Plan Your Visit to Red Rock Canyon

friends of red rock canyon

Driving Directions

Red Rock Canyon is located west of Las Vegas on Charleston Blvd (State Road 159).  Charleston is a major east/west street that can be accessed from any north/south surface street or from the 215 Beltway. View an interactive map to locate the canyon visitor center and obtain detailed driving directions from wherever you are.

Visitors should proceed west on Charleston. The boundary for Red Rock Canyon is approximately two miles west of the 215 Beltway/Red Rock Casino.

The Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center is located approximately four miles west of the park boundary and will be the second road that exits the right. The new Visitor Center and Museum opened in April 2010.

Visiting by Taxi, Uber or Lyft

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area has over two million visitors annually. It is becoming more common for visitors to arrive without vehicles. They are being dropped off by taxi, Uber and Lyft. These visitors are surprised and frustrated to find that hiking is limited without transportation around the Scenic Drive.

Visitors may want to consider renting a vehicle for the day in order to fully enjoy the Red Rock experience. Personal transportation is needed to fully experience the Scenic Drive and hiking trails. Hiking opportunities from the Visitor Center are limited. Please keep in mind that Red Rock Canyon does not have a shuttle service. Also, cell phones will not work at the Visitor Center. However, visitors will be able to receive a signal in certain areas along the Scenic Drive.

Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center

1000 Scenic Loop Drive
Las Vegas, NV  89161
Phone 702-515-5350
GPS Coordinates: 36°08’08.3″N 115°25’40.2″W (36 degrees 8 minutes North, 115 degrees 25 minutes West)
GPS UTM Coordinates: UTM 11 S 0653467 / 4002192
GPS Decimal Coordinates: 36.135634, -115.427827
Visitor Center altitude is 3,720 feet
Highest auto turnout on Scenic Drive is 4,771 feet

Hours of Operation

Visitor Center is open every day from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM. Operating hours will vary on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Please call 702-515-5350 for operating hours on these holidays.

Scenic Drive – The scenic loop is open every day of the year with times changing slightly according to the season:

  • October – 6 AM to 7 PM
  • November through February – 6 AM to 5 PM
  • March – 6 AM to 7 PM
  • April through September – 6 AM to 8 PM

Fee and Passes

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is a United States Government Amenity Fee Area administrated by the Bureau of Land Management.

The BLM is committed to keeping public landscapes healthy and productive. The core basis of amenity fees is to ensure the Bureau of Land Management meets its preservation, recreation, public enjoyment and visitor experience management goals identified in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area Resource Management Plan and Record of Decision.

Amenity Fee
Daily Private Vehicle $15
Daily Motorcycle $10
Daily Bicycle & Pedestrian $5
Red Rock Canyon Annual Support Pass $30
Commercial Tour Vehicle $15 + $5 per person
Individual campsites $20
Walk-in campsites $10
Group campsites $60

 

America the Beautiful passes.

  • America the Beautiful Annual Pass (an inter-agency pass honored by the National Park Service, Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Fish and Wildlife Service) – $80.
  • America the Beautiful Annual Senior Pass (US citizens over the age of 62) – $20.
  • America the Beautiful Lifetime Senior Pass (US citizens over the age of 62) – $80 one time fee.
  • America the Beautiful Access Pass (Lifetime pass for US citizens with a permanent disability) – available at the Fee Station and Visitor Center at no charge with proper documentation.
  • America the Beautiful Military Annual Pass (US citizens, active duty military and their dependents) – no charge with current Military ID.

More information about the NCA, including the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area Business Plan 2018-2028, is available at https://www.blm.gov/site-page/RRCNCA

2018 Fee-Free Days

The Bureau of Land Management will waive recreation-related fees for visitors to the National System of Public Lands for Martin Luther King Day(January 15), Presidents Day(February 19),National Get Outdoors Day (June 9), National Public Lands Day (Sept. 22), and Veterans Day (Nov. 11) in 2018.

Site standard amenity and individual day-use fees at BLM recreation sites and areas will be waived for the specified dates. Other fees, such as overnight camping and group day use, will remain in effect.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

How long does it take to drive the Scenic Drive?

The speed limit on the one-way, 13 mile route is mostly 35 mph. It takes about 45 minutes to drive without stopping. If you plan on stopping for photos, hike of picnic, please plan for additional time.

Can we drive backwards on the Scenic Drive?

Do not drive the wrong way on the 13-Mile Scenic Drive. Not only would you endanger yourself, but you would endanger everyone else on the road and will be ticketed if you do this. In extreme circumstances such as a flood, icy conditions or wildland fire, a Law Enforcement Ranger or other BLM staff may lead traffic backwards on the scenic drive after appropriate safety measures are in place.

What trail can I take my kids on?

The most popular trails for kids are the Lost Creek Children’s Discovery trail and Red Spring boardwalk. Both are less than a mile round trip.

How high are the peaks we can see along the Scenic Drive?

Approximate heights of some of the peaks in the conservation area: Mount Wilson; 7,050 feet; La Madre Mountain, 8,150 feet; Bridge Mountain, 6,750 feet; Rainbow Mountain, 6800 feet; and Turtlehead Peak, 6,305 feet.

Where are the nearest services?

Restaurants, supermarket, gas station, banks, postal pro and grocery store are located at the corner of Charleston Boulevard and Desert Foothills Drive, 4.5 miles northeast of the entrance to Red Rock Canyon on State Route 159/Charleston.  There are many restaurants, supermarkets, stores, gas stations etc. further east along Charleston Boulevard.

There is a restaurant, bar, motel, horseback riding and petting zoo in Bonnie Springs/Old Nevada which is 5.5 miles southeast of the entrance to Red Rock Canyon, along State Route 159.

There is a small general store and a US Post Office in the town of Blue Diamond 7.5 miles south of the entrance to Red Rock Canyon, along State Route 159.

A gas station is located 10.5 miles south of Red Rock Canyon at the intersection of State Routes 159 and 160.

Where can I find waterfalls or water?

