Virgin Mountains


By: Wes Shelberg


The name Virgin Mountains is applied to a range of high summits that is approximately 37 miles long and situated on sections of the following 15-min. quadrangles: Gold Butte, NV-AZ; Virgin Peak, NV-AZ; Cane Springs, AZ; and Littlefield, AZ. Geographically, the range starts in Nevada adjacent to the Nevada-Arizona boundary about 18 miles north of Lake Mead's Iceberg Canyon, extends north in Nevada adjacent to the boundary for 14 miles, bends approximately northeast into Arizona, continues approximately northeast for 23 miles, and ends at the Virgin River only six miles south of the Arizona-Utah boundary. Geologically, the range continues north of the Virgin River far into Utah and is named the Beaver Dam Mountains north of the river. The Virgin River simply occupies a major gorge through the mountain range. VABM Virgin (8075-ft.) is the high point of the Virgin Mountains and is located on the Virgin Peak Quadrangle, map coordinates 579542. Climbing VABM Virgin is rewarding because of the rugged beauty of its setting and summit views.

A one-day solo climb revealed a long, narrow, deep (roughly 1500-ft.), steep-sided, gently-inclined valley of pinyon pines; jagged limestone cliffs; and huge summit ridges. Vegetation seen at 6000-8000-ft. elevations included pinyon pines, junipers, mountain mahogany, agave, manzanita, Mormon tea, and two kinds (?) of cactus. Summit views included the Virgin River, Mormon Mountains, East Mormon Mountains, Moapa Peak, Sheep Range (with Hayford Peak), Valley of Fire, Muddy Mountains, Lake Mead and its Overt on Arm, Mount Trumbull, Pine Valley Mountains north of St. George, and the Beaver Dam Mountains. Be sure to view the precipice about 100-yds. north of the summit cairn/register since this observation point reveals ruggedness and beauty not visible at the cairn, including large trees far down on the north face of the mountain which looked like a variety of douglas fir.

The driving route taken to the road-head for climbing VABM Virgin is shown nicely on the Lake Mead portion of the AAA San Bernardino County Map. Take Interstate Highway 15 northeast from Glendale, Nevada for 18.5 miles; turn right (south) and cross the Virgin River at Riverside, Nevada; turn right (southwest) and take the New Gold Butte Road to the end of the pavement (21.3 miles) which is at a major road junction (shown on the accompanying topographic map); take the left (easterly) gravel fork for 2.4 miles to a gravel side road; turn left (north) and proceed about one mile to the road-head suitable for two-wheel drive or else 2.4 miles to the road-head for four-wheel drive. Both road-heads are marked on the accompanying topographic map. The latter road-head is identified by a very large piece of abandoned iron.

The climbing route taken to VABM Virgin is traced on the accompanying topographic map. Starting at the four-wheel drive road-head, it followed the left (north) fork of the canyon and followed an old jeep road (obliterated in many places) for three miles to elevation 6120-ft., gained the west ridge of the valley as traced on the map (a bit brushy for an initial short distance), and then followed the west ridge to the summit. From the four- wheel drive road-head, the one-way distance to the summit is 4.6 miles as measured on the map, the elevation difference is 3275-ft., and the route is Class 2. A register was left.

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