Several days or even a few weeks can be spent exploring the Jeep trails in the Arizona Strip region and there will still be plenty more new landscapes to experience. The Virgin Mountains alone offer countless 4x4 trail riding opportunities and a fun way to get to know this area is to simply dive in head first without a map or GPS device. Not bothering to chart a course in unknown territory may not appeal to some for obvious reasons, but there is a trick to the trade for avoiding getting completely lost in this unique area. By always staying on the west side of the towering desert mountain slopes, all that a trail rider has to do is follow the BLM dirt roads downhill to find the paved roads back to civilization.
Practicing dead reckoning skills is always good to do and tackling the many dirt roads in the Virgin Mountains without a map certainly will be a challenge. The safest way to avoid getting lost or stranded is to restrict the venture to the western slopes, because by following any dirt road downhill a main road back to civilization will be found in the Virgin River basin, which can be seen from the high elevations. The best strategy for a mapless touring route is to imagine a half moon shaped driving course beginning in Mesquite, Nevada that heads up to the mountain peaks and ends further south near Gold Butte Road, in Riverside. There will be a lot of meandering and possible backtracking to be done, so topping off the tank before starting the venture will be necessary.
From Mesquite, CR 242 is a fairly smooth dirt road that heads uphill across the Arizona Border to Lime Kiln Canyon Road. Lime Kiln Canyon Road should be avoided, because this road goes over the mountains to the Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument. There is an alternate route into the mountains that branches off CR 242 before turning onto Lime Kiln Canyon that goes south to Taglo Mine Road, which is in the heart of the Virgin Mountains canyon country. From this point there are dirt roads that go downhill through Cabin Canyon to the north or Cow Canyon due west. There are several side roads that go to hidden freshwater springs and old gold mines in these mountains that are worth checking out, but keeping an eye on the fuel gauge will be necessary for a safe return.
There are a few Civilian Conservation Corps relics to encounter along the way and there are a few mining areas to discover as well. The scenic views are endless along these trails and this meandering venture is perfect for a desert landscape artist. The long dirt roads through the canyons in the Virgin Mountains offer panoramic views of everything downhill, which makes it easy to select an exit route to the river way down below. Hen Springs Road is a good choice, because the trails eventually ends by a ranch on Gold Butte Road just a short distance south of the Riverside Bridge. From there, getting back to a fueling station in Mesquite is as easy as jumping on Interstate Highway 15 northbound, which completes a large half moon shaped 4x4 trail ride through the Virgin Mountains.
Only a high ground clearance 4x4 is recommended for tackling the Virgin Mountains canyon trails, because many of the dirt roads are not maintained on a regular basis. This canyon riding venture may not be best for those who worry about scratching the paint, because some overgrowth will be encountered on the narrow dirt roads through the mountains. Others will be overjoyed to show off the battle scars back home and a sense of accomplishment can be gained by successfully using dead recking skills, instead of relying upon a map or GPS device. The western slopes of the Virgin Mountains are a good place to put the tracking skills into practice, so be sure to gas it up and check it all out!
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