Pakoon Springs Trail

Pakoon Springs area map
Directions: From Interstate 15, take Bunkerville Exit 112. Follow Riverside Road east across the Virgin River, then right on the paved but rough Gold Butte road to Whitney Pockets. Take either 111 or 113 to Pakoon Springs. Tassi Ranch is another interesting destination with its own spring.

NPS

Distance: 1 mile/1.6km round trip
Time: 1 hour round trip
Elevation: The area is about 2,281 feet/695 meters above sea level. The trail gains less than 30 feet/9 meters elevation.
Best Time to Visit: Fall, Winter, Spring (Summer temperatures can be extreme, up to 115 degrees Fahrenheit/46 degrees Celsius)

The new Pakoon Springs Trail is a 1 mile round trip stroll from the trailhead just off County Road 111. It is located in the Grand Wash between the Grand Wash Cliffs and the Virgin Mountains. A vault toilet was installed in 2020.

The trail to the springs is impassible after rain due to deep clay mud.

The trail starts surrounded by typical Mohave Desert plants, then crosses a clay floodplain. It then gently ascends the spring mound itself, made of evaporated minerals from tens of thousands of years of evaporation. The mound is a whitish color and composed primarily of calcium carbonate (limestone), gypsum, and other trace minerals. The trail loops around the spring mound. Look for water emerging from multiple spots. This is a great place to observe bird species. Nonnative burros, which were brought to the area by miners 150 years ago, may also be seen, or sometimes just heard, in the area.
 
Aerial trail map showing the path to the springs
The "Bat Run Pool" was constructed to allow bats to swoop in to drink water. They need a long run of open water that isn't choked by plants like cattails to crash into. They fly down, open their mouth, dip their open jaw in water and fill their mouth, then they fly back up into the sky!

Google Earth background image.

The largest spring pool, about 10 feet across and 3-4 feet deep, is on the south side of the mound. Look for a large willow tree at the edge of the pool which can be mostly hidden by cattails and other plants. Linger for a few minutes to watch as bubbles percolate up through the water. These are gases from deep in Earth's crust, including a small amount of helium from decaying uranium in the mantle. Small mosquitofish also inhabit the pool. These are not native, they are an introduced species and will be removed soon as they eat native species. Just down from the pool is the new bat run built to help native bat species drink or catch insects attracted to the water.

The water of Pakoon Springs comes from high in the Virgin and Black Rock Mountains. It percolates to this spot where a fault forces the water to the surface. These waters have been important to people for thousands of years. Pakoon Springs is the most productive spring in the monument. The other spring is Tassi further down the Grand Wash where the historic Tassi Ranch ruin is located on the NPS1213 road.

In summer it is not recommended to travel to this area due to extreme heat and lack of cell phone service. In addition, the vegetation may overgrow the trail. The best time to explore this trail is the month of April when temperatures are moderately warm and flowers are blooming. The fall is also a great time to visit although by then some of the green vegetation will begin dying back.
 
view of geologic formations that show old lava and a volcanic neck
View north from a mesa to Pakoon Springs (the green area in the upper center of photo). The Virgin Mountains are on the skyline to the northwest The 3.6 million year old Pakoon Springs volcanic neck is in the foreground. Other lava flows from that time form the black-topped hills in the distance.

J. Axel - NPS

Last updated: May 18, 2021

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Mailing Address:

345 East Riverside Drive
St. George , UT 84790

Phone:

435 688-3200
Phones are answered Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. The information center is closed on Saturday and Sunday as well as all federal holidays.

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