Neon lights...or stars so bright; it's your choice!
In the slide show above, you're viewing pictures of Las Vegas camping spots nestled high on Mount Charleston, under an hour away from the neon lights of the Las Vegas Strip. Many tourists are surprised to discover such a wonderland of nature so close to the city! Pack up your RV, or load up your tent; you're in for some great camping experiences!
Las Vegas, Nevada camping -- overview
Las Vegas, Nevada is a popular destination for RVers. If you're looking to roll up to the city in your rig, you'll certainly find campgrounds in Las Vegas to accommodate you. You can park and then head to your favorite tourist attractions without missing a beat...and without even stopping to schlep luggage up to a hotel room.
Tent-campers will have a little less luck finding spots in the heart of the city, although they do exist. But even more scenic camping sites await you in the Las Vegas area if you're willing to venture away from the heart of the tourist district.
Not everyone knows that Las Vegas has a woodsy, alpine side...though you won't find it just around the corner from The Strip. On the other hand, it's not that far away, either. Depending on what part of Las Vegas you're starting from, you can be nestled in the pines in under an hour (or even less from the western side of town.)
Where is this lovely mountainside terrain that beckons both tent campers and RV's alike?
Up on Mount Charleston, which rises up to heights of 11,916 feet on Las Vegas' western edge! On Mt Charleston, birds chirp, squirrels scamper...and plenty of elbow-room awaits you in scenic camping spots that make the desert scenery seem like a far away memory.
Beautiful alpine scenery within an hour's drive of downtown Las Vegas is, perhaps, one of the city's best "hidden gems." You can take an afternoon drive to enjoy the pines & snow-capped peaks of the Toiyabe National Forest on Mount Charleston...or even stop for a picnic. But, even better, why not spend a night (or a long-weekend) reveling in this bounteous wonderland of nature?
There are 5 campgrounds that we'll be covering in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest on Mt Charleston:
You can view each campground's position in the Google Custom Map above. Campground descriptions and details will follow in the paragraphs below.
National Forest Campgrounds on Mount Charleston
Mount Charleston's campgrounds are part of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. There are several campgrounds from which you may choose...each one with a bit different scenery from the others. But all offer spectacular natural views, developed camp spaces, and the chance to get away from the city to breathe in the fresh mountain air.
Even the weather on Mount Charleston is different from the city, as well...with temperatures being lower than Las Vegas by about 20 degrees (or sometimes more.)
Pictures taken in the 5 different national forest campgrounds are represented in the slide show above at the top of this page. Except for variations in the scenery, the camping spaces themselves are very similar.
All of the Mt Charleston campgrounds lie directly off of paved, well-maintained, 2-lane mountain roads. In addition, the roads within the campgrounds themselves are paved...and so are the parking aprons for each camping site.
Each camping space has a level, unpaved spot for tents, along with a picnic table and fire ring. Some spots also have a grill, as well. Most campgrounds offer both reserve-able spots, PLUS a selection of other camping spaces for last-minute "walk ups," too. And, of course, ALL of these campgrounds boast of having the same outstanding feature---namely, plenty of scenery!
There are no camp stores at these woodsy campgrounds, nor other citified amenities such as swimming pools, hot tubs or laundries. There are a few flush toilets in some of the campgrounds, but by and large, most of the restrooms feature vault toilets. Water spigots are available in the campgrounds, but are not available at each campsite. And, you won't find RV dump stations on Mt Charleston, either.
RV's should note that only the Fletcher View Campground offers electric hookups. The reserve-able spots get spoken-for early...sometimes months in advance for popular holiday and weekend slots. So, you'll want to reserve your spaces for the hookup sites as soon as your plans are firm. If you'll be aiming to grab one of the walk-up spaces, it's a good idea to get an early start to your weekend.
Despite the popularity of weekend camping, mid-week vacationers won't have much to worry about...at least, if hookups don't matter to you. All of the photos of the national park campgrounds were taken on weekdays in June...and, as you can see, there were plenty of camping spaces available, even during such a busy vacation month.
Mount Charleston Camping Reservations & Prices
Mount Charleston camping prices: Most camping spaces have no electric hookups; the prices for these range from $21 to $38 in Summer, 2013. The spaces at the Fletcher View campground with hookups run $50/night.
If you'd like to make camping reservations for Mt Charleston's campgrounds, that's easy to do online. Each of the 5 major campgrounds in the Toiyabe NF have their own reservations pages on the Recreation.Gov website. Since that's such a big website, it can be time-consuming to find your way around it. As such, here are direct links to the pages you'll need to reserve your space in the campground of your choice. (You'll also be able to see campground maps, as well.)
Kyle Canyon Campground reservations:Kyle Canyon campground page at Recreation.Gov (Note: at the time of this update, there are no reservations being taken for the Kyle Canyon campground. You can still see a campground map & get other valuable information from this page, though.)
Mount Charleston camping maps & National Forest information
Printable map of the Mount Charleston campgrounds: The Google Custom Map (above) is good for pinpointing the exact locations of the 5 campgrounds. As you already know, if you turn the map to its "satellite view," you can enjoy an actual bird's-eye view of the campgrounds...and even locate individual camping spaces.
If you'd like to print out a map, here are some other choices that are better suited for your home printer.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ABOUT THE MT CHARLESTON CAMPGROUNDS: If you'd like the most authoritative website on the subject, you'll want to view the Humboldt-Toiyabe NF website...specifically, the section about the Spring Mountain National Recreation Area District's campgrounds. Here's a link to the Mt Charleston camping page of the Forest service website, for your convenience.
City camping in Las Vegas
City camping in Las Vegas is everything that Mt Charleston camping is not. There are no towering pines & impressive peaks; no moments so still that you can hear a bird chirping in the distance; and very definitely no campfires.
Yet, Las Vegas city camping has its high points...and the close proximity of the camping grounds to noteworthy attractions is probably the biggest reason why many people each year choose city camping on their Vegas vacations.
Also, families will like the amenities of city campgrounds...with swimming pools, running water, flush toilets and laundrymats. Forgetting something isn't a problem; stores are nearby. Hate to cook? That's not a problem, either...with everything from fast food to 5-star restaurants...from lavish buffets to 24 hour cafes...all within a quick drive.
The KOA Kampground at Circus Circus is a popular choice. It's located directly on The Strip, with nearby access to casinos, shopping malls, restaurants, kids attractions...and the thrill rides of the Stratosphere Tower.
The KOA's camping spaces are mostly for RV's, with the layout being "parking lot style." Rigs are parked relatively close together, but you'll have hookups, unlike the more natural Mt Charleston setting.
There are a few grassy spaces at the KOA where tents are allowed, though not many. Summertime temperatures are consistently in the high 90's to low 100's range, which makes tent camping in the city less than ideal during the hotter times of the year. Las Vegas can be surprisingly chilly during the winter, as well...making the "shoulder seasons" of Spring and Fall the best times of the year for tent camping in the city. (Tent camping on Mt Charleston, however, is very well suited to summer camping.)
LIST OF OTHER LAS VEGAS CITY RV PARKS: Since the Circus Circus campground is the only one our family has been to personally, we can't give you any recommendations about the others. However, the following campgrounds have good websites and can provide you with further information: