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What to know if you're heading out to hike in Nevada this spring

Ponderosa pines are seen on Mount Charleston in 2022.
Kristen DeSilva
Ponderosa pines are seen on Mount Charleston in 2022.

Nevada often gets pegged as a haven for casinos, strippers, and non-stop revelry – and sure, it can live up to that reputation.

But for locals, there's a whole world beyond the glitz of the casino floors. Nevada's outdoors provide an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. And with cooler temps before the summer heat, people are getting out there.

For newbies to hiking, though, what should you wear, drink, eat and watch out for? How much should you take into account wind and rain?

Alan Gegax is a local hiking expert and organizer of the the group, VegasHikers. It has 27,000 members.

“You’re definitely going to want to take water,” said Gegax. “If you’re going into heavy rain, you have to have a proper rain jacket. When it’s windy it can get so cold, so you really need a windproof outer layer.”

Mt. Charleston is one of the most popular hiking sites, but it has faced some weather challenges recently, including heavy rain from Tropical Storm Hillary that dropped 9.8 inches of rain in the area. That wiped out roads and hiking trails.

“(Trails like) Cathedral Rock and Mary Jane Falls were essentially wiped out and there is no projected opening date,” Gegax said.

At lower elevations, Red Rock National Conservation Area is a very popular place to hike, but there’s a fee to get in. And because so many people use it, reservations are required from October through May 31st.

So where else is good to hike?

Ryan Vellinga, Graphic Designer for KNPR’s Desert Companion Magazine, is an avid hiker who recommends Calico Basin, right next to Red Rock.

“I also park at the exit lot and hike into First Creek Canyon,” he said, adding that he still loves to hike Red Rock. “For the in-between times when Mt. Charleston has too much snow … Red Rock is the place to go.”

For those looking for a bit more adventure, perhaps a wetter one, locals can go to UNLV’s Outdoor Adventures at their recreation center to participate in activities like kayaking or canoeing.

Program Coordinator Zak Kucherka said they offer everything from single- to multiple-day trips.

“We offer a canoe trip to Emerald Cave (Lake Mead location) multiple times throughout the year,” he said. “We also do full weekend trips like starting at Willow Beach in Arizona – we paddle up the Colorado all the way up to the Hoover Dam.”

The center rents out equipment and offers discounts to locals and students. For more information, go to

Guests: Alan Gegax, local hiking expert, founder of the Meetup Group VegasHikers; Ryan Vellinga, graphic designer, Desert Companion and backpacker; Zak Kucherka, program coordinator, Outdoor Adventure, Campus Recreational Services, UNLV

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Christopher Alvarez is a news producer and podcast audio editor at Nevada Public Radio for the State of Nevada program, and has been with them for over a year.