Fortification Hill
Fortification Hill

Fortification Hill

Arizona, 86443

The basics

Most tours of Lake Mead don’t stop at Fortification Hill, though you can catch views of it from various points. Hikers who are exploring on their own should be comfortable with a bit of bouldering, as sections of the trail can require scrambling for about 10 vertical feet (3 meters). The trail gains about 1,400 feet (427 meters) in elevation in a fairly short distance. It’s popular for birding, hiking, and running.

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Things to know before you go

  • Expect to encounter traffic getting past Hoover Dam and the security checkpoint.

  • Lake Mead National Recreation Area charges a fee to enter.

  • Since this hike is in a remote area, be sure to bring hiking essentials and water.

  • Some travelers recommend bringing a walking stick.

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How to get there

The trailhead to Fortification Hill is about 1 hour outside of Las Vegas in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area on the Arizona side of Hoover Dam. Once off the main highways, you’ll need to travel over some rough roads to access the trailhead; a 4WD vehicle is recommended. Tour operators provide transport from Las Vegas to Lake Mead, but not to the Fortification Hill trailhead.

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When to get there

Hiking Fortification Hill is possible from fall through spring (September through May). This is also when you’ll see the flowers in bloom. Because the extreme temperatures during the summer months can lead to dangerous conditions, hikers are warned against visiting at that time. Overall, expect the biggest crowds in the Lake Mead area on the weekends.

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Hiking in Lake Mead

While most travelers head to the Lake Mead National Recreation Area to visit the popular lake, most of the land in the area is protected Mojave Desert, which is best explored on foot. Get an up-close look at the Joshua trees, which are native to the Mojave, and keep an eye out for antelope squirrels, which are often confused with chipmunks; They are one of the few desert animals that doesn’t mind the daytime heat.

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