8 of the Best Hiking Trails Near Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas hiking trails
All lands pictured in this article are Southern Paiute, Western Shoshone and Kawaiisu Native Lands

It would be easy to assume when visiting that all there is to do in Las Vegas is what downtown presents with its glittering lights and endless fun. However, what you may not know is that the hiking trails Las Vegas has to offer are incredibly varied and show a whole different side to the area.

We’ve spent a lot of time in and around Las Vegas over the last decade and have always been amazed by everything there is on offer hiking wise. This ranges from Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and Valley of Fire State Park all the way through to the more challenging Mt Charleston and the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area.

In this article, we’ve honed down on 8 favorite and best hiking trails near Las Vegas, providing downloadable trail maps and a starting point map too, to help you get on the trail easily. There’s something for everyone here, from easier trails to more strenuous full day jaunts.

Valley of Fire State Park Las Vegas

Use the map below to find the starting points for the trails we’ve listed below. 

Best Hiking Trails Near Las Vegas

Petroglyph Canyon via Mouse’s Tank Trail

Starting point: Petroglyph Canyon Parking Lot
Difficulty: Easy to moderate. Very little elevation gain over a short distance. However the trail is sandy, so hard going underfoot and the lack of shade makes this intense in the heat, so go prepared. 
Length: 1.3km/0.7 miles out and back
Ascent/descent: 23m/49 ft. ascent and descent 
When to do it: From October through to May
Fees: There is an entry fee to enter Valley of Fire State Park. This is between $10-$15. See the State Park website for up to date details.
AllTrails alternative map: Petroglyph Canyon

This has always been a favorite hike for us when visiting Valley of Fire State Park, and it’s a great option if you’re short on time, or just want to get out of Las Vegas for the afternoon. Seeing the petroglyphs is just amazing and it’s a great hiking trail to learn more about native culture.

Once you’ve taken a scenic drive through the breathtaking Valley of Fire State Park, getting out and doing the petroglyph trail through the bright red canyon and interestingly shaped rocks is wonderful to see. We think this area has some of the most iconic hiking trails Las Vegas has to offer.

When you get to the end of the trail and before turning back, you’ll see Mouse’s Tank pool, it was named so because a Southern Paiute Indian called Little Mouse used the area to hide out in during the 1890’s whilst accused of killing two prospectors. When you get to the end of the trail, you’ll enjoy how deep and hollow the potholes sound!

petroglyph hike canyon valley of fire

About the free downloadable trail maps we offer: We use Outdooractive to provide live maps that show the whole route. If you click on the map, you can set up a free account and download the map straight to your mobile device. We would always recommend downloading your map and check it before you head out and signal becomes patchy! 

Calico Tanks Trail

Starting point: Sandstone Quarry Trailhead for Calico Tanks
Moderate – some elevation change and very exposed to the heat. Some scrambles at points which make this more difficult.
Length: 3.6km/2.4 miles out and back
Ascent/descent: 128m/439 ft. ascent and descent 
When to do it: Between late September and May and not advised in the summer months
Fees: There is a timed entry reservation in place between 8am-5pm October 1st and May 31st each year. You can book your spot on the recreation.gov website.
AllTrails alternative map: Calico Tanks Trail

We’ve done this trail numerous times now and still love it, and we’re not the only ones as it’s a really popular hike in the area. You will see plenty of people on the trail, even early on. This trail really does have it all and has great views looking out to downtown Las Vegas if you make the trip right to the top/tanks.

We’ve always felt mesmerized by the red rock in this area and in our opinion, it gives a great overview of the hiking trails Las Vegas has to offer. It’s a great place to soak in the scenery and just spend some time marveling at some of the local plants and lizards!

There are some scrambles on this hike, where hands and sure footing are needed, and this does make it feel more like a challenging hike at times. But the views at the end and the turquoise-blue pool/Calico Basin is a lovely area to just relax and take a breather before heading back down.

Calico Tanks Las Vegas

First Creek Canyon Trail

Starting point: First Creek Canyon Trailhead
Difficulty: Moderate to challenging – some elevation gain and steep inclines over an exposed trail with no shade.
Length: 5.6km/3.4 miles out and back 
Ascent/descent: 147m/433 ft. ascent and descent
When to do it: Between October and May
Fees: You’ll need to pay to enter the Red Rock Canyon NCA, more details on this and timed entry here.
AllTrails alternative map: First Creek Canyon Trail to The Grotto

We love this trail because it’s so well marked that you can just concentrate on enjoying it and everything you’ll see. When we visited, we were lucky enough to see road runners. If you arrive early, you may also see jackrabbits and whole range of other animals and birds in the area.

At certain times of the year, there is meant to be a waterfall (but sadly this isn’t something we got to experience). So, if you’re going in the winter months, this may be something to look out for. However, this is still a beautiful trail even without the promise of a waterfall. It’s relatively flat with only a few rocky sections to navigate, and the Grotto at the end is well worth the extra effort.

Without a doubt, this is a great hike within a short drive of Las Vegas (about 30 minutes give or take). If you’re feeling like it, you can also head up to Mt. Wilson, just continue on from The Grotto. Though this does add quite a bit of extra distance and effort though!

first creek canyon

Ice Box Canyon Trail

Starting point: Ice Box Canyon Trailhead
Moderate – significant ascent and some scrambling to reach the falls, the trail isn’t well marked so a good head for navigation is needed (save your map offline).
Length: 3.6km/2.1 miles out and back
Ascent/descent: 509m/439 ft. ascent and descent 
When to do it: Between late September and May (though if you want the best chance of seeing water, go in the winter months).
Fees: If you have a National Parks pass already, you won’t have to pay, but there is a fee to enter otherwise. Check the Red Rock Canyon website for more details on this and the times entry system during key months of the year.
AllTrails alternative map: Ice Box Canyon Trail

The ice box canyon is a pretty cool hiking trail near Las Vegas in the Red Rock Canyon area that we’re sure you’ll love as much as we do. That is, provided you enjoy scrambling! In fact, we think it’s one of the best places for this and a favorite route for getting your hands involved and makes for a really fun day.

One thing to keep in mind is that this trail is not very well marked, so a good head for landmarking and keeping an eye on your map is needed. The first section involves a pretty good incline before you reach the boulder sections. If you want to make it all the way to the stream bed and small pool, you’ll need to go over these.

Even if you don’t, it’s still a great hike and often quieter than some of the most popular trails. If there is water in the stream bed, we would not advise swimming or sitting in it. The water can often smell unpleasant and it’s just best to avoid! Be sure to take some layers with you too as it can be pretty cold in the canyon (as the name suggests).

Ice Box Canyon

Arizona Hot Springs Trail

Starting point: Arizona Hot Springs Trailhead
Difficulty: Moderate – a longer distance trail with some elevation gain. This trail is a real adventure with ladders, scrambling, wading and plenty to navigate over uneven ground.
Length: 10.2km/5.9 miles loop
Ascent/descent: 312m/1,223 ft. ascent and descent   When to do it: Between October and May (please note this area is closed in the summer months due to extreme heat, and at present also because of water quality issues). Please visit the Lake Mead website for information on trail closures and to help plan your visit.
Fees: There are currently no fees to use this area but be sure to check at the Lake Mead visitor center just in case this changes.
AllTrails alternative map: Arizona Hot Springs

This is a pretty fun trail that leads you to actually go through the hot springs in order to make it along the trail. So be sure to bring a pair of water shoes or hiking sandals with you for this one. This is one of the things that makes it so fun!

This hiking trail in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area is one of our favorites, and for good reason! It gets you spectacular views of the deep canyons and it just feels like such an all-encompassing experience.

There are also so many incredible rock formations to look at as you hike along the wash. It offers a lot of variety and there is not one second where you’ll be bored! It’s good to keep in mind that this trail has recently been closed due to summer temperatures and water quality, so always check in advance before you travel to avoid disappointment.

Arizona Hot Springs

Mount Charleston

Starting point: Wild Horse Canyon Trailhead
Difficulty: Moderate – significant elevation gain at altitude with steep ascents and descents
Length: 8.5km/5.2 miles part out and back, part loop
Ascent/descent: 516m/1692 ft. ascent and descent  
When to do it: From May to September, though keep in mind there may be snow on the trail earlier in the season
Fees: No fees
AllTrails alternative map: Charleston Peak and Wildhorse Canyon

If you’re visiting in summer, this is one of the best hiking trails Las Vegas has to offer. If you fancy a challenge that is! Set in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Charleston Peak gives a little dose of alpine which can feel like a welcome respite from the heat of the Las Vegas Valley.

