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Lee Canyon Road
Backroads Around Las Vegas, Spring Mountains (Mt. Charleston)
Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road
Highway 95 at Lee Canyon Road (view N)

Overview

Lee Canyon Road is a maintained state highway (Hwy 156) that runs southwest from U.S. Highway 95 to the top of Lee Canyon in the high mountains of the Spring Mountains National Conservation Area. The road begins low in the desert and climbs through several life zones to a cool, high-elevation forested canyon. From many areas, views extend to peaks above treeline.

The road provides access to numerous outdoor recreation sites (e.g., hiking, picnicking, and camping areas), Lee Meadow, and a ski area.

Link to map.

Lee Canyon RoadLee Canyon Road (view W from Highway 95)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about driving in the desert, ...this is a fairly safe drive. The road is a regular state highway with normal highway grades, signs, and safety features. Nonetheless, always watch for crazy drivers careening around blind corners and watch for feral horses on the roadway. There is no gasoline on the mountain.

While out, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. Also, even though this is a paved road, be sure to bring what you need of the 10 Essentials.

Getting to the Roadhead

This road is located off Highway 95 (the highway to Reno) about 30 minutes northwest of Las Vegas.

From town, drive north on Highway 95. From the outskirts of town, drive north about 14 miles to Lee Canyon Road (Highway 156; Table 1, Site 0668), on the left. Turn left onto Lee Canyon Road and drive southwest on the paved road.

Lee Canyon Road

The Road

While this road might be just a way to get somewhere, it is better thought of as a scenic tour through the landforms and habitat types of southern Nevada.

From Highway 95, Lee Canyon Road (Highway 156; Table 1, Site 0668) runs southwest towards the mountains in the distance. The road quickly passes a Park-and-Ride area on the right, and then a sign with information on construction activities along the road.

Driving southwest, he road starts in the seemingly flat and barren desert, but is Mojave Desert Scrub dominated by creosote bush, Mojave Yucca, and few other shrubs. During summer, this area is so hot and dry that few plants and animals survive here.

Lee Canyon Road

As the road climbs towards the distant peaks, the enough elevation is gained to moderate the temperatures and to receive a bit more precipitation. Here, the Mojave Desert Scrub becomes "lush," and Joshua trees and a variety of shrubs (e.g., apache plume, stansbury cliffrose, desert almond) become common, and several species of cactus join the mix. In the more lush area, keep an eye out for feral horses along the road, or even in the road. In this zone, there are some paved pullout (pieces of the original highway) where drivers can stop, get out, and look around the desert.

As the road climbs higher, it enters the Pinyon-Juniper Woodland zone. Here, short trees (single-leaf pinyon pine and Utah juniper) begin to appear growing among dense thickets of mountain mahogany and other shrubs. In this zone, the road passes turnoffs to Blue Tree Group Campground and Sawmill Picnic Area (Site 1273).

About the time Lee Canyon Road reaches Mack's Canyon Road (on the right; Site 0729), tall ponderosa pine appear and Lee Canyon Road enters true woods. Mack's Canyon Road is a rough dirt road that runs north into the woods and is used for primitive camping.

Lee Canyon Road

At about 14 miles out, Lee Canyon Road passes Deer Creek Road (Site 1272) on the left. Deer Creek Road is a paved highway that runs south across the face of the mountains to Kyle Canyon Road.

Continuing, Lee Canyon Road passes gated roads on both sides of the highway that lead to private homes off in the woods. Quickly, Lee Canyon Road passes Foxtail Group Picnic Area on the left and Old Mill Picnic Area on the right, then arrives at Lee Meadow (Site 0557). Lee Meadows is a nice place to stop and relax in a scenic mountain setting or to play in the winter snow.

Beyond Lee Meadows the road curves about and passes the Lower Bristlecone Trailhead access road (Site 1276), one of the most popular trails in the area. Lee Canyon Road then winds past McWilliams and Dolomite Campgrounds, both on the right, and climbs somewhat steeply to pass the Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort, on the left, and shortly arrives at the end of the road, which also is the Upper Bristlecone Trailhead (Site 0556).

