Las Vegas isn’t just casinos and expensive resort hotels, though it has plenty of both. The city sits in a valley in the high Mojave Desert amidst mountains, parks, and recreation areas, and it’s near the Hoover Dam and reservoir, all of which offer beautiful desert scenery and hiking opportunities. So, if you feel you need a break from the city’s lights, noise, and constant activity, then head for the trails for a bit of peace, relaxation, and exercise. Here are some great hikes in the Las Vegas area that are within easy reach of the city.
Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail
The Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail is an easy, 7.5-mile round-trip trail that follows an old railroad grade along Boulder Basin, overlooking the Hoover Dam’s Lake Mead. It’s easy to get to since it’s just a half-hour trip from Las Vegas. You’ll find the trailhead on the right near the Alan Bible Visitor Center up the road from the Lake Mead Visitor Center. This trail takes you through a series of sizeable disused trail tunnels measuring 25-feet in diameter carved into the red rocks. You can check out five tunnels as part of this National Historic Trail.
Valley of Fire State Park Trails
The Valley of Fire State Park is home to beautiful red sandstone formations and other colorful landscapes. It is Nevada’s oldest state park and was founded in 1935. It’s situated about an hour northeast of Las Vegas and offers several easy hiking trails. The Fire Wave Trail is an easy trail that takes you to colorful striped rock formations less than a mile from the trailhead. The White Domes Trail is a 1.1-mile loop just down the road from Fire Wave. It passes through epic scenery, including white and multi-colored sandstone formations, and through a narrow canyon.
Calico Tanks is a 2.2-mile trail of moderate difficulty. It is one of the many trails off a scenic one-way loop road in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. This trail leads you over red and yellow sandstone cut with steps or worn down by years of travelers, with sweeping views of the Las Vegas valley. It ends at a hidden natural watering hole where you can look for birds and other desert animals stopping for a drink.
You can try the Turtle Peak Trail for a longer, more challenging trail. It starts from the same trailhead and leads up a mountain.
Petroglyph Canyon Trail
The Petroglyph Canyon Trail is located in the Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area, just a half-hour south of the Las Vegas Airport. It’s an easy to moderate trail of 4.1 miles, and it takes you through a shallow ravine to an area full of history. Etched into the patina on volcanic rocks are over 300 rock art panels with 1,700 petroglyphs. These unique pieces of history are mainly located along a 500-foot stretch of the canyon and span several thousand years in the making. This is a one-of-a-kind location that’s an essential part of American history.
If you’re looking for something a little longer but still an easy to moderate hike, then check out the 6.3-mile Bristlecone Loop trail. It’s in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, about 45 minutes west of Las Vegas, and it’s named after the native Bristlecone pines that grow in this area. This trail wanders upward through fir and pine woods cross-seasonal creeks and follows a ridgeline with mountain views. About halfway through, it begins to descend, and the trail broadens into an old service road with grand views of the pine forests stretching into the distance.
Mary Jane Falls Trail
The Mary Jane Falls Trail is in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, specifically in the Kyle Canyon area. Parking is available at the trailhead, as are basic restrooms. This trail is 3.2 miles out and back, 1.6 miles each way, and a little more difficult as it switchbacks upward after the first 0.7 miles and uses a narrow path not suitable for wheelchairs or strollers.
When you reach the final switchback, you’ll find yourself at a limestone rock face that leads to the snowmelt-fed Mary Jane Falls. To return to your car, head back down the way you came.
Las Vegas Overlook Trail
Unlike the other trails on this list, which are easy to moderate, the steep nature of the Las Vegas Overlook Trail increases its difficulty. Toward the end, you have to ascend a steep mountainside, but for experienced hikers, it’s worth it for the epic vistas over the Las Vegas valley and skyline. The trail is a loop that is 9 miles in total, with over 1,700 feet in elevation gain, though you can take other routes. It’s located just outside the Red Rock Canyon area, parking at the Cowboy Trails gate.
Guided Hiking Tours
Guided hiking tours are available for several of the trails on this list, including the Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail and the Valley of Fire. Guided hikes are the perfect option if you don’t feel confident going alone or prefer to go with a group. You could find it a more meaningful experience if you are with a knowledgeable guide who can tell you about the history and importance of the region and point out significant locations as you hike. There’s so much history to learn about firsthand, from petroglyphs to Triassic fossils to eons of sandstone formations.
The Las Vegas area has some truly unique and impressive scenery, and any trip to southern Nevada should include some outdoor time to soak it in. Hiking on local trails is a great way to take it all in and get some healthy exercise to boot. Have you been on any of the hikes on this list? The De Castroverde, Criminal & Immigration Lawyers team would love to hear which of the hikes we’ve recommended is your favorite. We invite you to contact us and tell us what you loved about it.