Lava Butte is situated Northeast of Las Vegas just outside the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. A mild peak, it offers a workout for your legs while hopping the dark, iron oxide covered lava rocks. The hike is short in duration but steep for the majority of the climb. In addition, Lava Butte rewards nice summit views of the surrounding mountainous areas, as well as Lake Mead, the City of Las Vegas, and Lake Las Vegas.
Lava Butte is accessible via Northshore Road. From I-15 North, Exit East Lake Mead Boulevard and drive east for 13.3 miles. You will be driving through the City of North Las Vegas towards the mountains. Continue past the base of Sunrise and Frenchman Mountains, and turn right onto a gravel road. You will see a sign across from your turn that says Lake Mead Remediation Area. After turning right, the road will fork after a quarter mile. Take the right fork and continue over this rough road. A 2WD vehicle with high clearance can make this trip okay, although the road has a bit of loose sand in the lower areas where it crosses a couple of washes. All told you will drive approximately 2.5 miles from the initial turn off to the parking area, which is beneath some power lines. The road will fork on occasion, but has markers that say Lava Butte along the way, take note because if you see a marker for Rainbow Gardens you will know you are off course. If you come to the fork and there are no markers, take the left fork about two miles into the drive. Taking a passenger car may entail some risk, but I have seen others accomplish the feat.
None, but watch the weather, you do not want to be caught in the rain while on the back roads of this area due to the many washes carved out by flash floods.
When To Climb
As with all desert peaks, Lava Butte should be climbed in cooler weather if you are unaccustomed to the environment. There are no water sources in the area. Springtime is the best time to do this peak. As you face Lava Butte, aim for the saddle on your left (south), which will gain a ridge all the way to the top. There is no real trail on this hike, although from time to time you may see remnants of one. Prior to reaching the saddle, you will cross over some rocky washes and possibly a ravine, depending on how direct an approach you take. Once at the saddle it is a straightforward steep hike west along a ridge, with plenty of bouldering to the top. If the terrain is too tough to climb over, simply drop to the left side of the boulders on the ridge where you may again see a semblance of a route.
The area, due to its rocky terrain and hard soil is not conducive to camping. There are no permits required should you decide to camp, but expect to be awakened by off road vehicles, as this is a popular area for their use.