We really found we benefitted from trekking poles for this hike as it involves a steep incline on the way up. But it’s well worth it to see the ancient bristlecone pines on your way up. You’ll get a really good sense of achievement from this trail as it has breathtaking views out.

If you head out early in the summer season (around June to early July) there is a good chance you will still see some snow. So, it’s a good idea if you check in advance to see what the trail conditions are like and whether you need to bring winter gear with you. Also keep in mind that the temperatures can be up to 20 degrees lower up here than in the valley, so bring layers!

mt charleston

Red Cliffs Trail

Starting point: Red Cliffs Nature Trail
Difficulty: Easy – over a short distance with little elevation gain and a wide wash
Length: 0.9km/0.5 miles round trip
Ascent/descent: 21m/68 ft. ascent and descent
When to do it: October to May
Fees: You will likely need to pay a fee to enter the state park, you can find our more on this here.
AllTrails alternative map: Red Cliffs Trail

This one’s a bit of an odd one out in our hiking list. But we wanted to add it as it makes a great option if you’re driving out of Las Vegas and heading up to the Sierra Nevada, driving to Los Angeles or Death Valley National Park on a western US road trip. It’s really worth the effort to go and see and it’s a pretty short trail.

We love the incredible rock formations you get to see on this hike in Red Rock Canyon State Park. There is something about those reds and white combined and the rock stratification that’s fascinating.

What makes this one great is that it’s just off the highway so has a very minimal detour. If you have a little bit longer to spend here, you can also hike off from a couple of the trails to explore this fantastic environment some more.

red cliffs trail

Fire Wave Trail

Starting point: Fire Wave Trailhead
Difficulty: Easy to moderate – short distance but very exposed, so take adequate sun protection
Length: 2.2km/1.3 miles out and back
Ascent/descent: 55m/150 ft. ascent and descent  
When to do it: Best between October and May (the park is closed for the summer months)
Fees: You’ll need to pay an entry fee to the State Park ($10-$15), and there is a timed entry system in the more popular months. More details on this can be found on their website.
AllTrails alternative map: Fire Wave Trail

The Fire Wave Trail is a fantastic hike to a sandstone formation that looks like a wave. It’s pretty spectacular to see and it’s within an hour drive of Las Vegas so it’s easy to fit in to the beginning or end of your day to break things up.

Set in the Valley of Fire State Park, you will need to time your visit well as the park closes in the summer months due to extreme heat and opens again in fall. It’s really rewarding, and you’ll be glad you made the effort to get there – though that said, this is a pretty easy going trail.

fire wave trail

Good to know: It’s important to keep in mind when planning to go hiking near Las Vegas that there are some trails that can be closed. This is due to various reasons and one of the most common is in the summer because of heat or around Mt Charleston in winter due to snow.

However, this can also sometimes be due to other reasons such as trail damage. Trails you will often see impacted by this are the popular Mary Jane Falls trail, the Fire Wave Trail and the Cathedral Rock Trail. We would always advise checking in advance to see about trail closures in the area you’re planning to hike by using the search terms ‘name of your hike’ followed by ‘trail closure’ on Google.

las vegas hiking routes

What Time of Year Should You Tackle the Hiking Trails Near Las Vegas?

One important thing to remember is that Las Vegas and the surrounding area is hot, and we’re talking really hot! So much so, that many of the trails in some of the most popular areas (like Valley of Fire State Park) are closed in the summer months.

It’s just too dangerous to hike at this time and we would not advise it – there have been many hiker deaths due to heat stroke. It’s also important to keep in mind that there can be seasonal trail closures due to heat too.

So, the best time to hike is generally from September and May. Though to be really safe, between October and April. If hiking at the start of the fall season, be mindful that temperatures can still be really high, and the cooler temperatures only really come into effect as the year draws to a close.

The real exception to this is the Mt Charleston area, which, being at higher altitude sees a more alpine climate and snow in the winter months. Some of the roads into this area can be closed in winter, but it is still possible to hike in winter – though a good head for winter safety is important.

Understanding avalanche risk and knowing how to travel over winter terrain is important. Hiking here is better in the summer months and can be considerably cooler than the Las Vegas valley.

top las vegas hikes

Which Trails to Hike Near Las Vegas By Season


Petroglyph Canyon via Mouse’s Tank, Calico Tanks, First Creek Canyon, Ice Box Canyon, Arizona Hot Springs, Red Cliffs, Fire Wave.


