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Las Vegas

Stories, pictures, and information about a variety of attractions around Las Vegas that lie outside of the main gambling entertainment industry.

Knob Hill


Short stories chronicling off-road adventures near Las Vegas and interesting places within Las Vegas itself.



Knob Hill

Joseph Bostic

Date:.........December 30, 1999
Destination:..Knob Hill & vicinity
Duration:.....Day trip (5 hours)
Weather:......Clear and mildly cool
Adventurers:..5 (Kendal, Mike, Dwight, Ted, Amy, Joe)



The miniQuest gang was on vacation. The weather looked nice. Heck, it was time for an impromptu off-road adventure. The question was, where to go? There were many choices, but Ted told us of a place that he visited decades ago that was a prehistoric Indian gathering place. He told us tales of endless fields of pottery fragments and Indian arrowheads. The location is south of Boulder City and Nelson. Not far.

Ted, Amy, Joe, Dwight, Kendal, Mike

We meet at Westwood and begin the journey. Ted leads the 'caravan' of two vehicles. As we pass through Henderson, Ted takes an off ramp and heads into town. A quick radio conversation reveals that he is going to pick up his little sister (Amy).

Very soon we were traveling south of Boulder City through Eldorado Valley. Along this road, we could see a long line of vehicles in the opposite lane. Cars were trying to pass trucks by darting in and out of oncoming traffic. These crazy drivers were causing us to swerve onto the shoulder just to avoid colliding head-on. It was rather exciting to play this game of 'chicken'. I don't have any pictures of these close calls with death. I was too busy, err, screaming.

Knob Hill Road

Telephoto view of one of the "knobs" near Knob Hill. You can see this (tiny) knob in the picture on the left.

Distant view of the boulder field

South of the Nelson turnoff, we reach the road that heads toward Knob Hill. By the way, there was a previous miniQuest that went to Nelson.

After only a mile or two we crest a hill to view a strange area. This area was covered with all shapes and sizes of rounded boulders.

We stop to admire the view before continuing. By "we", I mean Kendal, Mike, and myself.

Ted, Amy, and Dwight have zoomed ahead and are at the boulder field by the time these pictures were taken. 

Cottonwood Desert Management Area
Limited Use Area
In area beyond sign vehicles must remain on designated routes no cross-country travel obey posted signs

Boulder Field

This is one of several campfire rings in the area.

Field of boulders. They were all rounded and made of a strange rocky, yet crunchy, material.

This place, with all these rocks, was in stark contrast to the rest of the desert.

There was a campsite located here as well. It would make a good location for a stargazing party.

Ted, Amy, and Dwight spread out looking for ancient artifacts. Mike, Kendal, and I climb rocks and explore the area. There were plenty of places to climb and explore.

Kendal waves from the very top of this mountain of boulders. You may have to click on this picture to be able to see him.

Kendal decides to climb to the very top of a nearby mountain of boulders. He later explained that this mountain was riddled with caves and chimneys. I could believe it since even the smaller piles of boulders had 'caves' of this kind.

Life Forms

A mean-looking ant. My theory is that it bites like a black ant and stings like a red ant, but I sure wasn't going to verify that.

In addition to boulders, this area had some life forms. Primarily bushes and cacti, but also ants, ladybugs, and a dog (I think).

Ladybug, Ladybug, fly away home

I'm not really sure about the dog. There was a skull and what looked like a dog grave nearby, so it made sense. Well, ok, it might have been a coyote skull. Who can tell these things?



Skull of some kind. Dog? Coyote? Gorilla? We may never know.

And speaking of things we can't really identify... it looked like there was Tiberium (a substance prominent in the Command & Conquer series) growing on some of the rocks.

Strange Tiberium-like substance growing on the rocks.

I suppose this could have been lichen, but my vote is for Tiberium.

[Tiberium Riparius: is a mineral substance delivered to Earth by meteorite. It is composed of inorganic matter, but grows like a plant. It has a poisonous effect on humans and spreads rapidly.]

This barrel cactus grows right out of the boulder!

There were quite a few scrub bushes and cacti in the area. Many were growing directly out of the boulders -- quite bizarre.

Rock Forms

Scalloped depressions in the rocks defied explanation.

The rock formations in the area were just as interesting as the flora & fauna.


Is that a rock or a giant egg?

All the rocks had rounded edges. Imagine if you will a giant rock tumbler that someone filled with boulders but before the boulders were completely smooth, they were tossed out in this area. If you can imagine that, then you have a good idea of what this place is like.

Ribs or veins on this rock. Other rocks in the area had knobs and splotches.

There were a few peculiarities however. Some of the rocks had protrusions of a different color, strange scalloped depressions, and veins or ribs on them. Go figure.

This is how it must have looked to the early explorers before color was invented.

If we found this place fascinating, just imagine what the early explorers thought of this area? They were probably cursing because trying to haul a wagon through this area without the benefit of roads would be a major pain.