There are several areas in Red Rock Canyon where you may find streams, waterfalls and tinajas depending on the season and the climatic conditions. Try looking at Pine Creek, Ice Box Canyon, Oak Creek Canyon, Lost Creek and First Creek. Springs can be found at La Madre, White Rock and Willow Spring. During the winter months, there is usually snow on the mountains (and sometimes even at the visitor center). After the snow has melted from the mountains, the resulting run off usually means that we have flowing water in these areas. The easiest waterfall to get to is at Lost Creek and there is a large tinaja at the end of the Calico Tanks trail.

We ask that you and your pets do not swim, wade, or bathe in this water so as to keep it healthy for native wild life who depend on this scarce source of water. Please don’t release wildlife anywhere in the conservation area as it interferes with the natural balance and can bring in outside diseases and populations that are not native to the area.

Drinking the spring or creek water is not recommended. The water is not tested and could contain parasites. Only the water at the visitor center and the campground is safe to drink.

When can we see the turtles?

Actually, we have Desert Tortoises in the Mojave Desert. The difference between the two is that turtles live in water and tortoises live on land. At the visitor center, we have outdoor tortoise exhibits for eight females and two males. During the winter, they go into brumation (tortoise hibernation) and each year we hold a competition for school children to guess when Mojave Max comes out of brumation in the spring . If you are lucky enough to see a tortoise in the wild, please give it some space.

How many acres are in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area (RRCNCA)?

200,069.571795 acres or 312.61 square miles.

When was the scenic drive constructed?

The first part of the loop to Willow Spring was paved in 1971 the remainder was completed in 1974.

What were the opening dates of the new Visitor Center and outdoor exhibit plaza?

The new visitor center was opened in phases with the visitor arrival structure opening in October 2009 and the outdoor exhibit area opening in April 2010. The first visitor center was opened in May 1982. Who were the architect and builder of the new visitor center? The construction company that built the visitor center was Straub. The architect was Line and Space, LLC (Lee Wallach). The interpretive designer was Hilferty and Associates and I Zone, and the exhibits were installed by H.B.Stubbs. Is the building LEED certified? The building has received a certification rating of Gold.

What are some of the energy saving features of the visitor center?

Lower electrical use components: Transpired Solar Wall, Sun heats the metal. Heat is used to heat bathrooms in winter months, Reduces requirement for energy use during winter months, Cooling is achieved by use of exhaust fan, Outdoor lighting utilizes solar cells and timers (lights come on when sun goes down and turn off automatically after 2 hours),

Large overhangs shade the building reducing the need for AC, and Bulk of exhibits are exterior exhibits Eliminates the need for interior square footage and the energy required to heat and cool them. Daylight spaces, use of windows require less electricity to light interior spaces, walls are white to reflect light, Indoor lighting utilizes occupancy sensors (lights turn off automatically when no movement). Water saving features: Low water use fixtures in lavatories, Waterless urinals, Dual flushometer toilets (Up uses 1 gal/on and Down uses 1.6 gallon use), Spring actuated lavatory faucets. Water harvesting: 3 water tanks collect rain runoff from the roof of the visitor center, 15,000 gallon capacity (estimate of 2 inches of rain per year), slot in new VC overhang allows rainwater to be captured and used for landscaping along entry pathway.

Where can we have a picnic?

There are picnic tables, grills (when fire restrictions are not in effect), and pit toilets at Willow Spring, Dedication Overlook (no grills) and Red Spring, Red Spring has a reserved picnic site for $40.00 (with permit). Picnic tables and flush toilets are available at the visitor center or Spring Mountain Ranch. Spring Mt. Ranch is a state park and a day-use fee is charged.

Where can we camp?

The campground is off highway 159 on Moen kopi Road it is called Red Rock Campground. It has 71 campsites with water, pit-toilets, and fire rings. Reservations are taken for group sites only with a fee of $40.00 per night, individual sites available on a first-come first-served basis for $15.00 per night. There are camp host on site.

Who needs permits?

Groups of 15 people or more may need to get a special use permit to utilize picnic or other developed areas. Commercial use of any sort requires a commercial use permit. Contact an Outdoor Recreation Planner for more information.

Is the water safe to drink?

Drinking the spring or creek water is not recommended , The water is not tested and could contain parasites. Only the visitor center water and campground water is safe to drink.

Does it snow here?

During the winter months there is usually snow on the escarpment. Sometimes there will be snow at the Visitor Center, but it melts quickly. Temporary closures on the Scenic Drive may occur due to ice & snow.

Are there pools in the area?

There are natural pools or tinajas (ta-na-haas) in the Calico Hills and on top of the escarpment.

Where can we find running water/springs?

There are usually running streams, depending on the season and the climatic conditions, in Pine Creek, Ice Box, Oak Creek, Lost Creek, and First Creek. Springs can be found at La Madre, White Rock, and Willow Spring. We do not encourage swimming, wading, or bathing in water to keep it healthy for native wildlife.

Where can I drive my 4×4?

Unlicensed travel is prohibited within the RRCNCA. The Rocky Gap Road (Old Pahrump Road, Red Rock Summit Road) is open and in very bad shape 4×4 at your own risk. It is not maintained. Hiking, mountain bikes and horses are allowed on the road . The Cottonwood Valley Road from SR 160 to Goodspring (10 miles very rough) is also available.

How do we get to Mt. Charleston from here?

To reach Mt. Charleston from RRCNCA, take SR 159 to the 215 beltway, north to U.S. 95, north to SR 156 for Kyle Canyon (4 miles) or SR 157 for Lee Canyon (17 miles).

Why are the rocks red?

Iron oxide (rust) colors the rocks. The black is “desert varnish” composed of manganese and other oxides.

What kind of animals are there and where can they be found?

Red Rock Canyon supports a diversity of animal life; it would be difficult to list them all. Desert Big Horn Sheep, mule deer, coyotes, snakes, lizards, foxes, ground squirrels, and birds are found in the area. Most of the animals at Red Rock Canyon are secretive and can only be seen with a lot of patience and luck. The best time to look for wildlife is early in the morning or at dusk. The best places are White Rock Spring, La Madre Spring, and Pine Creek Canyon. We also have wild horses and Burros.

