Exploring Potential Routes to La Madre Mountain Summit
Imaging North, South, East & West La Madre Mountain Approaches
La Madre Mountains Wilderness, Nevada
Where is La Madre Mountains Wilderness?
La Madre Mountains Wilderness in Nevada is largely unknown to the general public. It is overshadowed by its more popular neighbor to the Southwest, Red Rock Park. This is puzzling because La Madre Mountains Wilderness is 4 times the size of Red Rock Park and immediately visible to anyone riding the Red Rock Park scenic loop. As you enter Red Rock Park and look directly across to the upper boarder of the park, you will see a huge cliff spanning the upper boarder of Red Rock Canyon and also forming the upper boarder of the neighboring Calico Basin. This cliff is a geological formation called “The Keystone Thrust”. The highest portion of the Keystone Thrust is La Madre Mountain. The entire cliff system is the beginning of La Madre Mountains Wilderness. La Madre Mountain itself, at 8,000ft is about 1,800ft higher than the better-known Turtlehead Peak in Red Rock Park.
Were you to stand on the top of the Keystone Thrust and look beyond to the North you would be looking down on Kyle Canyon, the approach canyon to the Mt. Charleston Wilderness and the canyon at its center. The slope on the Kyle Canyon side of the Keystone Thrust is a bit gentler than the sheer cliff on the Red Rock side. In addition, La Madre Mountains Wilderness, on the Kyle Canyon side is a lush pine and juniper forest in contrast to the stark desert landscape in Red Rock Canyon. Thus, each side of the Keystone Thrust looks like its own different world. La Madre Mountains Wilderness is largely untouched, approached only by 4-wheel drive and by foot. You can spend an entire day wandering around this huge, peaceful wilderness and not see a soul.
La Madre Mountain itself is only accessible by 4-wheel drive or by foot. I’ve approached La Madre Mountain from the North, South, East and West. From the North you’re looking at about 8 miles of unpaved roads beginning at the intersection of Kyle Canyon Road and lower Harris Springs Road followed by 3 miles of a faint trail to the summit of La Madre Mountain, a 22 mile round trip. From the West you’re looking at about 12 miles of trails and wilderness beginning at the Willow Springs picnic area in Red Rock Park, then continuing up to the La Madre Mountain Springs area, then on up to the top of the Keystone Thrust, take a right and traverse the top of the Keystone Thrust to La Madre Mountain, a 24-mile round trip. From the South you’re beginning at the Sandstone Quarry (Turtlehead Peak) parking area in Red Rock Park, ascending the Red Rock Wash, circling around to the upper Calico Basin then ascending the cliff between the 2 La Madre Mountains, an 18-mile round trip with a lot of loose rock cliff scrambling. From the East you’re following a similar route but crossing the upper Calico Basin to ascend the ridge upon which Damsel Peak sits, then circling that ridge to the left to ascend La Madre Mountain from the far side, a 22-mile round trip.
As you can see, La Madre Mountain sits in the middle of a vast wilderness requiring no less than a 22-mile round trip, most of which is inaccessible by motor vehicle. Yet, La Madre Mountain’s inaccessibility is its strength, making for a peaceful wild adventure! It helps being a trail runner in order to cover these long distances. Otherwise, you may want to prepare for a 2-day adventure. The amazing thing is that during the entire trip you’re only about 25-30 miles from the Las Vegas Strip and about 15-20 miles from residential Las Vegas!
And then, there’s the view from the La Madre Mountain summit, and from much of the approach route. You can see in all its glory the Mt. Charleston Wilderness, Red Rock Canyon and Calico Basin, the Sheep Range, Gass Peak and other points of interest in the further distance.
La Madre Mountain Crossing from Kyle Canyon Rd to Red Rock Park
An alternate projected adventure is to explore the upper pass between the two La Madre Mountains. I have approached this pass from the South and ascended to within 500ft of the summit. A top-down exploration may fill in the missing 500ft making for a summit approach from the South. In addition, this opens up an adventure from Kyle Canyon Rd: Ascend La Madre Mountain, then descend through the South Summit Pass and circle around to the Sandstone Quarry parking lot in Red Rock Park. This adventure could also begin in Red Rock Park and end at Kyle Canyon Rd.