Sinkholes are well-known in humid areas with limestone bedrock. They are however unexpected in a desert landscape, so Devil’s Throat is a surprise.
This large sinkhole formed in 1908, when cowboys working in the area were startled by a roar and a column of dust in the distance. Upon investigation, they found a section of the desert floor had collapsed into a pit.
It’s believed this was caused by the dissolution of gypsum in the subsurface. Gypsum, calcium sulfate, like limestone, is barely soluble in water and the soils underlying this area are rich in the mineral. It’s thought that moving groundwater, over time, leached out enough gypsum to form a void, which then collapsed.
Know Before You Go
Devil's Throat now lies within Gold Butte National Monument. From the end of the pavement at Whitney Pocket go 7.1 miles toward Gold Butte on the Gold Butte Road.
The road is nominally graded but quite rough, and high clearance is strongly recommended. You will reach a signed intersection; turn right here. Devil's Throat is about a half-mile and is well marked.
The pit is fenced off for safety as it is still actively expanding. The edges are unstable, and indeed the fence gets relocated every few years. Please exercise extreme caution, especially with children and pets.