Sunday, January 24, 2016

Desert Shooting Spots in Southern Nevada?

In response to a lot of comments and questions about where to shoot in the Las Vegas/Southern Nevada area, we've worked up a list and map of the most popular desert shooting spots in our usual, thorough and comprehensive manner.

The Las Vegas Valley Shooting Closure map shows all the prohibited areas, including the urban parts of the Las Vegas Valley and surrounding areas. It is a general overview and rather low fidelity, but provides a good guide to the restrictions in place. See our interactive map further below.

Overview of Government and Law

Shooting inside the urban Las Vegas Valley and all incorporated cities is illegal, except on an approved range.

Bureau of Land Management
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) controls the vast majority of open land in Nevada. While this land is administered by the federal government, state and local laws govern discharge of firearms (see Clark County code below).

Please read the BLM’s page on target shooting.

Red Rock National Conservation Area
Target shooting (43 CFR 8365.2-5) and carrying loaded firearms (even with a concealed firearm permit) are illegal within the boundaries of Red Rock National Conservation Area. Hunting is legal, but generally isn’t permitted. Rangers tend to elicit compliance rather than strict enforcement of the loaded weapon rule. Since this is administered by the BLM and not part of the National Park System, the special rules approved by Congress apply. Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area (beyond the target range) is under the same restrictions.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Openly carried and concealed firearms (with a valid permit) are legal at Lake Mead, loaded or unloaded. Target shooting is prohibited on National Park Service land. Hunting is legal (when permitted). Regulations here.

Other Federal Areas
The Desert National Wildlife Refuge (north of Las Vegas in the Sheep Mountains) prohibits target shooting (use of firearms, 50 CFR 27.42) as well as the Mojave National Preserve south of Searchlight, in the tip of Nevada (NPS lands).

Nevada State Parks
Park administrations can prohibit target shooting, but they cannot prohibit carrying a firearm, either openly or concealed, except as established elsewhere by state law (NRS Chapter 202). See NRS 407.0475 Pursuant to the Nevada Administrative Code (NAC 407.105), target shooting (except on designated firing ranges) is prohibited.

Regarding roads and vehicles, generally, you may not:

  • Carry a rifle or shotgun in a vehicle with a round in the chamber (loaded) in a vehicle. NRS 503.165
  • Shoot from a vehicle on a roadway or shoot from on, or over, a roadway. NRS 503.175
Clark County
Clark County Code (12.04.230) prohibits discharge of firearms (except for self-defense) off of established target ranges.

Discharge is prohibited within: 
  • One-half mile (1/2 mile) of every state highway, interstate, or US highway
  • 500 feet from every other roadway
  • 500 feet from any improved or maintained trail, campground, or picnic area
  • The areas where hunting is prohibited (NAC 504.340
Violation is a misdemeanor, punishable from between $100-$500 and/or up to 6 months in jail.

All cities in Clark County (Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson, Boulder City, and Mesquite prohibit target shooting off of established ranges).

Pahrump Shooting Closures (BLM map)

Where to Shoot

Map boundaries and locations are approximate.

The Sloan shooting area is on the east side of I-15, about 6 miles from St. Rose Parkway. Access is from Las Vegas Blvd. This area is a large, open area that leads deep into the Sloan Canyon area (part of which is a no-shooting National Conservation Area). Many spots can be found inside. Ranges average 100 yards, but longer shots are available further inside. Much of the area close to the road is within the ½ mile shooting prohibition buffer zone from I-15, though this does not appear to be enforced.

Many regular shooters have noted over the years that there are serious safety concerns with Sloan due to shooters' behavior. Part of the range is not backstopped and shots can go high and possibly hit traffic on the interstate. Additionally, because it is so easily accessible, novice shooters with little safety training often come to shoot. Combined with large numbers of shooters with varying levels of experience, accidents and conflicts can and do occur. This is why it is absolutely vital to use safe range habits when shooting here.

There are several areas before you reach Sloan that are not open for shooting, despite people doing it anyway.

Directions: Take I-15 south to Exit 25. Turn left at the stop sign, go under the interstate, and turn right at the next stop sign (Las Vegas Blvd.). Proceed south on Las Vegas Blvd. Watch carefully for mile marker 15 on your left. Approximately ½ a mile from MM15, turn left where a dirt road leads to a large flat area. The roads inside the Sloan shooting area are rock and dirt; rough, but suitable for a passenger car.

Video directions from Mike La Putt

Sloan can be quite dangerous. Be safe! Only through community engagement can experienced shooters help the inexperienced and stop dangerous shooters. A 4 year-old girl, Dayla Pizzoferrato, was killed in a freak accident when she was struck by a ricochet. Others were injured in an explosion.

Lovell Canyon
Lovell Canyon is within National Forest land on the south side of the Spring Mountains, just outside the small community of Mountain Springs. It can be reached by heading west towards Pahrump on HWY 160 (Blue Diamond Rd.). The area is a multi-use recreational area for hiking, hunting, shooting, and camping. Many of the shooting spots are too close to the roadways to be safe or legal.

Directions: Take Blue Diamond Rd. (HWY 160) west towards Pahrump. Stay on this road as it exits the urban valley and passes Red Rock Canyon. You will climb over the mountains and continue through Mountain Springs. Turn right when you see the sign of Lovell Canyon Rd. and take the narrow, paved road into the national forest.

Lovell Temporary Closure (what trash shooting and fires get you)
Until Nov. 3, 2017, unless someone screws it up for us again. Order here

Sandy Valley Road
Desert shooting spots on flat terrain that backstops against the rising foothills at the base of Mt. Potosi.

