Top 10 Highest Points in Nevada

by Paul Sebesta

Higher is better ... and these places make it a *point* to tower above the rest in the Silver State. Nevada's highest points may surprise you.

   Mt. Jefferson (North Summit)

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Location: Toquima Range, Nye County
See Mount Jefferson below

   North Schell Peak

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Location: Schell Creek Range, White Pine County

- The fifth-most topographically prominent peak in Nevada

Drainages: Berry Creek, Timber Creek, Taft Creek, North Fork Cleve Creek

Charleston Peak from Mummy Mountain

   Charleston Peak

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Location: Spring Mountains, Clark County

- Charleston Peak is the quintessential island mountain separated by two basins. The mountain's massive relief makes it the most topographically prominent peak in Nevada and the eighth most prominent peak in the lower U.S.
- Mount Charleston is a year-round getaway with a number of hiking trails and a modest ski area. The mountain is snow-capped for more than half the year and can be seen from parts of the Las Vegas Strip when looking toward the west.

Drainages: Kyle Canyon, Lee Canyon, Cold Creek, Carpenter Creek, Charleston Creek

   Pyramid Peak

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Location: Snake Range, White Pine County

- Pyramid is a cone-shaped peak in the remote backcountry of Great Basin National Park. Pyramid is visible best at the end of Snake Creek Road at the trailhead to Johnson Lake.

Drainages: Snake Creek

   Mt. Jefferson (South Summit)

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Mount Jefferson from the southern ascent. #10 on our list (Jefferson's North Summit) sits just beyond the summit.

Location: Toquima Range, Nye County

- Not only Jefferson the high point of Nye County, it's also well separated from other ranges by two valleys. Mount Jefferson has a high topographic prominence of 5,861 feet, the third most prominent peak in Nevada (after Charleston Peak and Wheeler Peak)!
- Mt. Jefferson is also the highest mountain for over 90 miles in all directions.
- What's most remarkable about this little-known mountain is its short distance of only 50 miles from Tonopah! During the Pleistocene era, alpine glaciers eroded several cirques east of the summit plateau resulting in a broad area of three summits and miles of subalpine tundra: North Summit (#10 on our list), the Middle Summit (11,692') and the South Summit.

Drainages: Mosquito Creek, Barley Creek, Northumberland Creek, Pine Creek

   Mt. Moriah

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Location: Snake Range, White Pine County

- Mount Moriah rises over 6,000 vertical feet above the Snake Valley (on its east) and the Spring Valley (on its west)! In fact, Moriah is the highest point in the entire Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest precinct.
- Immediately to the north is a large flat, sub-alpine area known as "The Table," the only one of its kind in the Great Basin. The Table supports an ancient Bristlecone Pine forest.
- Mount Moriah was almost placed within Great Basin National Park, but the National Park Service could not gain sufficient land rights to the Northern Snake Range. Instead, the mountain and much of the northern Snake Range was given protection within the Mount Moriah Wilderness.

Drainages: Hendrys Creek, Silver Creek, Smith Creek, Horse Creek, Deadman Creek

   Baker Peak  12,305'
(West Summit)  12,298'

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Location: Snake Range, White Pine County

- Baker Peak sits in the remote backcountry of Great Basin National Park. Baker blends in well with its neighboring summits, so it isn't a relief peak like most on this list. It's visible best as the backdrop to Baker Lake which sits at the peak's base.

Drainages: Baker Creek, Williams Creek

   Jeff Davis Peak

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The last bits of daylight on Jeff Davis Peak (the small knob peak in the center)

Location: Snake Range, White Pine County
See Wheeler Peak below

   Wheeler Peak

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Jeff Davis on the left and Wheeler Peak on the right

Location: Snake Range, White Pine County

- Wheeler Peak is the centerpiece of Great Basin National Park - rising 7,563 feet above the Snake Valley. This relief makes it the most topographically prominent peak in Nevada after Charleston Peak (#8 on our list). It's known for its impressive headwall above a large glacial cirque, large moraines, and an active rock glacier!
- Higher up on the glacial moraine you'll find a grove of ancient Bristlecone Pines, the oldest living things on Earth. The paved Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive dumps visitors off more than halfway up the mountain for ideal access its lovely alpine areas! At the base of the mountain, the limestone Lehman Caves feature a large collection of shield formations.

- One mile east of the summit is a granite crag named Jeff Davis Peak, #3 on our list. Both Wheeler and Jeff Davis dominate the skyline from the Scenic Drive and US 6/50 down on the desert floor.

Honorable Mentions
Before we reveal our Number 1, let's take a few moments to honor the few mountain ranges that fell just short of the list!

"Schell Creek Peak 3595"  (11,795')
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Location: Schell Creek Range, White Pine County

Johnson Peak  (11,775')
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Location: Snake Range, White Pine County

Arc Dome  (11,773')
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Location: Toiyabe Range, Lander County

1. Boundary Peak

At 13,140 feet above sea level, Boundary Peak rises above the rest of Nevada as the state's highest point. Boundary Peak is the northernmost highest peak in the White Mountains and resides barely 3/4 of a mile inside the state boundary and its location often comes as a surprise to most Nevadans. Unlike Whitney or Denali, Boundary Peak does not dominate the skyline. Instead, it floats and blends in with its neighboring high points above the surrounding desert.

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In 2009, Boundary Peak was given its own wilderness area, and given its superlative status, you can bet hikers flock here to be above the rest of the Silver State! Boundary can be climbed in a long, grueling 8-mile ascent from the desert floor in Fish Lake Valley. From SR 264, look for a road leading to "Trail Canyon, Boundary Peak" and follow it for 5 miles to the trailhead. Start early because the White Mountains create their own weather patterns in the summer. Every peak bagger familiar with Boundary will probably admit to being chased off the mountain because of its wild summer lightning!

The best profile of Boundary Peak can be seen here just over the state line in California. Boundary is the farthest peak on the left as seen from Adobe Valley off of CA 120 just west of Benton.

Team Wheeler or Team Boundary?

In a state known for its wild debates, the state's highest point does not come without some controversy. The truth is, Boundary is not a true "peak" in the definition of the word. In fact, it's a ridge of Montgomery Peak (13,441) located just over the line in California. Many enthusiasts believe that Boundary should be excluded as a true "highest point," suggesting instead that Wheeler Peak (#2 on our list) should win the state's highest-point designation. Wheeler Peak is a true mountain and located entirely within Nevada. It's sometimes even considered the highest "mountain" peak in Nevada. Ready for the kicker? Boundary is only 82 feet higher than Wheeler Peak. Cest la vie. Once again, we need to be objective here, dig deep, and look at the facts. Boundary still solidly remains the highest-elevated point, ridge, sub-peak, wall of rock, or whatever-you-want-to-call-it, in Nevada. Boundary ... here's to you!

Author: Paul Sebesta

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