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Mount Potosi Las Vegas Nevada
Mount Potosi Las Vegas Nevada is a beautiful hike that is only 30 miles from the world famous Las Vegas Strip. The views towards the east looking at Vegas and looking west to California are exceptional. The bold colors of Red Rock Conservation Area in the distance is unquestionable. There is never too much traffic or foot traffic on the Potosi Mountain hike because it is not as well known to tourists like Red Rock or Mount Charleston are. The topography is complex and the single track road and trails on Mt. Potosi have rugged terrain, loose rocks, steep angles, and surrounded by limestone rock walls.
It had just snowed the night before our hike so the ground, the plants, and the trees were heavy with snow and it was beautiful against the clear blue sky. Our van is heavy and we dont have nobby tires so we parked right off of Highway 160 (Blue Diamond) and started walking. We started on the west side route which is on the mountain pass driving towards Pahrump, Nevada. We walked along the road for three miles ascending over 1,000 feet. And because we had walked so far and still saw no signs of a trail or trailhead we decided to return in the spring when the snow has melted and routes can be seen. I'd like to see some big horn sheep next time too. The views at the peak are excellent. There is a lot to explore on Mt. Potosi and the total hike to the wreckage and back is 9 miles as well as being a category 4 in difficulty, and it takes about 6+ hours to hike.
During one of our hikes in Mt. Charleston the trail eventually got eaten up by snow. The first half of the trail was easy to navigate but the further we hiked the higher we got and then the clear path become lost. We caught to some guys with a GPS and even they were getting confused to where the trail was at being buried under the snow. Before too long we were knee deep in snow with no clear sign of where to go. For a bit we started hiking straight up through the snow among the trees but we didn't have the right gear on so we didn't get too far. Our socks, shoes, and feet were soaked but still an interesting and fun day. Click here to see travels through Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks if you like to hiking and camping at higher elevations.
Mt. Potosi is best known for the plane crash in 1942 in which Carol Lombard, (Clark Gable's fiancé or wife depending on what website you read), and 15 Army Air Corp Pilots, three crew and three other passengers were killed. But unfortunately the bodies were never found. There is still wreckage of the TWA flight lying around but a lot of it has been illegally scavenged. You will only find rusty pieces of the landing gear, engine, and some propeller boxes along with a bunch of smaller pieces. The body and wings of the airplane are gone. Getting to the crash site can be dangerous and is technical. Starting in the mid 1980s and until 1928 Potosi Mountain was mined for ore, zinc, lead, and even silver. There are several shelter mines you can see while hiking. There are a number of small caves and a better known cave that is well known in technical caving community. Obviously it is advisable not to go near or into any caves or mines.
There are two routes to start your hike on Mt. Potosi. The west route becomes private property for two miles and there is a very good chance that you could be or will be chased away. The property is owned by the Boy Scout Camp and there are no trespassing signs on every other tree on both sides of the road as well as two large signs at their property lines. However, if you keep a very low profile you shouldn't get harassed too much but keep your vehicle moving. Eventually you will get to BLM land where there are parking opportunities. The best suggestion I can give you if you dare trespass is do not stop your vehicle. This is all from experience.
As we were walking along the road we were told three times in a 15 second conversation with a gentleman that we were on private property and there was to be no trespassing. Fortunately, we looked like angels compared to the two young men racing their unlicensed ATV's up and down the road in front of the old man at the Boy Scout Camp. When we were headed back to our van the same gentleman offered us a ride down the mountain to our vehicle and he was as nice as could be telling us the history of the place.
To avoid any trouble start your trip on the east side of Mt. Potosi. In other words when you are driving from Las Vegas you will not be into the mountain pass yet but closer to the valley floor where you can see the hotel/casinos on the The Strip. A four-wheel drive vehicle is highly recommended. Most of the off road conditions in the Mojave Desert are more rocky than dirt road so driving slowly and cautiously is highly advisable.
Jason's thoughts - Cool views, nice hike, great overnighter or even an extended hike then camp then hike then camp choice as long as you take warm bedding in the winter and water in the summer. Another example of how great it is to live in the awesome shadow of Las Vegas world famous strip and all the big city has to offer and STILL get to do so much outdoors. Perfect.
Kelly's thoughts - I don't think you can really appreciate the desert environment until you get out in it. The colors of the land and the rocks on this hike are extraordinary especially if the sun's reflection is at the perfect angle. To me, hiking in the snow is like you are discovering land for the first time and making your own path through it. Sometimes I feel confined when hiking on a trail but the snow makes me feel like I can go anywhere.
Travel info - Mt. Potosi is in between the city of Las Vegas and the town of Pahrump on Highway 160. You would actually take Highway 160, also known as Blue Diamond, to get to Death Valley if you were driving from Las Vegas.
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