Mount Charleston

Not to be confused with: Town of Mount Charleston, Nevada.
Mount Charleston
Mount Charleston and Trout Canyon aerial
Mount Charleston, with Trout Canyon in the foreground, Charleston peak at left rear
Highest point
Elevation11,916 ft (3,632 m) [1]
Prominence8,241 feet (2,512 m)
Parent peakMount Jefferson[1]
Coordinates36°16′18″N 115°41′44″W / 36.271598156°N 115.695568828°WCoordinates: 36°16′18″N 115°41′44″W / 36.271598156°N 115.695568828°W[4]
Mount Charleston is located in Nevada
Mount Charleston
Mount Charleston
Location in Nevada
LocationClark County, Nevada, U.S.
Parent rangeSpring Mountains
Topo mapUSGS Charleston Peak
Easiest routeTrail hike, class 1

Mount Charleston, including Charleston Peak at 11,916 feet (3,632 m),[5] is the highest mountain in both the Spring Mountains and Clark County, in Nevada, United States. It is the eighth-highest mountain in the state.[6] Well separated from higher peaks by large, low basins, Charleston Peak is the most topographically prominent peak in Nevada,[7] and the eighth-most-prominent peak in the contiguous United States.[8] It is one of eight ultra-prominent peaks in Nevada. It is located about 35 miles (56 km) northwest of Las Vegas within the Mount Charleston Wilderness, which is within the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area of the Humboldt–Toiyabe National Forest.


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

The village of Mount Charleston, Nevada, lies at its base to the east.

The state of Nevada issues license plates with the caption "Mt. Charleston" and an image of the peak in the background. Sales of the plate supports the natural environment of the Mount Charleston area through grants administered by the Nevada Division of State Lands.[9]

According to the Federal Writers' Project, Mount Charleston was named for Charleston, South Carolina by southern sympathizers.[10]

Plane crash

C-54 Plane Wreckage on Mount Charleston From Crash on November 17, 1955
C-54 Plane wreckage on Mount Charleston from crash on November 17, 1955

Near its summit are the remnants of a 1955 plane crash. A CIA C-54 Military Air Transport Service plane crashed near the peak on November 17, 1955 during a blizzard.[11] The plane was on route from Groom Lake (or Watertown Strip) to nearby Area 51 to work on a secret U-2 plane development.[12] Fourteen men (a mix of military staffers and civilian subcontractors, engineers, and technicians) were on board when it crashed, all of whom perished. There are still remains from the plane that can be hiked to just off the main southern loop trail to the peak.[13]

A memorial featuring the propeller from the downed aircraft (which was recovered decades after the crash from the crash site) was installed at the Spring Mountains Visitor Gateway[14] in 2015. It was Nevada’s first national memorial and the first on U.S. Forest Service land.[15]


Charleston Peak South Loop Trail Sign
The start of the South Loop Trail to Charleston Peak

Charleston Peak is a popular destination for hikers.[16] The summit offers panoramic views from the Sierra Nevada, Death Valley, and Las Vegas. There are two well-marked and well-maintened trails to the summit: South Loop Trail and North Loop/Trail Canyon. The trails 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 4000 feet of climbing. The hike often takes all day. The hike is most accessible in the snow-free months of summer and fall.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Charleston Peak, Nevada". Retrieved 2008-04-02.
  2. ^ "Desert Peaks Section List" (PDF). Angeles Chapter, Sierra Club. Retrieved 2016-08-08.
  3. ^ "Great Basin Peaks List". Toiyabe Chapter, Sierra Club. Retrieved 2016-08-08.
  4. ^ "Charleston". NGS data sheet. U.S. National Geodetic Survey. Retrieved 2008-04-02.
  5. ^ "Charleston Peak". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2011-05-18.
  6. ^ "Nevada 11,000-foot Peaks". Retrieved 2014-10-22.
  7. ^ "Nevada Peaks with 2000 feet of Prominence". Retrieved 2014-10-23.
  8. ^ "USA Lower 48 Top 100 Peaks by Prominence". Retrieved 2011-03-09.,
  9. ^ "Nevada Charitable and Collegiate License Plates". Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles. Retrieved 2008-11-08.
  10. ^ Federal Writers' Project (1941). Origin of Place Names: Nevada (PDF). W.P.A. p. 14.
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Spring Mountains Visitor Gateway". Go Mt. Charleston. Retrieved 2018-12-28.
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Charleston Peak : Climbing, Hiking & Mountaineering : SummitPost". Retrieved 2018-12-28.

