Less than 30 miles south of Las Vegas, Nevada encompassed by the Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area, lies a place of eye-catching beauty and historical wonder. The North McCullough Wilderness covers the northern portion of the north-south trending McCullough Mountain Range. Unlike surrounding areas, the northern portion of this range is comprised of ancient volcanic rock. The mountains in the North McCullough Wilderness, reaching approximately 5,500 feet, are massive rounded volcanic peaks, which have a steep east-facing escarpment and gradual western slope.
Though a short distance from the lights and sounds of Las Vegas, silence is common on the peaks and in most canyons. Low visitation levels in the southern portion of this wilderness provide opportunities for primitive and unconfined recreation. Diverse non-developed recreational opportunities include hiking, backpacking, rock scrambling, nature study, photography, horseback riding, hunting, and general exploration.
In the northern portion of this wilderness sits the Petroglyph Management Area. This area provides grand opportunities to experience the magnificent petroglyphs left by people of the past. This area is limited to day use only. To keep the petroglyphs pristine, please to not touch the images, as the oils on your skin will damage them. Photographs and sketches are great ways to remember your visit, but rubbings of the images are not permitted.
The North McCullough Mountains are volcanic in origin, and are comprised of andesite and basalt flows that date from 6 to 17 million years ago. Black basalt flows can be seen on the ridges, peaks, and western slopes. The eastern escarpment is comprised of reddish-brown andesite breccias. Examples of lava flows, ash falls, and glassy zones are clearly evident.
Ranging from approximately 3,000 to 5,000 feet in elevation, the landscape displays a thriving Mojave Desert filled with crososte bush, white bursage, brittle bush, burro bush, desert saltbrush, Mojave yucca, teddy-bear cholla, and hedgehog cacti. Black grama grass grows in this wilderness and is not known to occur anywhere else in Nevada. Short-lived annual and perennial wild flowers appear in March, April, and May when prompted by winter rains. A sharp-eyed visitor may glimpse desert bighorn sheep, black-tailed jackrabbits, white-tailed antelope squirrels, desert woodrats, desert tortoises, side-blotched lizards, black throated sparrows, rock wrens, red-tailed hawks, and a variety of wintering migratory birds.
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 North McCullough Wilderness.
South of Henderson, dirt roads running west off of Gas Line Road provide access to the eastern edge of the North McCullough Wilderness. Sloan Canyon Access Road provides access from the north. Several dirt roads leading east from South Las Vegas Boulevard just north of Sloan Road provide access to the western edge of the wilderness. Road conditions vary; vehicles with high-clearance and four-wheel drive are recommended.
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
There are three designated trails in the North McCullough Wilderness: 1) Petroglyph Trail 1.0 miles; 2) Cowboy Trail 0.70 miles; 3) Hidden Valley Trail 1.90 miles. Within the Petroglyph Management Area, hiking is restricted to designated trails and horses are not permitted. Cross country hiking and equestrian use is allowed in the rest of the wilderness.
Despite its proximity to Las Vegas, the North McCullough Wilderness provides ample opportunity for peace and quiet, serving as a magnificent stage for hiking, backpacking, camping, rock climbing, hunting, and general exploration.
The Petroglyph Management Area opens a window to the past, allowing visitors to discover the stories left behind by people of the past. Due to the fragile nature of these cultural resources, this area is limited to day use only. Help preserve these natural wonders by not touching or taking rubbings of the petroglyphs.
Climbing and the use of climbing equipment within the Petroglyph Management Area is prohibited. Rock climbing, bouldering, and scrambling are allowed in the remainder of the wilderness without the placement of fixed anchors.
Hunting is permissible in the North McCullough Wilderness, except in the Petroglyph Management Area, as long as you are in possession of a valid state hunting license and tag during hunting season. 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.