Elephant Head Rock – Gerlach, Nevada - Atlas Obscura

Elephant Head Rock

A remote, little-known natural arch in granite in the desert of northwestern Nevada. 

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An elephantine natural feature out on public land in the Nevada desert, with no interpretive signs or entry fees. It’s nonetheless surprisingly big to be so little known. Although the arch occurs in the (misnamed) Lava Beds, it’s in fact in fractured, weathered granite, which forms all the bedrock in the area. 

Know Before You Go

Access is not straightforward. It requires a high-clearance, 4wd vehicle, and can be difficult even so, especially in wet conditions. Roads are typically unsigned and in some places there are a welter of "use routes" due to washouts and road abandonments over the years, so that the correct road may not be obvious. The GPS coordinates of intersections are given as guides.

 The easiest route is probably from the west. Take Nevada State Route 447 44.1 miles north from its intersection with SR-446 at the Nixon store and turn right on a graded road (40.434147 N, 119.334079 W). This road should be signed "Limbo Pass."   Follow it approximately 15.5 miles, over Limbo Pass and into the valley beyond, to a T junction with another graded road at 40.471538 N, 119.119330 W. (There appears to be a continuation going straight, but it's washed out.) Turn left (north) for 0.2 mile and then turn right on another graded road at 40.475080 N, 119.119094 W. Go 4.6 miles, then turn left on a graded road coming in from the northwest (intersection at 40.457417 N, 119.037877 W).   Follow this road 2.8 miles to a primitive road coming in at a Y-junction (40.494175 N, 119.056545 W); turn right here.   Then follow this road 7.4 miles up a wash; Elephant Head Rock will come into view on the left (west). There is an obvious jeep track to near the base about 0.1 mile in. 

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March 9, 2022

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