birdandhike.com logo
Home | Wilderness | Hiking | Lake Mead
Bowl of Fire -- Southwest
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Bowl of Fire -- Southwest Section
Bowl of Fire
Mile 18.2 Trailhead

Overview

The Bowl of Fire is an area inside the Muddy Mountains Wilderness Area where brilliant-red Jurassic-Age sandstone outcrops are surrounded by gray limestone mountains. The limestone forms the sides of the bowl, and the red sandstone forms the fire in the bottom. The southwestern section of the Bowl of Fire is a place to wander about in a wonderland of jumbled piles of red sandstone; a place to go and just hike about with no particular destination. Hikers with a map can keep track of where they are (more or less), but confused hikers can just hike downhill to get out.

From the pavement, getting into and back out of the Bowl of Fire requires about 2-1/2 miles round-trip, but the length of the hike depends on the desires of the hiker.

Link to map.

Bowl of Fire
Hiker departing trailhead (view N; evening light)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this is fairly safe hiking area if you stay in the bottom of the washes that dissect the sandstone outcrops. The outcrops are inviting, however; so if you climb on the rocks, watch your step and watch your kids. This is a backcountry area, so rescue would be time consuming and fairly difficult. It would be easy to get turned around in the maze of side canyons and boulder piles, so if you get "lost," just hike down any wash (always go downhill) and you will come out were you went in.

While hiking, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. Also, this hike is moderately long, so be sure to bring the 10 Essentials. This hike goes into the Muddy Mountains Wilderness Area, so pay particular attention to respecting the land.

Bowl of Fire
4WD trailhead in Callville Wash (view NW)

Getting to the Trailhead

This hike is located along Northshore Road in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, about 45 minutes northeast of Las Vegas. From town, drive out to Lake Mead.

In a 2WD vehicle, drive north on Northshore Road to Mile 18.2 Trailhead. Park here; this is the 2WD trailhead.

In a 4WD vehicle, drive north on Northshore Road to the Mile 16.0 (Anniversary) Trailhead. Turn left into the dirt and drive up Callville Wash North Road (Road 94) for about 1.8 miles to the mouth of a large wash that comes in from the north (Site 0786). Park here; this is the Bowl of Fire Wash trailhead parking. [Note that in Jan 2013, 2WD-HC vehicles could make it to this trailhead; use your good judgement in the sandy wash.]

Mile 18.2 Trailhead
Green mudstone and red sand

The Hike

From the Mile 18.2 Trailhead (Table 1, Waypoint 01), the hike runs north across the open desert towards the northern toe of Hill 651 (Wpt. 02). There is no trail until the route nears the end of Peak 651, but then a use-trail wraps around the south side of the hill. The use-trail fades away past the toe; but from there, the route runs across Callville Wash and starts up Bowl of Fire Wash (near to Wpt. 02a).

Hikers can also look for a faint use-trail that runs more directly towards the entrance to the Bowl of Fire, crossing the desert and hitting the Bowl of Fire Wash just below an outcrop of red rocks (Wpt. 03).

For hikers in 4WD vehicles, the route simply runs up Bowl of Fire Wash. Initially, the wash is wide and open, and shortly after starting out, there is a place where the wash cuts through a thin layer of green mudstone (volcanic ash). Red sand, washing out of the Bowl of Fire, lies over the green rocks, providing an interesting mx of gray, green, and red colors. The wash eventually narrows and deepens as it approaches a narrow point between two limestone hills.
Sandstone outcrops in the Bowl of Fire

For hikers in 4WD vehicles, the route simply runs up Bowl of Fire Wash (Wpt. 02a). Initially, the wash is wide and open, and shortly the canyon narrows at a place where the wash cuts through a layer of green mudstone (volcanic ash). Red sand, washing out of the Bowl of Fire, lies over the green rocks, providing an interesting mx of gray, green, and red colors. The wash eventually narrows and deepens as it approaches a narrow point between two limestone hills.

Just past where the alternate trail intersects the wash (Wpt. 03), the wash forks (Wpt. 04), and the route stays right in the south fork.

At the narrow spot between limestone ridges (Wpt. 05), the wash cuts through a layer of gray conglomerate rock where a jumble of boulders create a small pour-over that is passed towards the right. The conglomerate is composed of coarse limestone fragments set in a matrix of smaller limestone fragments, which is interesting enough, but where it was polished by flowing water, the color is blue and very pretty.

Bowl of Fire
Sandstone outcrops in the Bowl of Fire

Above the pour-over (Wpt. 05), the wash splits and hikers are on the edge of the Bowl of Fire. From there, hikers can wander about the washes admiring how the eroded red sandstone outcrops contrast with the surrounding gray limestone hills. The red rocks seem to go on forever, or at least to the mountains in the distance. This is a place to hike about with no particular destination.