Lee Canyon Road
Sign: No gas available on mountain (view SW)
Lee Canyon Road
Red Rock Canyon NCA boundary sign (view SW)
Lee Canyon Road Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road (view SW)
Lee Canyon Road
Spring Mountains NRA boundary sign (view SW)
Lee Canyon Road Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road approaching Road 25830 (view W)
Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road at Road 25830 (view N)
Lee Canyon Road
Road 25830 (view N from Lee Canyon Road)
Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road in the Mojave Desert Scrub zone (view SW)
Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road (view SW)
Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road at Road 45996 (view SW)
Lee Canyon Road
Road 45996 (view N from Lee Canyon Road)
Lee Canyon Road
Road 45996 (view N from Lee Canyon Road)
Lee Canyon Road
Elevation 6,000 feet
Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road (view SW)
Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road approaching Road 45996 (view SW)
Lee Canyon Road
Road 45996 (view NE from Lee Canyon Road)
Lee Canyon Road
Road 45996 (view NE from Lee Canyon Road)
Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road at paved spur (view SW)
Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road approaching Road 45995 (view SW)
Lee Canyon Road
Road 45995 (view N from Lee Canyon Road)
Lee Canyon Road
Camping with dark sky along Lee Canyon Road (view NW)
Lee Canyon Road
Camping along Lee Canyon Road (view S towards Las Vegas)
Lee Canyon Road
Dark sky with faint meteor along Lee Canyon Road (original photo)
Lee Canyon Road
Dark sky with meteor along Lee Canyon Road (light levels changed)
Lee Canyon Road Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road approaching spur road (view SW)
Lee Canyon Road
Spur road (view S from Lee Canyon Road)
Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road approaching Road 25835 (view SW)
Lee Canyon Road
Road 25835 (view N from Lee Canyon Road)
Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road in the Pinyon-Juniper Woodland zone (view SW)
Lee Canyon Road
Road 45001 (view NW from Lee Canyon Road)
Lee Canyon Road
Road 45001 (view WN from Lee Canyon Road)
Lee Canyon Road
Road 25836 (view NE from Lee Canyon Road)
Lee Canyon Road
Road 25836 (view NE from Lee Canyon Road)
Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road (view SW)
Lee Canyon Road Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road approaching spur road (view SW)
Lee Canyon Road
Spur road (view N from Lee Canyon Road)
Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road approaching Blue Tree Group Camp (view SW)
Lee Canyon Road
Blue Tree Group Camp Road (view N from Lee Canyon Road)
Lee Canyon Road
Blue Tree Group Camp sign (view N from Lee Canyon Road)
Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road approaching spur road (view SW)
Lee Canyon Road
Spur road (view N from Lee Canyon Road)
Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road (view SW)
Lee Canyon Road
Sign: entering motorized travel restricted zone (view W)
Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road approaching Sawmill Picnic Area Road (view SW)
Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road approaching Sawmill Picnic Area Road (view SW)
Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road approaching Sawmill Picnic Area Road (view SW)
Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road at Sawmill Picnic Area Road (view SW)
Lee Canyon Road
Sawmill Picnic Area Road (view N from Lee Canyon Road)
Lee Canyon Road
Sawmill Picnic Area entrance sign (view NW)
Lee Canyon Road
Sawmill Picnic Area entrance sign (view NW)
Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road approaching Road 203 (view SW)
Lee Canyon Road
Road 203 (view S from Lee Canyon Road)
Lee Canyon Road
Road 203 (view S from Lee Canyon Road)
Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road in the Ponderosa Pine zone (view SW)
Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road at Lee Meadow (view W)
Lee Canyon Road
Lee Meadow sign (view SW)
Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road at Lower Bristlecone Trailhead (view SW)
Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road at Ski and Snowboard Resort (view SW)
Lee Canyon Road
Approaching the end of Lee Canyon Road (view N)
Lee Canyon Road
Lee Canyon Road at Upper Bristlecone Trailhead (view W)

Table 1. Highway Coordinates based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download highway GPS waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Wpt. Location Latitude (N) Longitude (W) Elevation (ft) Point-to-Point Distance (mi) Cumulative Distance (mi) Verified
0668 Hwy 95 at Hwy 156 36.47747 115.46718 3,300 0.00 0.00 Yes
1273 Lee Cyn Rd at Sawmill Picnic 36.35495 115.63883 7,487 12.96 12.96 Yes
0729 Lee Canyon Rd at Mack's Cyn Rd 36.34963 115.64459 7,480 0.48 13.44 Yes
1272 Lee Canyon Rd at Deer Creek Rd 36.34048 115.65149 7,799 0.74 14.18 Yes
0557 Lee Canyon Meadow 36.31643 115.67435 8,450 2.13 16.31 Yes
1276 Lee Cyn Rd at Lower B-cone Rd 36.31097 115.67634 8,396 0.44 16.75 Yes
0556 Bristlecone Trailhead Parking, Upper 36.30639 115.67721 8,684 0.91 17.66 Yes

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 170114w

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