Where can we see burros and wild horses?

You can sometimes see burros near the Bonnie Springs, Spring Mountain Ranch entrances and the town of Blue Diamond. These animals can be dangerous; many visitors are injured each year. Do not feed them! Wild horses might be seen at the extreme southern end of the conservation area.

What is Red Spring?

Red Spring is an unusual spring fed meadow in the desert. There are covered picnic tables, pit toilets, barbecue grills, and an accessible boardwalk.

What is Spring Mountain Ranch?

Spring Mountain Ranch is a Nevada State Park. It is a historical area, comprised of 520 acres, pastures and old buildings. Picnic tables, flush toilets and barbecue grills are available, A day use fee is charged at the park, Horseback riding is adjacent to the ranch.

What is Bonnie Springs/Old Nevada?

Bonnie Springs is a restaurant and lounge, Old Nevada is a replica of a western town with gift shops, restaurant and lounge. A petting zoo and motel are also at the complex.

Where can we see archaeological and rock art?

There were roasting pits at Willow Spring, They are large, circular piles of fire-broken limestone that Paiute Indians used for roasting game, agave, and other foods, Petroglyphs (Indian rock art pecked into the rock) can be seen on the rocks above the Red Spring meadow. Petroglyphs and pictographs (Indian rock art painted on the surface) can be seen on the rock face to the east of Willow Spring picnic area.

Where did the Petroglyphs in the exhibit come from?

In 1999 local Las Vegas residents turned in these panels which were illegally taken from the southern end of the conservation area. Since their exact location is unknown their archaeological usefulness has been compromised. Federal laws protect all prehistoric and historic cultural resources. Collecting or defacing of artifacts is not allowed.

How long do I have to wait after it rains before I can go rock climbing? Where can I climb when it is raining?

We advise that you wait at least 24 or 48 hours before climbing on sandstone depending on how heavy the rain was.  Sandstone becomes brittle so if you climb when it’s wet you may put your life at risk and you may loosen the holds in the rock which makes it dangerous for those who climb after you.

There are two areas of limestone not too far from Red Rock Canyon that you can climb when it has been raining. One of them is Gun Club which can be accessed west of the 215 heading west on Alexander Road from a park past the intersection with Cliff Shadows Parkway. Difficulty ranges from 5.8 to 5.12b and routes are 40 feet tall.

The other limestone climbing area is in Lone Mountain Park which is on the corner of North Jensen Street and West Helena Avenue just south east of the 215 and the Lone Mountain Road exit. It is called Urban Crag and difficulty ranges from 5.8 – 12b.

What about accessibility?

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area can be enjoyed at all activity and mobility levels. In addition to enjoying the sights along the 13-Mile Scenic Drive, Red Rock Canyon offers several wheelchair accessible areas.

  • Visitor center – LEED certified center features indoor exhibits and lectures, a gift shop and innovative outdoor exhibits with four themed elements: earth, wind, fire and water.  An accessible trail is available at this location.
  • Willow Springs Picnic Area – picturesque area on the 13-Mile Scenic Drive that features rock art, restrooms and picnic area  An accessible trail is available at this location.
  • Red Rock Overlook – located along State Route 159, the overlook features stunning views of Red Rock, restrooms and picnic area.  An accessible trail is available at this location.
  • Red Spring – located east of the 13-Mile Scenic Drive off of State Route 159, this area features boardwalk, year-round spring, restrooms and picnic area.  An accessible trail available at this location.
  • Restrooms – accessible restrooms are available at the visitor center and most pullouts on the scenic drive.  Please note that restrooms along the scenic drive are vault toilets and may not have accessible bars.

Are pets welcome?

Pets are welcome at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

Pets are permitted on trails and should be leashed to minimize conflicts with other people, other pets and native wildlife.

Pet owners are required to clean up pet waste (baggies for waste disposal are available in the campground and at the scenic drive entrance station.)

In the campground, pets must be leashed at all times and may not be left unattended.

Pets must be leashed at other developed facilities such as the visitor center, Willow Springs picnic area and Red Rock overlook on State Route 159.

Pet owners are reminded that summertime can reach to temperatures above 110 °F and leaving pets in a vehicle can endanger their lives.

Are there any limits to photography at Red Rock?

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area’s scenic vistas are inspiring to many amateur and professional photographers.

Most visitors take snapshots of their visit. This is considered casual use and does not require a film permit.  It is typified by an individual or group of individuals taking pictures, either still or moving, for personal use.

In some cases permits may be required.

Still photography requires a film permit when one or more of the following situations apply:

  • Use of models or props which are not part of a site’s natural or cultural resources or administrative facilities are involved. Family or wedding portraits taken by professional photographers would be considered use of “models” as would products placed at the site. Props include reflectors, bounce cards, sound booms, or similar equipment
  • If such photography takes place at locations where members of the public are generally not allowed
  • If it occurs where additional administrative costs are likely

Commercial still photography (photographs of scenery or wildlife) for magazine articles, advertisements, books, calendars, postcards, etc., does not require a film permit if none of the above criteria apply. This includes photographs that may have products or models superimposed on them later.

Moving photography (filming) requires a film permit when documentaries, television programs, feature films; advertisements, wildlife filming, or similar projects result in a commercial product.

Student filming projects do not require a filming permit as long as the activity would not adversely impact public lands.  Students need to submit a proposal in writing, with verification from the educational institution that it is a required project.

Film/Photography permits need to be acquired in advance.  For more information, please call (702) 515-5000.

Can I get married at Red Rock Canyon?

An approved Special Recreation Permit (SRP) is required for all weddings. Applications must be submitted a minimum of 14 days in advance of intended use. SRPs are available on a first come, first served basis.

