Wheeler Pass

4.6/5 (17 reviews)
Las Vegas, Nevada (Clark County)
Last Updated: 11/01/2020
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Trail Information

Highlights

Wheeler Pass is located approximately 50 miles Northwest of Las Vegas in the Spring Mountain National Recreation area. Wheeler Pass Road was previously known as the road from Bennett's Ranch to Indian Creek. Bennett's Ranch was settled in 1875 in the Pahrump Valley. Indian Creek was a ranch owned by a small group of Indians. Now known as Indian Springs. Its history includes being a station on the Tonopah and Las Vegas railroad. Currently, it is part of the Creech Air Force base. As you travel towards the trailhead, you may encounter wild horses on the roads and the surrounding areas. On the trail, travelers will pass the Charcoal kilns. The Tecopa Charcoal Ovens in Wheeler Wash were built in 1875 by Nehemiah (“Red”) Clarke. Per information on a sign posted at the site in the past: These beehive-shaped structures are the remains of three charcoal making kilns and one Lime Kiln built for Jonas Osborne in 1877. He designed and built a big furnace to smelt over 20 tons of silver and lead ore each day in the boomtown of Tecopa, California in January of 1878. Forty-four men attempted to keep the furnace working by cutting and hauling the ore, and feeding and constantly repairing the furnace. It completely failed and was abandoned in the fall of 1878. As this area of the Spring Mountains had the best and closest source of wood, the kilns were set up here and the charcoal produced was carried by horse-drawn wagons about 50 miles to the Tecopa Smelter. Evidence shows only tree limbs were cut in fuel and no extensive tree cutting was done. A single kiln has an estimated capacity of 35 cords of wood which would produce 50 bushels of charcoal, enough charcoal to produce one tone of silver-lead ore. Wood for the kilns was provided by Harsha White, who operated a sawmill in Clark Canyon, and was in partnership with Nehemiah Clarke. Unfortunately, the kilns have not been able to withstand time, weather, and vandalism. The remnants can still be seen. Don't forget to bring sunscreen, water, snacks and your camera.

Trail Difficulty and Assessment

Trail Navigation

The trail starts just outside of Cold Creek and crosses the Spring Mountains and ends in Pahrump. The trail consists of dirt roads, small to large boulders, some mild sandy areas, some wooded areas and a maintained dirt road. 4WD is highly recommended due to the boulders. The weather may cause washes or ruts on the trail. There are many small roads/trails that intersect the trail, only the larger ones are covered. Stay on the main trail to follow Wheeler Pass Road. Cellphone service was not available for most of the trip. We currently use Verizon. As always, please tread lightly. Bring plenty of water and sunscreen.

Trail Reviews

4.6/5 (17 reviews)
Status: Partially Open
Rated 4/5
Visited: 04/09/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Easier

We went up from the Pahrump side. There is a closed gate with no trespassing signs approximately 15-16 miles up. If we took a wrong turn, I dont know where. Other than that, the trail was fun. We took the Wallace Canyon loop on the way back. Saw beautiful wild horses. Ended with a tasting of delicious wine at Pahrump Valley Winery.
Status: Open
Rated 4/5
Visited: 11/27/2021

I have been over Wheeler pass 3 times. First 2 times were in the early 90's. First two times I had a 92 Jeep Wrangler. The first trip was sort of a shakeout ride for the jeep, The second time involved alcohol, and playing poker at the end of the road in Pahrump. The last time was in September of 2020. The last trip was like the first trip in the sense it was a shakeout ride for a newly acquired vehicle, a 2018 Subaru Crosstrek, lifted, aftermarket heavy suspension, and skid plates under engine and transmission. for my first two trips I had come up from the Las Vegas side, the last trip I came up from Pahrump (where I now Live). In the 20-30 years between the first two trips the trail has degraded tremendously. On the first trips, the road was an easy drive on a basic dirt road. Since then, the road has not been maintained at all, and has seen a large increase in traffic, especially traffic from Razor and other four wheeled buggies. I think torn up roads are not a bad thing; it makes them fun and challenging. Coming up from Pahrump is much easier and not that rough. The part of the road coming out of Cold Creek is the worst part of the road when nearing the pass. While I made it down coming from Pahrump there is no way I would of made it over in the Subaru coming up from Las Vegas. At the bottom, I can really sum it up by saying my skid plates and traction boards just paid for themselves and made a great investment, plus I had an excuse to buy a BF hammer to repair the skid plate. It was also a great learning experience, which is something I had in the back of my mind. I had thought long and hard between buying my third jeep, or going with a Subaru. Wheeler Pass was close to being a "trail to far" for the cross trek. This trip gave me a much better understanding of what a Subaru can do compared to a jeep. These days I lean more towards overlanding then off roading and playing in the dirt. My Subaru will go all the places I really want to go, and makes a much better daily driver then a Jeep. 0n neither jeep trips did the jeep sustain any kind of damage, although I got hung up on trip1 in a way the Subaru would never.
Status: Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 07/30/2021

Good ride that goes though a variety of different environments and lots of good views. stock 1994 Honda passport made it. You can make it. Certainly easier to go from the Pahrump side for sure.
Status: Open
Visited: 05/31/2021

What a Fun Trail, 6 Jeeps Total, 1 Stock Gladiator, 2 Stock JL and a Couple of Nicely built Jeeps.
Trail Review: Wheeler Pass - Timothy Leto
Status: Open
Rated 4/5
Visited: 11/26/2020

I think the rating is accurate depending on the vehicle. 3 stars is definitely for vehicles with higher clearance. My Jeep has a 3.5" lift and did bottom out just once. There are a lot of rocks and many with sharp edges. I saw many with fresh fluids on them; so someone is going to be unhappy with their driveway in the mornings! I think vehicles with smaller stance can navigate between a lot of the larger rocks but make sure to have a spotter! Plan ahead and be prepared because there is almost no cell phone service. Download your maps early and make sure you can view them offline. At intersection 18 I think is where you want to take the left to avoid a lot of the large rocks and narrow paths. I can't wait to come back and do this during the day. We started late in the afternoon and the dark consumed us. We were ok and prepared for it, because we knew about losing light faster. Loving doing trails in the dark with good lights!
Trail Review: Wheeler Pass - MIchael Mora
Trail Review: Wheeler Pass - MIchael Mora

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