Nelson Roller Coaster

5/5 (5 reviews)
Nelson, Nevada (Clark County)
Last Updated: 03/14/2019

Trail Information


Nelson Roller Coaster, located just outside of Nelson, is an off-road trail that features great scenic views and rolling hills with steep climbs and descents. One of the hills has a 40-degree climb that is approximately 300 feet long. If you are looking for a trail that is both exciting and relaxing, then this is the one. The first part of the trail is relaxing with scenic views of the surrounding desert and mountains that gradually increase in elevation and become more challenging. The area known as Nelson, Nevada was originally called Eldorado in 1775 by the Spaniards who made the original discoveries of gold in the area that is now Eldorado Canyon. The town was the site of one of the first major gold strikes in Nevada and one of the biggest mining booms in state history. The community called Nelson was named after Charles Nelson, a camp leader who was slain in his home along with four other people in 1897 by a renegade Indian.

Trail Difficulty and Assessment

Trail Navigation

Nelson Roller Coaster heads east from US 95 toward Nelson winding through the hills. During the trail, you will encounter multiple hill ascents and descents. The trail ends just south of Nelson. The Nelson Roller Coaster is an off-road trail that is comprised of dirt, gravel, loose sand and rocky obstacles. Just like most desert trails, there are many intersecting washes and smaller trails.

Trail Reviews

5/5 (5)
Rated 5/5
Visited: 04/16/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Harder

Great trail with amazing scenic views. Traveled east to west so a bit more vertical ascension was involved. This was a really intense trail in that there are some somewhat difficult ruts but they are on extreme inclines, adding to the excitement and white knuckling. One cannot see the trail on many of these inclines which makes things challenging at the crest of hills. I have been on many trails that are ranked more difficult and I would say this is definitely on par with those, I would rank it a 4 on difficulty.
Rated 5/5
Visited: 03/26/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Great trail, except for the first couple miles following the power line road in. Very boring, very bumpy. What after that the beginning of the trail is nice scenic. Second part of the trail is fun. Very steep up and down hills, rocky but fun.
Rated 5/5
Visited: 11/25/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

One of our favorite trails in Nelson, Nevada. We usually run the Nelson Loop by combining Copper Cache, Roller Coaster and Goldmine trails. Roller Coaster is great run either direction. There are really only one main obstacle on this trail that give it it's rating. The first hill if starting from the Nelson Cutoff Road is steep and rutted. The highlight of the trail is stopping at one of the many overlooks and seeing the view of the Colorado River. Although not very challenging this trail is fun and has great views.
Visited: 12/26/2021
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Love this trail, I was visiting for the Christmas holidays and rented a stock 4 door jeep, and had a lot of fun. Only saw two or three other vehicles out there, I was curious if my Toyota tundra could have done this trail and realized I don’t think so without it scraping or bottom out in areas as a full-size truck is probably too long.Looks like there are other great trails in this area that are not on this site yet hopefully they will be soon? Next time I’m in Vegas will definitely be checking out the other trails.
Visited: 06/12/2019

I did this route on my way to Vegas from Oklahoma for a meeting and it was...awesome...and intense! My stock Tacoma TRD Off-Road did great. I entered the route off of Highway 95 north of Searchlight, NV. The route starts by traveling along a powerline service road and quickly climbs in elevation affording a great view of the valley and Hwy 95. I will confess that I was initially disappointed in that I wondered if I'd ever need 4wd! If you enter off the old Nelson cutoff road, you start immediately with a monster climb (this is where I ended.) The road has more side routes than you can imagine so you could easily spend a day there. It also passes many abandoned mines which could be interesting for an adventurous soul. Now, on to the 'roller coaster.' This was one of the more intense trails I've done. I did it alone and certainly could have used a spotter at times. I kept having to get out of the vehicle, plan a route, drive a ways and repeat. The hills are so steep and quickly descend again that at times all I could see out my windshield was blue sky. 4wd low is a must and at only one point did I have to lock my rear diff. At the bottom of particularly steep hill, my front skid plate and my rear tow hitch scraped as the approach/departure angles were so great. No damage was done, fortunately. There are many points with excellent views and wonderful scenery. I enjoyed it so much I did the trail again many months later with a co-worker on a day trip out of Vegas.

From the Community

Start a free trial and get this level of detail on every trail guide
Start Free Trial