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area offers two wedding locations:

  • Overlook on State Route 159: The overlook provides a scenic panoramic view of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. It is a developed site with a paved parking area (approximately 25 parking spaces) and hiking trail and picnic tables. It is located approximately 1.7 miles south of Red Rock Canyon’s 13-Mile Scenic Drive entrance, off of State Route 159.
  • Red Spring: This developed area features red rocks, trees, a boardwalk trail and platform which are commonly used for ceremonies. There is plenty of parking and picnic area tables available at this location.  Red Spring is located approximately one mile from the intersection of State Route 159 and Calico Road. This intersection is approximately four miles west of 215 and Charleston Blvd. or one mile east of the 13-Mile Scenic Drive entrance.

Wedding sites are available at the following times:

Dates Hours
March 1 to March 31 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
April 1 to Sept 30 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Oct 1 to Oct 31 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Nov 1 to Feb 28/29 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 

Permits do not allow exclusive use of a site. Picnic areas, trails and other facilities are open to the public. The maximum number of people at the wedding is 50. A member of your party  must have a copy of approved permit in hand at time of wedding. Failure to abide by regualtions will result in denial of future permits and possible issuance of a citation by BLM personnel or law enforcement.

Please keep in mind that rice, birdseed, butterflies, balloons, arches, chairs and other props are prohibited.

If you and your party plan to enter the 13-Mile Scenic Drive, regular gate fees apply.

If you have any questions or comments, please call (702) 515-5371 or e-mail  RRC_Reservations@blm.gov .

The following wedding chapels and companies have commercial permits to perform wedding services at Red Rock Canyon NCA for Fiscal Year 2018:

Graceland Wedding Chapel (GWC)Brandon Reed(702) 382-0091

rbrandonj@aol.com

 

Know Before You Go – Tips to Stay Safe

Bureau of Land Management

Explore, enjoy, and make positive memories from your outdoor experiences on America’s public lands and waters.  Please remember these are wide-open spaces and wild lands.  Plan ahead and be aware of potential hazards.  It is everyone’s responsibility to take steps necessary to minimize the chances of becoming lost or injured on public lands.

To safely enjoy Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, please respect yourselves and others by recognizing the unique challenges that visiting the Mojave Desert presents. Being prepared will make your visit here even more enjoyable.

Desert animals

When placing your hands and feet, use extra caution. Rattlesnakes, scorpions or venomous spiders may be sheltered behind boulders or under rocks and shrubs. Do not touch, collect or try to kill these animals.

Emergencies

Mobile phone coverage in this area is unreliable. If you have coverage, please dial 911. If not, please ask other visitors to notify employees at the visitor center that you need assistance. In either case, make sure to leave your name, phone number, location, description of issue, vehicle type and license plate.

General safety

Let friends or family members know where you are going and what time you expect to be back. Don’t rely on mobile phones during your visit as coverage in the area can be unreliable or non-existent, especially within canyons. Leave your valuables at home. If you leave your car, take your purse or backpack with you and lock your doors. Never leave packages in plain sight where they may tempt someone to break in to your vehicle.

Lightning

Lightning storms frequently occur in the afternoon during the summer months. To prevent lightning from striking you, avoid high places and seek cover in buildings or in vehicles with the windows rolled up. If caught outdoors, crouch down on both feet with your arms wrapped around your knees and wait out the storm.

Water

Bring and drink at least one gallon (four liters) of water per day if you are hiking, the day is hot or the trail is exposed to direct sunlight. Dehydration can happen to hikers even in fall and winter due to low humidity. The visitor center offers vending machines where bottled water is available for purchase. Water in natural springs has not been tested and should be left for use by native wildlife.

What to Wear

For hiking, select shoes that provide a comfortable fit, ankle stability and protection against cactus spines which fall off the plant onto the trail. Wear clothes that provide protection against the sun, wind and cold temperatures (such as hats, long sleeves, long pants, etc.) and apply sunscreen. Dressing in layers is recommended since fall and winter can bring changeable weather. Rain, hail and snow flurries may occur during winter months, especially in February and March.

Summer Heat

Summer temperatures in this area may reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid heat-related illnesses:

  • Consume at least 1 gallon (4 liters) of water per person per day.
  • Avoid hiking in the middle of the day when it is the hottest.
  • Wear a hat, a long sleeved shirt, and sun screen. Bring your sunglasses.
  • Eat well before hiking and bring food on your hike to help replace the electrolytes/energy used.

Adults require 4 quarts of water per day and up to 8 quarts for strenuous activity at high elevations. A 25% loss of stamina occurs when an adult loses 1 to 1 ½ quarts of water. To maintain higher energy levels and avoid dehydration, drink frequently. It is important to begin drinking before you actually feel thirsty. Don’t forget to treat your water!

Fire Safety

Fire danger in the forest varies with weather conditions. Drought, heat, and wind help dry timber and other fuel, making it easier to ignite. Once a fire is burning, these same conditions help increase a fire’s intensity.

Please do your part to protect your forest from human-caused fire. Before each visit check with the Bureau of Land management for current campfire restrictions, regulations, and campfire and camp stove permit requirements. Regulations governing campfires are specific to each area and change with elevations, weather conditions, and the seasons. Trails may be closed at any time without warning due to severe hazardous fire danger and weather.

If you build a campfire remember to: 

  • Remove any burnable material within a 5-foot minimum radius in all directions.
  • Build campfires away from overhanging branches, steep slopes, rotten stumps or logs, meadows, and dry grass and leaves.
  • Reuse existing fire rings, or use a fire pan to contain coals and minimize fire scars.
  • Keep the fire small.
  • Never leave a fire unattended. Even a small breeze could quickly cause the fire to spread.
  • Do not use a campfire to burn foil, plastic, or other trash; pack it out.
  • Drown your fire with water to extinguish it. Thoroughly stir the mix to cool it off. Use your bare hands to feel all sticks, charred materials, coals, and ashes to make sure the fire is completely out. Remove any trash, foil, etc. from ashes and pack out.

Flash Floods

Flash floods can occur at any time of year, but they are most common in July, August, and September. Checking the local weather forecast is advisable, but you should realize that conditions change quickly, and it is impossible to predict where heavy rain will occur.

