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Mount Charleston—a world of its own

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One of the more unforgettable experiences I’ve had while living in Las Vegas was my first trip to Mount Charleston. The first thing my wife and I noticed was the dramatic change in weather—nearly 30 degrees cooler than the Las Vegas Valley. The second was how quickly we arrived there—only a 40-minute drive from our home in Anthem. We spent several days enjoying spectacular views, walking everywhere and shutting out the world. My wife summed it all up with a simple question: “How amazing is this?”

Many Las Vegans will be hitting McCarran to beat the triple-digit heat, but Mount Charleston is cheaper, easier and packed with things to do for adults and children alike.

Make sure to load the car with your camping gear, hiking boots and mountain bike. Mount Charleston is home to some seriously scenic (and strenuous) hiking and mountain-biking trails, not to mention spacious campgrounds—the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area encompasses 316,000 acres, so be prepared to be a bit overwhelmed by your options.

Some of the more popular hiking trails include Mary Jane Falls, Fletcher Canyon, Trail Canyon and Cathedral Rock. Mountain-biking trails are also in plentiful supply, including Sawmill and Bristlecone. Whether you’re a beginner or veteran, there’s a trail for you—and a place to crash when you’re done careening around the mountain. Campground areas include Fletcher View, Hilltop and Kyle Canyon. There is a fee for camping—anywhere from $14 to $41—depending on the size of your group, and reservations are required. Make yours by calling (877) 444-6777 or going to recreation.gov.

If camping after a strenuous day of hiking ’n’ biking doesn’t suit you, there are plenty of indoor options. Mount Charleston Lodge (5375 Kyle Canyon Road, 872-5408) features 23 log cabins, and the Resort on Mount Charleston (2275 Kyle Canyon Road, 872-5500) has pet-friendly rooms to accommodate families large and small.

Take the kids to the Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort (6725 Lee Canyon Road, 645-2754), a venue that’s becoming almost as popular in the summer as it is during the winter. Hike the snow-free ski areas, take a summer chair ride, play disc golf or go mountain biking.

And here’s one more reason to head for the hills this summer: Aren’t you tired of complaining about the heat?

For a complete list of all Mount Charleston has to offer, visit gomtcharleston.com.

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Ken Miller is Las Vegas Weekly's associate editor, having previously served as assistant features editor at the Las Vegas Sun ...

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