Some destinations in the Desert Southwest are best visited during the cool weather seasons. This is especially true for remote desert wilderness areas that are way out in the middle of nowhere. Remote desert destinations usually require a long drive over rough dirt roads to get there and this can certainly be tough on any kind of vehicle when the summertime temperatures are well over 110ºF. Vehicle overheating problems during the hot summer season can easily cause a lighthearted excursion to quickly turn into a survival situation, so it is best to do a long desert excursion during the cool winter months. Besides, the overall experience will be much more pleasant because nobody will be complaining about the extreme heat all day long!
The 10 mile dirt road that goes to Fisherman’s Cove is a good primer for those who want to venture further into the Gold Butte National Monument desert wilderness. There is only one way in and one way out, so navigating this trail is easy to do. If the unexpected occurs, Overton and Echo Bay are only a couple miles across the Virgin River. The cel phone signal is also strong in this area, which is comforting to know. The only limiting factor is rainy weather, because this dirt road goes through a mountain dry wash that is prone to flash floods. If a rare heavy rainstorm is forecasted, it is best to call the trip off.
After turning onto Gold Butte Road heading south from the paved road, the access point for the Fisherman’s Cove Jeep trail is located about 3 miles short of Whitney Pocket and the roadside signage is easy to spot. The dirt road going downhill to the Virgin River is well maintained until it crosses the Lake Mead National Recreation Area border. The National Park Service controls the shoreline and estuaries of Lake Mead, which includes Fisherman's Cove and the neighboring Virgin River Landing.
At the end of the smooth maintained dirt road section is a sign for a fork in the road. One dirt road goes to Fisherman's Cove and the other goes to Virgin River Landing. The dirt toad to the landing is very smooth, while the same cannot be said about the trail to the cove. The final leg of Fisherman's Cove Road is very rough and a 4x4 high ground clearance vehicle is recommended. From the fork in the road, those who prefer a smoother ride should take the north fork trail to Virgin River Landing
Driving through a long deep dry wash is pure eye candy if you happen to like studying earth sciences, because eons of sedimentary strata can be viewed on the ravine walls. This region used to be an ancient ocean, so the layers of hardened sediment have many geological stories to tell and they certainly do read like a book. There is not much wildlife to see during daylight hours, because most desert creatures are nocturnal. Lizards basking in the sun and an occasional snake can be seen, as well as taunting ravens and vultures soaring overhead. There are green patches of lush flora where water seepage occurs and there are a few mesquite trees that will provide some shade. Coyote Squash grows in dry washes like this, as can be seen in the photos. For those who are into surviving in the wild, every part of a squash plant is edible, so in a pinch a Coyote Squash can be eaten, even though it does not taste great.
When a visitor finally makes it to the Fisherman’s Cove end point, the reward will be a private beach by the Virgin River, which is like a sigh of relief after the long dusty ride. The water in the Virgin River is comfortably cool on a hot day, so splashing around in the river is part of the charm. The Virgin River is shallow in these parts, so it is only navigable by raft, canoe or kayak. The river flows into Lake Mead only a short distance downstream, so floating on a raft to this big body of water is possible. With the lake being close by, this all has the makings of cooking fresh fish in a skillet next to a desert river, which is like a dream come true when attempting to escape from the big city!
For those who do not own a 4×4 vehicle, there is no need to fret. Jeep and ATV rentals can be found nearby in the city of Mesquite. Organized off highway excursion companies and guided tours can also be found in this town too. Mesquite is the basecamp for adventure in these parts and the parking lots at the resorts look like Jeep dealerships, because there are so many off-highway vehicle owners that call this town their second home. If you have an ATV or a Jeep, you will be in good company while in Mesquite!
If a private beach down by a river in a vast desert wilderness sounds like the ultimate great escape, then the dirt road trek to Fisherman’s Cove will be to your liking! Just getting there is part of the challenge and the cool river water certainly is rewarding after the long bumpy ride. There are a few more dirt roads in Gold Butte National Monument that go to remote Lake Mead beachfront destinations, but these roads are far more demanding. Fisherman's Cove is a good choice for a start, because rescue is within easy reach!
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