It’s impossible to drive along Highway 178 between Shoshone, CA and Pahrump, NV without the eyes being drawn to the extremely rugged and impressive western escarpment of the Nopah Range (unless it’s 3AM on a moonless night). The range’s steep western face is further enhanced by colorful bands of rock, split here and there by barren and seldom-visited canyons.
Nopah Point, unnamed on the map, is the highpoint of the range. It lies a bit to the south of the slightly lower, but somewhat more impressive, named point, Nopah Peak.
Though the mountain is rather obscure, its status as both a DPS (Desert Peaks Section
- Sierra Club list of note-worthy desert peaks) peak and a Prominence
(see #27) peak has drawn the attention of such desert peakbagging luminaries as Bob Packard, Doug Mantle, Gerry Roach, and our very own Pete Yamagata
A couple of established routes approaching from the west exist. From the class 2-3 “standard” route mentioned in Andy Zdon’s classic desert peakbagging book, Desert Summits
, to the class 3-4 variation mentioned in the DPS guide, an enjoyable day of solitude and great scenery is assured. Both of these routes entail about 4200 feet of gain over 10+ miles (roundtrip).
Highway 178 runs between Pahrump, NV and Shoshone, CA. About 5 miles east of Shoshone, or 25 miles west of Pahrump, leave 178 and get onto a dirt road signed as the Chicago Valley Road.
Further published descriptions say to follow this main dirt road for 1.3 miles until you encounter a fork. At the fork, go right on another dirt road for 1.3 miles until you find a place to park at a spring.
Experience taught me that this description is inadequate…so here’s what I did:
Once on the Chicago Valley Road, follow it for as far as you can get your vehicle, trying to get as close to the mountain as possible. For my Nissan Frontier, that happened to be about 1.5 miles from the paved highway (Dec05).
Fortunately, the mountain is obvious, and any extra cross-country on the approach should be easy, open desert. (*Don’t forget to mark/note where you left your vehicle. Harder to find on the way back than you might think!)
No permits, no fees.
Nopah Peak is located on BLM land.
When To Climb
Fall, winter or spring. Forget about summer.
I understand that there is a developed campground over in nearby Tecopa (home of China Ranch Date Farm’s locally-famous date milk shakes & also the Tecopa Hot Springs). Otherwise, you can stay in a hotel in Pahrump or a motel in Shoshone OR apply minimum impact camping methods and do the desert camping thing out in Chicago Valley.
The weather forecast
for nearby Pahrump, NV.