  • Avoid narrow canyons and washes during stormy weather.
  • Be aware of changing weather conditions.
  • Know your escape routes.
  • If you’re hiking in a stream, be aware of rising water levels or stronger currents and sudden changes in water clarity.
  • Educate yourself on the terrain you are entering.
  • Realize that dry washes are a result of previous flash floods.

By entering a narrow canyon or wash, you are assuming a risk.

If flooding begins, seek high ground and wait for the water to go down before attempting to walk out. Do not enter a narrow canyon if storms threaten. Never camp in a wash bottom.

 Snakes

Always be alert when traveling through thick brush or rocky Outcroppings. Use a walking stick to check under brush or around crevices where recoiled snakes could lay. Wear high-top boots or snake chaps if available.

Use care when moving piles of brush, logs and tarps. Most people are bitten by either accidentally stepping on the snake or while trying to kill the snake. On average, about 20% of all bites inject venom. The best first aid in case of bites is to transport the victim to a first aid clinic or hospital as soon as possible.

Hypothermia

Hypothermia is a rapidly progressive mental and physical collapse due to the chilling of the body’s core. It is caused by prolonged exposure to cold, and is greatly intensified by wetness, wind, exhaustion, and lack of food. Hypothermia can, and often does, strike in temperatures above freezing.

The signs and symptoms of hypothermia are progressive and the onset is rapid. Watch for early signs in members of your group. Victims are usually unaware that they are becoming hypothermic.

Treat hypothermia by:

  • Actively rewarming the victim.
  • Getting victim out of wind and rain and removing wet clothing.
  • Moving to a heat source – a fire, inside a dry sleeping bag, or skin to skin with a healthy person.
  • Giving victim warm drinks like herbal tea, soup, or sugar water. Do not give victim caffeine or alcohol!

Cell Phone Coverage

While a cell phone may help in an emergency, do not rely on your cell phone. Cell coverage outside established towns may be poor or unavailable. Be prepared to follow other recommendations to ensure a safe trip.

Photos: Bureau of Land Management

Guided Tours at Red Rock Canyon

Bureau of Land Management

Many visitors would like to enjoy Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Canyon on a tour.  Below is a listing of commercially operating guides which have permits to operate within Red Rock Canyon.  If you or your business would like to conduct business within Red Rock Canyon, you must first obtain a permit to do so.  Please call (702) 515-5361.

Guided Jeep Tours
Pink Jeep Tours (702) 895-6777
Las Vegas Rock Crawlers (702) 376-6214

 

Guided Hiking Tours

Escape Mountain Bike Adventures (800) 596-2953
Jackson Hole Mountain Guides
(800) 239-7642
McGhie’s Blue Diamond Bike Outpost (702) 875-4820
Las Vegas Summit Adventures (804) 654-4453

 

 

Guided Bicycle Tours
McGhie’s Blue Diamond Bike Outpost (702) 875-4820
Escape Mountain Bike Adventures (800) 596-2953
Cycle Vegas (702) 300-1626
Bike Blast (702) 744-8088

 

 

Electric Bike, Segway and Scooter Tours
Red-E Bikes (702) 544-4261
Segway Las Vegas (702) 596-1111
Red Rock Scooter Tours (702) 800-3315
Scoot City Tours (702) 699-5700

 

 

Guided Horse Rides
Cowboy Trail Rides (702) 387-2457
Red Rock Riding Stables (702) 875-4191

 

 

Guided Technical Climbing
American Alpine Institute (360) 671-1505
Jackson Hole Mountain Guides (800) 239-7642
Mountain Skills (702) 325-1616
National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) (800) 710-6657
Red Rock Climbing Center (702) 254-5604

 

 

 

Mountain Biking at Red Rock Canyon

Bureau of Land Management

While road bikers can primarily be seen on State Route 159 and the 13-Mile Scenic Drive, Red Rock Canyon also offers exciting opportunities for mountain biking as well. Bicycles are allowed on designated paved and unpaved roads and on trails designated for mountain bike use. However bikes are not permitted on any trails off of the 13-Mile Scenic Drive nor in designated wilderness areas.

The trails can be accessed form two main trail head and parking areas utilized by mountain bike riders:

  1. Cottonwood/Late Night Trailheads off of State Route 160, approximately four miles west of the State Routes 159/160 intersections (Cottonwood Valley Trails System)
  2. Mile maker 12 on Kyle Canyon Road/State Route 157 (Twilight Zone Trails)

To make your trail riding experience more memorable, please follow these guidelines:

  • Yield the right of way to other non-motorized recreationists. Move off the trail to allow horses to pass and stop to allow hikers adequate room to share the trail.
  • Slow down and use caution when approaching another and make your presence known well in advance.  Simply yelling “bicycle” is not acceptable.
  • Maintain control of your speed at all times and approach turns with anticipation of someone around the bend.  Be able to stop safely within the distance you can see down the trail.
  • Stay on designated trails to avoid trampling native vegetation, and minimize potential erosion by not using wet or muddy trails or shortcutting switchbacks.
  • Avoid wheel lockup. If a trail is steep enough to require locking wheels and skidding, dismount and walk your bike. Locking brakes contributes to needless trail damage.
  • Ride directly over water bars or dismount and walk your bike. They are placed to direct water off the trail and prevent erosion.
  • Respect public and private property, including trail use signs, no trespassing signs, and leave gates as you found them.  If your route crosses private property, it is your responsibility to obtain permission from the landowner.
  • Do not disturb wildlife or livestock.
  • Do not litter. Pack out what you pack in and carry out more than your share whenever possible.
  • Always be self sufficient. Your destination and travel speed will be determined by your ability, your equipment, the terrain, and the present and potential weather conditions.
  • Do not travel solo in remote areas. Leave word of your destination and when you plan to return.
  • Always wear a helmet.
  • Ride only on roadways, trails, and slick rock. The desert crust (microbiotic crust) is fragile and takes up to 50 years to recover from footprints, waffle tracks, etc.
  • Toilets in unimproved areas — move off trail, and dig a one foot deep pit, cover after use.

