The Mt. Charleston Wilderness is an inspiring place with invigorating mountain air, ice-cold springs, and acres of noble evergreen forests. The rugged mountain scenery extends across the crest of the Spring Mountains and includes towering crags, deep and wide canyons, narrow slot canyons, and steep hillsides. It includes Fletcher Canyon, Robbers Roost, and Mummy and Trough springs. Mt. Charleston is knows as a "Sky Island" because of its high elevation and isolation from the drastically different desert lowlands. Elevations range from about 4,440 feet on the lowest slopes in the southwest part of the wilderness area, to nearly 12,000 feet at the summit of Mt. Charleston Peak, the highest elevation in the Spring Mountains.
The Mt. Charleston Wilderness the most extensive stand of bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeve) to be found in the intermountain ecoregion. These trees are valued for their aesthetic and scientific purposes and are among the oldest living organisms in the world. In lower elevations, extensive forests of ponderosa pine and white fir provide habitat for the Palmer's chipmunk, a species that only occurs in the Spring Mountains. There are acres of Pinion-Juniper Woodland bright with 15 endemic mountain flowers such as the Charleston Mountain angelica (Angelica scabrida) and booming with wildlife.
About 40 miles of trails cross this area, traversing significant elevation from trailheads to ridge lines. From this back-country, vistas can be seen across the mountains and valleys in the area that seem to reach to the edge of the world.
The Mt. Charleston Wilderness area was originally part of an area known as the Charleston Forest Reserve established on November 5, 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt under the authority of the Forest Reserve Act of 1891. Today, the Mt. Charleston Wilderness consists of Federal Lands located predominantly within the Spring Mountains NRA and part of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest outside of Las Vegas, Nevada.
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 Mt. Charleston Wilderness.
The summit of Mt. Charleston sits near the center of the wilderness area, with six lobes extending away from the peak along the high-elevation mountain ranges. Between these lobes, several roads allow access to various parts of the wilderness. Paved roads lead into Kyle and Lee canyons.
Access is also provided by several dirt roads, including the Harris Canyon Road, the road above Cold Creek, and several roads on the west side of the mountains.
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 Mt. Charleston Wilderness provides a unique and beautiful backdrop for both summer and winter recreation. Explore the high country with a hiking, horseback riding, or camping trip. Nearly 40 miles of trails cover the wilderness, with significant elevation changes offering spectacular views and endless challenges. For the more adventurous, Mt. Charleston’s skiing, ice climbing, and rock climbing are sure to please. Backcountry permits are not required.
Mt. Charleston Wilderness is one of the premier climbing destinations in southern Nevada for powerful sport climbing on hard limestone routes. There are over 100 climbing routes, with the majority ranging in the 5.11 to 5.13 grade. 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) may be required where applicable. Use of hand drills is allowed while power drills are prohibited in the wilderness. Seasonal or permanent route closures may occur in order to protect resource values. Please contact the BLM or USFS for additional information.
Hunting and trapping is permissible in the wilderness in accordance with state and federal regulations. Participants must be in possession of a valid state hunting or trapping license and tag. Specific area closures may be in effect. Please contact the BLM or USFS for more information. If hiking in the backcountry during hunting season, please dress in brightly colored clothing so that you are visible to hunters.
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.