Yucca Peak Project* (N of Las Vegas, NV)

H.W. Stockman
Saturday April 23, 2005

This 7103' peak is near the southern end of the Sheep Range. A register was placed on top in 1996, by Gordon MacLeod and friends of the Desert Peaks Section; they referred to the peak simply as "VABM 7103". The survey lists the benchmark name as "Yucca", probably because it is adjacent to the named Yucca Forest. Later, someone wrote in the register that it was "Yucca Peak", choosing the name on the benchmark PID entry as the name of the mountain. Subsequently the basic hike was described by Jim Boone.

The basic hike (the red, NOT magenta track in the 24k map) is fairly easy, with ~2200' accumulated elevation gain. However, it would a miserably (perhaps fatally) hot trek in the summer. If you go there, go in cool weather. The rock is very frictional, but since few make this hike, there are many loose fragments on the cliffs that cannot be trusted as hand- or foot-holds. There is no trail; the many ridges look the same on the way down, and some end in cliffs, so either bring a GPS or pay close attention on the way up. There are places where you could either go up slippery talus, or go up the frictional rock; the rock generally provides better footing. The magenta route is challenging, with dryfalls, cliffs, and loose talus to negotiate.

To get to the hike, take i95 NW from Vegas, then turn right at the road to Corn Creek Station and the Desert Wildlife Center. Past the Center, turn right and follow the directions for the Mormon Wells Road (see green-yellow highlighted road on 100k map).

This hike was a pleasant surprise for me. We had cool weather, and the slopes were covered with small flowers, principally phacelias. The terrain would probably be much drabber in the fall, or in a dry year. The slopes are fairly open, so there is little brush abrasion on the standard route.


The 100k map showing the route from Corn Creek Station (N of i95).


Our GPS trace on 24k map. The magenta line shows our side excursions on the way down. We saw that six 40' contour lines converged above the mysterious CAVE label (Latin for "beware"); what could this mean? We had to go investigate. Imagine our surprise to find a 200'+ dryfall.


Bigelow and Parry Monkeyflowers.





Claret cups.


More Claret Cups.

Alda on way up.





View ~SW. The very west edge of Vegas is at left.


Panorama ~SW, Mummy Mt in center.


Look at me!






We detoured to look at this odd wreckage -- perhaps something meant to be airborne, with light honey-combed aluminum-skin panels. A friend later suggested it was a radar reflector, perhaps ground-based and meant to keep jets from smashing into the Sheep Range.


There is badly dry-rotted wood in the structure, and there are many thin steel cables.





At one time the separate vanes were apparently connected at this octahedral aluminum-and-fiberglass hub.


For all the attempts at light weight, there are these heavy steel chocks.


View of the honeycomb.





Alda on way down to investigate the mysterious "CAVE" (Latin for "beware") on 24k map.


Crinoid fossils.


A cave, by the "8" of 5284T on the 24k map.





Mohave Aster with moth.


Fremont Phacelia.


Many Fremont Phacelias.





A legume, possibly Newberry Milkvetch, possibly a locoweed.


Desert Marigold.


Another species of Phacelia, possibly Lace-leaf.





Purplemat or Desert Mat.


Cryptanth, probably Forget-Me-Nots.


Yellow cryptanth.




*We began to wonder, is this the same as the Yucca Mountain planned for nuclear waste storage? This mountain doesn't seem like a good place to store nuclear waste. For one thing, it is too close to the new affordable housing developments that will soon ring the Desert Wildlife Refuge and snake up the i95 valley to Mt Charleston and beyond. This new growth is vital to the economy of Las Vegas and our politicians, who depend upon the support of developers to carry out civic duties. The new construction provides jobs, and a visit to any construction site should convince you that the vast majority of construction employees are long-standing citizens of Las Vegas, who are likely to spend their incomes in town. More important, this mountain is too close to the water sources in north Clark County and Lincoln County; those sources must be kept pure, to provide water for the plants, pools, golf courses, showers, dishwashers and flush toilets that will service the new homes.