Las Vegas, NV: Southern Highlands Radio Tower

An eclectic mix of trailside finds--from blooming cactus to abandoned cars and hot tubs to wandering coyotes--pepper this 7.5-mile hike to a summit overlooking Las Vegas.
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An eclectic mix of trailside finds--from blooming cactus to abandoned cars and hot tubs to wandering coyotes--pepper this 7.5-mile hike to a summit overlooking Las Vegas.

Fifteen minutes from the Strip, this after-work or weekend-morning dayhike offers more than accessible relief from the busy Vegas streets. Views run the gamut from expansive desertscapes and sandy, washed-out basins to elfin cacti with lustrous flowers and long-forsaken, rusted vehicles.
This mostly flat route cuts through open valley between two 3,000-foot-high ridges. After a 2.5-mile warm-up, push up your sleeves for a quick, steep climb to a summit with little to obstruct your view. Enjoy the scenery, but don't dawdle next to the summit's fenced Southern Highlands Radio Tower (radio waves may exceed the FCC general public exposure limit beyond the fence). From this vantage point, the Strip looks like a 1960s architecture model. Sheep, Arrow Canyon and Muddy Mountain Ranges rise up out of the city’s haze, appearing to abut Vegas even though they are another 45 minutes north. Retrace your route back to the trailhead.
-Mapped by Chelisse Simmons

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 12.0

Waypoints

STH001

Location: 35.987793, -115.2079849

The trailhead is at the end of Chartan Avenue, off Southern Highlands Parkway. Walk along the right side of the fence and head south up the unnamed trail. After reaching the end of the fence, bear right up the hill. Don't walk to the top; stay just below the crest. Then, drop back down and merge onto the dirt road.

STH002

Location: 35.9846497, -115.2085953

Merge back onto the use-trail.

STH003

Location: 35.980545, -115.2080078

Head down the hill toward the road below. The radio tower is in view.

STH004

Location: 35.9732829, -115.213151

Turn left and follow the dirt road south; mountain views can be seen on both sides. Go and explore the abandoned hot tub and deserted cars.

STH005

Location: 35.9575958, -115.2025833

Bear left and begin a short, but steep climb.

STH006

Location: 35.9542618, -115.1947403

Although you're very close to the radio tower and summit, take a moment to stop and admire the views. Turn around to face the valley--the Strip is directly north. Mountains are on either side of this point.

STH007

Location: 35.9513512, -115.1920242

This 3,300-foot summit offers 360-degree views of Vegas. Desert flowers bloom in the spring. Don't get too close to the summit's fenced Southern Highlands Radio Tower. A sign warns that radio waves may exceed the FCC general public exposure limit beyond the fence. Retrace your route to Waypoint 4, then bear left @ Y-junction.

STH008

Location: 35.9788895, -115.2147675

Turn right onto the dirt road. Feel like exploring further? Bear left and follow the road to more desert vistas, then retrace your steps.

STH009

Location: 35.9833145, -115.2133408

Take a hard right off the main road. Merge onto the eastbound road that parallels the paved residential streets to the left. Continue east, then north to reach the trailhead.

Open Desert

Location: 35.9875603, -115.208168

Fenceline

Location: 35.9860535, -115.2084351

View

Location: 35.9846306, -115.208786

Cactus

Location: 35.9804573, -115.207901

Cactus Flower

Location: 35.9704285, -115.2117157

Abandoned Car

Location: 35.968029, -115.2099457

Broken Glass

Location: 35.9643565, -115.2077007

Trail

Location: 35.9577332, -115.2024841

Vegas Strip Views

Location: 35.9565773, -115.1976013

Final Push

Location: 35.9532051, -115.193428

Summit

Location: 35.9514275, -115.192009

Views South on I-15

Location: 35.9514885, -115.192131