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Best summer hikes near Las Vegas

Summer is not really the ideal season for hiking in the Las Vegas area. Nevertheless millions of people still flock to this part of the world in June, July, and August. Why? Because it is not a big secret that Las Vegas is surrounded by higher elevations and cooler temperatures. And, of course, it's as beautiful as ever!


Below are some of our favorite summer hikes near Las Vegas. Grab a few bottles of water, some salty snacks, and set out to explore these treasures.

three distictive sandstone peaks under blue skies
Court of the Patriarchs, Zion National Park

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A few notes about summer hiking in the Las Vegas area


Before delving into our summer hike recommendations, we have a few important notes for you to consider:


Ideal footwear for desert hiking

As in all hiking situations, you want to make sure that your footwear is well broken in and has good tread on the soles. But unlike hiking in the rainforest, your shoes do not need to be waterproof. In fact, it's better if they are not waterproof because that way they will be more breathable.

High or low-ankle hiking boots are a personal preference. If you need ankle support, you know that you need high-ankle boots. If your ankles are still young and nimble, opt for low-ankle shoes or even sandals. We highly recommend closed-toed sandals to protect your toes from kicking big rocks, but this is not a requirement.


Ideal attire for spending time under the summer desert sun

Long sleeves. It sounds counter-intuitive, but once you try it, you'll understand.

Many companies make lightweight long-sleeve shirts, pants, and wide-brim hats with sun protection. That's what you want for desert hiking. Sun protection.

If you get too hot, you can wet your clothes to cool you down. Consider carrying a cotton t-shirt or other cotton cloth in your backpack for this purpose. Once again, this is counter-intuitive because cotton takes longer to dry. However, if you're too hot, you'll appreciate the wet fabric on your skin for as long as possible. Your lightweight fabrics will dry quickly but wet cotton will keep you cooler for longer.


When to start hiking in summer

Note that summer is the perfect season to hone your skills of getting up early or going to sleep late. Early birds appreciate the fresh air of sunrise hikes. Night owls are sure to enjoy night hikes. And desert sunsets will undoubtedly awe everyone.

The Sloan Canyon Petroglyphs are mind-blowing. But very hot in summer! Same goes for the options in Red Rock Canyon such as the Gateway Loop, the Muffins or Fossil Trail, White Rock Loop, or Icebox Canyon. You want to be finished with your hike by 8 AM. For more info, check out our blog about the best winter hikes near Las Vegas.

Other odds and ends for summer hiking in the desert

Water. In this desert, if you're feeling thirsty, you're already dehydrated.

Las Vegas locals, in summer, take a water bottle with them wherever they go. A trip to the supermarket? Water bottle in the cupholder. A short 5-minute walk in the park to walk the dog? A leash in one hand and a full bottle of water in the other.

By this logic, short hikes - and I don't care how short they are - require at least 2 liters of water per person! Take at least 4 L of water with you for longer hikes. Consider even a water filter if you're going somewhere with a water source.

At Basecamp, we have a few items you may appreciate for your summer hikes. You may have already considered renting a water filter and trekking poles from us. But have you considered a cooler? This will allow you to keep extra water and snacks in the car while you hike.

We also sell lip balm with SPF to protect your lips from chapping.


Summer hikes around Las Vegas

ZION NATIONAL PARK

Yes, it's about 2.5 hours away. But the nearest international airport is in Las Vegas. So it makes sense to fly to Las Vegas, rent a car, and drive out to Zion National Park. The park's main entrance in Springdale, UT is about 2000 feet higher than Las Vegas. It is therefore a few degrees cooler. The hikes mentioned below are at even higher elevations and cooler settings.


The Narrows

Hiking distance: 4-8 miles roundtrip (if day hike) or 26 miles one-way (if backpacking overnight)

Hike time: 5-8 hours (if day hike) or 2 full days if backpacking

Difficulty: Moderately strenuous

Notes: If backpacking, read this description. Otherwise, the trailhead to the Narrows day hike is at the end of the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. To get here in summer, you must take the Zion Shuttle to the Temple of Sinawava Shuttle Stop. Next, follow the 1-mile Riverside Walk to the Zion Narrows. At this point, the trail continues in the water. This hike is strenuous because you're hiking against the current. Water levels fluctuate from ankle-deep to neck-deep or even more, depending on season and snowmelt.

Double-ziplock your belongings in case your pack falls into the water. Use trekking poles to help you balance. Wear closed-toed sandals or water shoes to protect your toes.

We rent dry bags and trekking poles at Basecamp. However, you can rent better items specifically suited for the Narrows hike from the Zion Adventure Company in Springdale.

Reasons to hike this trail in summer: You'll be hiking through frigid water most of the way.

Detailed trail description: Zion Narrows

Drive time from Las Vegas: 2.5 hours one-way to Springdale (gateway to Zion National Park) plus 45 minutes one-way on the Zion Shuttle to the trailhead.

