Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Mount Charleston
Las Vegas, Nevada 89130
A particularly magnificent stretch of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest is known as the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area. Encompassing more than 316,000 acres, the region is ideally located just 30 minutes from downtown Las Vegas. Best known to locals as Mount Charleston, which is actually one of three congressionally designated wilderness areas in the region, the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area is home to the snow-capped peaks of southern Nevada and serves as a quick getaway for Las Vegas area residents and tourists alike. Both La Madre Mountain and Rainbow Mountain can be found in the area and are also congressionally designated wilderness areas, which combine with Mt. Charleston for a total of 79,500 acres.
The stunning Spring Mountains Recreation Area offers surprising diversity, thanks to its snowy mountaintops and hardy surrounding desert. The region includes all types of terrain, from low meadows to steep canyons to towering peaks. Dramatic elevations in the recreation area range anywhere from 3,000 feet to nearly 12,000 feet at the peak of Mt. Charleston. In addition to its native wildflowers, trees and shrubs, the unique landscape also boasts 58 plants and animals that can only be found in this beautiful, distinctive area. The region is also home to wild horses and burros, desert tortoises, deer, elk, coyotes, foxes and even bobcats, as well as songbirds, hummingbirds and various birds of prey. With its sprawling setting and fantastic location, the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area is a very popular spot for skiing and snowboarding, hiking, camping, climbing, wildlife and bird viewing and sightseeing.
Most of the trails in the Spring Mountains are open to horseback riders, although the U.S. Forest Service stresses that the trails are difficult. Good day rides include the lower section of the lower section of the Bristlecone Trail in Lee Canyon as well as the Fletcher Canyon Trail in Kyle Canyon. Horseback riders can reach Charleston Peak via the South Loop Trail (also known as the Spring Mountains National Recreation Trail) or North Loop Trail and Trail Canyon Trail. Horses should be in good condition and prepared for high altitude. All trails in both Lee Canyon and Kyle Canyon are considered challenging, many of the, steep, narrow, covered with shale and lacking water. The areas below 6,500' in elevation offer numerous forest service roads and trails winding through pinon juniper and other high-desert terrain. Riders should note that the roads and trails are also used by off-highway vehicles. Camping with horses is allowed, but weed-feed hay is required.
Getting There:Mt. Charleston is located 40 miles northwest of Las Vegas on U.S. 95 and State Routes 156 and 157.
Skiing, Boarding & Snowshoeing
Mt. Charleston, which is also home to the Las Vegas Valley Ski & Snowboard Resort, offers numerous backcountry trails with fresh powder. The towering Spring Mountains reveal several trails and steep slopes that are excellent for both downhill and cross-country skiers.
Getting There: Mt. Charleston is located 40 miles northwest of Las Vegas on U.S. 95 and State Routes 156 and 157.
The limestone cliffs of the Spring Mountains towering over the Las Vegas Valley make superb rock-climbing terrain. The mountain offers several climbing routes, including Angel Falls, The Hood (one of Mt. Charleston’s most popular and developed areas with four caves and routes up to 5.14a), Imagination Wall (with routes from 5.10 to 5.12) and Universal Wall (its “Hydra” route is 5.11+).
YDS: 5.2 - 5.14+
Getting There: Mt. Charleston is about 40 miles northwest of Las Vegas via U.S. 95 and State Routes 156 or 157
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