City Hiking Guides

Your Ultimate Guide to the Best Hikes Near Las Vegas

POSTED ON July 9, 2024 BY Ralph S.


Introduction

Las Vegas, a city known for its vibrant nightlife and dazzling entertainment, is also a gateway to some of the most stunning outdoor activities in southern Nevada. Beyond the city’s limits lie expansive parks and the vast, grand desert landscape of Nevada, cradling majestic mountains, serene canyons, and vibrant red rock formations.

This proximity offers outdoor enthusiasts, including those passionate about mountain biking and hiking, access to some of the best hikes near Las Vegas. These trails are renowned for providing some of the most spectacular hiking experiences in the country, catering to all – from the seasoned hiker to the casual walker who wants to depart from the urban experience.

In this comprehensive guide, we will unveil these hidden gems, enveloped within the tranquil beauty and diverse topography of the desert and mountain ranges surrounding Las Vegas.

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Clark County, Nevada

Just a short drive west of the Las Vegas Strip is the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. A haven for hikers of all levels. The striking red Aztec sandstone cliffs and unique rock formations serve as the backdrop for several trails that wind through the desert landscape.

There are numerous trails to choose from within this conservation area. But here are some of the most popular ones:

Calico Tanks Trail

Calico Tanks Trail Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Nevada, US

  • Location: Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
  • Distance: 2.2 miles (3.5 km) round trip
  • Hiking Duration: Approximately 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
  • Trail Type: Out and back

For those seeking an intermediate hike that rewards panoramic views and offers an exceptional experience, the Calico Tanks Trail should be your choice. This trail captivates hikers with its unique path through sandy washes, and rocky canyons, culminating in impressive lookouts offering breathtaking vistas of the Las Vegas Strip and Red Rock Canyon.

On Calico Tanks Trail, hikers traverse a diverse landscape characterized by natural beauty and geological wonders. Along the way, the cooler temperatures within the rocky canyons provide a pleasant respite from the desert heat. The route to the natural water tank is the highlight of this hike. Remember to secure your parking lot space early, as this popular trail attracts many visitors.

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Calico Basin Trail

Walkway to Calico Basin Las Vegas, NV.

The Calico Basin Trail kicks off at the Red Springs Picnic Area, a serene starting point in Calico Basin. Hikers are encouraged to commence their adventure early in the morning to savor the tranquil atmosphere and cooler temperatures fully. This easy, family-friendly loop is ideal for those looking to experience the essence of the desert without the strenuous effort required by more challenging trails.

Lining the path, ash trees create a verdant corridor along the seasonal flow of Calico Spring, offering a rare glimpse of water in the desert and contrasting greenery to the surrounding arid landscape. This trail provides a gentle yet immersive outdoor experience, making it accessible to hikers of all ages and skill levels.

Turtlehead Peak Trail

Red Rock Canyon

The Turtlehead Peak Trail presents an adventurous ascent rising over 2,000 feet (610 meters) in elevation for those looking for an exhilarating challenge. The path, although strenuous, rewards hikers with unmatched panoramic vistas. As adventurers climb, the trail becomes a natural observatory, offering a unique perspective of the expansive Las Vegas Valley and the undulating waves of the Mojave Desert.

Upon reaching the summit, hikers are greeted with breathtaking views spanning the vibrant sandstone landscape of Red Rock Canyon.

Petroglyph Wall Trail

White River Narrows Petroglyphs

The Petroglyph Wall Trail is a short and historic hiking trail offering an easy and educational outdoor activity for the entire family. Embedded within the stunning canyon’s backdrop and surrounding mountains, this trail is known for its close proximity to ancient petroglyph drawings that tell a story of the area’s early inhabitants.

Despite its short distance, the trail attracts many visitors looking to witness the historical rock art, estimated to be at least 800 years old. Located at the start of the trail in the Willow Springs Picnic Area parking lot (location), these petroglyphs present an invaluable insight into the cultural history of climbing and life in Red Rock Canyon. Alongside the nearby White Rock Mountain Loop Trail (map), the Petroglyph Wall Trail ranks as a very popular attraction for those interested in the archeological aspects of the region.

