Fall is a perfect time for hiking, camping, and backpacking in our beautiful state. According to Backpacker.com, Nevada offers around 50 places to enjoy the outdoors by backpacking.1
There are many factors to consider when choosing when and where to backpack, including size of group, day and night temperatures, weather, terrain degree of difficulty, trail conditions, distance, fire restrictions, and remoteness. After you’ve done your homework and made sure you’re prepared with the right equipment and provisions, you’re ready to choose your itinerary.
Here are a few recommendations:
Close to Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon2,3 has 19 marked trails ranging from 1 mile to 6 miles. Most of them are easy or moderate except for Turtlehead Peak, which takes between 3.5 and 4.5 hours. Ice Box Canyon Trail is a 2.2-mile out-and-back in a rocky, tree-lined wash ending in a box canyon with a seasonal waterfall.
The Muddy Mountains Wilderness area4near Lake Mead and the Valley of Fire is one of the best desert backpacking areas in Southern Nevada, featuring beautiful scenery, solitude, and prehistoric rock art. Just an hour north of Las Vegas, this colorful Mojave Desert habitat with expansive views of Lake Mead is jointly managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service. Hikers may view bighorn sheep, kit foxes, jack rabbits, desert tortoises, and other wildlife.
One of the longer trails is the Ruby Crest Trail5, about 48 miles south of Elko, located in the Ruby Mountains. The lowest part of the trail is at 7,200 feet at Harrison Pass, and the highest part is Wines Peak at 10,893 feet. A large portion of the 40-mile trail follows the spine of the Ruby Mountains around 10,000 feet in elevation. Many lakes can be found along the Ruby Crest Trail and most of them have fish. Wildlife includes mule deer, mountain goats, and even Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep.
At Great Basin National Park near Ely, you will see trees older than the Bible and the only glacier in Nevada. The park offers a variety of hiking trails6 where you can see the diversity of the Great Basin region: from the sage-covered foothills to the 13,000-foot summit of Wheeler Peak. The Wheeler Peak Summit Trail starts at 10,160 feet and goes for 8.6 miles. This hike should be started very early in the day because of the risk of afternoon storms. Along most of the route, the trail follows the ridge up to the Wheeler Peak summit.
Cathedral Gorge State Park7, 2.5 hours north of Las Vegas on Highway 93, has 5.5 miles of trail and is called a desert photographer’s dream. It features stone spires formed by centuries of erosion through clay. It’s easy to explore small caves and passages cut through the rock. In one section of the park, known as the Moon Caves, the Rabbit Hole is a crawl-on-your-belly passage to an open area surrounded by rock walls.
Take a look at the trails listed and start out easy and close to home. Don’t try anything too unfamiliar. Make it fun, and when you’re done, the kids will have a real sense of accomplishment when they look back and see where they’ve been.
Nevada’s dozens of backpacking trails welcome you this fall. Backpacking is also good for you. Besides being fun, it gives you confidence, exercise, beautiful surroundings, opportunity to forget about everything else.
Happy and safe exploring.
The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of ZB, N.A.
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