Only an hour to the northeast of Las Vegas' Strip lays a place of mystery, full of glorious geology and colorful Mojave Desert habitat. Lying on the north shore of Lake Mead, it is 18 miles long and 14 miles wide. This area is seen from Interstate 15 when one drives north from Las Vegas to the east northeast.
The landscape here is stunning. From the amazing sandstone formations in Hidden Valley to the Buffington Pockets one will not be disappointed.
Most of the areas of the Muddy Mountains are accessible from state and country roads. Access is provided by the BLM's Bitter Springs Back country Byway as well as North Shore Drive in the Lake Mead National Recreational Area. Buffinton Pockets
is accessed through the Bitter Springs Back country. Stunning Petroglyps exist here. Exploring deeper into this Mountain Range one can hike Muddy Peak, known as a fun challenging class 3 hike, or hike the highpoint of the range, Muddy Mountain. Muddy Mountain has bragging rights coming in at number 69
on the prominence list for Nevada.
Flora and Wildlife
Springtime is the best time of year to see awesome flower displays, with desert mallow, desert marigold, prickly pear cactus that spreads a colorful carpet across the normally dry desert floor. One might also be lucky to see desert bighorn sheep along the cliffs. Desert creatures ranging from the desert tortoise and the gila monster live near water along with white pelicans.
Archeology and Geology
You won't be the first to set footprints here. Anasazi Indians dominated this area of Nevada from around 1 A.D. to 1150 A.D. Traces of their passing can be found on the rocks, an art gallery mind you, on the canyon walls. Walk through the boulders and their petroglyphs can be found engraved into the soft sandstone. The Paiute Indians are likely descendants of these Indians.
Though far inland, the geology here gives a story into geologic time. Around 300 million years ago, this area was sediment at the bottom of an ancient sea. This sea floor now is the owner of limestone peaks that rise over 5,000 feet. This limestone was overthrusted marine sediments from the Paleozoic era. Scattered throughout the mountains here one can also view fossilized sand dunes that have eroded into canyons, carving shades of orange, red, and yellow. This sandstone, origins of the Mesozoic era, is seen at the base of Muddy Peak in Hidden Valley.
This area is surrounded by other great regions. These include the Valley of Fire
, Lake Mead NRA
, this area is in great company. The stunning landscape on the north shore of Lake Mead is home to the Muddy Mountains Wilderness Area, Buffington Pockets, and the Bowl of Fire to name a few.
From Las Vegas drive north on I-15. Take exit 75, Route 169 (about 38 miles from the Las Vegas Strip). This will be marked with a sign for the Valley of Fire. Drive 3.1 miles southeast on Route 169 where the road will start to curve left just pass milepost 3.
You are now at the base of the Muddy Mountains. From here you'll need more specific directions to get to the area you wish to see. (IE Buffington Pockets, Muddy Peak, Muddy Highpoint). Refer to External Links or the pages for Muddy Mountain or Muddy Peak for specific directions.
NOTE: The roads further into the Muddy Mountains are 4WD roads and are very rough in many spots.
Red Tape - CampingRed Tape
There is no Red Tape in this area. Please be responsible with off-road vehicle use, littering and vandalism of ancient artifacts can never be replaces once they are gone. This region needs protection. Please respect the land.
Camping here is allowed without a permit. Minimum impact is appropriate.
For more information contact:
Bureau of Land Management
Las Vegas Field Office
4701 North Torrey Pines Drive
Las Vegas, Nevada 89130
External Links Panorama Panoramic View from Muddy High Point
Trip Report Sierra Club Trip report to Muddy Mountain by: Greg Raoch
Muddy Mountains Wilderness Jim Boone's page on Muddy Mountains Wilderness Area
Map Muddy Mountains Wilderness Area Map
Scenic Drive Link to a scenic drive through Bitter Springs Back Country Byway
Buffington Pockets Buffington Pockets Petroglyph Site
Muddy Mountains WSA Geology
Muddy Mountains WSA
Bitter Springs Nevada Back-Country Byway
Bowl of Fire
Bowl of Fire Jim Boone's page on the Bowl of Fire
Sierra Club Buffington Pockets Hike
Muddy Peak & Hidden Valley Hike Healthshaman's Hike to Muddy Peak and Hidden Valley
Nevada Desert A view of the Nevada Desert with the Muddy Mountains in the background.
Peaks of the Muddy Mountains
Muddy Mountain Elevation 5,432 feet
Muddy Peak Elevation 5,387 feet
Fire Benchmark Elevation 3,954 feet