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United States > Pictures and travelogues > Pictures from Las Vegas, Nevada > Mount Charleston and Red Rock Canyon

Pictures from Mount Charleston, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, and Bonnie Springs Ranch.

Mount Charleston in Nevada
Mount Charleston in Nevada (USA) in summer - Spring Mountains National Recreation Area.

Charleston Peak is a 3,632 m (11,916 ft) high mountain that is located 56 km (35 mi) northwest of Las Vegas. It is the highest peak of the Spring Mountains in southern Nevada. The mountain, which is snow-capped more than half the year, can be seen from parts of the Las Vegas Strip. The mount is situated within the 1,279 km² (316,000 acres) Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, better  known to locals as Mount Charleston.

Mount Charleston is actually one of three congressionally designated wilderness areas within the boundaries of the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area. La Madre Mountain and Rainbow Mountain are the other two reserves.

With 64 km (40 mi) of trails of hiking trails, about 200 campsites, 150 picnic areas (some of which accessible by RV), and a modest ski area, Mount Charleston is a year-round getaway for Las Vegas' residents and tourists. It is home to about 60 sensitive plants and animals, some of which are found nowhere else in the world.

Mount Charleston offers a variety of recreational activities to the outdoor enthusiast, from scenic driving and picnicking to fishing, hiking or skiing. Most of the trails in the Spring Mountains are open to horseback riders, but many of them are difficult. Good day rides include the lower section of the Bristlecone Trail in Lee Canyon as well as the Fletcher Canyon Trail in Kyle Canyon. The limestone cliffs of the Spring Mountains towering over the Las Vegas Valley make superb rock-climbing terrain, including The Hood, Imagination Wall and Universal Wall. 

The stunning Spring Mountains Recreation Area offers surprising diversity. The region includes all types of terrain - from low meadows to steep canyons and towering peaks - and dramatic changes of elevation.
The Spring Mountains get their name from the many natural springs in the area. Here you'll find a forested oasis and relief from the Mojave Desert heat of southern Nevada. Short, steep-walled canyons penetrate the range. The panoramic mountain range provides a haven for solitude.

The Spring Mountains National Recreation Area is part of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area: horse riding
Horseback riding in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Nevada (USA).

Adjacent to the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Red Rock Canyon was designated as Nevada's first National Conservation Area. Millions of years ago, two of the earth's plates collided and created here a magnificent contrast between grey limestone and red sandstone. The contrast of red sandstone layered through gray limestone in the sheer cliff faces, some of which reach a staggering 550 m (1,800 feet), is an incredible natural wonder.

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is located about 15 miles (24 km) west of Las Vegas and its peak tops can be seen from the Las Vegas Strip. The Conservation Area is accessible via Charleston Boulevard. It is open daily from 6am - dusk.

This 79 245 ha (195,819 acres) area is visited by more than one million people each year. In marked contrast to the Gambling Capital of the World, Red Rock offers many recreation opportunities, including a 21 km (13-mi) paved, scenic loop drive, more than 48 km (30 mi) of hiking trails, picnic areas, horseback riding, mountain biking, road biking, as well as a visitor center.

Horseback riding is a very popular activity in the conservation area. Horseback riders find numerous trails authorized for equestrian use among the fiery red sandstone of the area. Equestrians should inquire about water before tackling trails.

With more than 1,200 named routes, including  some world-class climbing areas, there are plenty of choices for every rock climber. Most of the rock is Aztec sandstone, and the desert varnish rock is considered to be the most difficult.

A fascinating fact about Red Rock Canyon is that it has 10,000 years of human history so that you may find here artwork (petroglyphs) and fire pits. The first humans were attracted to the Red Rock area due to its resources of water, plant and animal life that could not be easily found in the surrounding desert.

The visitor center that is located at the park's entrance displays trail maps, plant and wildlife information and a history of the area. Activity schedules for naturalist-guided walking tours and programs are also available at the center. The Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is managed by the Bureau of Land Management, while the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area is administered by the U.S. Forest Service.

Bonnie Springs Ranch near Blue Diamond
Bonnie Springs Ranch near Blue Diamond, Nevada (USA).

Towards the southern end of the Red Canyon National Conservation Area are the western ghost town replica attraction of Bonnie Springs and the village of Blue Diamond.

Bonnie Springs Ranch is a former western town and a tourist attraction. Bonnie Springs Ranch was first constructed in 1843, as a stopover for wagon trains going to California down the Old Spanish Trail. Bonnie Springs Ranch is often called an oasis in the desert due to the presence of spring water in the area. Tourists to the ranch can enjoy a petting zoo, the horse stables, the many historic buildings on the property, and, upon request, occasional gunfight shows. Bonnie Springs Ranch is located in Clark County, near Blue Diamond.



Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority
Find here the official web site of tourism in Las Vegas (Nevada) with comprehensive information on hotels, restaurants, casinos, restaurants, shows, events, tours, golf and things to do in Las Vegas.
Spring Mountains National Recreation Area
Official web site of the U.S. Forest Service about the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, including the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area near Las Vegas
Red Rock canyon
Web site of the Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association.
Red Rock canyon
Official web site of the Bureau of Land Management about the Red Rock Canyon and its Visitors Center.

See also

United States > Pictures and travelogues > Pictures from Las Vegas, Nevada > Las Vegas outdoor recreation
United States > Pictures and travelogues > Pictures from Las Vegas, Nevada > Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, and Boulder City

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Comprehensive travel guide to Las Vegas with many amazing pictures.