Base Camp Las Vegas: 101 Hikes in the Southwest

by Deborah Wall

Hikers can enjoy solitude and unspoiled wilderness by day and world-class urban amenities by night.

Situated in the heart of the magnificent Southwest, Las Vegas is surrounded by spectacular natural landscapes. Within easy reach are five national parks, including Zion, Grand Canyon, and Death Valley. Dozens of state parks, regional preserves, recreation areas, and public lands offer amazing variety, from sand dunes and salt flats to alpine meadows, waterfalls, and ancient forests. Unique plant and animal life as well as archaeology, paleontology, and fascinating Wild West history are all waiting to be discovered in this region, making Las Vegas an ideal basecamp for exploring the region. Base Camp Las Vegas includes 101 of the best hiking destinations within hours of Las Vegas.

The author has hiked each of the 101 featured routes more than once, and she describes each in detail, including route, elevations, terrain, flora & fauna, and historical details. She notes the best season for enjoying each one, what to wear, and what to take along. She describes any hazards or inconveniences that hikers might encounter and rates the difficulty of each hike from easy to strenuous. She’s also included an easy-reference guide to the top five hikes in a variety of categories including birdwatching, stargazing, wildflowers, wetlands, kid and teen favorites, most strenuous, and most remote. Base Camp Las Vegas tells hikers where and when to go–and also how to prepare–to enjoy the best trails this unparalleled region has to offer.

Base Camp Las Vegas: 101 Hikes in the Southwest is now available for pre-publication sales orders, at these fine retailers. It will be in bookstores and available online wherever books are sold on August 8, 2017.

Purchase Base Camp Las Vegas: 101 Hikes in the Southwest

Author picture

Deborah Wall is a freelance writer and photographer specializing in both adventure travel and family excursions. She writes an outdoor column for View Community Newspapers, a division of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. A lifelong hiker, she has been a ski racer and has taught skiing and sailing. A former television producer and news anchor, she also worked as a model for skiing and outdoor publications. This book, her fourth, is an expanded and updated edition of Base Camp Las Vegas a best-selling hiking guide first published in 2010. Ms. Wall is the author of Great Hikes: A Cerca Country Guide (2004). She co-authored Access for All: Touring the Southwest with Limited Mobility (2014) and was a major contributor to Road Trips and Adventures, two more of the Cerca Country Guide series. She has won several Nevada Press Association awards and writes columns on about little-known hiking routes in the Southwest and tips for taking fun and safe trips.

Reading and Discussion at the Book Launch Party:  August 9, 2017 — 5:00 pm at the Large Conference Room at the Clark County Library at 1401 E. Flamingo Road in Las Vegas, Nevada. Light refreshments crafted by the chefs at The Goodwich will be served and The Writer’s Block will have copies of Deborah’s book for sale. This event is free and open to the public. Register to attend here.


“Thanks to Wall’s through descriptions, excellent photographs, and detailed maps, the book is not only a useful guide, it’s an inspiration”


“Don’t hit the trail without Base Camp Las Vegas. With Deborah Wall as your guide, you’ll be amazed at how much spectacular country lies within a day’s drive of Las Vegas.”


1 Calico Basin—Red Spring Interpretive Trail

Calico Basin offers a mixed grill of the Red Rock area’s best, including riparian habitat, meadows, springs, and even some cultural resources, all within the area’s signature Aztec sandstone landscape.

An easy way to taste it all is to take the Red Spring Interpretive Trail, which starts directly behind the picnic area. This will take you up a small rise and to the grassy bench above. From here the trail makes a one-half-mile loop around the perimeter of the meadow. This trail is accessible for wheelchairs and baby strollers.

A boardwalk was installed in 2005 as part of a restoration project to protect the environmentally sensitive areas. This way, visitors can still enjoy the area without disturbing the fragile plant life. Outside the boardwalk there is a fence to keep burros and horses from trampling these areas.

As you travel along the boardwalk, stop and read the interpretive signs. Be sure and take time to sit quietly a while on one of the many benches along the way, listening and looking for wildlife. Because of a permanent supply of water, lush vegetation, and surrounding canyons, many animals thrive here. More than one hundred species of birds have been recorded, and the area is also home to mountain lions, kit foxes, coyotes, rabbits, ground squirrels, desert tortoises, and ringtail cats. I even had the good fortune of seeing a gray fox on one early-morning visit.

There are three springs in this vicinity. Ash Spring, Calico Spring and Red Spring provided reliable and vital water sources to humans for thousands of years. American Indians used this area and were followed by homesteaders and ranchers. As you make your way around the walkway and over to the sandstone cliffs, keep an eye out for rock art. There are two types in Red Rock Canyon, petroglyphs and pictographs. Here you will be seeing petroglyphs which have been pecked into the surface of rock, unlike pictographs, which were painted on the surface. Some of this rock art is thought to be more than five thousand years old.

Once you reach the far end of the boardwalk from where you started, you will see the waters of Red Spring itself, flowing from a small tunnel or cave. If you look carefully you will see many water-loving plants such as the stream orchid, watercress, Nevada blue-eyed grass and black-creeper sedge. The boardwalk protects not only these plants but also local inhabitants such as red-spotted toads and Pacific chorus frogs.

A few biologically sensitive species also call this area home. The Spring Mountain springsnail, Pyrgulopsis deaconi, is found only in four springs, all of them nearby. The alkali Mariposa lily, which grows in the surrounding riparian meadow, is found only in a few other places in Southern California and Nevada. The largest population in Nevada is said to be the one here.

If you visited this area before the boardwalk was installed, you might remember being able to drive almost up to the base of Red Spring, and park there. As you travel along the boardwalk it’s worth a look in that area to see how it has been transformed. The old road has been covered over and replaced with native vegetation. It’s on its way to restoration as original habitat.

Although this is an excellent place to go when your time is constrained, there are hiking trails just outside of the boardwalk area that are well worth exploring when you have more leisure.

Trade Paper:  $24.95 US / $33.46 CDN ISBN:  978-0997236941
ePub: $12.95 US / $16.50 CDN  ISBN: 978-0997236989