Turtlehead Peak, located about 15 miles west of Las Vegas, is the only limestone peak in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area (RRCNCA). It is also perhaps the most popular hiking peak in Nevada due to it's close proximity to Las Vegas and the fact that it is the only non-technical summit the RRCNCA provides hiking information for. The summit offers stunning views of other nearby desert peaks as well as the city of Las Vegas. In addition to naming all the nearby peaks from the summit, you can also name the nearby casinos ;-)
The 2.5 mile class 1-2 Turtlehead Peak Trail ascends the peak's North Slope and starts at the Sandstone Quarry trailhead (4280') on the Red Rock Scenic Drive (3.0 miles from the Visitor Center). Follow the trail north to a clearing where you will find a sign for Turtlehead Peak and Calico Tanks. Instead of heading directly for the summit, the trail goes northwest through some dry creek beds and climbs up to the saddle to the west of the peak. This is also west of a large creek bed so if you end up in this, just climb west to gain the trail. Once you get to the saddle, the trail to the summit is obvious, heading southeast up the North Slope to the summit for some amazing views. The West Gully is an interesting variation of this standard route.
SANDSTONE QUARRY TRAILHEAD: Take NV SR-159 to the Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center. Drive 3.0 miles on the 13-mile Scenic Drive to the Sandstone Quarry Trailhead where there is a parking lot, restrooms, and a trash receptacle.
During busy periods (such as holidays), you may have to park in "overflow" areas marked "No Parking" and on the road itself. While the RRCNCA has been known to be flexible with parking on occasion, don't surprised if you see cars with $175 parking tickets in these undesignated ares.
An entrance fee is required for the RRCNCA and there are many fee options. For 2013 some popular options are: (1) $7 per car, (2) $30 for an annual pass, or (3) $80 for a America The Beautiful Interagency Pass.
When To Climb
This peak can be climbed year round. During the late spring and summer it can get very hot and there is little shade along the route so be prepared. During the winter, there is occasionally snow, but it doesn't last long so if you find it, enjoy it :-)
Camping is not allowed in the RRCNCA and the hike is so short that camping isn't necessary, however, if you want ot stay in the area he "13-Mile Campground" is located just 2 miles east of the Visitor Center on NV SR-159. This is an improved BLM site that includes picnic tables, grills, water and toilets, however, no RV hookups are available. Permits are required and available by calling (702) 647-5050. Reservations are available for groups only. You can also get more information by contacting the RRCNCA listed under the Mountain Conditions Section.