Plan Your Las Vegas Area Wilderness Adventure by Season and Temperature

Temperatures Range from 130 Degrees Recorded in Death Valley to  -9.6 Degrees on Charleston Peak

For Maximum Enjoyment and Safety, Select the Adventure that Best Fits the Following Criteria

Planning by Temperature

How many times have you heard people say, “This 115 degree Las Vegas Summer day is too hot to hike. It’s unhealthy.” Here’s how such a statement is totally false.

You can generally count on a decrease of about 5 degrees for every 1,000ft elevation rise. Since the elevation of the Las Vegas Strip is about 2000ft and the elevation of Charleston Peak is nearly 12,000ft there is a 10,000ft elevation difference between the two. Doing the math, 10,000ft X 5 degrees per 1,000ft = 50 degrees. Therefore, generally, the temperature at the summit of Charleston Peak is about 50 degrees lower than the temperature on the Las Vegas Strip.  So, given a very hot Summer 115 degree day on the Strip, you might decide it’s too hot to hike. However, on that day the temperature on the summit of Charleston Peak is a comfortable 75 degrees! If you started your hike at 7am you could actually be in 70-75 degrees during the entire hike. So, rather than staying trapped in a small, air conditioned setting you could wake up early, take the Charleston Loop Trail and spend most of the day between 75 and 80 degrees with a spectacular view!

We’ve noted the elevation of every Las Vegas area adventure on this website so you can have an idea what the temperature of that hike might be on any day given the temperature on the Las Vegas Strip.

Drop Dead Temperature: It’s been determined that heavy exertion in 104 degrees or greater can be dangerous to your health.

How Much Water Do You Need to Bring on Your Adventure?

Questions about temperature naturally lead to questions about need for water. Ironically, the more water you carry, the more you will need due to hauling that additional weight. So the goal is to find that golden balance where you have enough water plus some extra to cover unexpected delays such as injury or getting off course, however, you’re not hauling too much additional water that adds unnecessary weight and exertion.

Here are some considerations around the amount of water you will need:

  • Temperature: As temperatures rise into the 90s and 100s the air you breathe is like the air in your clothing dryer…drying out your lungs and body with each breath. Note that as the temperature increases your water need may increase faster. For example, the increase in water need between 70 and 80 degrees is not rapid as the increase in water need between 100 and 110 degrees.
  • Your Body Weight: The percent of your weight above your ideal body weight will add to your water need.
  • Total Distance You Will Cover: Percent increase in distance will require a similar percent increase in water need.
  • Terrain Difficulty: The more ascent plus increased angle of ascent will increase water need.
  • Time Spent in Your Adventure: As your total time increases, the water you need to bring increases.
  • Your Level of Conditioning: Greater conditioning translates into less exertion, all other factors being equal, which translates into lower water need.

Determining Your Water Need

  1. Develop Your Water Need Baseline: Be aware of how much water you need to carry per mile on a relatively easy 2-5 mile adventure at about 80 degrees.
  2. Increase Your Water Supply Accordingly: As the factors noted above indicate

Example: At my ideal weight and conditioning I consume about 5 liters of water on the 18-mile Mt. Charleston Loop (total overall elevation gain around 6000 – 7000ft).

Here’s a video I created on hydration needs in the desert:

Planning by Season

One of the unique wonders of the wilderness areas around Las Vegas is that you can actually have a wilderness adventure in Summer conditions on just about any day of the year. Just go for the higher elevations in the Summer months, the lower elevations in the Winter months and the in-between elevations during the Spring and Fall months. Go with the following ideas and you will “generally” enjoy your adventure in comfortable temperature conditions. There are always exceptions. For example, it can snow on Charleston Peak in July or be unseasonably hot. It could be 30 degrees around Lake Mead and Valley of Fire in January. But these would be unexpected extreme conditions for the season and last just a few days to a week or so.

Here’s what a seasonal wilderness adventure strategy might look like:

Summer (June – August, maybe September): Mt. Charleston Wilderness / Telescope Peak above Death Valley

Fall & Spring (September or October – November; March – May): Sheep Range, La Madre Mountains Wilderness, Lovell Canyon, Gass Peak, Potosi Mountain, Highest Rainbow Mountains

Winter (December – February): Lower Red Rock Park, Lake Mead, Valley of Fire, Death Valley

With the right temperature strategy you could enjoy your Las Vegas Area wilderness adventure in shorts and a t-shirt year-round! Where else on earth is this possible…near a large feature-rich population center?