Heading to Las Vegas soon? If you’re in the area, it is also worthwhile seen things off the famous Las Vegas Strip. Truthfully, there is a lot more to Vegas than this popular stretch filled with hotels and casinos. Experiencing the other side of things can actually make your trip way better. So, if you’re looking for a change of scenery and a way to take a break from the crowds, Mount Charleston may be the ticket just for you.
Mount Charleston is part of Nevada’s Spring Mountains National Recreation Area. This mountainous scenic and recreation area is not far from Las Vegas and has significant elevation and scenery changes. It is the perfect break from the hustle and bustle of Sin City. If you’re looking for something different to do while you’re here, Mount Charleston is a great option.
Mount Charleston is pretty much on the backside of Red Rock Recreation area. However, the landscape looks completely different for areas that are so close to one another. This area offers ample recreation opportunities throughout the year for residents and visitors alike.
Mount Charleston is a short 45-minute ride from the Las Vegas Strip, so it is the perfect half-day trip. Just make your way north on Interstate 15 and follow directions to highway 95. From there you can follow the signs heading northwest out of metro Las Vegas. Then, turn toward the Spring Mountains Visitor Gateway.
At nearly 12,000 feet, Charleston Peak is visible from many of the high-rise hotels on the Las Vegas Strip as well as from the Highroller at the LINQ and the Eiffel Tower at Paris. It is much closer to Las Vegas than Valley of Fire State Park and the Grand Canyon, making it a great option if you’re short on time.
Spring Mountains Visitor Gateway
One of the first stops you will encounter is the Spring Mountains Visitor Gateway. This is a large visitor’s center with many offerings and helpful guides. Here, you can learn more about the local geography as well as the geological and tribal history of the area. It’s also a great spot to have a picnic or pick a quick hiking trail. You’ll also want to stop and use the restroom before heading further up the mountain.
Scenic Drive and Overlooks
One of the best things about Mount Charleston is how beautiful this wilderness area is. This is a great area for a scenic drive. A paved road makes its way to beautiful Charleston Peak, Lee Canyon and beyond. On the way up the mountain, you’ll see everything from massive trees to spring snow, adventure seekers and scenic overlooks of the surrounding desert. It also offers a bit of respite from the excessive summer heat.
The best overlook is the Desert View Overlook. There’s plenty of parking in the area, followed by a short and easy walk down to the primary viewing area. Here, you can see the vastness of the Mohave Desert, as well as overlook the historical Atomic Testing Site in the distance.
This is popular recreation area that attracts a variety of outdoor lovers. Here you’ll find people partaking in the followingactivities:
- Rock Climbing
- Bird Watching
- Off Road Driving
- Horseback Riding
- Wildflower Spotting
- Winter Sports
Because this is a natural area, it is really important to recreate responsibly. Be sure to practice the Leave No Trace Principles here and respect the area.
During peak-season weekends, reservations are required. This is due to limited space on the mountain. If you don’t have one, expect to be turned away.
In addition to camping, Mount Charleston also has its own lodge with small guest cabins available for use. The main lodge burnt down in a fire, but there are still a few options here including a restaurant. Parking is limited, but the views are lovely.
You can spend as little as an hour or two here to several days depending on the nature of your visit. Just make sure to pack appropriately as some services are limited.
The mountain offers adventure and relaxation, as well as a chance to escape the valley below. It is the perfect day trip and a major change of scenery from Las Vegas. If you haven’t discovered Mount Charleston yet, do yourself a favor and head out there soon—you’ll be glad you did.
Jenn, I loved this post! I would love to visit this!
WOW! It is hard to believe this is on the other side of Las Vegas. Definitely looks like a great place to and just relax, enjoy the scenery, and breathe the fresh air.
I’m heading to Vegas for a Taylor Swift concert and am going to check this hike out for sure! Thanks for sharing!
This looks like a really nice change to the electric environment of Las Vegas. Nice that it’s so close so it makes a great day trip.