*YouTube video time mark 7:15
Christmas Tree Pass Road is a popular back country touring route in the south end of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. The starting point is located on Highway 163 a short distance west of Laughlin, Nevada and the signage is easy to spot. This dirt road runs about 15 miles up and over the mountains to Highway 95 just south of the community of Cal-Nev-Ari. Traffic can go both directions, so this is also a scenic way to get to Laughlin. This dirt road is usually well maintained but it can be rough for passenger cars, so a high ground clearance vehicle is recommended.
There are several hiking trails and many unique rock formations to explore along Christmas Tree Pass Road. The Grapevine Canyon Trail is best for the cool weather seasons and this trek goes to several ancient rock art sites. A visitor will discover many ancient indigenous markings from the past and this entire mountain actually is a native sacred place. Christmas Tree Pass Road is the access corridor for the newly designated Avi Kwa Ame National Monument, which is also known as Spirit Mountain. Near the crest of the pass is where the Spirit Mountain Trailhead can be found and the views are breathtaking to see! The photos were taken back when this area was called the Spirit Mountain Wilderness, so there will be new signage along the way.
The views of the desert mountain landscape are astounding every inch of the way along this dirt road, so be sure to pack a camera. The elevations are higher than the dusty haze level in the valleys down below and the fresh air is invigorating. The foot trails provide plenty to do and there are some good spots for a picnic. It only takes about one hour to complete the trail, yet an entire day of activities await. For this reason it may be best to set an entire day aside for Christmas Tree Pass and Avi Kwa Ame.
On the downside, the Lake Mead National Recreation Area is the most dangerous park in the nation, so it pays to be well aware of the surroundings and proceed with caution. This is especially true when driving, because an accident is guaranteed to be very costly in this remote area. An example of carelessness can be seen in the burning car photos. The car went out of control off the road and the catalytic converter ignited the dried up bushes. In a matter of minutes the car was a total loss, but at least there were no injuries. I met the fire crew as they were rolling up the other side of the mountain and showed them the pictures while filling them in on some details. They appreciated seeing the debacle they were facing and we parted ways. The emergency response fee, vehicle extraction fee and citations likely added up to a five digit figure, so it is easy to see why driving safe and slow is the best way to go in this vast recreation area.
On a side note, the outdated Flickr photo galleries are currently being phased out. Modern YouTube slideshow videos are taking their place. The time mark refers to where the scene about a featured travel article begins. This new media sharing system is far more entertaining and it opens the door for website support income.
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Destination West YouTube channel! https://www.youtube.com/@DestinationWestOrg
*This website will be going through renovations soon. Separate destination articles will be combined after the videos replace the outdated photo gallery system. As many readers know, most of the writing was done on the fly while camping, so many articles read like a rough draft. The articles will be cleaned up and edited. Many of the old photos were straight out of the camera due camping limitations as well, so you will finally see full living color images, just like in the new videos. Another goal is to make navigating the index pages easier and condensing the articles will help. This website will continue into the future and your patience is greatly appreciated!
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