This small mountain town northwest of Las Vegas lets you enjoy mountain and desert fun year-round.
Tucked in a valley at 7,500 feet just east of its namesake peak, the highest in Clark County at 11,918 feet, the small town of Mount Charleston is a gateway to the many outdoor adventures available in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, and offers respite from the desert heat. Recreational opportunities abound, including hiking, biking, horseback riding, off-roading, and rock climbing. In winter, activities include sledding, cross-country skiing, and downhill skiing at the Lee Canyon Ski Resort. Camping options vary, ranging from rustic cabins and developed campgrounds to backcountry sites and three wilderness areas for dispersed camping.
The neon lights and many amenities of Las Vegas are just 40 miles away. Campers looking to spend the night can choose from numerous RV parks, some of which are attached to casinos. Nearby Rock Canyon National Conservation Area offers rock climbing on sandstone, a change from the limestone of Mount Charleston, and a seasonal campground for tent and RV campers, along with overnight options in the backcountry and on climbing walls.
Located just north of Mount Charleston, the Desert National Wildlife Refuge is the largest wildlife refuge outside of Alaska, with a whopping 1.6 million acres. Look for bighorn sheep and other wildlife, and spend the night at the free primitive campground or take advantage of backcountry and dispersed car camping.
Seventy miles east of Mount Charleston, Valley of Fire State Park is known for its surreal landscape of red sandstone canyons and cliffs in the Mojave Desert. Two campgrounds offer tent and RV camping inside the park, including one open year-round. Dispersed camping options can also be found just outside the west and east entrances to the park.
For water activities, head to the Lake Mead National Recreation Area and its 1.5 million acres of mountains, canyons, and two lakes, Lake Mead and Lake Mohave. Hiking and biking trails abound, and the area is dotted with some 900 public tent and RV campsites. Campers can also enjoy vehicle, horseback, shoreline, and backcountry camping.
Mount Charleston is a popular destination in the summer, when visitors are trying to escape the heat of Las Vegas and the desert, easily 20 degrees warmer. With its high elevation, summer is a pleasant time for outdoor recreation. Winter is also a popular time, with visitors looking for snow play. Visit in late spring for wildflowers and autumn for fall colors.