External links

Camp Lee Canyon

Camp Lee Canyon is a district listed on the National Register of Historic Places containing seven buildings in Lee Canyon, Toiyabe National Forest in Mount Charleston. The camp is operated by the Clark County Parks and Recreation department.

Carpenter 1 Fire

The Carpenter 1 Fire was a large wildfire on Mount Charleston, 25 miles (40 km) northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada. The fire began on July 1, 2013 near Pahrump, Nevada, before spreading eastward. Carpenter 1 was seen for miles across the Las Vegas metropolitan area, and was the largest fire to occur on Mount Charleston in decades. After eight weeks of battling the fire, Carpenter 1 was fully contained on August 18, 2013. The fire consumed nearly 28,000 acres (11,000 ha), causing parts of Nevada State Route 156 and 157 to be closed This resulted in the evacuation of residents and closure of businesses and portions of the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area.

The fire, stretching between 5,000–11,000 feet (1,500–3,400 m) elevations, was fought by hundreds of firefighters and eight Hotshot crews, as well as helicopters, fire engines, water tenders, and a DC-10 tanker plane. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, the Carpenter 1 fire was considered "the highest ranked priority fire in the nation" at the time of its occurrence. Evidence of the damage can still be seen on the South Loop Trail to Charleston Peak.

Clark County, Nevada

Clark County is located in the U.S. state of Nevada. As of the 2010 census, the population was 1,951,269, with an estimated population of 2,231,647 in 2018. It is by far the most populous county in Nevada, accounting for nearly three-quarters of the state's residents – thus making Nevada one of the most centralized states in the nation.

Clark County School District

The Clark County School District is a school district that serves all of Clark County, Nevada, including the cities of Las Vegas, Henderson, North Las Vegas, Boulder City, and Mesquite; as well as the census-designated places of Laughlin, Blue Diamond, Logandale, Bunkerville, Goodsprings, Indian Springs, Mount Charleston, Moapa, Searchlight, and Sandy Valley. The district is divided into seven regions and, in addition to the general schools, it also operates 25 alternative schools and programs. The district has limited involvement with charter schools, and with the exception of providing some bus service, does not have any involvement with the private schools in the county. As of 2014, the district is the fifth-largest in the United States.

Griffith Peak

Griffith Peak is located in the Spring Mountains in Clark County of southern Nevada. It is approximately 28 miles (45 km) northwest of the Las Vegas Strip and 3.9 miles (6.3 km) southeast of Mount Charleston.

Griffith Peak is Nevada's 43rd highest peak, and the third highest peak in southern Nevada. It is within Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, Mount Charleston Wilderness and Spring Mountains National Recreation Area.

Griffith Peak is accessible by two primary trails: the South Loop Trail and the Harris Springs Trail. The South Loop Trail leads directly to the Griffith Saddle from which both Griffith Peak and Mount Charleston are accessible.

Hayford Peak

Hayford Peak, elevation 9,924 feet (3,025 m), is the highest mountain in the Sheep Range of Clark County, Nevada, United States. It is the seventh-most topographically prominent peak in the state. The nearest taller mountain is Mount Charleston, 34 miles (55 km) to the southwest. In the winter months, there is snow on the peak, which usually lasts until early spring.

La Madre Mountains Wilderness

La Madre Mountain Wilderness Area consists of 47,180 acres (19,090 ha) covering a part of Clark County, Nevada, that lies just west of the city of Las Vegas, between that city and Mount Charleston. The area includes La Madre Mountain and several archaeological areas including the Brownstone Canyon Archaeological District. The area is administered by the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and the Bureau of Land Management.

Lee Canyon

Lee Canyon is a canyon containing a small community and recreational area in the Spring Mountains located on Mount Charleston in Clark County, Nevada, United States. Primary access is via Lee Canyon Road. Access to the adjacent Kyle Canyon and Mount Charleston, Nevada is via SR 158. It is 17 acres and is located at latitude: 36-18'31"N Longitude: 115-40'37"W. It is 8,510 ft above sea level.

List of Nevada Scenic Byways

The U.S. state of Nevada maintains a system of scenic byways throughout the state. Currently, there are 20 designated state scenic byways. Some of these state scenic byways have also been incorporated into national byway designations.

