View of Las Vegas from Gass Peak.
When the average American hears “Southern Nevada” what thought generally comes to mind? Las Vegas! Though Las Vegas and Southern Nevada may be the capital of gambling and entertainment in the United States, not many know it is one of the best locations to enjoy the great outdoors the U.S.A. has to offer. Las Vegas, known as the highlight in Southern Nevada to most, is commonly said to be in a valley. Technically though, it is in a bowl, surrounded by mountains on all 4 sides. What other metropolitan city in the United States do you know of that lies in a bowl?
Southern Nevada is home to many recreational and wildlife areas. Some include the Desert National Wildlife Refuge
, Valley of Fire
, Lake Mead NRA
which encompasses the Colorado River and Lake Mohave, Red Rock Canyon
, and much more.
Nevada itself is home to 314 named mountain ranges. Many of these are in Southern Nevada. The most well-known are the Spring Mountains
. This is home to the highest peaks in Southern Nevada, including Mt. Charleston
. These mountains rise about 10,000 feet above Las Vegas. This is higher than the Rockies rise above Denver to give you an idea of their size. Some mountain ranges the public can’t even access in Southern Nevada because they reside on the Nevada Test Site
, home for the military gunnery range used to test many Top Secret military technologies. Some of the other mountain ranges of Southern Nevada include the Sheep Range
, McCullough Range
, El Dorado Mountains
to name a few.
There are so many peaks in Southern Nevada with excellent views. On top of Charleston Peak on a clear day one can see into Arizona, Utah, California, and even the high peaks in Death Valley. To enjoy great views of Las Vegas I recommend a moderate hike up Frenchman Mountain
, Black Mountain
, or Gass Peak
. Further south, one can hike Spirit Mountain
and enjoy great views of the Colorado River and Lake Mohave. With so many options though, you will enjoy spectacular views whichever mountain you choose to hike.
There is an abundance of wildlife to be enjoyed in Southern Nevada as well. Bird watching is popular on the Desert National Wildlife Refuge. When one visits the community of Cold Creek at the northern end of the Spring Mountains (Including Wheeler Peak, Willow Peak, and Bonanza Peak) you are highly likely to see wild horses. Many species of lizards, snakes, desert bighorn sheep and much more can be seen while hiking or enjoying the outdoors.
Many trees can be found in Southern Nevada too. Above 9,000 feet in the Spring Mountains and Sheep Range you can find huge Bristlecone Pines. Joshua Trees, Junipers, and many more species can be found at lower elevations.
Next time you make a trip to Southern Nevada, especially if you are an outdoor enthusiast, be sure to visit and enjoy much more than the Las Vegas Strip!
Take a flight to Las Vegas.
From L.A. Drive on I-15 North until you reach Nevada.
From Salt Lake City Drive South on I-15.
From Denver Drive on I-70 West until you reach I-15 in Utah. Drive on I-15 South.
Basically where ever you are, focus on getting to Las Vegas, then from here enjoy your Southern Nevada experience.
Red Tape - Camping
Refer to the specific Areas and Ranges in Southern Nevada for specifics. Lake Mead and the Valley of Fire do charge to visit. Be sure you do not enter onto the Nevada Test Site.
As far as camping goes there are campsites on the near the Valley of Fire as well as on Lake Mead NRA. For specifics refer to the pages on those areas. For other areas of Nevada Camping is free on BLM land, just be sure you are more than 100 yards from a water source.
Most of Southern Nevada lies in Nye and Clark counties. Here is the information for the BLM in Las Vegas:
Bureau of Land Management
Las Vegas Field Office
4701 North Torrey Pines Drive
Las Vegas, Nevada 89130
External Links Birding, Hiking, and Naturalizing Around Las Vegas Jim Boone's website that has an great information for outdoor exploration in Southern Nevada
Recreation Areas Recreation Areas in Nevada
SunsetCities This page has links to detailed information of many locations in Southern Nevada.
Las Vegas Weather
Mt. Charleston Lodge Weather Good site for weather conditions of going to hike or explore up in the Spring Mountains
Petroglyphs Southern Nevada Petroglyphs / Rock Art Sites