Photo: Bureau of Land Management

Horseback Riding in Red Rock Canyon

Bureau of Land Management

As long as there have been horses and burros in the Red Rock Canyon area, humans have used these steeds to explore and assist with settling the west.  Now equines are primarily a means to enjoy and explore the wildernesses and relive a feeling of our pioneer past.

Horseback riding is limited to designated equestrian trails within Red Rock Canyon. The trails can be accessed form four main trailhead and parking areas utilized by equestrian riders:

  • Cottonwood/Late Night Trailheads off of State Route 160, approximately four miles west of the State Routes 159/160 intersections (Cottonwood Valley Trails System)
  • Exit of the 13-Mile Scenic Drive, two miles west of the entrance on State Route 159 (Scenic Drive Trails)
  • White Rock parking area, located off of the 13-Mile Scenic Drive (Scenic Drive Trails)
  • Mile maker 12 on Kyle Canyon Road/State Route 157 (Twilight Zone Trails)

Visitors wishing to explore Red Rock Canyon on horseback, whether they bring their own horses or take advantage of the permitted guided equestrian tours, need to be aware and follow some simple rules. Suggestions specifically for horse use can be found at www.LNT.org.

Don’t have a horse? You’re in luck!

Red Rock Canyon has several permitted tour guides who can help you explore in a unique and exciting way.  Novice to experienced riders are welcome to participate.

Click here for commercial horseback riding opportunities at Red Rock.

Ride along Fossil Ridge. Click here.

 

Photo: Cowboy Trail Rides

Climbing at Red Rock Canyon

Bureau of Land Management

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is one of the finest rock climbing areas in the world.

If you have never climbed at Red Rock Canyon and are unfamiliar with route locations, a climbing guide is available with photos, route descriptions, and directions to provide you a brief idea of where to find established traditional and sport routes.  There are also two additional guide books with extensive route information available in local climbing shops.

For detailed information, please refer to any of the three guide books for Red Rock Canyon:

If you would like to contact any of the climbing staff at Red Rock Canyon, please call (702) 515-5358.

Rules and Regulations

The 13-Mile Scenic Loop is a day use area only.  Late exit permits are available by calling (702) 515-5050.

  • The late exit permit allows you to be in the scenic drive area as long as two hours after the closure of the area.
  • Camping is permitted at the developed campground two miles east of the visitor center on (W. Charleston Blvd) State Route 159.  Camping is not permitted on the 13-Mile Scenic Drive.
  • If you want to sport climb and the parking lot of the area you choose is full, go to the next parking lot and hike back to the desired location, or choose another area.
  • Respect other climbing parties! Some of the more popular long routes get crowded.
  • Allow for space between parties above and below you on the wall.
  • Allow faster parties to climb through.

Rock Type

The main type of rock found in Red Rock Canyon here is Aztec (or Navajo) sandstone, formed years ago through the natural cementing of ancient sand dunes.  The rock at Calico’s 1 & 2, and Sandstone Quarry are the focus of sport climbing.  The rock of the main escarpment possesses a greater cementing factor and is considered to be a good quality sandstone.  The black or varnished rock is generally considered to be the hardest.

Keep in mind however, it is still sandstone.  Because of its friable (crumbly) nature it must be approached with a greater degree of caution than a more dependable rock such as granite.  We suggest waiting 24 to 48 hours after major rains or snow to allow the rock to dry sufficiently for climbing.

Ratings

Routes in Red Rock Canyon are rated via the Yosemite Decimal System.  All class V routes (those involving the use of protection) in Red Rock Canyon range from 5.0 (easiest) to 5.14 (most difficult.) These ratings are based on the skills, abilities and opinions of those climbers that have ascended each specific route.  If you are not familiar with this rating system or are unsure of what level you and your abilities fit in, be sure to choose your first ascents in Red Rock Canyon with care. Red Rock Canyon offers hundreds of established sport and traditional climbs, from Grade I (1-2 hours) to Grade VI (spending 2 or more nights on the route).

Access

Many routes in Red Rock Canyon  require significant walking, hiking and scrambling to reach them.  Keep this in mind when planning for your climbs, not only as a time constraint but also in terms of water.  Red Rock Canyon is located in the Mojave Desert, and even if it is not scorching hot, the air is still very dry.  You should always bring a surplus of water to stay hydrated.

If you need access to the 13-Mile Scenic Drive to stay late, call (702) 515-5050.  A two hour late pass can be issued, depending on the climbing route.  Overnight passes can be given for grade V routes.  This pass allows you overnight parking along the scenic drive for the given number of days.  If you leave your vehicle parked along the scenic drive without a permit, your vehicle will be cited and possibly towed at owners expense.

Overnight camping is allowed at the developed campground two miles east of the visitor center on W. Charleston Blvd (State Route 159.)  Camping along the base of the main escarpment or in any canyons is prohibited. C amping is also allowed on bivies on specified routes.

Important Safety Tips 

  • This is the desert; winter can be very cold and snow is not uncommon in the winter months, In the summer months temperatures can reach an excess of 110 ° F (43 ° C) . Summer storms can cause very cold conditions on long backcountry routes, and canyons can flash flood, without warning.
  • There are poisonous animals in Red Rock Canyon.  Rattlesnakes, black widows, bees, wasps, and velvet ants are all creatures to keep a distance from.
  • Sandstone is naturally porous and friable rock.  It is a local request that routes are given 24 hours to properly dry.  This helps to protect existing routes from key hold breakage.
  • Bolting along the main escarpment, which is a wilderness area, is illegal and should not be done.  Bolting is legal along Calico 1 & 2 but should be done only after consulting the climbing staff, a local climbing shop, or the Las Vegas Climber’s Liason Council.
  • Lock your vehicle while climbing and do not leave tempting or valuable items in plain view.  Do not leave your wallet in the car at all, even hidden.

Please

Respect the natural and cultural resources of this beautiful land, leave all natural features just as you found them.

