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Guide to Exploring Mt. Charleston near Las Vegas, NV

Mount Charleston is a year-round getaway for Las Vegas’s residents and visitors, with a number of hiking trails and a modest ski area.

The mountain, which is snow-capped more than half the year, can be seen from parts of the Las Vegas Strip when looking toward the west.

Mt. Charleston

Cathedral Rock Mt. Charleston 2

Mt. Charleston Overview

The Mount Charleston Wilderness Area consists of a total of 57,442 acres of protected wilderness, with the BLM managing 2,142 acres (867 ha) and the rest by the U.S. Forest Service.

The Wilderness Area extends across the entire Spring Mountains Range, including the highest point of Mount Charleston (Charleston Peak), at an elevation of 11,908 ft.

Mt. Charleston Weather

mt charleston weather

When the summers heat up in Las Vegas, some locals can be found heading to Mt. Charleston to beat the heat. The weather can be more than a 20-degree difference on some days.

Even with cooler temperatures in the summer months, it will still get HOT. When hiking we will start early in the morning on days that look like it will be over 90 degrees for the day.

When it rains, we will go storm chasing to get photos of the clouds that will sometimes below the mountain peaks. The smell of rain and pines trees is a fresh scent we don’t get in the Las Vegas Valley.

The weather at Mt. Charleston seems to be 20 – 30 degrees cooler than Las Vegas, depending on the season. Because of this, many locals will skip playing on the rocks at Red Rock to enjoy the cooler weather on the mountain.

The following stats are from NOAA.

mt charleston weather

When it’s over 100 degrees in Las Vegas during the summer, the highs at Mt. Charleston average 80 degrees or less. There have been days when the temps creep over 90 degrees but they tend to be rare.

I have hiked to Mummy Falls in October and the falls were frozen over!

mt charleston weather

Most hikes can be completed in 3-4 hours or less unless you are hiking longer trails such as Charleston Peak. As you can see above, there is a 4+ hour difference in summer vs. winter months.

Of course, most trails are covered with snow in the winter and that’s when we pull out our snowshoes!

mt charleston weather

I love it when it rains at Mt. Charleston as the smell of rain mixed with trees is awesome! Also, it makes for some great “moody” photos with clouds and mountains.

mt charleston weather

Mt. Charleston can get lots of snow during the winter months. When this happens, the trails are covered with snow and most locals will instead snowshoe various trails with Raintree being one of the popular trails.

Also, there is a ski resort in Lee Canyon for snow-skiing and snowboarding.

Locals will also break out the sleds for the family to slide down the various hills found in the area for a day of family fun.

Click here to view the Mt. Charleston weather cam at the Mt. Charleston Lodge.

Spring Mountains Visitor Gateway

The Spring Mountains Visitor Gateway site is a 128-acre complex developed on reclaimed land from a golf course into public buildings, trails, exhibits, and more.

Click here to learn more about the Spring Mountains Visitor Gateway.

Mt. Charleston Restaurants

There are a few restaurants on the mountain, Canyon Restaurant at The Retreat at Mt. Charleston and dining at the Mt. Charleston Lodge.

I have not dined at the Canyon Restaurant since they are under new ownership to know if the food is better than it was before. When it was under prior management, the food was a bit lacking.

The Mt. Charleston Lodge has good food and amazing views if you are lucky to snag an outdoor seat. Also, they have a menu for dogs and an eating area to dine with your dogs.

Also, there are dining options at Lee Canyon Lodge with their Summer Bar & Grill for summer visitors and the Bighorn Grill in the winter. Also, in the winter there is the Bristlecone Bar.

Mt. Charleston Camping

There are several options for camping at Mt. Charleston to include full electrical hookup sites to dispersed camping.

Below are the current campgrounds found at Mt. Charleston

Blue Tree Group Campground

Fletcher View Campground

Click here to learn more about Fletcher View Campground.

Hilltop Campground 

The Hilltop Campground is currently closed for renovations.

