LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — This time each year, a drive to Mt. Charleston is a highlight as the leaves turn to bright autumn colors. Trails and campgrounds in Kyle Canyon and along Deer Creek Road attract hundreds of visitors.
Heavy damage to roads caused by flash floods changed all that in August. Road repairs are continuing, with a stated goal to finish Kyle Canyon Road “before winter temperatures set in.” Currently, Kyle Canyon Road, Lee Canyon Road and Deer Creek Road are restricted to residents only. Big fines await violators.
An update on Sept. 8 indicated crews hope to complete work on Kyle Canyon Road and Deer Creek Road by early October. Even when the main roads are finished, there could be other reasons — parking, side roads, trail access — that could slow down a full reopening.
Predicting when the leaves will change is just as uncertain. An employee at the Retreat on Charleston Peak said Thursday the leaves aren’t changing yet, but the retreat is about 1,000 feet lower and four miles down the road from popular trails to Cathedral Rock and Mary Jane Falls.
Just in case access doesn’t return in time to see fall colors, 8 News Now has compiled some close alternatives for fall colors. Keep in mind, you might only find a grove of trees in the places below — not a mountainside of fall colors.
- Spring Mountain Ranch State Park: The trees make it worth the state park fee to visit Spring Mountain Ranch, and you’ll be able to see from the road whether it’s worth going in.
- Floyd Lamb State Park: Another fee that’s worth it, just for the change of scenery. Lakes and big trees transport you from the Las Vegas valley when you visit.
- Calico Basin/Red Spring/Ash Spring: The BLM warns this area might get crowded and there’s not much parking, but the contrast between red rocks and leaves makes this an opportunity to check out. There are parts of Red Rock National Conservation Area with trees other than pines, but you won’t find many — and after Oct. 1, you’ll need a reservation.
- Mountain Springs/Hidden Canyon Trail: On the highway to Pahrump, higher altitudes and hiking trails are a nice way to get back to nature.
- Desert National Wildlife Refuge visitors center at Corn Creek: Another nice escape from the valley, you’ll find big cottonwoods in an area known as a prime spot for birdwatching.
- Lovell Canyon/Carpenter Canyon/Trout Canyon: Same mountain, different side … access the Spring Mountains from the Pahrump side for a whole different look — but fall colors are not as abundant as Kyle Canyon.
- Cold Creek Road: Up the road from the Lee Canyon exit, there’s Cold Creek, accessed on the road where you turn to get to the prisons. Known for occasional sightings of elk and wild horses, but the roads
If traveling further is an option, better options start to open up.
Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge is on U.S. 93 about 75 miles north of Las Vegas. Extend your drive to Caliente in Lincoln County — about another hour — and you’ll be near Kershaw-Ryan State Park, which is worth a look.
Some more moderate drives:
Hualapai Mountain Park, south of Kingman, Arizona, about 120 miles southeast of Las Vegas. Similar to Mt. Charleston.
In Utah, Cedar City is 170 miles away and might be a better overnight trip. There’s a lot to do in Cedar City, and a drive through Cedar Breaks on the way to Brian Head is sure to satisfy your craving for color.
Feeling adventurous? Here are some recommendations that just came out this week in a survey by Mixbook. Three Nevada locations made the list of 150 “under-the-radar” destinations:
- At No. 46, the Mount Rose Scenic Byway is a fun winding road out of Reno that descends from Mount Rose into the Lake Tahoe Basin.
- At No. 138, Lamoillle Canyon outside of Elko is described by many as the most beautiful place in Nevada.
- At. No. 148, the Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park is four hours north of Las Vegas near the town of Ely. The six charcoal ovens were used to process silver ore from 1876 to 1879.
And if you’re going that far, here are a couple more: Great Basin National Park is free to enter, and a place every Nevadan should visit. In addition to Mt. Wheeler and Lehman Caves, it’s a marvelous place to experience fall colors.
White Pine County also offers the Success Loop, which takes you through Duck Creek Basin to Cave Lake State Park. “I would suggest that people have medium clearance SUVs with all terrain tires,” Chris Hanefield of the Bureau of Land Management said.
Lyon County offers Fort Churchill Road, which travels along the Carson River just east of Dayton. And you can’t miss in Reno along the Truckee River or Carson City on the Capitol grounds.