Nevada is home to some of the most vast and well protected wilderness areas in the United States. Unfortunately, I don’t think many people living in Las Vegas realize the natural treasures all around them right here in Southern Nevada. Thankfully there’s a website called birdandhike.com that tells you all about most (if not all) these wilderness areas and hiking around Las Vegas.
Most of these lands are federal lands, managed either by the BLM or the Forest Service. Unfortunately, the federal government has done a shoddy job putting information online about these areas (I detect a future email going in to Senator Reid on that one – and perhaps Kenneth Salazar). Try finding any useful information on the Forest Service’s website. Fortunately I stumbled upon Jim Boone’s website “birdandhike.com” while searching for information about different areas I wanted to explore around Las Vegas. I found it to be an exhaustively comprehensive resource, and learned about places I didn’t even knew existed.
I have used the website as a guide to visit several wilderness areas around Las Vegas. Even with places you thought you knew, like Red Rock Canyon, you will be surprised how much you didn’t know.
This weekend I decided I would escape the summer heat and go to the high elevations. Most people visit Mt. Charleston for that, but I wanted to beat the crowds. So I traveled 14 miles down a gravel road to the Hidden Forest trail head in the Desert National Wildlife Range. The long gravel road keeps a lot of people out, so you can expect to see few people, if any (especially during weekdays). Instead, you may spot a golden eagle soaring overhead like we did. From the trail head, you have to hike uphill into the mountain range for 5.7 miles to get deep inside a Ponderosa Pine forest (those are the really large ones).
Inside that forest is a cabin built in 1900, which has been restored several times since. There is also a stream of water coming out of a pipe that originates from a spring. As long as you purify it, you can fill up your water bottles, etc. This cabin in the middle of a Ponderosa Pine forest is like nothing you would expect to see in Southern Nevada. It’s worth the pain to get there.
I would have never known about this place had I not stumbled upon birdandhike.com. I look forward to exploring the other areas this website details right here in my own backyard.
Big thanks to Jim Boone for putting it all together so well. I spoke to Jim a few weeks ago. Semi-retirement has its advantages. This website is an incredible hobby. He said he enjoys working on his website and hopes that it will guide and inspire locals to visit these lands and learn to appreciate the natural beauty we have here in Southern Nevada.
I hope so too. The more people who use and appreciate our public lands in a respectful manner, the more likely our elected representatives will respect and protect them as well. Protecting these lands requires funding. That funding comes from us, the public, through taxes. That’s not something to hate. Government doesn’t always do things in the best manner because of politics… sure we know. But if it weren’t for government, we wouldn’t have these preserved and protected public lands, or the animals that live safely therein. That cabin up in Hidden Forest has been owned and protected by the federal government since the 1930s. Thanks to government, that land is not privately owned, and I am able to visit and camp there, and see the big horn sheep and deer.
In an effort to do my part to help share the story of these places, I intend to launch a new blog called Adventure Nevada, wherein I will detail my travels in the surrounding area. I could probably try my whole life and not see all there is to see in Nevada. It should be one heck of a journey trying. Set your bookmarks now.
In the meantime, we’ll keep our eyes open for other Nevada outdoor websites, like Nevada Outdoor News published by local journalist Benjamin Spillman. Let us know if you are aware or come across any other great website like these. Leave a note in the comments.
Justin is the publisher The Nevada View, which has earned the recognition in the Washington Post’s “Best State-Based Political Blogs,” as well as being awarded the “Most Valuable Blogger Award” by the local CBS affiliate in 2011. Justin is also an associate at the Ramirez Group in Las Vegas. Follow him on Twitter @McAffee