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Backpacking Basics And Hiking Tips From A Pro

Bureau of Land Management/Flickr

We live in a beautiful state.

Now that summer's over, it's the perfect time to get outside.

Red Rock and Mount Charleston are popular go-tos, but Nevada is home to equally dazzling, lesser-known destinations.

No one knows this better than Benjamin Spillman, the outdoors editor at the Reno Gazette-Journal, whose job it is to explore these places.

Ben joined us by phone to talk about backpacking basics and where to go.

Best backpacking trip for beginners:

The Tahoe Rim Trail – It is a really nice trail that goes around the Tahoe Basin. It’s about a 170- mile trail. Obviously, you don’t have to do the whole thing. The trail is very well developed and well marked and it’s beautiful.

Tahoe Rim Trial/Wikimedia Commons

Once you get some experience:

The Eastern Sierra is a great place to go once you’ve done a few trips. The High Sierra from Bishop, California, north toward Yosemite and even south of Bishop is just beautiful. It has really high mountain peaks, including Mt. Whitney the highest peak in the contiguous United States is in the Eastern Sierra. The John Muir Trail is the main trail.

Mt. Whitney/Wikimedia Commons

Beginners/Mid-range hikers in Southern Nevada:

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and Mount Charleston – You really can’t go wrong there.

Red Rock Canyon/BLM

Near Pioche – There is a little cluster of state parks about 100 miles away from Las Vegas that has really great hiking.

Kershaw Ryan State Park is an amazing hidden gem in Caliente. It’s only maybe an hour and half from Las Vegas. They have really nice campsites and really nice bathroom facilities. Then there is a trail that goes up on the rim of a canyon. A reasonably fit person could probably do it in an hour or so, then spend the rest of the time enjoying the leaves.

Kershaw-Ryan State Park/Ken Lund/Flickr 


Check the weather: 

Nevada State Parks

National Park Service 

California State Parks

Utah State Parks

Arizona State Parks

From Desert Companion: 15 Hikes (Practically) In Your Own Backyard


Benjamin Spillman, outdoors editor, Reno Gazette-Journal

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Kristy Totten is a producer at KNPR's State of Nevada. Previously she was a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly, and has covered technology, education and economic development for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. She's a graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism.