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Cranes Nest Canyon
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Cranes Nest Canyon
Cranes Nest Canyon
2WD-HC Trailhead above pour-over

Overview

This hike runs about 1.6 miles down Cranes Nest Canyon to the Colorado River at Cranes Nest Rapids, which given the water levels, looks a lot like Lake Mohave. The first mile is a fairly open canyon, but the last 0.6 miles is deep, narrow, and sinuous. Hikers in 4WD vehicles can drive an extra 0.8 miles down the canyon, but those in 2WD-HC vehicles should park early.

Camping is permitted on the beach, so this hike provides a short backpack through a scenic canyon to the shore of Lake Mohave. Campsites are set back in the saltcedar trees, which provides privacy, but also blocks the view of the water.

Link to map.

Cranes Nest Canyon
Continuing down the canyon (view SW)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this hike is pretty safe, as there are no unusual hazards. However, don't camp too close to the water because levels fluctuate depending on how much is being released from the dam.

While hiking, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. This area is remote, so be sure to bring the 10 Essentials.

Cranes Nest Canyon
4WD trailhead Cranes Nest Campground (view N)

Getting to the Trailhead

This hike is located in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, about 1-1/4 hours southeast of Las Vegas. From town, drive out towards Hoover Dam, then continue south on Hwy 93 to just past Mile Marker 8 and Cranes Nest Canyon Road.

Drive southwest on Cranes Nest Road for about 3.25 miles to a low pour-over. Drivers in 2WD-HC vehicles should park here; this is the 2WD trailhead.

In a 4WD, hikers can drive over the pour-over, but the gravel quickly becomes deeper and softer. At about 4.1 miles out, the road ends where rocks naturally block the wash at Cranes Nest Campground. It is possible to drive 0.2 miles past this point, but it appears to be illegal and hardly worth the risk of getting a ticket. Park here; this is the 4WD trailhead.

Cranes Nest Canyon
4WD trailhead (view SE down canyon)

The Hike

From the 2WD trailhead (Table 1, Waypoint 01), the route continues down the canyon, which is wide and open to start. Eventually the canyon deepens and begins to narrow, and the legal road ends at Cranes Nest Campground (Wpt. 02).

The canyon continues, and in about 0.2 miles (Wpt. 03), a sign announces "Lake Mohave 0.4 miles". Someone in the sign shop was overly optimistic, as the water is still 0.6 miles away. Even so, the walking is easy and interesting, and soon enough hikers arrive at the mouth of the canyon. Wandering through the saltcedar trees and campsites, hikers arrive at the edge of the lake (Wpt. 04).

Return to the trailhead by following your footprints in the wash.

Cranes Nest Canyon
Cranes Nest Wash (view SW)
Cranes Nest Canyon
End of what once was the road (view W)
Cranes Nest Canyon
Foot traffic only sign (view SW)
Cranes Nest Canyon
Narrow canyon (view SW)
Cranes Nest Canyon
Sinuous wash (view SW)
Cranes Nest Canyon
Interesting geology (view SW)
Cranes Nest Canyon Cranes Nest Canyon
Cranes Nest Canyon Cranes Nest Canyon
Cranes Nest Canyon Cranes Nest Canyon
Cranes Nest Canyon
Unusual metamorphic rock formation
Cranes Nest Canyon
High canyon walls
Cranes Nest Canyon
Humans at the mouth of the canyon
Cranes Nest Canyon
Campsites among saltcedar trees
Cranes Nest Canyon
Lake Mohave (view S; downstream)
Cranes Nest Canyon
Lake Mohave (view S; upstream)
Cranes Nest Canyon
Departing the beach
Cranes Nest Canyon
Starting up the canyon
Cranes Nest Canyon
Returning: Interesting metamorphic rock
Cranes Nest Canyon
Returning: Interesting metamorphic rock
Cranes Nest Canyon
Returning: Interesting volcanic rock
Cranes Nest Canyon
Returning: Interesting volcanic rock
Cranes Nest Canyon
Returning: Blooming brittlebush along the wash
Cranes Nest Canyon
Returning: canyon begins to open
Cranes Nest Canyon
Returning: arriving at 4WD trailhead (view E)
more to come ...

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 2WD Trailhead 708915 3977309 1,152 0.00 0.00 GPS
02 4WD Trailhead 707958 3976748 913 0.80 0.80 GPS
03 Foot Trail Only Sign 707801 3976543 850 0.18 0.98 GPS
04 Cranes Nest Beach 707016 3976232 631 0.62 1.60 GPS
01 2WD Trailhead 708915 3977309 1,152 1.60 3.20 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 130201

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