Mount Charleston, Nevada

Mount Charleston is an unincorporated town and census-designated place in Clark County, Nevada, United States. The population was 357 at the 2010 census.Named for nearby Mount Charleston, the highest point in Clark County, the town is in a valley of the Spring Mountains to the northwest of Las Vegas, noted for its hiking trails, and for the Mount Charleston Lodge, a rustic hotel. At an elevation of approximately 7,500 feet, temperatures are much lower than in Las Vegas, which has an elevation of about 2,000 feet, making it a popular place for Las Vegans to vacation. The mean high temperature is 20.4 degrees (Fahrenheit) cooler than in Las Vegas. The area is also known as a vacation village for wealthy Las Vegas residents.

Mount Charleston Wilderness

The Mount Charleston Wilderness Area is located west of Las Vegas in the southern part of the state of Nevada in the western United States. It was created by the U.S. Congress in 1989 under the provisions allowed by the Wilderness Act of 1964, and is managed by both the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service.

Mountain Springs Summit

Mountain Springs Summit [el. 5,502 ft (1,677 m)] is a mountain pass in the Spring Mountains of Southern Nevada in the United States.

The pass is on the summit of a ridge in the Spring Mountains between the Mount Charleston area and the rest of the Mojave Desert and is located on the border of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The pass connects the Pahrump Valley with the Las Vegas Valley, and it is traversed by State Route 160.

Mummy Mountain (Nevada)

Mummy Mountain is the second highest peak of the Spring Mountains in Clark County, Nevada, United States. It is the twentieth highest mountain in the state. The mountain is located within the Mount Charleston Wilderness and the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.

It takes its name from its vague resemblance to a mummy, or perhaps more accurately an Egyptian sarcophagus seen in profile, with the "head" to the north formed by outcropping above Lee Canyon, the gently rounded main summit forming the "body", and a southern rise and cliffs forming the "feet", called "Mummy's Toe". This appearance is especially prominent from U.S. Route 95, which passes by the mountain to the east.

The most common route to the summit is from the North Loop Trail to Mount Charleston, starting from where it reaches close to the top of the ridge between Mummy Mountain and Mount Charleston. After the first two switchbacks, a steep scramble up a scree slope reaches the top of the ridge, where a faint climber's trail leads east to the base of the summit cliffs. The route then jogs north to a class 4 chute leading to the broad and flat summit plateau.

Nevada State Route 157

State Route 157 (SR 157), also known as Kyle Canyon Road, is a U.S. state highway in Clark County, Nevada. The highway connects the Las Vegas area to the recreational areas of Mount Charleston in the Spring Mountains.

Located in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, a portion of SR 157 has been designated a Nevada Scenic Byway. The route was originally State Route 39, and has origins dating back to the 1930s.

Spring Mountains

The Spring Mountains are a mountain range of Southern Nevada in the United States, running generally northwest-southeast along the west side of Las Vegas and south to the border with California. Most land in the mountains is owned by the United States Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management and managed as the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area within the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

Spring Mountains National Recreation Area

The Spring Mountains National Recreation Area (SMNRA) is a U.S. National Recreation Area, administered by the U.S. Forest Service, west of Las Vegas, Nevada. It covers over 316,000 acres (494 sq mi; 1,280 km2). The area runs from low meadows (around 3,000 feet or 910 meters above sea level), to the 11,918-foot (3,633 m) Mount Charleston. The SMNRA is a part of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. It adjoins the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, which is administered by the Bureau of Land Management.

Spring Mountains National Recreation Area is home to several plant and animal species that are threatened. This was the driving force to create the Mount Charleston Wilderness area.

The SMNRA offers activities such as hiking, picnicking, and skiing at the Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort.

Valjean Hills

The Valjean Hills are a low mountain range in the eastern Mojave Desert, in northern San Bernardino County, southern California.They are located east of the Salt Spring Hills and southeastern Death Valley National Park, and west of Mount Charleston in the Spring Mountains.

Wheeler Peak (Nevada)

Wheeler Peak is the tallest mountain in the Snake Range and in White Pine County, in Nevada, United States. The summit elevation of 13,065 feet (3,982 m) makes it the second-highest peak in Nevada, just behind Boundary Peak. With a topographic prominence of 7,563 feet (2,305 m), Wheeler Peak is the most topographically prominent peak in White Pine County and the second-most prominent peak in Nevada, just behind Mount Charleston. The mountain is located in Great Basin National Park and was named for George Wheeler, leader of the Wheeler Survey of the late 19th century.

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