1000 Scenic Loop Dr

1000 Scenic Loop Dr. Las Vegas - Best Hikes Near Las Vegas

  • Location: Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
  • Distance: 12.6 miles (21 kilometers) Scenic Drive (direction)
  • Hiking Duration: Varies by trail
  • Difficulty: Varies from easy to challenging
  • Trail Type: Loop

1000 Scenic Loop Dr serves as the gateway to the majestic landscapes of Red Rock Canyon, presenting a unique blend of natural beauty marked by towering red sandstone peaks. This picturesque Scenic Drive encircles the heart of the conservation area, offering access to several trailheads that cater to outdoor enthusiasts of all levels. Starting from the visitor center, visitors are invited to explore the diverse trails that lead through breathtaking vistas and serene landscapes unique to this part of Nevada.

The Scenic Drive itself is a highlight, presenting opportunities for photography, wildlife spotting, and simply reveling in the vast expanse of the desert’s beauty. Not to be missed is the Red Rock Canyon Overlook, which provides panoramic views of the area’s signature red sandstone formations.

White Rock Loop

The White Rock Loop offers a challenging yet rewarding hiking experience, with considerable elevation change. This loop can be embarked upon from two main starting points: the Willow Spring Picnic Area (map) or the White Rock Spring trailhead (map). The trail is well-known for its rigorous rock scrambling segments and the strikingly colorful sandstone of White Rock Mountain.

Adventure-seekers trekking this loop will encounter a variety of terrain, including iconic red and white sandstone cliffs. The trail’s challenging nature is balanced by its beauty, with expansive vistas of the Mojave Desert and opportunities to observe local wildlife. Hikers should be well-prepared with water, sun protection, and appropriate footwear to navigate the rocky and sometimes steep path. For more information and to plan your visit to the White Rock Loop, click here.

Valley of Fire State Park

Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada - Best Hikes Near Las Vegas

Nestled north of Las Vegas, Valley of Fire State Park (location) stands as Nevada’s oldest and largest state park, renowned for its stunning red sandstone formations that illuminate the valley, giving the park its name.

With over 30 hiking trails and numerous camping options, it offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore the beauty and solitude of the Mojave Desert.

Here are some of the top trails in the area. But you can check out more trails here.

Fire Wave Trail

Valley of Fire State Park

  • Location: Valley of Fire State Park
  • Distance: 1.8-mile/2.9 km round trip (1.5 miles/2.4 km to Fire Wave)
  • Hiking Duration: 1-1.5 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate to challenging
  • Trail Type: Out and back

The Fire Wave Trail is a moderately strenuous hike that traverses over loose sand and rough terrain. This path offers hikers a glimpse into a landscape filled with colorful canyons and unique rock formations that vividly illustrate the area’s geological history. One of the trail’s most remarkable features is its ending point: the Fire Wave itself, a breathtaking formation of striped red and white sandstone. These striations are so perfectly aligned and gracefully curled that they bear an uncanny resemblance to ripples on the ocean’s floor, making it one of the park’s most captivating sights.

This relatively flat trail is popular among photographers and nature enthusiasts alike for its stunning views and the photographic opportunities it presents. Despite its moderate difficulty level, the Fire Wave Trail is accessible to hikers of varying experience levels.

White Domes Trail

Valley of Fire State Park - Best Hikes Near Las Vegas

  • Location: Valley of Fire State Park
  • Distance: 1.1 miles/1.77 km round trip (direction)
  • Hiking Duration: Approximately 1 hour
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trail Type: Loop

The White Domes Loop Trail is a compact yet visually stunning adventure. This trail is a favorite among visitors, guiding them through a diverse landscape marked by vibrant Aztec sandstone formations, sandy washes, and a distinctive slot canyon that introduces a slightly challenging terrain. Notably, the trail passes by remnants of an old movie set, adding a touch of historical intrigue to the scenic beauty.

