Black Mountain is a beautiful mountain in the River Mountains which rise straight above Boulder City. Black Mountain is also next to Red Mountain
and both can be climbed easily on the same trip.
While I thought that Red Mountain was slightly prettier when viewed from its base, the summit area of Black Mountain is more scenic and it is the better of the two climbs.
The River Mountains are a small, but spectacular and colorful mountain range made of volcanic rock. Both Red and Black Mountains offer views of Lake Mead, but Black Mountain has the better views of the lake itself. The mountains are known for bighorn sheep and desert tortoise habitat.
Black Mountain as seen from the summit of Red Mountain. Lake Mead can be seen in the background.
Getting ThereRiver Mountain Trailhead
The River Mountain Trailhead is located right at the north end of Boulder City. If approaching Boulder City from the west, take a left at the second stoplight (towards Hoover Dam) [this is the junction of Nevada Highway and Buchanan/Highway 93) and drive 0.7 miles to the marked trailhead.
Black Mountain from not far above the trailhead.
Bootleg Wash Trailhead
Just as you enter Boulder City from the west or just as you are leaving Boulder City from the east, turn north on Yucca Street. Follow the road to the trailhead near its end. This is about three miles from Highway 93 and much of it is on a steep gravel road.
Routes OverviewRiver Mountains Trail
This is the recommended route up Black Mountain. It is longer and more difficult than the Bootleg Wash Route, but it is also a much more scenic route and the trail is in good condition. The trail leads to the south summit of Black Mountain which is 3540 feet elevation. The true summit is to the north and is 3628 feet elevation. I am not sure if off-trail hiking is allowed in order to reach the more northerly summit. The route doesn’t look that difficult, but since this is a trail constructed through a natural easement of Boulder City, off trail hiking might not be encouraged.
This route to Black Mountain (South Summit) is 5.2 miles round trip with 1200 feet elevation gain.
The true summit of Black Mountain as seen from the south summit.
Bootleg Canyon Trail
This is the shortest route up Black Mountain. It is a fairly short hike, but it might make a good biking route if you start lower down on the mountain from Yucca Drive. Form the upper trailhead, it is only about 1.2 miles round trip to the east summit of Black Mountain.
Motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trails.
There are several campgrounds nearby at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Each campground is currently (2012) $10 per night per individual site, plus $10 entrance fee to visit the Recreational Area. Boulder Beach is the closest campground to Boulder City in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. See below for a list of campgrounds in the Recreational Area:
Keep in mind that some of the nearby casinos, including near the lake have really good deals for much of the year and may be as cheap as the campgrounds!
When to Climb
October through April is the ideal season to climb in the River Mountains. Occasional storms do pass by in winter and mornings can be cool, but snow is rare. Even April and October have their occasional hot days.
Morning hikes in May and September might be reasonable, but June through early September can be extremely hot. There are no water sources anywhere on these hikes.
View east from the summit of Black Mountain on a nice day in late November. Lake Mead, the Hoover Dam and the Bridge can all be seen.
Mountain ConditionsWeather Forecast for River Mountains
Below is the National Weather Service Climate Summary for Boulder City. The data is from 1931-2004. Boulder City is at 2520 feet elevation and temperatures on the highest summits of the River Mountains will be only be about 3 degrees colder than in Boulder City.
|MONTH||AVE HIGH||AVE LOW||REC HIGH||REC LOW||AVE PREC (in)|