You should get a hotel room or campsite near Springdale the day before or after your hike.


narrowing canyon surrounded by sheer walls
View of the Temple of Sinawava, marking the Zion Narrows trailhead

Canyon Overlook Trail

Hiking distance: 1 mile roundtrip

Hike time: 1 hour roundtrip

Difficulty: Moderate

Notes: Limited parking. Very popular

Detailed trail description: Canyon Overlook Trail

Drive time one-way from Las Vegas to the trailhead: 3 hours plus potential for up to 30-minute delays at the Zion Tunnel


Taylor Creek Trail

Hiking distance: 9 miles roundtrip

Hike time: 4 hours roundtrip

Difficulty: Moderate

Notes: Trailhead at the Kolob Canyons section of Zion National Park

Detailed trail description: Taylor Creek Trail

Drive time one-way from Las Vegas to the trailhead: 3 hours

winding road under tall sandstone peaks
Canyon Overlook view of the winding Zion-Mt Carmel Hwy

Emerald Pools

Hiking distance: 2-6 miles roundtrip or loop

Hike time: 1-3 hours roundtrip or loop

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Notes: Very popular. Many variations for this hike. Can only be reached via the Zion Shuttle. Our favorite way is to take the Zion Shuttle to the Grotto, hike the Kayenta trail to the Middle Pool, cross the water and take the Middle Pool trail to the Zion Lodge shuttle stop

Detailed trail description: Emerald Pools

Drive time from Las Vegas: 2.5 hours one-way to Springdale (gateway to Zion National Park) plus 20 minutes one-way on the Zion Shuttle to the Grotto


DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK

Most destinations in this park in June are too hot, day or night. Some of the hottest temperatures in the world were recorded at Furnace Creek. Just 15 minutes out of the car might be too much. That being said, there are very tall peaks in the center of the park that are wonderful for summer hiking.


Wildrose Peak

Hiking distance: 8.4 miles roundtrip

Hike time: 6 hours roundtrip

Difficulty: Moderately strenuous

Notes: Lots of elevation gain in short distance

Detailed trail description: Wildrose Peak

Drive time from Las Vegas: 3.5 hours

You should get a hotel closer to the trailhead, at Stovepipe Wells or Furnace Creek, before or after your hike. All rooms have A/C, which is the most important factor when staying in Death Valley in summer. Another option is to camp for just one night at Wildrose Campground, which is very pleasant in summer.


Telescope Peak

Hiking distance: 14 miles roundtrip

Hike time: 8 hours roundtrip

Difficulty: Moderately strenuous

Notes: Lots of elevation gain in short distance. A bit less interesting than Wildrose, but it is the tallest peak in the park

Detailed trail description: Telescope Peak

Drive time from Las Vegas: 3.5 hours

You should get a hotel closer to the trailhead, at Stovepipe Wells or Furnace Creek, before or after your hike. All rooms have A/C, which is the most important factor when staying in Death Valley in summer. Another option is to camp for just one night at Wildrose Campground, which is very pleasant in summer.


Hiking trail on ridgeline with snow
Telescope Peak in June

The Racetrack

Hiking distance: Not a hike, but you can walk around as long as you want

Hike time: 15-30 minutes or more of walking around

Difficulty: Easy

Notes: Must have high clearance vehicle, good tires, 2 spare tires, extra food and water. If renting a car, make sure your rental company allows for driving the road to the Racetrack in summer.

Detailed trail description: Racetrack

Drive time from Las Vegas: 5 hours


Rock with trace on dry playa
Racetrack

MOUNT CHARLESTON AREA

Every city must have a ski resort, and Las Vegas is no exception. Visitors to Las Vegas are always amazed at the proximity of the 11,000-foot peak to the city. But you don't have to ski in order to visit the mountain. Depending on the weather, numerous trails in Mt Charleston may be hiked with waterproof boots or snowshoes.

Bristlecone Loop

Hiking distance: 6-mile loop

Hike time: 3 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Notes: It's not quite a loop. Park at the lower trailhead. Follow the trail counterclockwise to the upper trailhead. From there, follow the road about 10 minutes back to the lower trailhead.

Detailed trail description: Bristlecone Loop

Drive time from Las Vegas: 45 minutes


Griffith Peak

Hiking distance: 10 miles roundtrip

Hike time: 8 hours

Difficulty: Strenuous

Notes: Lots of elevation gain in short distance. You can turn this into a 2-day backpacking adventure combined with Mt Charleston Peak. Check out this list for lots of other great backpacking options around the Mount Charleston area.

Detailed trail description: Griffith Peak

Drive time from Las Vegas: 45 minutes


snowy peak behind pygmy tree with bare leaves
Mt Charleston

Little Zion

Hiking distance: 5 miles roundtrip

Hike time: 3 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Notes: Must have high clearance vehicle to get as close as possible to the trailhead. Limited parking spots available.You can do this hike mid-day, but keep in mind it will still be very hot and you want lots and lots of water!

Detailed trail description: Little Zion

Drive time from Las Vegas: 45 minutes


Sounds like now you're prepared for desert hiking in summer in the Las Vegas area and in the Southwest in general. As always, feel free to get in touch with us if you have any questions/comments/concerns. We look forward to outfitting your summer adventure!

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