Current Protection

Designated Wilderness

Management Agency

U.S. Forest Service

Year Protected


Total Area

57,442 Acres

The first formal protection of the Spring Mountains was with the establishment of the Charleston Forest Reserve in 1906. This forest went through multiple name changes over the decades, including being place under the supervision of the Fish and Wildlife Service as part of the Desert Game Range (today's Desert National Wildlife Refuge) from 1936 to 1956. Designated in 1989 under the Nevada Wilderness Protection Act of 1989, the Mount Charleston Wilderness Area not only provides relief from the desert environment, but relief from the hot summer heat. The Spring Mountains are the traditional home of the Western Shoshone, Southern Paiute, and Chemeheuvi who have been living on and with these lands for countless generations. The wilderness contains the highest elevations in the Spring Mountains, with the summit of Charleston Peak at 11,918 feet. This wilderness area is within a 45-minute drive of much of Las Vegas. The nearest other scenic forested environment of this caliber requires a minimum three-hour drive from Las Vegas.

The Wilderness extends completely across the crest of the Spring Mountains and contains 18,000 acres of bristlecone pine, the most extensive stand of these ancient trees to be found in the intermountain region. These trees are valued for their aesthetic and scientific purposes and are among the oldest living, non-clonal organisms in the world. There are approximately 40 miles of trails cross this area, traversing significant elevation from trailheads to ridge lines. Springs are limited, and there are few running creeks.

Photo by Mark Vollmer
Photo by Carl Pantuso

In the summer of 2013, the Carpenter 1 Fire burnt more than 28,000 acres of the Spring Mountains including a substantial portion of the southern portion of the Wilderness. This destructive fire burned up to an elevation of 11,400 feet, burnt through ancient bristlecone pines, and caused such environmental damage that parts of the Wilderness, including the popular Griffith Peak Trail, had to be closed. Friends of Nevada Wilderness partnered with the Forest Service to clear the trail of fallen trees (over 200), and conduct the repair and maintenance necessary to reopen the trail by the end of 2020. The Friends of Nevada Wilderness commitment to stewardship in the Mount Charleston Wilderness also includes Wilderness character monitoring, mapping, and maintaining and installing informational kiosks and trail signs.

Agency Information

Managing Agency: U.S. Forest Service

Local District: Spring Mountain NRA

Address: 4701 North Torrey Pines Dr Las Vegas, NV 89130

Phone: (702) 515-5400