Mack’s Canyon Group Camp

McWilliams Campground

Mt. Charleston Picnics

Mt. Charleston Picnic Areas

Mount Charleston has nearly 200 campsites and over 150 picnic sites, some of which are RV-accessible.

Click here to read about Mt. Charleston picnic areas.

Cathedral Rock Picnic Area

Renovated in 2013, the Cathedral Rock Picnic Area is open during the warmer months and offers visitors the option to choose from 80 day-use picnic sites and 2 group sites.

Click here to learn more about the Cathedral Rock Picnic Area.

Deer Creek Picnic Area

There is not a fee to use the Deer Creek Picnic Area, located on Highway 158.

Click here to learn more about the Deer Creek Picnic Area.

Foxtail Group Picnic Area

The Foxtail Group Picnic Area has restrooms, open group picnic sites with fire pits, and covered group pavilions with fireplaces. 

Click here to learn more about the Foxtail Group Picnic Area.

Kyle Canyon Picnic Area

Visitors have the option to use 25 picnic sites that are available on a first-come-first-served day-use.

Click here to learn more about the Kyle Canyon Picnic Area.

Lee Meadows

One of my favorite places to toss a blanket on the ground and have a good old fashioned picnic surrounded by mountains and possibly wild horses.

Click here to learn more about Lee Meadows.

Old Mill Picnic Area

The Old Mill Picnic Area is open seasonally for day use with 80 individual picnic sites and multiple restrooms.

Fees vary by the season, are cash only, and require exact change.

Click here to learn more about the Old Mill Picnic Area.

Sawmill Picnic Area

Sawmill Picnic Area has a handful of first-come-first-served picnic tables, benches, and restrooms.

The picnic area offers horse trailer pull-throughs and parking, as well as the trailhead for multiple horse-friendly trails through the juniper and pinyon groves.

Click here to learn more about the Sawmill Picnic Area.

Spring Mountains Visitor Gateway Group Picnic Sites

This year-round picnic area contains two group picnic campsites, which meet accessibility standards.

Sites are equipped with picnic tables, a campfire ring, and grills.

Flush toilets and drinking water are provided.

The picnic areas are available for full-day bookings during non-peak periods and half-day bookings during peak periods.

Click here to learn more about the Spring Mountains Visitor Gateway Group Picnic Sites.

Hiking at Mt. Charleston

Below is a list of the major hiking trails at Mt. Charleston grouped by difficulty (based on our opinion).

I am in the process of posting the hike overviews, pictures, etc.

Easy Hikes at Mt. Charleston

  1. Acastus Trail [Kyle Canyon]
  2. Bristlecone Trail
  3. Bristlecone Trail, Old
  4. Desert View Overlook
  5. Eagles Nest
  6. Escarpment Trail Loop
  7. Fletcher Canyon
  8. Little Falls
  9. Robbers Roost
  10. Stanley B. Springs

Moderate Hikes at Mt. Charleston

  1. Big Falls
  2. Bonanza Peak
  3. Cathedral Rock
  4. Echo Cliff Overlook
  5. Lower Bristlecone Trail
  6. Mack’s Peak
  7. Mary Jane Falls
  8. Pinyon Pine Loop Trail
  9. Trail Canyon
  10. Upper Bristlecone Trail

Strenuous Hikes at Mt. Charleston

  1. Bonanza Trail
  2. Charleston Peak – Charleston Peak is a popular destination for hikers as the summit offers panoramic views from the Sierra Nevada, Death Valley, and Las Vegas. There are two well-marked and well-maintained trails to the summit: South Loop Trail and North Loop/Trail Canyon, which can be done on their own as an out-and-back hike or combined as a loop. Both approaches involve a strenuous 16-mile+ round trip with over 4,000′ of elevation gain. The hike often takes all day. The hike is most accessible in the snow-free months of summer and fall.
  3. Fletcher Peak
  4. Griffith Peak
  5. Mummy Springs
  6. Raintree
  7. Sisters Trail, North
  8. Sisters Trail, South

Mt. Charleston