The drive to Little Finland, Whitney Pocket, and many other backcountry locations in Gold Butte National Monument
starts along Gold Butte Road
, 3 miles from I-15 exit 112. This narrow road runs alongside the east bank of the Virgin River for a few miles, passing no development apart from a melon farm, cultivating one of the few flat areas hereabouts; most of the river is enclosed by low, dusty hills. The road surface is good at first but becomes more bumpy as the route turns southeast, climbing into the hills then descending after a while to a wide plain, reaching a junction after 14 miles. Continuing straight on, the road becomes partially unpaved though still relatively good, as it crosses desert flats, soon coming close to a red rock outcrop, and another just after, beside a second junction, where Black Butte Road
forks off southwards. Whitney Pocket is short distance ahead, around a third junction, and here Gold Butte Road bears right (south). Although still a major backcountry route, the surface is now noticeably more uneven, formed of hard-pressed stones, and it becomes steadily rougher. The next intersection is after 7.2 miles, just after the crossing of Mud Wash
, where a short track leads southwest to a sinkhole (Devils Throat
), just before which another route - Mud Wash Road
- forks off westwards, following close to (or directly along) the wash for 6.6 miles. The final section (2 miles) is back east, up a tributary drainage to the base of the Little Finland plateau. This wash has in the past been fenced off by the BLM a little way from the plateau, entailing an extra half mile walk, but the barrier has recently been removed.
Little Finland sits on top of a flat bench, about 50 feet above the sandy ground to the west, across which runs a small, branched, seasonal wash, the surroundings partly stained white by salt deposits. A similar whitish covering has formed around some of the red rock formations, more so in recent years, which adds another contrasting element to the landscape. Seeps at the base of the bench sustain several large palm trees, an unusual sight in this generally arid, desert region. The rocks extend about half a mile north to south, the best ones concentrated around the north end and close to the western edge. As ever, sunrise and sunset are the best times for photography since the colors are richer and the shadows more interesting, but there is enough variety of form and color for good scenes at any point in the day. Many formations look superficially similar, however, and it does take some time to find interesting perspectives.
Driving Route Map