And we’re back. This is Mr. New Vegas, and I feel something magic in the air tonight, and I’m not just talking about the gamma radiation.Mr. New Vegas
The Ivanpah Dry Lake area is one of my favorites to off-road, but the locations are reachable without a 4×4 as well. The area encompasses the large swath of land south of Primm, bordered by Nevada State Route 164 to the south, Interstate 15 to the west, and the McCullough Mountain range to the east.
For vehicles that prefer to stay on-road, you can see the dry lake area to your left as you are heading south on I-15. The way I like to off-road is by starting at the Yates Well Road exit off of I-15. It is the exit that you can take to check out the Ivanpah Solar Plant to the west. If you head east, you will find a dirt road called Ivanpah Road. It runs north to south and continues on past Nevada 164 into the Mojave Preserve.
You can also start on the same road but by First Solar Electric, but twice now I have tried to drive that way and it was blocked off with no indication as to why.
It is a gorgeous area no matter what season. If off-roading, use caution in the spring and winter months – melting snow makes east to west washes and it can get pretty bumpy! Oh and watch out for giant ants, but that goes without saying.
# 137 – Emergency service railyard
# 138 – Prospector’s Den
# 140 – Ivanpah Dry Lake
# 141 – Jack Rabbit Springs
# 142 – Coyote den
# 143 – Hidden supply cave
# 146 – Ivanpah race track
# 291 – Calada
# 137 – Emergency service railyard – The location that matches with this geographically is a solar energy plant, featuring the same cement platform and split by a railroad track through the middle. The location in our world is called First Solar Electric. It is pretty close to Primm, just to the east and a potential starting point for heading through the lake as mentioned above.
#140 – Ivanpah Dry Lake – This location exists in our world and is pretty awesome. There are designated places for windsailing and motorbiking. I read that in 2007, a wind powered vehicle called the Greenbird set a world land record for speed at 126 miles per hour. Terrifying! The mountains in the distance really make the two locations look similar.
If you head on Ivanpah Road from the south, you will come to a fork that shows how to get to the lake. When I drove the other direction, I totally missed this. You can’t take your vehicle into the dry lake area, but it is only a short walk from the gate.
# 146 – Ivanpah race track – Within the dry lake bed, you can see the same racetrack in our own world – even from the satellite images! The first time I found the place, I did not see anyone out here, but at the time it was 114 F / 45 C degrees. In subsequent trips, I saw some people out and about once the temperatures were less deadly.
# 141 – Jack Rabbit Springs – This location is north of the Ivanpah Dry Lake area, close to Death Valley National Park, namesake being singular, within Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. I drove up here on my birthday once. I can say it is quite the difference in scenery compared to where I am standing now. There is also a Jack Rabbit Spring in California, south of Fort Irwin.
# 291 – Calada – This location was cut from the final game, but it is a real location. It is considered a city south of Primm, but it does not have a population or structures of any kind. A ghost town in the truest sense of the word. You will likely pass through it on your way to or from the dry lake and not even realize it.
# 138 – The Prospector’s Den – The area behind the Ivanpah Dry Lake contains the McCullough Mountain Range, about ten miles away from I-15. As one could expect, there are many former mines in the area. The four on the map are Lucy Gray to the west and Double Standard, Lucky Dutchman, and Cumberland Group to the east.
If I loosely match up the in-game locations to these places, given there are no other locations of any kind out here, then they would coincide as Prospector’s Den = Lucy Grey, Dead Wind Cavern = Double Standard Mine, Coyote Den = Lucky Dutchman Mine, and Hidden supply cave = Cumberland Group Mine.
The mine that inhabits Prospector Den’s real world location, Lucy Grey Mine, is a small distance off of Nipton Desert Road. You might pass by it as you travel from Calada to Nipton, if you take this route. The mine area is pretty cool, with several outbuildings, abandoned mining equipment, and cryptic statements on the walls.
As an aside, I looked up and read all of the Nevada Supreme Court decisions in 1959 and did not find anything related to this place or to mining in general. So I am not sure why it was written on the side of the outbuilding.
Addendum: To negate my previous statement, you will most definitely need a 4×4 vehicle to drive here. I would actually recommend only driving part of the way and walking the rest, even with a high clearance vehicle. Mainly because the terrain is too unpredictable. I drove here once in the spring and it was totally fine, but then nearly got stuck on my recent return trip in some huge chasms that were most assuredly not there before.
I have hand crafted this map to help with some suggestions. The blue is where I suggest driving. On this trip I came up from Nipton on Nipton Desert Road, that runs parallel with the railroad tracks. The purple is a generalization of where to park. Just make sure not to park in any deep sand, which can be a pain in the you know what for any type of vehicle. The lime green is the way that I hiked.
It is a mostly flat hike until the end, where it is a small hill to the mine area. Nothing too wild, maybe a little over a mile. It took me an hour to get there and back, and that includes my meticulous taking of photos. You will know you are on the right track because the entire wash area is full of discarded old mining equipment that you can see as you progress along.
# 142 – Coyote den – Previously I wrote about the Coyote Den, former post office in Goodsprings. You can read about it by clicking here. There is also a multitude of Coyote-named areas around the general area, including Coyote Springs to the north, Coyote Trails, Coyote Falls and others.
The location assigned to this one in real life, Lucky Dutchman Mine, lacks the close proximity to the railroad tracks, but looks incredibly similar otherwise. A sign for the mine stands in Nipton, and a display yard shows all of the products that were mined from it in the past. The sign sort of alludes to it being an active mine, but I could not find any evidence of this, the photo below being the only thing I found in the general area. On some maps, the mine is referred to as “Colonel Sellers Claim” which may be an original name.
The sign reads: The Lucky Dutchman Mine originally was a gold and silver mine. It is located just a few miles east of Nipton. The Lucky Dutchman Mine is a local mine in the area for more than a [sic] 100 years. President Taft signed the patent in 1905.
# 143 – Hidden supply cave – The southern-most mine of the set, Cumberland Group Mine, is similar to the in-game location by the small detail of the door-like entrance, as opposed to the Lucky Dutchman that has an entrance much more akin to that of a cave. On some maps I saw it called “Oro Fino Mine” which is likely an original name.
To find both Lucky Dutchman and Cumberland Group mines, head past Nipton eastbound on 164. You will pass the state line and drive a little over a mile, taking your first available left. The mining operation is straight ahead. No one will care that you are there, if anyone is at the work site. They will just wave and go about their business.