Suggesting travel destinations that suit the season is a basic sustainably green approach to tourism and it makes sense from a comfort standpoint. For example, promoting destinations in the Southwestern sun belt during the winter season is best, because the outdoor temperatures will be mild. Promoting western destinations north of the sun belt or in high elevations during summer is best for the same reason. On the flip-side, if solitude is what you seek during the summer season, then head toward the places with the hottest temperatures in the Southwest, because nobody in their right mind will be touring these places when the outdoor temperatures are over 115ºF!
Gold Butte National Monument is one such place in the sun belt where a visitor will be absolutely alone during the months of June and July, simply because the high summer temperatures are just too much for most people to bear. During winter, Gold Butte sees a fair amount of visitors each day and the same can be said about spring. Gold Butte National Monument is so large that a visitor could spend two weeks on vacation driving the Jeep trails in this place and still not see it all. There are some great campsites in the Whitney Pockets area that offer majestic views from the high elevations and camping near the old Gold Butte Ghost Town is a unique experience in itself.
Mesquite, Nevada is the top basecamp choice for Gold Butte National Monument excursions, because this is the closest place to fuel up. The newly opened Friends Of Gold Butte Visitors Center in Mesquite is a good place to start, because all of the information needed for a Gold Butte venture can be found under one roof. Outdoor outfitters can be found in Mesquite and this town also has ATV and 4×4 rentals, which are a necessity for traveling where the dirt roads are not exactly smooth.
There are several landmark destinations in Gold Butte and the one called Devil’s Throat is fairly easy to find, although it does take about one hour of driving on a rough dirt road to get to this place. All that is required for navigation is to follow the Gold Butte National Scenic Back Country Byway from Riverside Drive to the Devil’s Throat destination. When starting from the closest gas station in Mesquite, the round trip will be about 70 miles, so be sure to top off the tank!
Upon arrival at the Devil’s Throat marker on the Gold Butte Back Country Byway, a visitor may wonder why so many wooden fence posts were pounded into the ground along the roadside in this desolate place. Basically, the posts at the Devil’s Throat access point are a reminder to stay on the existing dirt roads in this region. Riding cross-country across the virgin terrain is taboo in this protected area, but there is an even more important reason why sticking to the road is best to do. The main reason amounts to the Devil's Throat is a sinkhole and where there is one, there may be more.
The Devil’s Throat is fenced off for a reason, but the gate is always open. This is an “enter at your own risk” area, so it is best to proceed with caution, especially if you travel alone. Keeping pets on a leash and small children at bay is a good idea, because the ground around the sinkhole is unstable and the dry mud rubble easily gives way close to the edge. The result of a fall into the big sinkhole would only be about a twenty foot drop, but it would nearly be impossible to climb back out without assistance. Being stuck and possibly injured in a sinkhole out in the middle of a desert that only sees a handful of visitors each day is not a pleasant thought. Hence the Devil’s Throat is the appropriate name for this place!
The Devil’s Throat is the result of an underground cavern that recently collapsed within the last couple of decades. When peering over the edge into the Devil’s Throat, one will notice that the walls of this pit are nearly vertical, so the ground collapsed like a gigantic round plug all at one time. When looking into the abyss, the underlying soil composition can be seen, which looks like dried up ancient ocean bottom mud that is very dense. Since there are tall mountains uphill and an ancient river basin below, it is easy to see that there is plenty of underground water seepage that flows underground. Over time, the seepage can turn into underground rivers and aquifers, which can become unstable when they dry up. The instability is amplified even more when the earthen strata is composed of dry mud and rock rubble. The Devil’s Throat is a prime example of how a sinkhole can form in these conditions.
The Devil’s Throat has only existed for a few decades, so it is a recently sculpted geological wonder. The edges of this sinkhole are still fresh and clean, because the erosive forces of nature have not had enough time to do their work. Inside the Devil's Throat is a pit wall that is shaped like an arch with a hollow smooth cavern underneath. This view obviously was an underground water aquifer at some time in the ancient past, that has since dried up and collapsed.
Natural geologic wonders are great destinations, because they provide insight into the world around us, therefore, the Devil’s Throat is as much of an adventure as it is a learning experience. When touring Gold Butte National Monument there actually is plenty to do in this vast desert wilderness area and the Devil’s Throat is one of the geological features that simply must be experienced while there!
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