Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Las Vegas Area - Mt. Charleston

Where in the World are Keith and Kathy?

In geological terms, all of Nevada is situated in “basin and range” territory. This term describes a landscape of broad, sweeping alluvial valleys, or “basins”, punctuated with remnants of the mountain ranges which provided the erosional detritus from which the valleys are built. While mere shadows of their former selves, these mountain ranges remain impressive geographical features.

Typical of these ranges are the Spring Mountains, which loom over the western reaches of the Las Vegas basin. Dominating these mountains is the 11,919 foot Charleston Peak. On the eastern slopes of this mountain range is the Toiyabe National Forest, and the small alpine town of Mt. Charleston.

Charleston Peak Looms Over the Las Vegas Valley

On Tuesday the 4th of March we drove forth from Sin City to tour this mountain scenery. Turning west from Rt. 95, the road climbs steadily from the 2000 ft. elevation of the Las Vegas valley, to about 8000 ft. at the town of Mt. Charleston. As the road climbs, the scenery changes dramatically, from desert valley cactus, to pine forested alpine crags. Nestled in the heart of these crags are several National Forest Service campgrounds, and the town of Mt. Charleston. It’s like a completely different world from the bustle of the Las Vegas Strip.

The Alpine Village of Mt. Charleston

We would like to camp here someday, but not in winter. While the campground is open, there is significant snow on the ground. About a week after we visited, another foot of snow fell, reinforcing our judgment that now is not the season to camp here.

Inviting Sign

Winter Camping Reality

Nonetheless, we thoroughly enjoyed our brief visit, and expect to return. On the trip back down the mountain, we had several spectacular views of the Rt. 95 valley.

Descending into the Valley

1 comment:

mmason said...

Hey, speaking for those of us still stuck in hard winter country, it tickled me you all experienced snow in your southwestern travels! Really envy you your travels!