An easy route starts at the jumble of conglomerate boulders (Wpt. 05) and runs up the right-most fork, heading north. Shortly, the wash forks (Wpt. 06), and the route stays left heading for a deep cleft between red sandstone crags. Beyond the cleft, the wash forks again (Wpt. 07), and again the route stays left.

The wash curves hard to the west (Wpt. 08), forks again (Wpt. 09), and again the route stays left. Still following the main wash, the canyon splits three ways (Wpt. 10), and the route stays left.

Bowl of Fire
Natural arch in the Bowl of Fire

Shortly, the route encounters a 5-ft pour-over in the wash at the base of a sandstone crag that form the left side of the pour-over. The pour-over is easily climbed or bypassed on the left. Atop the pour-over, the route exits the wash to the left and loops around the east side of the sandstone crag heading south.

It would seem that looping around the crag would deposit the hiker back in the wash, but instead the route climbs onto a low saddle (Wpt. 12) where it becomes apparent that the wash runs more to the west. The route continues south on the low ridge to a bit of a highpoint. This is a good place to stop and enjoy a snack before returning back down the wash and out.

With a map, hikers can keep track of their location in the Bowl of Fire area (at least in general), but for hikers who get disorientated in the maze of boulder piles, just hiking downhill in any wash (always go downhill) eventually will lead back out to Callville Wash.

Bowl of Fire Bowl of Fire
Bowl of Fire Bowl of Fire
Bowl of Fire Bowl of Fire
Bowl of Fire Bowl of Fire
Bowl of Fire Bowl of Fire
Bowl of Fire Bowl of Fire
Bowl of Fire
Callville Wash North Road trailhead parking (view N)
Bowl of Fire
Callville Wash North Road trailhead (view N)
Bowl of Fire
Bowl of Fire Wash (view NW)
Bowl of Fire
Outcrop of green mudstone (view NW)
Bowl of Fire
Green mudstone and red sand
Bowl of Fire
Green mudstone and red sand
Bowl of Fire
Outcrop of green mudstone (view N)
Bowl of Fire
Red sandstone crags come into view (view NW)
Bowl of Fire
Approaching conglomerate pour-over (view NW)
Bowl of Fire
Approaching jumble of conglomerate boulders and pour-over
Bowl of Fire
Conglomerate boulder
Bowl of Fire
Conglomerate boulder and red sand
Bowl of Fire
Wash to the right
Bowl of Fire
Red sandstone and grey limestone
Bowl of Fire
Balanced Rock
Bowl of Fire
Holding up Balanced Rock
Bowl of Fire Bowl of Fire
Bowl of Fire
Cycle of life in the desert
Bowl of Fire
Approaching deep "narrows" (view NW)
Bowl of Fire
Deep "narrows" aren't so narrow (view NW) ...
Bowl of Fire
... except at one spot
Bowl of Fire
Side wash
Bowl of Fire
Arch (view SE, looking back through "narrows"
Bowl of Fire
Approaching bend to the left in the wash (view NW)
Bowl of Fire
Colorful sandstone under clouds (view NE, back down wash)
Bowl of Fire
Hikers in upper wash
Bowl of Fire
5-ft pour-over blocks wash; turn left (view SW)
Bowl of Fire
Hikers on low ridge heading for highpoint (view S)
Bowl of Fire
Highpoint (view N, back down the route)

Table 1. Hiking Coordinates Based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Hiking GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Wpt. Location UTM Easting UTM Northing Elevation (ft) Point-to-Point Distance (mi) Cumulative Distance (mi) Verified
01 Mile 18.2 Trailhead 710752 4009690 1,909 0.00 0.00 Yes
02 North Toe of Ridge 710638 4010209 1,868 0.34 0.34 GPS
02a 4WD Trailhead 710068 4010221 1,846 . . Yes
03 Trail Drops into Wash 709992 4010571 1,858 0.62 0.96 GPS
04 Wash Forks 709963 4010665 1,863 0.05 1.01 Yes
05 Entrance to BOF-SW 709711 4010841 1,905 0.21 1.22 Yes
06 Wash Forks 709684 4011028 1,939 0.14 1.36 GPS
07 Wash Forks 709528 4011277 1,932 0.21 1.57 Yes
08 Wash Bends West (x2) 709418 4011424 2,005 0.13 1.70 Yes
09 Wash Forks (x2) 709271 4011371 2,021 0.11 1.81 Yes
10 Wash Forks 709034 4011168 2,007 0.24 2.05 GPS
11 Pour-Over 709014 4011120 2,017 0.03 2.08 GPS
12 Low Saddle 708975 4010973 2,072 0.12 2.20 GPS
13 Ridgeline 709016 4010865 2,084 0.08 2.28 GPS
01 Mile 18.2 Trailhead 710752 4009690 1,909 2.28 4.56 Yes

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 160324

Hiking Around Lake Mead Hiking Around Las Vegas Glossary Copyright, Conditions, Disclaimer Home

 

Google Ads