Bootleg CanyonLas Vegas Trail Running Scene

Local SceneBootleg Canyon

About Bootleg Canyon

Originally a Native American trail, also called the Hooch Highway, Bootleg Canyon was a well-known backdoor into Boulder City and the Hoover Dam construction site during prohibition. Bootleggers brewed illegal alcohol in stills hidden in draws and arroyos then moved it through the canyon into the dry community of Boulder City and down to the Colorado River. Later, trails in the area were improved by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and the area was used for public picnics and gatherings. Today, Bootleg Canyon is the site of many hiking and mountain biking trails.

Trailhead Plaque

A world-famous mountain bike park, Bootleg Canyon is in the River Mountain Range and includes Red Mountain and Black Mountain (not to be confused with Sloan Canyon's Black Mountain). Containing a wide assortment of geological features from volcanic rock, Bootleg Canyon offers some spectacular rockscapes of various colors, along with stunning vistas of Lake Mead, Boulder City, and Las Vegas.

Although it's home to a variety of desert wildlife, the most notable inhabitant of Bootleg Canyon are the herds of Big Horn Sheep, which can be seen quite often utilizing the same trails that have made Bootleg Canyon so popular.

With trails mostly designed and built by local artist Brent Thomson in the early 1990s, Bootleg Canyon has 24 official trails consisting of 35 miles of singletrack plus many more unofficial trails. From the easier, flatter trails like Girl Scout to more extreme trails like Ginger and Snakeback, Bootleg Canyon offers many challenges and has been named an 'Epic Ride' by the IMBA, a rare designation.

Getting to Bootleg Canyon

Bootleg Canyon is located northeast of Boulder City, just to the south and east of Las Vegas and Henderson. It is most easily accessible via a graded dirt road cutting directly through the middle of Bootleg Canyon. There are two official trailheads with paved parking along with three unofficial access points that are often used to access Bootleg Canyon's legendary trails.

Official Trailheads

“The Gazebo”

Used for Blood, Sweat & Beers, The Dirty Vert, and Bootleg Beatdown

Colloquially referred to as “The Gazebo”, named after the large covered area dominating the trailhead, this is the most popular trailhead in Bootleg Canyon and offers paved parking, separate men's and women's bathrooms, showers, drinking fountains, and covered picnic tables. Trails accessed from The Gazebo are Girl Scout, West Leg, and Girl Scout to the northwest, Upper Lake View, Middle Lake View, and Lower Lake View to the east, and the downhill trails such as Snakeback to the north.

How to Get There

Take US-95 South out of Las Vegas/Henderson and past Railroad Pass Hotel & Casino until it becomes Nevada Hwy and into Boulder City, proceeding to the first stop light at Buchanan Blvd/Great Basin Hwy. Turn left as if driving to Lake Mead, and immediately get into the left-turn lane pullout approximately 200 feet after turning onto Great Basin Hwy and turn left onto Canyon Rd. Stay on Canyon Rd for approximately one mile, through the roundabouts, until the parking area of the trailhead is visible on the right.

River Mountain Hiking Trail Trailhead

Used by hikers more than runners, the River Mountain Hiking Trail Trailhead offers paved parking and uncovered picnic table. The only trail accessed directly from the River Mountain Hiking Trail Trailhead is the southeastern end of the runner- and hiker-only River Mountain Hiking Trail.

How to Get There

Take US-95 South out of Las Vegas/Henderson and past Railroad Pass Hotel & Casino until it becomes Nevada Hwy and into Boulder City, proceeding to the first stop light at Buchanan Blvd/Great Basin Hwy. Turn left as if driving to Lake Mead and continue for approximately ¾ miles and turn left into the trailhead parking lot.

Unofficial Trailheads

Caldera Lot

A simple dirt parking lot halfway up Red Mountain and on the edge of the large valley referred to as the caldera, the Caldera Lot only offers dirt parking with no other facilities. Trails accessed through the Caldera Lot are Girl Scout, West Leg, and Caldera to the west along with Boy Scout, Skyline, and East Leg to the east.

How to Get There

Follow the directions above for the Bootleg Canyon Trailhead, but continue on past the main trailhead parking lot and onto the dirt road for approximately 1 ¼ miles until the dirt road takes a hard right. Rather than turning right, continue straight into the dirt parking lot.

Red Mountain Lot

A simple dirt parking lot near the top of Red Mountain, the Red Mountain Lot only offers dirt parking and spectacular views of Las Vegas and Boulder City. Trails accessed through the Red Mountain Lot are Skyline, Boy Scout and River Mountain Hiking Trail to the north, and Hike-A-Bike to the south (leading to the top of Red Mountain and Bootleg Canyon's downhill trails).

How to Get There

Follow the directions above for the Bootleg Canyon Trailhead, but continue on past the main trailhead parking lot and onto the dirt road for approximately 1 ¾ miles until the dirt road flattens out with a parking area on the right side of the road. Do not block the gate at the end of the dirt road.

Railroad Pass Hotel & Casino

Used as an official parking area and trailhead for the paved River Mountain Loop Trail, the Railroad Pass Hotel & Casino parking lot also provides access to unnamed trails that lead into the Bootleg Canyon trail system.

How to Get There

After leaving Henderson on US-95, turn left into the Railroad Pass Hotel & Casino parking lot at the stoplight. After parking, hop onto the paved River Mountain Hiking trail behind the casino and follow it left or right for easy access to trails leading to Mother and Ernie's Epic on either side of the mountain.