A Beautiful (& Tasty) Outing to Mt. Charleston

The view from the Mt. Charleston Lodge
The view from the Mt. Charleston Lodge parking lot looks across to a number of homes built on a hillside.
Photo by Diane Taylor

A newly purchased 2008 used Cadillac with only 10,000 miles on it. A beautiful day. My neighbor had never been there. Our cupboard was bare, and we were hungry. Let’s all hop in the car and drive up to Mt. Charleston for lunch. Good idea.

Only a 30-minute drive from the Strip and about an hour’s drive from our house, Mt. Charleston is the nearby scenic mountain area that has sleigh riding in the winter and backpacking, wildlife and hills of forests the rest of the year. Bring a camera because the place is beautiful.

Mt. Charleston is in the Toiyabe National Forest and near the top of the mountain (elevation: 7700 ft.), at the upper side of the Mt. Charleston Village is Mt. Charleston Lodge and Restaurant. The 24 cabins at the lodge are each individually owned, but are rented nightly. The restaurant is owned by one individual who has had some financial issues with ownership, but apparently now is sole owner. The restaurant may be weathered with a cracked cement patio; nonetheless, it is a popular location for special events such as weddings and Strip get-away lunches and dinners. The restaurant seats 200, and the restaurant’s voice mail notes that every weekend in October is an Octoberfest celebration. On the way up the mountain, before reaching the village of Mt. Charleston, you will pass The Resort at Mt. Charleston, just keep on going up the mountain.

The Mt. Charleston Lodge Restaurant was packed with people
The Mt. Charleston Lodge Restaurant was packed with people on Sunday at Noon just after the restaurant opened.
Photo by Diane Taylor

The driving directions told us to drive north on I-95 and then drive west on Route 157 until we reached Kyle Canyon Rd. We did as we were told and were surprised (last Sunday) to see that lots of other people had the same idea. The parking lot was packed with cars, motorcycles and people when we arrived. Note: No gas stations are located on Route 157, so fill your tank before the trip. The parking lot is mostly paved, although parking in back requires driving on gravel.

To our surprise, right outside the restaurant were several tables of jewelry for sale. We’re told the sellers are Native Americans from Arizona, and their pieces were quite lovely, each with a story. My neighbor is a former jewelry store owner and after she questioned the sellers about the stones used in the jewelry and declared the pieces good values…we both went shopping.

Michael DeGreve and Kris make beautiful music together
Michael DeGreve and Kris literally make beautiful music together at the Mt. Charleston Lodge Restaurant.
Photo by Diane Taylor

Inside the restaurant is a long bar, a rustic atmosphere and plenty of table seating, so in spite of the crowd, we were quickly seated inside. (Some folks after us had to wait.) Outdoor seating on the restaurant patios is also available. Our lunch orders were simple. My husband had chili (he was thrilled; it was delivered piping hot) and we split a half-pound hamburger that was cooked as we wanted. Our neighbor Gerri also ordered a hamburger (with fries). I paid $2.00 extra to exchange the fries for onion rings, each of which was delicious. By size each onion ring could have been a meal in itself.

Another surprise at the restaurant: a singer/guitarist named Michael DeGreve and his harmony lady, Kris. DeGreve entertains at the Lodge Friday and Saturday nights and Sundays from Noon to four. He is an easy listening kind of guy, part folk singer, part songwriter and conveyor of a number of “unusual” toasts.

A trip to Mt. Charleston in late October means seeing the leaves changing color.
A trip to Mt. Charleston in late October means seeing the leaves changing color.
Photo by Diane Taylor

General Manager Thomas Schneekloth explains that the restaurant’s busiest times are Saturdays and Sundays, day and nighttime. When we noted that the ladies’ room was not accessible by a wheelchair, he said that two accessible restrooms are available near the restaurant, and servers should be directing patrons in wheelchairs to the accessible restrooms. The busiest times of the year at the restaurant are now through the holidays though summers are always busy because temperatures at Mr. Charleston average 20 degrees cooler than the Strip. Workers at the restaurant typically don’t live in the mountain area, he said, but drive up and back every day. DeGreve appears at a number of other locations in the Las Vegas Valley, and he and Kris are commuters as well.

Here is a report about staying at the hotel, (Mt. Charleston Resort) further down the highway, it was written in 2006, so the pricing is probably not current.


3 responses on “A Beautiful (& Tasty) Outing to Mt. Charleston

  1. One thing you might not know, unless you live there or visit often, but the mailing address for the Mt. Charleston Village is Las Vegas, NV 89124. So, you really only drove to another part of Las Vegas for your getaway visit!

  2. As a tourist , I drove up there one Sunday and was totally surprised . I had just left the desert , and here , in a few brief moments , I felt like I was in Lake Tahoe . Curved roads , pine trees galore , and crystal clean air . Very nice and very cool temps . Thanks for the reminder !

  3. For those interested in historical background, you might enjoy reading this article written by Linda Lou in 2009 about Lisa Gioia-Acres, a oral historian who has worked extensively with residents in the Mt. Charleston area.


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