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It’s 110 degrees in the Las Vegas Desert . . . are the nearby mountains just a mirage?


The month of June ushers in a consistent barrage of triple digits to the Las Vegas area. While the unlimited entertainment, gaming, and pool parties don’t miss a beat, the opportunity to visit nature, camp under the stars, or simply cool down without A/C seems to be months, or hundreds of miles, away.  

To borrow the words said every Saturday morning during college football season by a famous sports personality, “Not so fast, my friend!”

McWilliams is an excellent camping option in the Spring Mountains, near Las Vegas.


Less than an hour from the intersection of Sahara and Las Vegas Boulevard (aka “The Strip”), you can set up your campsite or lace up your hiking shoes in a forest of pine trees courtesy of the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, where the ambient temperature averages 20-30 degrees cooler than Las Vegas.  Nestled in the southern end of the Humbolt-Toiyabe National Forest (the largest national forest in the lower 48 states with 6.3 million acres by the way) the Spring Mountains offer four campgrounds and a multitude of outdoor activities.  At an elevation of 8500 feet, McWilliams Campground is our favorite option for pitching a tent and exploring the Mt. Charleston/Lee Canyon area.


Use to plan your camping trip in Nevada (or anywhere else)!


The trailhead for the Bristlecone Pine Trail is close and can be followed all the way up (6.2 miles) to the Lee Canyon Ski Resort that is opened Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the summer.  The resort is about 1.5 miles by road from the campground and has a bar & grill, a scenic chair lift ride, archery, disc golf, and the Onewheel Riding Experience.  For all the details check out:


Lee Canyon has a multitude of activities in any season


About seven miles from the McWilliams Campground is the slightly more rustic Hilltop Campground that boasts panoramic views of the area. Continuing down the road about 1.1 miles is a turnout to park for the trail head to Robber’s Roost.  There are 51 miles of hiking trails throughout the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area (Mt. Charleston) and one of the shortest is about a 1 mile round trip to Robber’s Roost.  Local legend is that cattle rustlers and thieves used the cave as a hideout. Today the rocks that surround the shallow cave are a popular rock climbing location.


Hilltop Campground, with panoramic views, isn’t a bad option either


After another 3.4 miles the road ends at Highway 157.  Take a left hand turn and about a mile down the road is the Resort on Mt. Charleston and 18 miles further is Interstate 95 back to Las Vegas.  Take a right hand turn and there is more camping, picnic areas, and hiking trails.  At about the 3.6 mile mark from the T onto Highway 157 is the parking area for the challenging hike to Mary Jane Falls.  It is a 1.5-mile hike to the falls but the kicker is the 1400-foot elevation gain that requires 12 switchbacks to reach the destination.  Mary Jane Falls itself does not compare to the raging waterfalls found in the Pacific Northwest, but the scenery is breathtaking and hey, a waterfall in southern Nevada – how cool is that?


A waterfall in Southern Nevada? Yup, the Spring Mountains have it all!


With just a little elevation gain, beautiful summertime camping and hiking can be found in Las Vegas.