Directions: Take Blue Diamond Rd. (HWY 160) west towards Pahrump. Stay on this road as it exits the urban valley and passes Red Rock Canyon. You will climb over the mountains and continue through Mountain Springs. Continue past Lovell Canyon Rd. for approximately 2 miles. Turn left. Shooting spots begin about ½ a mile in, on the left, facing east towards the mountains. Washboard dirt road.

Cold Creek Rd.
This is an open area in the far northwest off US 95 at the base of Mt. Charleston off a paved road leading into the national forest lands. Past the prisons, there are areas to shoot.

Directions: Take US 95 north. Watch for the signs of Cold Creek Rd. and the state prisons. Turn left on Cold Creek Rd. The most popular spot is approximately 5 and a half miles from US 95. The road is paved until the various turn-offs. Be aware of the small community of homes in the area.

Corn Creek/Mile Marker 103 (shooting prohibited)
The area known as Corn Creek or mile marker 103 (US 95) in the northwest is no longer a legal place to shoot. Its canyon-like washes were popular with many shooters. In December of 2014, President Obama signed an act creating the new Tule Springs National Monument, which is located in the northwest corner of the valley, bordered by US 95, Indian Springs, and the Sheep Mountains.

Shooting in the new Tule Springs National Monument is illegal. While it is permissible to openly carry or have concealed firearm, target shooting is prohibited (36 CFR 2.4) on National Park Land. With the creation of the national monument, it left the control of the BLM, though they may patrol the area for the National Park Service.

You cannot shoot at Corn Creek/MM 103. In fact, shooting is prohibited up to approximately MM 105 (Lee Canyon Rd.). If found by rangers or Metro officers at Corn Creek, you will be asked to leave and may be issued a citation. Last year, there was an accidental death in the area.

Apex/Pabco Rd. and the Nellis dunes are off-limits to shooters. On US 93, shooting is permitted after mile marker 56. South on US 95, be aware that Boulder City limits extend very far south through empty desert and shooting is prohibited within city limits. In the southern tip of the state (beyond Searchlight) is the Mojave National Preserve, which is national parkland, and shooting is prohibited.


These are the most important gun safety rules to keep in mind when shooting in the desert, especially at a crowded spot.

Do not walk down range while people are shooting, or vise versa.

Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
Control where the muzzle is aimed. If on a shooting range keep the gun pointed downrange (towards the target). If you are not on a shooting range, it is best to point the gun down and away from anyone's legs or feet. The safest direction depends on where you are and what you are doing.

Never point the gun at anything you are not willing to shoot.
Never point a gun (loaded or unloaded) at another person. Don't point a gun at anything that you don't want to destroy, like your car, a wall, or a TV set. If you do have a negligent discharge, if the gun is pointed in a safe direction.

Know your target and what lies beyond.
Make sure the area of your target is free of people, property, or animals. Don't shoot at random objects until you have inspected them. On a target range, make sure you have a safe backstop like a hill or berm behind the targets—bullets from a .30 caliber rifle can travel up to a mile and a half. Do not shoot on or over a road and shoot away from buildings.

You need a good backstop for your target, such as a hill, berm, cliff, or side of a canyon. As in the illustrated photo below, there is no backstop for this target. Any missed shot aimed high could travel and strike traffic on the highway.

No backstop.
Be careful of your target; steel targets (same for rocks) can cause dangerous ricochets.

Never shoot straight up; what goes up must come down. People have been killed or seriously injured doing this.
Tracers, explosive rounds, explosive targets (Tannerite) and fireworks are all prohibited on BLM land. Additionally, using these items can start a brushfire.

Pick up your trash! Trigger trash is responsible for the closures of many popular sites around the valley. The BLM will not hesitate to close shooting spots temporarily or permanently if too much garbage accumulates. Beyond spent shells, stray brass, ammo boxes, targets, and target stands, many popular shooting sites are used as dumping grounds.

Don’t shoot glass. People can be hit by fragments or injured if they step or fall on the shards. It’s also very hard to clean up.


  1. Discuss your favorite places to shoot!

    1. lava butte rd, all the way up into the mountains

  2. Wonderful place for shooting sport, I love it! Thanks for sharing.


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  4. Its really excellent info.Thanks for very informative post you provided us which gave us a lot of useful information.

  5. Its really excellent info.Thanks for very informative post you provided us which gave us a lot of information.

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  6. So the desert by decatur and horse os a no go?

  7. Last time I went to Lovell canyon there was a big sign saying no shooting right before you enter.

  8. FYI the closure map link is broken

    1. Fixed it, thanks. Looks like BLM moved their pages.

  9. Cold Creek is getting Dirty. People are leaving electronic trash and glass target behind.

  10. More goverment control of land really frustrating for shooters

    1. only when the shooter can't seen to be trust to clean up after themselves. People being disrespectful to the land and others. There is always tons of freedom until irresponsible immature show up and the government control comes in to take the fun away. Look at what happen to Sloan ...

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. Is it legal to setup targets on the dirt roads and shoot down them in the desert ? I've noticed some people doing this.

    1. No. It is illegal to shoot on or over a road and extremely dangerous and irresponsible.

    2. I figured as much. I noticed Dimitri from primary arms shoots down roads and sets up targets in the road all the time when showing off products and i know he's done some videos doing this in Nevada. Not sure if this is Nevada though.

      I like their company and some of their products but what he's doing is wrong and the more people who watch these videos the more likely some will copy what he's doing and get in trouble.

      Someone called him out on facebook and they got banned for it.