Pakoon Springs and the Historic Tassi Ranch
One of the popular loop drives for 4x4 vehicles is into the Pakoon Basin. Because of its low elevation (less than 2,000 feet) this drive shouldn't be attempted during the heat of summer. Fill your gas tank in Mesquite. Take several gallons of water with you. The spring water in the monument is not safe for drinking without boiling it first.
There are several ways to access the Pakoon Basin. This loop starts and ends in Mesquite, Nevada. (The Pakoon Basin can also be reached starting in St. George on BLM1069 south to BLM1004 to County Road 101 to BLM1007.)
Starting on I-15 south of Mesquite, take Exit 112. You will be on Riverside Road (Hwy 170). Follow it downhill and cross the Virgin River. Right after you cross the bridge turn right on Gold Butte Road. This road is paved but the asphalt has deteriorated. Travel 18.2 miles to Whitney Pockets, an area of colorful rock.
At Whitney Pockets take BLM113 southeast. Shortley after crossing the Arizona state line, BLM113 drops into the Grand Wash. Expect sand in this area and use four wheel drive. 20.2 miles from Whitney Pockets BLM113 meets BLM111. Stay on BLM113 and continue down the wash. At the National Park Service boundary the road becomes NPS1213. There will be several sandy sections so stay in four wheel drive.
Please watch out for desert tortoise in this area. They are slow moving and may just look like a rock in the road. They are especially active in the spring. They should not be disturbed. Enjoy watching it from a distance and alert other motorists if it is in the road.
From the BLM111 junction to Tassi Ranch it is 14.8 miles. The road continues about a mile past the ranch to a view of the now dry Grand Wash Bay. Some old maps show that the lake is still here and there is a boat launch. According to the Bureau of Reclamation, it would take 10 years of 200% snowpack in the mountains to provide enough water to fill Lake Mead.
Feel free to walk around the historic structures and up the hill to see the spring. Please do not step in the trickle of water from the spring as it is home to some rare species. This water is not safe to drink. It must be boiled.
The small rocky canyon across the wash from the ranch ruins has fossils that can be seen in the cliff walls. Be alert for bees that sometimes have colonies on the cliff. They will be acting in spring and fall.
To return to Mesquite a visit to Pakoon Springs and then over Lime Kiln Pass is adventurous and provides additional scenery. Take NPS1213/BLM113 back north to BLM111. Take BLM111 north. Continue on BLM111 north at the Y with BLM1007.
After about 2 miles north of the junction with BLM1007 you will reach the fenced in Pakoon Springs site. There is an entrance road at the upper end of the fenced area. Walk in from the parking area to the spring. This area is fragile and being rehabilitated so please walk on the paths only.
After visiting this site, continue north on BLM111 to the junction with CR101. You can either continue on BLM111 back to Whitney Pockets and Mesquite, or turn onto CR101 and head north on the east slopes of the Virgin Mountains. You will eventually reach Red Pockets, another area of colorful rocks, and a four-way intersection. Turn left on CR242 to Lime Kiln Pass. If this area had a severe monsoon storm in the last few days, the road at the pass may only be passable by UTVs. UTV traffic usually moves the large rocks out of the way within a day and the road is again passable by most high clearance 4x4s. Once you are about one mile west of the pass the road becomes very well maintained as it descends to Mesquite.
Last updated: April 20, 2018