 4,288ft P750
Beehive Rock
Atlatl Rock
Weekapaug Mountain P300 RS
Baseline Mesa P300 RS
Elephant Rock

Dec 6, 2018
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX Profile


I spent the sixth day of my desert roadtrip in Valley of Fire State Park, NV, on a heavily overcast day with a few light sprinkles, but no real rain. The first three peaks were all on limestone rock, the last bunch were mostly short but challenging sandstone scrambles.

Prospects Peak

Located on the north side of Valley of Fire Rd, just outside the west end of the park, this is a steep but short limestone scramble on decent rock. It was from the summit that I first noticed a high peak to the south (Peak 4,288ft) that I would end up climbing a bit later.

Thin Peak

Located about 2mi east of Prospects Peak and just within the park boundary, this is another steep but short limestone effort. The peak does look a bit thin when viewed from the east or west, but from the south where the road comes closest, it looks anything but.

Peak 4,288ft

I had noticed this peak while climbing the first two. It rises much higher, forming the northernmost summit in the Muddy Mountains. Unlike the first two summits that appear in Purcell's Rambles & Scrambles, this one does not, even though it has nearly 900ft of prominence and makes for a pretty good climb. There is an old road starting up from where I parked that makes the first quarter mile an easy walk. Following that, one begins a steep limestone scramble up to a first ridgeline where the summit comes into view still half a mile to the southwest. I followed this front ridge to the west where it meets a saddle that joins with the higher summit ridge. I came across another NOA weather instrument, the second in two days. This one was a bit older, not having the "Harmless Instrument" tag and not having a return envelope - into the trash it goes. I found some good class 3 scrambling on the northeast side going directly to the summit, but there is easier class 2 climbing from the east. The summit had a small register of with a few pages, just over a year old. After returning to the front ridge, I dropped down an alternate gully for a change of pace, finding no difficulties and getting back in under two hours.

Beehive Rock

This is a collection of sandstone rocks on the south side of the road, just inside the west entrance station. There is a picnic area called Beehives on the east side of the features, while the topo map shows a Beehive Rock. Though none of the various pinnacles looked very beehive-ish to me, the one closest to the road seemed to be the obvious choice for Beehive Rock. The LoJ location, which matches the 7.5' topo map, suggests the highpoint further south. I visited this highpoint first, then turned my attention to the harder, though lower sumit nearer the road. Most of the scrambling is class 3, but there is a class 4-5 section with a steep arete that gave me much pause. After examining it up close, I decided I could climb up it and probably down as well. Needless to say, I was very nervous until I had reversed this section after visiting the summit. A bit scary, not for the faint of heart nor the casual peakbagger.

Atlatl Rock

This is another collection of sandstone features, found a mile north of Beehive Rock. There are petroglyphs on one of the rocks that can be reached by a set of stairs. This is the lowest of the summits in this collection. The highest ones are to the south and can be reached by visiting the inner "courtyard" and then scrambling up ramping sandstone formations to the south. None of these match the LoJ location, nor the topo map, however. There is another feature just west of the one with the petroglyphs that does, and looks exceedingly difficult from most sides. By circumnavigating the base, I discovered the class 3 ramp up the northwest side that gets one to the summit easy as pie. Well, almost as easy - after all, it's still class 3.

Weekapaug Mountain

This sandstone area is found east of Beehive Rock an Atlatl Rock. It is a challenging puzzle to find the highpoint (the LoJ location seems to be almost spot on), requiring some stiff class 3 scrambling. There's more than one way to ascend it, but neither of the routes I used were straightforward nor easy, but very enjoyable nonetheless.

Baseline Mesa

This is mostly an easy walk from the Valley of Fire Overlook near Silica Dome. I was looking forward to an easy walk after doing so much difficult scrambling, and for the most part, it is. The summit is about a mile and a half from the parking lot. It is an easy walk for more than a mile along roads in varying condition and cross-country. The easy walking ends at a ridgeline connecting to Baseline Mesa. The ridgeline has a sheep trail along it and separates two very different drainages. The north side is drab and gray-colored with few features. The south side is a colorful jumble of badlands, fantastic pinnacles and a maze of deeply cut gullies. Hiking along the sheep trail saves some time over trying to cross either of the drainages. Once across the ridge, there is a class 3 sandstone scramble for several hundred feet to reach the mesa. Purcell had little to say about it in his guidebook, but I thought it a pretty good scramble. The mesa is littered with broken limestone bits, and it is a bit tedious for the last quarter mile hike to the highpoint. There is a cairn with the remains of a survey tower at the highest point, with good views overlooking the backside of 5-Arch and Crimson Staircase to the south. Not knowing if I'd find a good alternate, I returned via the same route.

Elephant Rock

This is an interesting feature, about 25' high that resembles an elephant. It is found right off the park road, just inside the east entrance. There is a trail leading to the feature, but a sign asks one not to climb on it. Were one to do so, there appears to be an easy class 3 way to climb from the backside. Taking photos from the summit would not be advised.


Andrew comments on 12/07/18:
Happy Birthday Bob!!
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