Six great things to do when visiting Nevada's Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. A short drive to escape the bustle of Las Vegas
About Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Las Vegas is a high-octane, but fun place to visit but after a few days there you simply feel the need for something more sedate and relaxing to recharge your internal batteries. Located just 17-miles west of Vegas is Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.
Red Rock Canyon was designated as Nevada’s first National Conservation Area, which lies in the Mojave Desert. It’s known for geological features such as towering red sandstone peaks and the Keystone Thrust Fault, as well as Native American petroglyphs.
Things to do in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
1. TAKE THE SCENIC DRIVE
The 13-mile Scenic Drive through Red Rock Canyon allows visitors to explore the highs and lows of the canyon from their vehicle or bicycle, with many scenic stops and trailheads along the way.
2. WALK A TRAIL THROUGH THE CALICO HILLS
The Calico Hills are among the most colourful and interesting geological features in Red Rock Canyon. These distinct crimson hills began as red sand dunes over 180M years ago, the remains of a dune field thought one of the largest to ever form on earth.
Distance 2-6 miles; Average time: 1.5 – 3.5 hrs; Difficulty: MODERATE
This trail runs along the base of the Calico Rocks from Calico Basin to Sandstone Quarry
3. STOP AND ADMIRE THE VIEWS FROM HIGH POINT OVERLOOK
Scenic Loop Road Highpoint is located about 4.7 miles around the 13-mile Scenic Loop Road, and at 4,780 feet, and is the highest point on the road.
The views to the south are amazing. Turn to the left and you will see Turtlehead Peak towering above the landscape. Below Turtlehead are the red-and-white sandstone Calico Hills. To the right are the Wilson Cliffs: the grand Red Rock escarpment.
The natural view is to look out and downhill, but don’t forget to turn around and look north at the limestone La Madre Mountain Range.
4. SEE THE GEOLOGICAL FEATURE, KEYSTONE THRUST
A short distance along the scenic drive from the High Point Overlook is a turn off for the trailhead to Keystone Thrust.
Hike along this trail to see the intersection of great and colourful geologic eras. Sixty million to 65 million years ago, the Pacific and North American continental plates got into a shoving match. The conflict pushed up the Sierra Nevada mountains to the west. The same force pushed the deep limestone layers up and over the sand dunes in what is now Red Rock Canyon.
Distance 2.4 miles; Average time: 1.5hrs; Difficulty: MODERATE
5. LOST CREEK – CHILDREN’S DISCOVERY TRAIL
This self-guided interpretive trail introduces visitors of all ages to the many different features of the Mojave Desert at Red Rock Canyon, including pictographs, lessons of desert life, towering views, and a hidden seasonal waterfall (December-April) in the canyon.
6. TAKE A CANYON TRAIL
There are a few canyon trails in the Red Rock Canyon area. The most popular are Ice Box Canyon Trail which is 2.3-miles long and Pine Creek Canyon Trail which is a 3.4-mile trail. Both are in and out trails and are very popular, so you’ll likely meet fellow hikers along the way. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on a leash.
Planning your visit
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is only 30 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip. If you are using a GPS unit, please type in Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center, or 3205 State Highway 159, Las Vegas, NV 89161.
Public transportation does not extend to Red Rock Canyon. Tour buses and commercial tours may be available from your hotel.
|Location:||1000 Scenic Loop Dr, Las Vegas, NV 89161|
|Telephone:||+1 (702) 515-5350|
|Hours:||The Scenic Drive is open daily from 6AM until 8 pm. Hours may change check the website.|
|Admission Fee:||Car/Truck $15, Motorcycle: $10; Bicycle/Pedestrian $5|
Best time to visit Red Rock Canyon
The best months to visit are April and May, when the average high temperatures are in the high 60s to mid-70s, or September and October, when temperatures are in the 70s to mid-80s