There is no more commanding view of both the Las Vegas Valley and Lake Mead National Recreation Area than the summit of Frenchman Mountain, Nevada. From the summit one can look down on the Las Vegas Strip, across to the West to the Rainbow Mountains on the far side of Red Rock National Park, the La Madre Mountains and the Mt. Charleston Wilderness. To to Northwest one can see Gass Peak and the Sheep Mountain Range. To the Northeast one can see the Muddy Mountains and then gaze East and Southeast to see the Jimbilnan Wilderness, Virgin Ridge, Gold Butte, Lake Mead and the Hualapai Mountains. There is a great view of Lake Las Vegas to the Southeast and Henderson and the Sloan Canyon area to the South. Much more is visible, but these are a few of the great scenic views from the summit of Frenchman Mountain, Nevada.
Frenchman Mountain, Nevada itself stands out as a major viewpoint from just about everywhere around the Las Vegas Valley and the middle and Southern portion of Lake Mead National Recreation Area. It’s mainly recognizable for its double summit (looks like the humps of a camel) and the fact that it is a free-standing landmark. The double summits are roughly the same elevation, about 2000ft higher than the surrounding desert joined by a large, deep saddle. Though technically, Frenchman Mountain, Nevada is outside the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, I’m including it here as it so closely borders and overlooks the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
The quickest and most popular route up Frenchman Mountain, Nevada is from an unmarked trailhead at the summit of East Lake Mead Blvd. just before it begins to descend into the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. There is ample unpaved parking, but no restroom facilities and no water other than that which you bring.
The route up Frenchman Mountain, Nevada is the generous wide unpaved road that is used to maintain the communications towers on both summits. It’s impossible to get lost as you’re either on or off the main road to the summit. There are a few switchbacks along the way to help lessen the steepness of the ascent and descent.
There are some fairly steep sections and the loose gravel can make for unstable footing, especially while descending, so you might not want to do so at a fast run unless you have a death wish! As long as you watch your footing and stay to the more secure footings, which I refer to as “micro-holds”, you could descend at a light run. Micro-holds are either the tips of secure partially submerged rocks, small flat surfaces or solid rocky sections of trail. I use this same technique when descending Turtlehead Peak in Red Rock National Park and on a number of other steep gravelly descents in the dry wilderness areas of Southern Nevada.
As with Lake Mead National Recreation Area, which boarders Frenchman Mountain to the East, temperatures on Frenchman Mountain can reach 120 degrees in the Summer! Stick to the Mt. Charleston Wilderness during the Summer months!
Frenchman Mountain is pretty much an endurance test. You rise pretty rapidly. It took me about an hour and 15 minutes to ascend and about 45 minutes to descend. This was my second mountain today as I had just ascended Black Mesa in Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
Psychologically, when you hit the first summit you’re prepared to be finished. However, instead you’re looking down at that deep saddle followed by a long steep ascent to the second summit. The actual distance to the second summit is less than it appears when you initially view it from the first summit. The whole trip goes pretty fast, and this would be a great strength training route for a distance runner. Add a 30 lb backpack for fun!
In all, I highly recommend Frenchman Mountain for quick strength training, ascent conditioning and incredible views!