Mt Charleston and the whole Spring Mountains National Recreation Area. More trails in this area for varying lengths and abilities can be found on AllTrails here


Some lower level Spring Mountains National Recreation Area trails  depending on snow cover. From late fall, all trails listed above in spring. 


All trails listed in spring.

Our Top Tips for Hiking in Las Vegas

Whether you’re new to hiking or not, there are a few important things you can do to prepare yourself for the hiking trails Las Vegas has to offer. Whether you’re taking on a strenuous hike or something a little simpler, the information below will help you know what to bring and what to look out for.

Be Prepared

There are no two ways about it, the hiking trails Las Vegas has to offer are in some of the harshest, most inhospitable desert locations and conditions. This should of course be taken seriously as the desert can be dangerous, but with a few adjustments it can be much easier to get out and enjoy these fantastic trails. Here are some of the most important things to consider:

Bring plenty of water and snacks

It’s advised to bring at least 4L/1 gallon of water per person (depending on the length of your hike, this may need to be more or less). We prefer to use a reservoir hydration system attached to our packs for this. You also want to bring lots of salty and nourishing snacks, and you should be snacking every one to two hours. You should also read our day hiking checklist which goes into seasonal specifics and covers this in detail.

Bring shade with you

There is very little shade on any of the trails we’ve listed above. So, it’s important to bring a hat, plenty of sunscreen and long pants that are slightly baggier. Avoid cotton! For more information on this, you should read our guide what to wear on a hike which goes through seasonal layers and everything you need to know here.

las vegas hiking

Good hiking shoes or boots

There are quite a lot of uneven surfaces on the hiking trails around Las Vegas, so wearing a pair of adequate hiking shoes or boots that will protect your feet from ankle rolls and general trail debris is important. You also want to go for a pair that are breathable and wick moisture. Our guides to the best hiking shoes and the best hiking boots go into more detail on your best options for this kind of hiking.

Let someone know you’re going hiking

Because hiking in the desert comes with risks, it’s always a good idea to let someone else know your plans and when you expect to be back. Ideally, you want to let them know which trail you’re hiking and the parking lot you’ll be using should any problems arise.

Know Your Limits

Whilst it’s always amazing getting out for a beautiful hike, it’s not worth getting sick for, and in more serious scenarios, your life. The heat in the Las Vegas area is no joke and hiking even an easy hike can feel very strenuous in the unrelenting heat (and this is one of the reasons so many of the trails are closed in the summer months).

Therefore, it’s important to know your limits when it comes to hiking in extreme temperatures – and it’s advisable to head out in the early morning or later on once things have cooled down a little. Also being prepared with the right clothing and bringing enough food and water as outlined above are extremely important.

hiking in las vegas

Leave No Trace

Whilst the desert is harsh, it’s also fragile. When visiting, it’s important to keep it that way. One of the greatest ways you can do this is to stay on the marked trails. If you’re using hiking poles, we would also recommend adding on rubber feet covers as they can damage the delicate formations.

Following the standard Leave No Trace principles is a good shout and you can find out more about this here. These are sacred lands and it’s important we keep them preserved for years to come.

You also want to be aware of cryptobiotic crust/soil that you will likely see when out hiking near Las Vegas. This black or brown crust you will see is incredibly important to the desert eco system, so don’t touch it or walk on it. It’s living and can be extremely old.

best las vegas hikes

Download Your Map and Bring Backup

We’d always recommend you make sure that your trail map is downloaded, and any offline maps are saved if using your cell phone or mobile device for mapping. Never rely on Google Maps alone for a trail! If possible, we’d also recommend bringing a paper backup in case.

A compass is a good idea too (and learn the basics of using it) just in case. It just gives you that extra peace of mind and knowing that if anything should happen, you’ll be covered. Our guide to the best hiking compasses goes into more detail on 8 inexpensive options.

Valley of Fire State Park

Enjoy These Hikes Near Las Vegas

Every time we hike near Las Vegas, we always say that we genuinely think this area has some of the best hikes you can come by. It’s just so varied and gives a welcome break from downtown Las Vegas and the hustle and bustle that comes with it.

Whether you want an epic hike with a lot of elevation gain or something shorter and more straightforward to tack onto a day, the hikes above will give you all the variety you need to make the most of your trip. The thing that’s also great is all of these trails are a relatively short distance from Las Vegas so they’re a great way to break things up. Whichever trail you choose, we know you’ll enjoy it!