  • Don’t litter, pack out what ever you pack in.  Practice, “leave no trace ethics” and do not leave your toilet paper or cigarette butts behind.
  • Don’t build any ground fires, or cover your own stove, cook only with a barbecue grill.
  • Respect the rights of other visitors to enjoy Red Rock Canyon.
  • Climbing is prohibited on or within fifty (50) feet of cultural sites.

Bivy Permits
You may get a overnight bivi permit for routes on Mt. Wilson, Levitation Wall, Rainbow Wall,  Bridge Mountain, Hidden Wall and the Buffalo Wall.  The bivi permit does not allow you to camp in the canyons, but it does allow to you stay on the wall.  The following is a list of all areas that will be available for one or two night bivi permits. These permits are for on route, or summit bivies only.

  • Mount Wilson : All routes on Mt. Wilson are available for a one night permit.
  • Levitation Wall : All routes on Levitation Wall are available for a one night permit.
  • Rainbow Wall : All routes on Rainbow Wall are available for a one or two night(s) permit.
  • Buffalo Wall : All routes on Buffalo Wall are available for a one, two, or three night(s) permit.
  • Bridge Mountain : All routes on Bridge Mountain are available for a one night permit.
  • Hidden Wall : All routes on Hidden Wall are available for a one night permit.

Photo: Bureau of Land Management

Take a Hike – White Rock Loop Trail

By Tom Pfaendler

Someone once told me that they had hiked the White Rock Loop Trail two times. “The first time and the last time.”

OK, sure. It’s six miles long and a darn good workout. But I’d be hard pressed to come up with a hike that I like much better! It has a hidden forest, rugged mountains, high vista scenery and low desert exploration, all rolled up into a gorgeous half-day adventure. Simply put, it’s everything that you want in a Red Rock hike.

The trail can be accessed from three parking areas: Upper White Rock Springs, Lost Creek and Willow Springs. Remember, this is a big loop so the parking decision isn’t as critical as say, Potato Knoll.

However, I would recommend starting around mid-morning from the White Rock Springs parking lot. That way you won’t be hiking into the sun all day, and you can lunch at the Willow Springs picnic area.

The Upper White Rock Springs parking area is located about six miles around the scenic loop drive, just past the High Point Overlook. You’ll need to follow a rocky dirt road for the better part of a mile to get to the trailhead. Be sure to take some snacks and ample water. Two of those sports-sized bottles per person should be about right. Lock up your car, use the restroom and do some nice long stretches. Apply a glob of sunscreen, put on your big floppy hiking hat and you’re ready to go!

From the parking lot you can flip a coin to decide which way to hike, clockwise or counter-clockwise. My coin toss always comes up clockwise, so we’ll set off to the west, through the split-rail fence and downhill along a bumpy old jeep road toward Willow Springs. You’ll quickly come to a trail sign that offers a nice side trip down to the “Guzzler,” a man made water catchment that is a pretty spot for a picnic (I’m always thinking about food) but it will add another mile, so keep that in mind!

The old road continues west along the foothills of White Rock Mountain, eventually turning into a footpath and leading down through a colorful wash and then climbing up again to an area still scarred from an old fire. After a modest hill-climb, you’ll be back on top, with a nice view of the Calico Hills and Las Vegas in the distance.

As you approach Lost Creek the trail narrows and leads through a dark red Chinle formation. Here you’ll see some huge barrel cactus and even a few sandstone boulders dappled with red spots. These spots are iron concretions. The sandstone eventually erodes from the harder iron-rich spots, dropping little round stones, which strongly resemble marbles. It can take hundreds of years to make a marble, so remember to take only pictures!

The path continues past an ancient roasting pit, a pictograph site and into the Willow Springs picnic area. After a relaxing stop in Willow Springs, continue hiking up the old Rocky Gap road until you reach a sign directing you north toward La Madre Springs. Keep a sharp lookout for bighorn sheep, as this is one of the best places at Red Rock to see them. Here, you can raise your water bottles in celebration because you’ve made it halfway around the loop!

The scenery changes dramatically now as you approach the north side of White Rock Mountain. You’ll leave the desert and enter a forest of juniper and pine trees, completely hidden from anyone but hikers.

This “back-side” trail is one of my favorite places at Red Rock. It’s a secluded, green forest quietly resting under the magnificent craggy north side of White Rock. I am always amazed at the difference between the north and south faces of this mountain. Now would be a good time to slow down to a stroll, letting your senses dance along with the breeze, and softly connect with this ancient forest.

You’ll come to a little sign marking the trail to La Madre Springs. That’s another good trek, but probably too much to include as part of your loop hike today. Turn south instead and follow the path through the trees toward the mountain. The trail climbs gradually out of the forest and eventually leads to a high “saddle” to the east.

From this ridge you’ll have an amazing view of the hidden forest and North Peak to the west, the sweeping face of the La Madre range to the north, Turtlehead Peak and the Calicos to the east. (By the way, this saddle is another legendary picnic spot.) From here it’s all downhill as the trail comes around the east side of the mountain and down through a broad gravel wash, eventually leading to the Upper White Rock Springs parking lot, and your car!

The White Rock Loop Trail is wonderfully scenic and diverse. There’s enough of an elevation gain to make it interesting and the length is perfect for a day hike. The only flaw being that almost half of this trail follows old roads, which are rocky and distracting.

The loop loses a point for the roads but still rates an easy eight boots out of ten.

 

Take a Hike – Turtlehead Peak

By Tom Pfaendler

It was an early winter morning. Icy grey light filtered through low clouds illuminating the massive rock face in threatening detail. I had arrived with the proper hardware for the ascent. Communications, GPS and clinometer were all in working order. The radio crackled with current weather conditions, and it became apparent that the climb was a go. There could be no turning back now.

But was I ready, mentally? I had been training several months for this… Yes, I was ready. Mt. Everest? K2? Half Dome? No, worse… This was Turtlehead Peak!

I locked up my old truck in the Sandstone Quarry parking lot, mingled with the crowd for a few minutes, and then without any deserved fanfare, struck out for the mountain. The trail to the peak starts out deceptively well marked with cute little square signs that cheerfully say, “Turtlehead Peak 2.5 miles, have a nice day”.

