The Pahrump Valley is one off-road adventure after another
Climb aboard any off-road vehicle and head in any direction and within 30 minutes you leave civilization well behind. Whether you’re headed towards the Spring Mountains or exploring canyons and wide open desert, the town of Pahrump offers off-road adventurist something that most towns can’t — wide open space.
Pahrump is just 65 miles west of Las Vegas and 35 miles to the east of Death Valley National Park. The town may not look like much when you approach it from Highway 160 coming west from Las Vegas, which is about an hours drive, but the first thing that sticks out is all the open space that surrounds the town.
The Pahrump Valley is made for off-roading. The Spring Mountains are to the east of the town, and to the west there is a dry lake bed and the Nopah Range. To the north is the Last Chance Mountains, and to the south is wide open space.
Mountain trails east of town
Mount Charleston at 11,916 feet and is the tallest peak in Clark County, and the eighth tallest in the state. It is the crown jewel of the Spring Mountain range.
Getting to the Mountains is easy from Pahrump. The key is Wheeler Pass. Simply drive up the pass, and you’re in a whole new world within 20 minutes. Once in the mountains, people enjoy the herds of wild horses and burros that still roam the area, despite the thinning of the herds.
Wheeler Well, just under 20 miles from Pahrump by trail, is a great place to see wild horses during the spring and summer months. The well is tended by wild horse lovers in town. During the summer months, the well is one of the only sources of water for not only the horses but wild animals, like deer and many birds. At one time, the well fed Pahrump cattle from local ranches.
The petroglyphs left behind by the Native Americans are another mountain treasure many visitors will want to see.
In every every cardinal direction, trails are waiting.
The trails to the north of Pahrump are also open to off-road vehicle traffic and are used mostly by gold seekers. Tourists are attracted to the infamous Johnnie Mine, known as the location where Butch Cassidy met his end in a mining accident.
On the west side of the town — the Nopah Range side — there is an abundant amount of trails. They can be tricky though. By law, riding on the California side, which is about 5 to 10 miles, depending where you are, is designated wilderness area, and off-road vehicles are prohibited. But the trails on the Nevada side are so plentiful that one can spend an entire day driving them still, without the dry lake bed. The Southwest section of these trails tend to be more bumpy and perfect for beginners to intermediate riders.
Trails are unmarked
A weak point about off-road adventures in Pahrump is the fact is the trails are unmarked. There is a way around that. Parker Kawasaki at 1201 S Highway 160, has trail info and they even have a free BLM map. Call them at 775- 537-6686.
If you also go to http://visitpahrump.com/explore/outdoors/ there are trail maps too.
The good thing about off-road travel in town is that Pahrump is a valley, and as long as you can see the mountains, it is difficult to get lost.
Fall is coming to Pahrump and that is the best time to visit the desert for off-road fun. Combine an off-road trip with the Fall Festival, which runs during the second to last weekend in September. This year it will be from Sept. 21-24 at Petrack Park. Festival includes rides for kids, a rodeo, food, and nightly entertainment.
Pahrump is experiencing a boom in lodging, with hotel occupancy at its height of 418 hotel rooms and with two more hotels coming in. In addition, Pahrump has 1,100 RV sites and 57 cabins.
— Vernon Hee