Please welcome my guest blogger today, JoAnna Haugen. JoAnna lives in Las Vegas and is well-versed in the hiking opportunities around the city. Here, she gives you her best tips for solo hiking near Las Vegas.
Though many people come to Las Vegas for its world-class cuisine, countless shows and gambling entertainment, there are also abundant opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts as well. In fact, one of the most popular outdoor activities in the Las Vegas valley is hiking, which is of little surprise given the fact that there are trails scattered throughout Red Rock Canyon, across Mt. Charleston, near Lake Mead and in Valley of Fire, all located within an hour’s drive of the Strip.
Next time you’re in Las Vegas, tie on your boots and hit the trails. Here are a handful of tips to get you started:
- In order to reach any of the hiking areas in Las Vegas, you’ll need a car. If you didn’t drive yours to Las Vegas, rent one. There are tours that go to Red Rock Canyon and Lake Mead, but there isn’t enough freedom in these tours for you, a solo hiker, to escape the crowds.
- From May through October, the Las Vegas valley is hot, hot, hot! It’s also extremely dry. If you plan on hiking, make sure you carry plenty of water, even if you don’t plan on going far. And, no, this doesn’t mean 8 ounces of water left in the bottom of a plastic bottle. Always overestimate when it comes to hydration in the desert.
- The sun is fierce in the summer. Wear plenty of sunscreen and a hat, and seek shade on the trail where possible.
- From late July to mid-September, thunderstorms accompanied by lightning are possible on Mt. Charleston. Be off the peaks by noon in order to avoid these storms, but if you do get caught in one, avoid peaks and ridgelines, stay out of shallow caves, stay away from tall objects such as trees and avoid water.
- Though Las Vegas doesn’t get much rain, when it rains, there are flash floods in the valley, so stay out of washes as the intensity of these floods can escalate quickly. This is particularly a concern at Red Rock Canyon and near Lake Mead.
- You can hike during all seasons on Mt. Charleston, but, due to its elevation (up to 11,918 feet), the best season for hiking is summer. If you’d like to do some winter hiking, then be prepared for winter conditions. Boots, a coat, warm gloves and a hat are necessary.
- It’s always better to hike with another person for safety reasons, but if you want to hike alone (and you should, if the alternative is not hiking at all!), then let someone know where you’re going and when you plan to return. Make sure you check back in when you are finished hiking. There are ranger stations or park officials in all of the main areas you may be hiking in the Las Vegas area.
- Don’t rely on cell phone service. Outside the city, it’s very possible that you’ll find weak or no service for your phone.
- Wildlife in the desert is diverse. Keep your eyes open for small mammals such as mice, lizards, jack rabbits, snakes and birds. In Red Rock Canyon, you’ll likely see wild burros and horses, and near Lake Mead there is the possibility of spotting desert bighorn sheep. Please help keep the wildlife wild by not feeding the animals.
- Get off the trails by dark. Except for the lights of Las Vegas, there is little else surrounding the city, so it can be incredibly dark in the desert at night. Be mindful of the time, and plan ahead so that you’ll be back at your car before sunset. That said, since you’re away from the Strip anyway, this is the perfect time to take a moment and admire the sunset in the desert. There’s something about the palette of colors painted across the sky that truly makes this a raw and stunning sight.
Love the outdoors? Here are more outdoor activities near Las Vegas that you might enjoy!
JoAnna Haugen lives in and writes from Las Vegas, where she spends her time exploring the desert southwest and planning her next adventure. Read more about Sin City at WhyGo Las Vegas, a travel guide about Las Vegas, hotels in the city and things to do while you’re there.