Dominating the dramatic backdrop of the Scenic Loop at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area are the steep canyons and spectacular cliffs of La Madre Mountain Wilderness, located approximately 12 miles west of Las Vegas, Nevada. This Wilderness Area is jointly managed by the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.
The area contains a rugged, eye-catching complex of canyons, gray carbonate ridges and mountain peaks. La Madre Mountain dominates the area with spectacular cliffs and steep canyons occurring on its southeast flanks. Elevations range from 3,600 feet in Brownstone Basin to 9,600 feet at La Madre Mountain. This area provides classic examples of basin and range formations, and is also home to the Keystone Thrust, a geological formation internationally recognized as the finest example of a thrust fault.
The bright reds and whites of the sandstone formations in the southeastern part of this wilderness contrast sharply with the rough gray limestone cliffs of La Madre Mountain. The La Madre Range was formed by the Keystone Thrust Fault, where the land was compressed along a fault line. This compression caused buckling that resulted in older limestone rock being pushed up and over younger sandstone. The Keystone thrust formation is internationally regarded as the single finest example of a thrust fault.
The large variation in elevation (6,000 feet) provides for a variety of plant communities: Mojave Desert scrub, to Pinyon-Juniper Woodland, and the subalpine communities of white fir and ponderosa pine. You may also see desert bighorn sheep, mule deer, mountain lions, foxes, and a variety of birds, rodents, and lizards.
Evidence of Prehistoric Culture is found in the area. Brownstone Canyon is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Please respect and protect these unique sites.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the La Madre Mountain Wilderness.
The La Madre Mountain Wilderness is about 28 miles west of downtown Las Vegas. Red Rock Scenic Loop Drive approaches the wilderness from the southeast. Lovell Canyon Road provides access from the southwest, continuing east on Rocky Gap Road to La Madre Spring, where the road meets the Scenic Loop Drive. From the north, visitors can reach the wilderness by taking Kyle Canyon Road to Harris Spring Road or Barricade Road. Road conditions vary.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.
Clark County Conservation of Public Land and Natural Resources Act of 2002 - Public law 107-282 (11/6/2002) To establish wilderness areas, promote conservation, improve public land, and provide for high quality development in Clark County, Nevada, and for other purposes
The La Madre Mountain Wilderness provides a stunning stage for hiking, rock climbing, horseback riding, wildlife viewing and camping. Hunting is allowed with proper licensing; however, target practice is prohibited.
Rock climbing, canyoneering, and scrambling do not require a permit (e.g., to use removable or existing fixed protection). However, other permits for use of the area (e.g., new permanent fixed anchor routes, overnight bivouac camping, late exit parking) may be required where applicable. Seasonal or permanent route closures may occur in order to protect resource values. Please contact the BLM or USFS for additional information.
Safety and Current Conditions
Always use caution when climbing the sandstone and limestone formations within La Madre Mountain Wilderness. The sandstone, in particular, is very brittle and can easily break off – especially after a desert rain – therefore climbing when the rock is still wet is not advised.
Want to Volunteer for Wilderness?
Citizens who volunteer their time to steward our wilderness areas are an essential part of wilderness management. Contact the following groups to inquire about volunteer opportunities.