Shadow Mountain And Lone Mountain
After spending a comfortable night in a casino hotel in Pahrump, Nevada, Zosia Zgolak and I checked out early on the morning of 31 December 2019 to hike up Shadow Mountain which straddles the state border just west of the city.  The mountain is not that well-known (I only discovered it the previous night while researching online for local hiking opportunities), but a cursory route description with photos can be found at  As suggested in, we drove west from Pahrump along Bell Vista Road and parked in a large graded area on the north side of the highway about 23 kilometres west of the junction with Highway 160 or 18 kilometres east of the junction with Highway 127 (Death Valley Junction).  Although the summit of Shadow Mountain is within California, we would start our hike on the Nevada side of the state border.

Crossing to the south side of the highway, Zosia and I made a beeline for the very obvious mountain in front of us and began walking across the desert flats.  We soon came upon a wash that eased our approach and led us to the foot of the mountain.  Although there are no technical difficulties with ascending Shadow Mountain, it pays to pick out an efficient route that minimizes unnecessary elevation gains and losses.  Ultimately, we climbed out of the wash and worked our way up succeeding bumps along the north ridge until we reached the summit.  Along the way, there are some cairns and even short stretches of trail that help alleviate some of the tedium of the climb, but from a route-finding perspective, it is difficult to get off track on this mountain.  A very fierce wind greeted us at the top, but fortunately, a small wind break near the summit cairn provided enough shelter for us to have an extended break.

After spending about 50 minutes on the summit, Zosia and I retraced our steps back down the mountain.  The only hiccup on our return was when we descended into a different wash at the foot of the mountain.  It did not take much to correct our course, and upon regaining the wash we used for our approach, we had no further issues hiking back to our starting point.

Looks pretty tame.

Zosia makes a beeline across the desert flats toward Shadow Mountain.

Much easier than hiking cross-country. Zosia enters a wash which leads to the base of the mountain.
Mind the cacti! Zosia begins to gain elevation quickly after climbing out of the wash.
Hard to find any real hands-on scrambling on this mountain! The ascent is mostly easy off-trail hiking up the north ridge.
Keep grinding upwards! Zosia climbs up one of the steeper slopes along the ridge.
Almost there! Zosia approaches the final slope before the summit.
Whoops! Maybe we climbed the wrong mountain!! The benchmark on the summit of Shadow Mountain curiously reads, "QUARTZ PK".
It's a good thing the sun is shining because that wind is something fierce! Sonny huddles beside a small wind break to sign the summit register.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Let's go fly a kite! Sonny and Zosia brace against a fearsome wind on the summit of Shadow Mountain (1559 metres).
Clark Mountain is another one high on my to-do list for next time. The view to the south includes numerous unnamed peaks of the Resting Spring Range.  The Nopah Range is also visible in the distance at left, and even further beyond on the left horizon is Clark Mountain.

And of course, Telescope Peak is the highest in the Panamint Range.

Eagle Mountain is the dark ridge to the southwest.  The Panamint Range is also visible on the right horizon further west.


Wikipedia says that the population of Death Valley Junction is "fewer than 4"! The Funeral Mountains stand out to the northwest.  Also visible at far left on the desert floor is the tiny community of Death Valley Junction, California.

The Spring Mountains look awesome today.

The town of Pahrump, Nevada and the Spring Mountains are the main attractions to the east.


If you squint a bit, you might be able to pick out Spirit Mountain on the right horizon! The unnamed playa (dry lake) to the southeast is in Stewart Valley.  Most notable on the horizon are Charleston Peak (far left) and Potosi Mountain (centre).
It looks tempting to short cut across the slope, but trust me, it's easier to walk out the winding wash! Zosia descends to the original wash she used for the approach.
A wearisome off-trail hike. Total Distance:  15.7 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  6 hours 54 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  801 metres

GPX Data

Finished with Shadow Mountain, Zosia and I stopped in Pahrump to have dinner before driving into Las Vegas in the evening with plans to ascend Lone Mountain in the dark.  When I first climbed this short and easy peak within the Las Vegas city limits  in 2011, I thought that it would make for a great evening ascent to see all the city lights.  Returning here with Zosia, we initially considered climbing Lone Mountain just before midnight in hopes of celebrating the New Year on the summit and perhaps seeing fireworks across the city.  Unfortunately, I misread an online website indicating that the peak was off-limits after 10 PM.  It was not until long after the conclusion of our road trip when I discovered that this restriction only applies to the mountain's namesake regional park to the north.  The trail going up Lone Mountain is in fact open 24/7 to the public.  In any case, I am not sure if we would have even been able to stay awake that late given how tired we were after coming down from Shadow Mountain.

Unaware that there were no time restrictions, Zosia and I arrived at the trailhead (gravel pullout at the north end of Vegas Vista Trail which is accessed via West Alexander Road) in the early evening and geared up for the hike.  Somewhat surprisingly, there was no one else around when we arrived, and it felt a little spooky to start hiking in the dark.  Thankfully, we were able to find the main trail right away, and we quickly gained the crest of the north ridge without too much difficulty.  From there, we turned right and followed the wide and seemingly braided trail up the ridge crest to the summit.  At the top, we had a commanding view of Las Vegas, and the city lights did not disappoint.  We even saw some premature fireworks go off.  When we were ready to leave the summit, we simply retraced our steps down the same trail.  During our descent, we started to see other people ascending, and I wondered if some of them were planning to party on top of Lone Mountain until after midnight.

After returning to the trailhead, Zosia and I drove north out of Las Vegas, and we eventually stopped for the night at Moapa Paiute Travel Plaza along I-15 at the junction with Valley of Fire Highway.  Despite fireworks going off all night in a nearby field, we were so tired that we both fell asleep before the start of the New Year.
North Las Vegas is technically a separate city from Las Vegas. Zosia gets a glimpse of the lights of North Las Vegas after gaining the ridge crest on Lone Mountain.
Happy New Year...almost! Sonny and Zosia give thumbs up on the summit of Lone Mountain (1016 metres).

I wonder how many people are "sinning" in Sin City tonight...

Here is a comprehensive view of Las Vegas at night from the summit of Lone Mountain.


Too bad we can't stay for the fireworks!

Here is a closer look at the Las Vegas Strip hotels.


Goodbye 2019! Total Distance:  2.0 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  1 hour 23 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  174 metres

GPX Data