Visit Mt. Charleston

Posted on October 8, 2012

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Las Vegas.  The allure of easy money and world-class entertainment draws over 35 million visitors annually to this desert metropolis.  It’s common knowledge that while most travelers flock to Sin City in search of riches, few ever find them.  That’s because they don’t know where to look.

Hidden about an hour northwest past the strip is the Mt. Charleston Wilderness Area.  The area is comprised of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, Spring Mountain Range, and the 11,918 foot majestic crown jewel, Mount Charleston.  There are no posh, high-rise hotels, no showgirls, and no trendy boutiques, but those who take the road less traveled are rewarded.

Because of the high altitude, the Mt. Charleston Wilderness Area is about 30 degrees cooler than Las Vegas, and snow can be seen from October until mid June.  The temperate climate makes this desert oasis a destination that locals will tell you is a “must visit”.

According to the US Forest service, “Short, steep-walled canyons penetrate the range, which is characterized by some 18,000 acres of bristlecone pine, the largest such stand in the Intermountain West.  With the combination of range in habitat, unique geology and microclimates, this area supports several endemic plant communities, plants that are found no where else in the world.  Some 40 miles of trails include many miles along the spine of the Spring Mountains. Elevation changes and the virtual absence of flat terrain make for strenuous but beautiful hiking.”

Many of the trails such as Fletcher Canyon and Mary Jane Falls have access to water and are easily trekked in a few hours.  For the more adventurous, back country camping is possible on the North and South loop trials.  Both provide access to the Charleston summit and yield views of the sprawling forest below that are truly spectacular.

For those looking to stay close by, the Resort on Mt.Charleston and the Mt. Charleston Lodge both provide affordable dinning and accommodations.  There is also a campground with facilities on the main road.

Perhaps the magnificent snow-capped peaks among the rugged desert vista are nature’s idea of decadence.  While Las Vegas may be a destination to try your luck or lose your money, the natural splendor of the Mt. Charleston Wilderness Area provides a lifetime memories which will far outlast any gambling winnings.  It’s fun, family friendly, and best of all, it’s entirely free.

To access the Mt. Charleston Wilderness Area, take Nevada State Highway 95 north to State Route 157 west. Travel approximately 17 miles to access the South Loop, Trail Canyon, and Fletcher Canyon Trails.

 

 

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