It has started to get hot in Las Vegas, as it always does this time of year, and because we had a visitor, we decided on a trip to Mount Charleston. Fortunately for us, Mount Charleston is just 35 miles northwest of Las Vegas where you can find cool mountain breezes, fresh air and all-around scenic beauty. Part of the Spring Mountain Range and Toiyabe National Forest, Mount Charleston ranges from 3,000 to 12,000 feet in elevation. It is Nevada’s eighth-highest mountain peak and one of the Top 10 most topographically prominent peaks in the United States. With trees like juniper, mountain mahogany, Aspen and Ponderosa pine and animals such as wild burros, songbirds, deer and desert tortoises, Mount Charleston feels like it is a million miles away from Las Vegas.
The Mojave desert surrounds Las Vegas and extends almost all the way to Los Angeles. Even though most visitors to Las Vegas are interested in gambling, restaurants and shows, there is a beautiful natural world just outside the city limits. The Mojave desert is named after the Mojave Indians who met explorer Father Francis Garces in 1776 after he successfully crossed the Mojave desert. Mojave tribal peoples were concentrated along the Colorado River and the Mojave trail was their main trading route. Other intrepid explorers would follow Garces, including Jedediah Smith in 1826 and John Fremont in 1844.