Bonanza Peak, one of the northernmost named peaks in the Spring Mountains, is the 5th highest mountain in southern Nevada. Lying just to the north/northwest of the visually very-impressive McFarland Peak
, Bonanza Peak’s gentle, forested slopes don’t appear that interesting to the more adventurous hiker/scrambler/climber/mountaineer.
Indeed, though fantastic routes no doubt exist on the mountain’s slopes, the standard route involves only a few miles of easy trail, followed by a couple hundred feet of class 2.
Don’t be deterred from visiting this fine peak, however; there are number of good reasons to check it out:
1 The Bonanza Peak trailhead (Bonanza Trail) hosts a fine selection of wild horses, relics of the old mining days, who tend to be loitering in the area more times than not;
2) There are fine specimens of bristlecone pines, once believed to be the oldest living organisms in the world (I hear that scientists now believe a particular type of fungus may be older – kinda disappointing, if you ask me) in the summit area of the peak;
3) In spring, the Bonanza Trail on the way up to the peak has quite probably the best wildflower displays that I’ve ever seen in southern Nevada;
4) And needless to say, as with any high elevation desert peak, the high trail views are expansive and awe-inspiring, though the views from the tree-covered summit are less than awesome.
It's unlikely you'll see another person on this beautiful wilderness mountain.
*You might also check out a fledgling outdoor site (www.backcountry-explorer.com), which provides access to trip reports, beta, photos and other stuff covering hiking, scrambling, climbing and canyoneering around Las Vegas. A new hiking and scrambling guidebook, Rambles & Scrambles: The Definitive Guide to Peakbagging Around Las Vegas, is now available.
Take Highway 95 north from Las Vegas past both the Kyle Canyon Road and the Lee Canyon Road turn-offs on the left. Your turn-off, the Cold Creek turn-off, will be the third turn-off on the left and about an hour north of downtown Las Vegas. You can't miss it - there are huge prison facilities on both sides of the Cold Creek road, immediately off the highway.
Turn onto the signed Cold Creek road and follow it for 15-20 miles into the small community of Cold Creek (no services).
Stay on the main road until it turns into a dirt road near the base of Bonanza Peak (the large heavily-forested peak above the community; Willow Peak
is also looming over the community to the north of Bonanza Peak, but you won't be confused by which peak is which since Willow Peak was damaged in the past by a large fire and is essentially treeless).
Follow the dirt road for a couple of miles (the road deteriorates but is still passable to passenger cars) to an obvious parking area and a Bonanza Trail trailhead sign.
Keep your eyes peeled for wild horses around the trailhead - they are everywhere. I think I saw 7 when I was there.
There really isn't any red tape.
No permits are required to climb the mountain.
Parking is free and there are adequate spaces available for several vehicles.
Leave bristlecone wood alone when you encounter it. Don't steal it and don't burn it. From a scientific standpoint, fallen bristlecone wood is beneficial, nay, crucial in dating the trees and helping to identify geological/biological events having historically and prehistorically occurred. You never know if that neat-looking piece of bristlecone wood you're throwing on your backcountry campfire or lugging back to your garage is 4000 years old.
When To Climb
Bonanza Peak can be climbed year-round, though the standard route will be very snowy in winter and early spring because of its shady, eastern exposure.
The snow first starts to fall around the middle of October and tends to linger until June on northern exposures.
Backcountry camping is allowed without a permit, although wood fires are not.
The Willow Creek Campground is in the Cold Creek area, but I know nothing about it.
You can contact the Kyle Canyon Visitor's Center at 702-872-5486 to obtain current conditions for the Spring Mountains.