My inner Sam Kinnison is screaming “Yea, two and a half miles, STRAIGHT UP!! AAGH, AAAAAGH” But, once you commit yourself to a challenge like this, you must focus only on the goal and ignore those little voices of reason.

A stop at the old Sandstone Quarry (You can be pretty sure that Fred Flintstone worked here) to stretch your legs is a great idea. From here the path continues north through the rocky Brownstone wash, then up along a little ridge and right over the top of an ancient agave roasting pit. The imposing Turtlehead Peak looms overhead, however a massive vertical ravine now lies between you and the mountain.

You stop seeing those cute little trail signs about halfway to the ravine, but it really doesn’t matter because there is only one way you can go from here and that’s UP!

The ravine is an obstacle course of boulders, loose gravel, falling people and braided trails, but you are focused on goal number one… the ridge line at the top of the ravine. It’s the obvious gateway to the peak but it’s very effectively guarded by the obstacle course. You need to reach the ridgeline at all costs.

Never mind those people sliding downhill who are saying things like “it’s worse coming down than goin’ up”. Never mind those euro-tourists who whiz around you like you were standing still. You are focused! Speaking of standing still, this climb is a terrific aerobic workout equal to several trips to the gym; therefore you need to monitor the ol’ heart rate as you ascend. Be sure to rest often and of course drink plenty of water along the way.

Once you crest the ridgeline feel free to do a little victory dance and then take a long break to catch your breath. The peak is still high above and those voices in your head are saying things like “what was I thinking?” and “I’m not sure I can make it”.

But, you’ve come this far, so with sore and wobbling legs, you start off again in the general direction of UP! Now, normally I despise Cairns, those little piles of symmetrically stacked rocks (SSR’s) that we gleefully knock down everywhere, but here at the ridge line they are welcome indeed for some helpful guidance through a mountainous outcropping of boulders. The remaining climb up the north side of Turtlehead Peak is much nicer than hiking in the ravine. The path is soft and welcoming all the way to its rocky summit.

As the 6,323’ limestone peak surrenders to your tired and determined legs, the great panorama comes into view and victory is finally yours! The feeling of accomplishment can be overwhelming.

It’s not unusual for people to do a Rocky-style dance at the summit, so go ahead, you’ve earned it! From this limestone peak you can enjoy a birds-eye view of the Red Rock escarpment, the Calicos, the secluded Brownstone Canyon, the entire Las Vegas valley and the snow capped La Madre Mountains.

Plan on spending some time here. Enjoy a backpack lunch, check out the old pine and juniper trees, and be sure to sign the logbook you’ll find in the green ammo can. It’s fun to read the comments of others that have ignored the little voices of reason.

Turtlehead Peak scores very high on the old boot-meter. It is a seriously challenging climb. Legal fine print would probably advise anyone with a heart condition, breathing problem, or general apathy issues, to please pick another trail.

But for you and I… this is the nine-boot, two days to recover, three days to stop smilin’, all time bad-boy hike at Red Rock Canyon!

Take a Hike – SMYC Trail

By Tom Pfaendler

The SMYC Trail is  the first of three legs that make up the ten-mile Escarpment Base Trail. This short path also links the Lost Creek and Ice Box Canyon trails and can be accessed from either of those parking lots.

The first and most logical question that you may ask is “what does SMYC stand for?” Six Million Years Coming? Several Miles You’ll Cross? There’s no handy interpretive sign to clue you in. Seven Mules Yodeling Coherently? Well anyway, grab your hat & bottle of water, stretch out those calves and let’s see what’s out there.

From the Lost Creek parking lot, follow the trail about a tenth of a mile. You’ll then see a little sign directing you south onto the SMYC trail.

If you look at a trail map, the SMYC appears to be a quick little interconnecting route between two major areas of interest. There can’t be much to see on such a short trail, right? Staircases Make You Climb? Six Minute Yucca Cooking? The path starts out very pleasantly, crisscrossing Red Rock Wash with hundreds of carefully laid cobblestones, presumably done to keep the trail intact after flash flooding.

Have I mentioned the staircases yet? The first of many handcrafted stone stairs are nestled here among cholla, beavertail, pincushion and strawberry hedgehog cactus.

These red steps are really picturesque and just a prelude to the fantastic gardens that await you during the next mile. The trail climbs and dips and winds around dramatic mountain foothills revealing hidden vistas and surprise gardens that just spring up on you. Be sure to take a camera because you’re going to see amazing things around every turn. About midway you will have reached a high point with some unique views of Ice Box canyon.

This would be a good spot to stretch out and enjoy that backpack lunch you brought along.

After negotiating several sandstone staircases (say that real fast) you’ll find yourself in a vast meadow near the Ice Box Canyon trailhead. SMYC is only 1.1 miles long, but it’s a workout. And it’s just wonderful enough to make you want to turn right around and go back over it again. Well, you have to, your car’s parked back there.

OK so SMYC is really 2.2 miles long. Santa’s Making Yule Crafts? Steep Menacing Yonder Cliffs?

SMYC really stands for Spring Mountain Youth Camp, which is credited for the construction of this trail. If you ask me, they did a darn good job.

I was simply blown away by the SMYC Trail. I guess because I expected a quick little interconnect route, and got handcrafted staircases and cobblestone paths instead. Six boots out of ten on the ole bootmeter!

Disclaimer Of Liability:

With respect to images, data, and narrative posted at this website, Friends of Red Rock Canyon makes no warranty, express or implied, including the warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. Friends of Red Rock Canyon shall not be liable in any way for loss or damage, of any kind, to you, or any other person, for any inaccuracy, error, omission, or delay in any information posted or otherwise transmitted over this website.

While the website tries to accurately describe places and routes, conditions change over time and sometimes mistakes are made. If something posted on this site seems wrong, assume it is wrong and tell us that it needs to be fixed. Wildlands are inherently dangerous — always rely on your own good judgment. You are responsible for your own safety.