Despite being considered one of the driest areas in the country, Nevada is home to over 1,787 named peaks in 150 mountain ranges and is one of the most mountainous states in the United States. Known as the “Sagebrush State,” Nevada is home to approximately 30 peaks that exceed 11,000 feet in elevation and two that exceed 13,000 feet, it’s highest being Boundary Peak at 13,130 ft.
Although the Sierra Nevada Mountains make only a brief appearance in Nevada, it has a variety of other notable mountain ranges that span its desert landscape. Major mountain ranges include the Spring, Schell Creek, Toiyabe, Ruby, and Snake Mountains.
In the Southern portion of the state, the Spring Mountains sometimes referred to as “the Charlestons, extend for approximately 70-miles west of Las Vegas along the California border. Located in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and Red Rock National Conservation Area, the Spring Mountains are very popular for outdoor recreation and offer over 50-miles of hiking trails. The highest point in the Spring Mountains is Mount Charleston, which anchors the range on the northwest. However, other significant summits include Bonanza Peak, McFarland Peak, Mummy Mountain, Griffith Peak, Bridge Mountain, and Mount Potosi.
The Schell Creek Range is a less populated, linear mountain range in east-central Nevada. The range extends for approximately 132 miles and is considered to be the fourth-tallest range in the State. Generally, the Schell Creek Range can be divided into two major groups of peaks: the southern section and northern section. North Schell Peak is the highest in the Schell Creek Range, but South Schell Peak and Taft Peak also exceed 11,000-feet and are noteworthy peaks in the Schell Creek Range.
The Toiyabe Mountain Range, which often competes with the Schells for the title of the longest mountain range in Nevada, cross the middle of the state through Nye and Lander counties. Arguably one of the more scenic mountain ranges in Nevada, the Toiyabe Mountains are located in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and are recognized for being home to the infamous Toiyabe Crest Trail, one of the most secluded long-distance trails in the United States. Notable peaks in the Toiyabe Range include Arc Dome Peak, the tallest peak in the range, and Bunker Hill, the highest mountain in Lander County.
Reaching an elevation of 11,247 feet at the summit of Ruby Dome, the Ruby Mountains are one of the most picturesque mountain ranges in Nevada. Nicknamed “the Alps of Nevada,” the Ruby Mountains consist of 10 summits exceeding 10,000 feet, more than 20 lakes, and 900,000 acres of wilderness. The 41-mile Ruby Crest Trail is a great way to experience the Ruby Mountains because it is the longest trail that meanders north to south across the range.
The Snake Range runs north-south for approximately 60-miles and contains Nevada’s second tallest peak, Wheeler Peak. The beauty within the Snake Range, particularly Wheeler and Lehman Caves, convinced President Ronald Reagan to protect the land by creating Great Basin National Park. The Snake Range also contains all of Nevada’s 12,000-foot peaks, except Boundary Peak.
The Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area is arguably one of the most popular hiking areas near Nevada’s largest city, Las Vegas. Stretching along the east-facing side of the Spring Mountains, Red Rock Canyon offers a variety of hiking trails and rock climbing opportunities. The Turtlehead Peak trail is one of the more popular trails in the area and consists of a challenging 4.6-mile trek passed petroglyphs to the top of Turtlehead Peak. Ice Box Canyon, an easier 3-mile hike, traverses high-walled canyons and ends in a seasonal waterfall. All hikes in the area depart from a 13-mile scenic loop drive that winds through the park.
At a remarkable 6.3 million acres, the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest is the largest national forest in the lower 48 states and an ideal place for hiking, backpacking, and camping. Four National Scenic Trails are found within the forest: The Pacific Crest Trail, the Toiyabe Crest Trail, the Ruby Crest Trail, and the Mount Charleston Trail. The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest also contains 18 unique designated Wilderness Areas and over 1,000 hiking trails to explore.
35-miles northwest of Last Vegas, Mt. Charleston is touted as an ideal, year-round getaway for experiencing a variety of outdoor recreation opportunities. Part of the Spring Mountain Range, Mount Charleston ranges from 3,000-12,000 feet in elevation, making it the perfect place to escape the desert heat. Visitors can choose from a variety of hiking trails, some of which feature notable mountain peaks like Bonanza Peak.
Las Vegas is an internationally renowned major resort city, known its gambling, shopping, entertainment, and nightlife. However, a short distance from the bustling city lies some of Nevada’s top areas for outdoor recreation. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Lake Mead, Valley of Fire State Park, and Spring Mountains National Recreation Area are all within a short drive of Las Vegas and the snow-capped peak of Mt. Charleston can be seen from parts of the Las Vegas strip.
Named after the mountain man, Kit Carson and nestled on the banks of Lake Tahoe, Carson City, the capital of Nevada, is an ideal place to stay for visitors interested outdoor exploration. Carson City is surrounded by the Sierra Nevada Mountains and offers a variety of outdoor, cultural and historical attractions to choose from.