During this exploration time, Ted, Amy, and Dwight were scouring the area looking for ancient Indian artifacts. Last time Ted was here, he collected buckets of pottery shards and arrowheads. I couldn't wait to see what he found.

This is what was found. The fragment of pottery (upper left) was the only thing worthwhile. The other items are a bullet and some rock fragments that vaguely resemble arrowheads.

When we gathered together to view their discoveries, it was rather disappointing. It seems Dwight was not as lucky as he was in the can-field of another trip. Ted's search was just as futile as on another previous trip. Amy found a piece of pottery however!

Considering all the hype about artifacts, this was rather disappointing. All hope is not lost since the trip is not yet over.

We get ready to head out, but where to go? Why, east of course, toward the Colorado river.

A Mine

Amy, Ted, and Mike patrol the perimeter of the fenced off mine entrance.

What off-road trip in Nevada would be complete without finding an abandoned mine? Naturally, we find one. Or rather Ted finds one since he is leading the way. As abandoned mines go, this was pitifully small. But it was a mine, so we had to stop, check it out, and take pictures.

A vat of some kind. What are these used for? My guess is some kind of chemical leeching process.

Although it was small, it did have an ubiquitous vat. We have seen vats like this before.

Power-Line Road

View of the Colorado river. The power-line road begins from this point. The road goes up and down, but mostly down from this location.

This next part of the journey travelled along a power-line road. Now, if you haven't seen one of these roads, let me give you a bit of background. A power-line road is unpaved, narrow, seldom traveled, and leads from one power line pole to the next.

Ever wonder what the inside of a big power-line tower looks like? Wonder no more.

Consider that power-lines travel in a straight line and usually from one hilltop to the next and the result is that this power-line road went up and down over each hilltop -- up and down, up and down, up and down. Oh, I should add the word "steeply" to that description.

There were countless of these, whatcha-macallits growing about. They were about the size of a baseball, but much fuzzier.

At the beginning of this road, we stop to admire the view of the Colorado river in the distance.


Mike decides to decorate Ted's (T-Bone's) car while Ted wasn't looking.

We can see the road crest over every single hill between our location and the river below. It looked like we were in for a roller-coaster ride. Woo hoo!

Do you smell something burning?

Time to head down the power-line road. Ted shoots off first, naturally, and we follow. This road was narrow, steep, and had a precipice to one side. After a long descent a definite burning smell was detected. Check engine temperature gauge -- all is well. Hmmm.

We reach the top of the next small rise and Ted has stopped and is looking at the engine. Uh oh. We stop and get out too. Phew! The burning smell is strong now. Vehicle trouble -- this is going to be fun.

Ted explains the problem. It seems that his brakes are no longer working. On a steep dangerous road like this, that is the land thing you want to discover.

Ted checks the brake fluid and sees that it is fine. Dwight really checks the brake fluid (Ted was actually checking the power steering fluid) and yes, the brake fluid is just fine.

The consensus is that the brakes must have overheated. We decide to wait a bit for the brakes to cool down and see if that solves the problem. What else could we do?

After a few minutes the burning smell stopped and the brakes returned to normal. For the rest of the descent, Ted kept it in low gear.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Travel only on routes designated by this symbol. All vehicles must be street legal. No target shooting.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

We finally reach the bottom of the hill and enter Lake Mead National Recreation Area. It was getting late, so instead of continuing on to the water, we decide to cut over toward Nelson and work our way back to town.

We come across signs that say "Keep Out", "Security Check Ahead", "Road Closed", and "Private Property". Finally we come to a road block. This area is near Nelson's Landing and has a reputation of being a lawless 'trespass at our own risk' mining area. We must be careful.

This is the mining operation behind the road block and the warning signs.

Time to turn around, but not before Mike walks around the roadblock and climbs a hill to see what is hidden beyond.

Do you hear something hissing?

We turn around and head down another dirt road. This time it should connect to Nelson's Landing. This road looked familiar from the last trip to this area.

It wasn't very long before we discover that I have a flat tire! Flat tires happen with some frequency on these trips.

Kendal and I change the tire. The rest just stand around and give advice. Sheesh.

Ted finds a very spiny cactus ball. The thorns are barbed and refuse to be extracted from the skin.

Ted gets bored and explores the desert. He finds a cactus. Well, more like he finds the tip of a spiny cactus thorn. These thorns have barbs and resist extraction when embedded in the skin.

The tire is changed in a jiffy and we proceed to Nelson's Landing. This is a strange little town. It has a long mining history and was the subject of a previous trip.

A potty'd plant

The sun has just set, so we decide to zip through the town. On the way through, Dwight remembers a house here that has severed heads in the window (I told you it was a strange town). "Let's drive by and take some pictures." We find the House of the Severed Heads, but there were people there. Nix the idea stopping to gawk.

In memory of Clarabelle Douglas. Pioneer teacher of Nelson Nevada.

Another house in the area had a funky display in the yard. No one was about here, so we stopped briefly to examine it.



Time to head home. So we do.

This ends another miniQuest adventure!

The End