The Little River That Could:
Nevada's Amargosa River

A Photo Essay, Part 3: Northern Reach.

We begin roughly where the Amargosa grows from several lesser tributaries into a named river, at Oasis Valley just above Beatty, and follow it down into the central Amargosa Valley.


Within sight of the mountains of Pahute Mesa, the Oasis Valley's springs water a meadow:

 The rivulets that run through this meadow are busily making a canyon where the valley ends:

The white around the edges of the expanding canyon is salt, even though nearby mountains still carry snow:

At the bottom of the drainage in the above picture, another rivulet flows through a meadow from the west to join the nascent Amargosa River:

A little farther down the river looks like a real river as it flows toward Beatty:


About three miles north of Beatty the new river is fed by a tributary of some size, the one that drains the western portion of Timber Mountain, visible in the distance:

Just because there is no water flowing on the surface of this tributary as it merges with the river does not mean it is not making a contribution:


Beatty is approached from the north by the river, and as the town begins there are seeps near the river that, no doubt, also feed the subsurface portion of the river:

The river runs through the town:

The town of Beatty has a nice rocky setting with some sizable mountains around it, the Bare Mountains dominate the background in this view to the northeast:

Looking to the north-northwest gives another view of the Oasis Valley area with the western extent of Pahute Mesa and its associated peaks on the skyline:

As the river leaves Beatty on the southeast, it is gurgling happily and supporting plant and animal life, burros in this case:

As I tried to sneak up on this little herd of wild burros, its watchman snorted, and it was then I realized I was being watched, and warned:

Farther to the southeast the river enters Amargosa Valley, has water on one side of a road, and is dry on the other!  It stays dry the rest of its trip through its namesake valley:

Of course a sizable storm can change this picture and make water flow in this channel, but these pictures were taken within days of sizable winter storms, and the dryness is obvious.  That the river carries quite a load beneath its surface is obvious from the farming activity it supports just a few miles downstream, however.


But before we enter central Amargosa Valley, it is necessary to appreciate that the Amargosa Desert to the west, draining the Grapevine Mountains that divide it from Death Valley, also contribute to the Amargosa's subterranean flow:


When the Amargosa River is well into the main Amargosa valley, it is joined by what is probably its largest tributary:  Forty-Mile Wash.  Forty-Mile Wash drains the eastern part of Timber Mountain and its neighbors.  Here is what it looks like on the Nevada Test Site looking north to some of the uplands that it drains, but Timber Mountain is off the picture to the left:

A few yards downstream, there is a sizable canyon associated with this wash:

And looking straight south into Amargosa Valley shows the Funeral Range in the distance, at the base of which flows the Amargosa, in a manner of speaking:

A good place to end this section is seeing the wash enter Amargosa Valley, at a highway crossing with culverts.  We will pick up the Forty-Mile Wash as we visit the valley:

 Go Home

Go to first Amargosa River page: Orientation

Go to second Amargosa River page: Helpers

CURRENT  --  Go to third Amargosa River page: Northern Reach

NEXT  --  Go to fourth Amargosa River page: Amargosa Valley

Go to fifth Amargosa River page: South of Eagle Mountain

Go to sixth Amargosa River page: In Death Valley