Pahrump Correspondence – June 2019

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Beach Front Property and the Last Chance Range

Now you can buy beachfront property in Pahrump. No, the state of California didn’t fall into the ocean, despite some people not caring if it did.  About 225 million years ago, the Battle-born state was covered by ocean waters, and like most of the state, the local mountains bear witness. Pahrump has several easily accessed locations to see this. One of those locations is the Last Chance Mountain Range, located at the northern part of the Pahrump Valley.

This area lies just north of the town of Pahrump near Johnnie, which is 15 miles from the center of Pahrump off of Highway 160. The spot is a few miles south of Johnnie. The Last Chance Mountain Range runs north and south along Highway 160. This is the easiest access to see the fossils.

                                       Crinoid fossils in the Last Chance Range

If you are in the town of Pahrump, head north along the highway towards Johnnie; the Last Chance Range will be on your left-hand side. You know you have reached the destination when you cross over the cattle guard. In this location, you can park the car alongside the highway and walk up to the mountain. There you will find evidence of a coral reef. Shell fossils are just a couple hundred feet from the highway. If you look closely, sometimes you will see shells. Most of the fossils in the area though are called “Crinoids.” These animals had tentacles and are related to the sea urchins and starfish of today. They can be found all throughout the valley, in the Spring Mountains and even the Nopah Range, further to the southwest. But this spot is the best spot to see this without having to   travel far in the car.

The Last Chance Range also provides a good area for hiking that is easily accessible from the highway. Again, It takes about 15 minutes from town to get to this area.  Park the car just north of the cattle guard about 1.2 miles and you will see a trail on the left. This trail will take you into the interior of the range, where one can see Bighorn sheep and wild donkeys and horses.

Usually, to see animals like the Bighorn and the wild horses one has to travel up into the Spring Mountains, but in Pahrump, the horses can be seen from the highway. The sheep are known to frequent the Spring Mountains and at times can be seen from Highway 160 going towards through the pass at the 5,000-foot level. Residents of Pahrump that live near the Last Chance Range talk about just walking out to the range and seeing the sheep on a regular basis.  Some even claim to have seen them from their own back yards.

Take an easy three-mile hike around the base of one of the smaller peaks. The trails are easy to follow and will take you through some scenic mountain country and great rock hound country.

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For those who like to ride off-road, these trails are also great for that. The trails are not suitable for mountain biking, due to their rockiness.

Riding an ATV, the trails are fast and can be challenging, depending on the speed. Whatever the mode of transportation, it is fun to lose sight of civilization and enjoy the quiet of the desert.

Historically, the area was heavily mined for gold and still is.  The Congress Mine is near Johnnie and can provide a good adventure for the whole family.

In this area of the town there are few eateries and lodging. Java Junkies serves great coffee, sandwiches and pizza. It’s near Rosemary Clarke Middle School at a Horizon Gas Station. It makes for a good jumping off point and a place to safely park your car if you have off-road vehicles.  Most of the land in the area is BLM land, and one can camp for free on that land. Treasures RV is the largest RV park on the northern side and also has a restaurant and bar.

— Vernon Hee

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