Anchoring the experience is the trail’s passage along Kaolin Wash, a seasonal watercourse that carves its way through more visually arresting landscapes downstream. This part of the trail showcases the iconic colorful rock formations and leads adventurers into Pastel Canyon, offering a picturesque scenario rich in natural hues.

Logandale Trails

Moapa Valley, Valley of Fire State Park, NV - Best Hikes Near Las Vegas

  • Location: Logandale Trails, Moapa Valley, NV (map)
  • Distance: Over 200 miles (322 km) of trails
  • Hiking Duration: Varies
  • Difficulty: Easy to challenging
  • Trail Type: Loop, Point-to-Point, Out and Back

The Logandale Trails system offers numerous paths through the striking landscapes of the Moapa Valley, providing a diverse range of outdoor activities. These trails are particularly renowned for the Logandale Mountain Bike Trails (Jackrabbit system), which present an exhilarating challenge for cyclists. Additionally, hikers and nature lovers can explore the area and gain the opportunity to encounter rare flora and fauna, and ancient petroglyphs that adorn the rocks, whispering tales of the valley’s earliest inhabitants.

Known primarily for its unparalleled off-roading experiences, Logandale Trails caters to all levels of adventure seekers. Whether you’re navigating the trails on foot, mountain bike, ATV, OHV, or a 4×4 rig, the system is equipped to facilitate an unforgettable exploration of Moapa Valley’s rich history and vibrant wildlife.

Spring Mountains National Recreation Area – Mount Charleston Wilderness

Panoramic view of Spring Mountains from Bristlecone Trail in Lee Canyon. Spring Mountains National Recreation Area on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.

The Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, just a one-hour drive from downtown Las Vegas via Lee Canyon Road and 35 miles (56 km) northwest of Las Vegas, offers a welcome respite from the desert’s scorching heat. This area is home to the cool alpine forests of Mt. Charleston, providing a perfect setting for those looking to escape into nature or enjoy a hike in the snow.

The heart of this natural haven is the Spring Mountains Visitor Gateway (SMVG) complex, which includes a visitor center, an education and research building, two amphitheaters, and the picturesque Kyle Canyon Picnic Area (location), all set against a backdrop of rugged mountains, towering cliffs, and deep canyons, surrounded by a unique desert landscape.

Mary Jane Falls Trail

Mary Jane Falls Trail Sign - Mt Charleston

  • Location: Kyle Canyon, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, NV (trailhead)
  • Distance: 1.6 miles (2.6 km) one-way, 3.2 miles (5.2 km) round trip
  • Hiking Duration: Approximately 2-3 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trail Type: Out and Back

Mary Jane Falls Trail (trail map) provides a serene escape from the summer heat of Las Vegas, presenting a refreshing hike to a seasonal waterfall (location) within the cool confines of Kyle Canyon. This moderately challenging trail is particularly popular from spring through summer when water flows most abundantly. The trail, renowned for its accessibility and scenic vistas, offers hikers an immersive experience within the SMNRA’s diverse ecosystem.

Situated about an hour’s drive from Las Vegas in the heart of the Mount Charleston Wilderness, the trail’s ascent covers a distance of 1.6 miles (2.6 km) to the waterfall, making it a favorite amongst families and individuals seeking the lushness of spruce and ponderosa pine.

Charleston Peak South Trail

Entering Mount Charleston Wilderness, South Loop Trail, Spring Mountains, Nevada

  • Location: Mount Charleston, Nevada
  • Distance: 8.3 miles one-way (13 km)
  • Hiking Duration: 6-8 hours
  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • Trail Type: Out and back

The Charleston Peak South Trail offers an ambitious trek, popular for its rigorous and sometimes rugged terrain. Known to provide a year-round adventure, this trail can present hikers with snow-capped scenes even in summer. It’s famed as the favored path to reach Charleston Peak, starting with a significant elevation gain leading into a more leisurely walk through alpine meadows directly to the peak’s summit. This path provides a unique hiking experience, with over half of the distance situated above 10,000 feet (3,048 meters).

