We went up to Mount Charleston one Sunday to see just how much cooler it was up there. Mt. Charleston is the big hill just northwest of Vegas, a forty five minute drive from our house. The peak is around 12,000 ft (3,700 meters) high, and gets a fair amount of snow in the winter. There is a small ski and snowboarding area with lifts, which is scheduled to greatly expand over the next few years. You can gamble down on the warm strip (winter highs are usually close to 80f (26c)) and then go up and play in the snow.
Driving up to the parking area near the ski lifts we can see that even though it’s the end of July there is still snow up here. Temperatures were about 30 degrees cooler than down in the valley.
There are a lot of walking trails through the pines. Even though it is high and they get snow in the winter it is still a desert, the trees are not as large as other mountains have, there are no low growing bushes, the grass is sparse, but still different than the open flats far below.
There are lifts up the slope, the skiing is nothing like the big ski resorts but it is close to town.
Trails are open, most are fenced to keep people off of the surrounding hills as feet tend to kill the plants, resulting in a lot of erosion due to the poor soil and slow plant growth.
Most of the upper mountain is rock, with no paths to the top. I haven’t heard anything about it being a big climbing area.
There are picnic areas, but due to the dryness and high fire danger most of the summer open fires are not permitted. Bring along sandwiches, or a camping stove if you want to cook something. It’s a cool diversion for summer activities.