The trail’s inception at the picnic area quickly transitions into a steep climb towards Echo Canyon. This strenuous ascent up Echo Canyon evolves into a series of challenging switchbacks, culminating in spectacular views of Kyle Canyon. After overcoming the initial 4 miles (6.4 km) and 3000′ ascent to reach the southern ridge, hikers are rewarded with relatively easy passage through meadows lush with grasses and flowers, complemented by panoramic views of Lake Mead, Las Vegas, Pahrump, and Kyle Canyon.

Fletcher Canyon Trail

Fletcher Canyon trail, Mount Charleston - Best Hikes Near Las Vegas

  • Location: Fletcher Canyon, Mount Charleston Wilderness, NV
  • Distance: 1.6 miles (2.6 km) round trip (direction)
  • Hiking Duration: Approximately 1-2 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
  • Trail Type: Out and Back

Fletcher Canyon Trail is a hidden gem within the expansive Mount Charleston Wilderness Area, conveniently located within an hour of the bustling Las Vegas Strip. From the trailhead (map), hikers are welcomed by the serene beauty of the canyon and the majestic views of the surrounding mountains.

This trail promises a relatively easy hike with moments of moderate difficulty as adventurers progress. Shortly after commencing the hike, the path presents an intriguing turnoff for the Eagle’s Nest Loop Trail (map), tempting those interested in extending their exploration. The further one ventures into Fletcher Canyon, the more narrow and rugged the terrain becomes, culminating in a challenging scramble for those determined to see every corner of this natural beauty. Check out this guide to scrambling for beginners.

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Hiking in Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Lake Mead National Recreation Area - Best Hikes Near Las Vegas

Nestled in Boulder City, NV, Lake Mead National Recreation Area offers extensive hiking experiences in Las Vegas, with the Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail being a fan favorite for its easy access and captivating historical significance. This vast area, covering over 1.5 million acres and more than 750 miles (1,207 km) of shoreline, combines the majestic beauty of mountains, canyons, and valleys, along with the expansive calm of two significant lakes, to provide a unique outdoor adventure.

Besides hiking, visitors are invited to swim, boat, cycle, camp, and fish, taking full advantage of America’s first and largest national recreation area. From the awe-inspiring views of the Hoover Dam (location) and the pivotal Gold Butte National Monument (location) bridging Lake Mead with the  Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, this area guarantees unforgettable scenic hikes and activities.

Gold Strike Hot Springs Trail

Gold Strike Hot Springs Hike

  • Location: Great Basin Hwy, Boulder City, NV
  • Distance: 2.2 miles (3.5 km)
  • Hiking Duration: 3-4 hours
  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • Trail Type: Out and back

The Gold Strike Hot Springs Trail (direction) is a rugged adventure for those seeking to immerse themselves in nature’s raw beauty. This trail is challenging, leading adventurers through the scenic Gold Strike Canyon. Due to its rugged nature, including sections necessitating hiking, climbing, and bouldering, the trail is closed during summer to ensure hiker safety.

Venturing through this trail, hikers are rewarded with the serenity of natural hot springs, which serve as a perfect relaxation spot after the strenuous hike. The path eventually leads to the Colorado River, presenting an opportunity for cooling off and enjoying panoramic views that encapsulate the essence of Nevada’s wilderness. Just a short drive from the city, this trail offers an escape into nature with the allure of discovering hidden hot springs nestled within the canyon.

Conclusion

Las Vegas may be universally renowned for its dazzling lights and entertainment. Just a stone’s throw away lies a world of exceptional outdoor activities that beckon adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike. Among these, the best hiking experiences offer a refreshing escape into the vast and untouched landscapes.

Trails like Fletcher Canyon, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, and Gold Strike Hot Springs exemplify the diversity and beauty of the natural wonders accessible from Las Vegas. For those looking to explore these trails, remember to bring water, as the arid climate and challenging terrain demand proper hydration.

Don’t forget to check out our city hiking guides for other destinations worth visiting today.


RALPH S.

Ralph S. is the founder of Silverlight, an avid hiker and trail runner he enjoys spending time outdoors, riding his motorcycle and swimming at the beach when he's not busy replying to customers or developing new Silverlight gear.

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