Red Spring Boardwalk Partially Closed

Currently the Red Spring board walk is partially closed. This is due to the deteriorating condition of the wooden planks. Please avoid the closed area for your safety.

However, there is a small section open on the western side of the walkway which is accessible via the dirt trail paralleling the southern edge of the meadow area. This area is mostly constructed of “Trex” recycled plastic. You can still view the actual spring and walk along the event platform.

The Bureau of Land Management has announced a contract to reconstruct the entire boardwalk and is now going through a review process of contracts. They hope for this process to take less than one year. Once constructed, the handicapped accessible boardwalk will be constructed of “Trex” and include some benches and new interpretive signs.

The Red Spring board walk was funded in round two of Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act, obtained from sales of public land in Las Vegas Valley in 2001.

Click here for a map showing the closed & open areas

Learn more about the boardwalk. 

Children’s Discovery Trail Not Just for Kids

Don’t let the name Children’s Discovery Trail lull you into thinking this is a trail meant only for kids. This is one of the most diverse trails in Red Rock Canyon and lets the hiker see some very different things.

From the parking area, take the trail that is farthest from the bathrooms. This will give you a nice loop of about 3/4 of a mile. There will be some uneven ground and you will hike over some good-sized rocks. The trail ascends gently until you get near the base of the cliffs. It then twists back and forth through some scrub oak and there are some rock steps.

On the way, at marker #4, there is a fenced area. If you look on the upper left side of the sandstone, you may be able to see the pictographs left by Native Americans. Depending on the light, they can be difficult to find.

From here, the trail winds near some large sandstone boulders. Eventually, you come to a place
where the trail turns left to go back to the parking lot. You can also turn right and go to the grotto. The grotto is the area where the seasonal waterfall is located. The trail here is easy to follow.

There is a series of rock steps. Be careful with these. With the fine sand that erodes from the sandstone cliffs, the steps can be very slippery. Eventually, you’ll make your way into the grotto.

It’s a cool spot to have a snack, and it is special when we’ve had rain or snow melt and
there is some water coming down the falls.

Retrace your steps to the turnoff you took, stay to the right and head back to your car. On the
way, you’ll come to the boardwalk that was built by Friends of Red Rock Canyon to protect the riparian nature of Lost Creek. There’s an interpretive marker that’s a must read and you can see Lost Creek.

Why is it Lost Creek?

For a short distance, this underground stream comes above ground. It then disappears again—hence Lost Creek.

After the boardwalk area, you’ll soon be crossing the gravel wash and you’ll be back at the
parking area.

This is a relatively easy hike but understand that all hikes in Red Rock Canyon cover ground that is
uneven and rocky. Hiking shoes/boots are highly recommended and make sure you have water with you.

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.

 

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

 

 

 

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.

Take a Hike – Pine Creek Canyon Trail

By Tom Pfaendler

Ahhh… Pine Creek Canyon. This is one of the most popular places to experience the full splendor of Red Rock. The trailhead is at the ten-mile point around the scenic loop drive and features RV parking, restrooms and even some nice interpretive signs. You may need to arm-wrestle someone for a parking spot but your patience will be rewarded because Pine Creek offers something for everyone.

It’s a great place to walk around a bit and take in the view, but it’s also a perfect spot for an outing with the kids, as the trail is fairly easy and even educational. Birders and naturalists will enjoy the meadow and riparian areas; hikers will love the world-class rock scrambling in the canyon, and climbers have more than enough routes to keep them busy for days.

The main obstacle at Pine Creek is the rather steep descent from the parking lot down to the canyon leg of the trail. The original access route was longer and softer but a few people began shortcutting down the side of the hill and eventually created this somewhat challenging 12% grade that has now become the “official” trailhead. It doesn’t take many people cutting a trail to impact the desert permanently. See… it’s already educational!

Be sure to pack some water and don’t forget your camera or sketchbook because this hike offers plenty of inspirational scenery. The first thing on your agenda should be a little side trip along the Fire Ecology Trail to learn about the desert’s natural fire recovery process.

This educational trail loops back onto the main route where you continue west until you cross the intersection of Dale’s Trail. Check out the remains of the old stone gate here that used to mark the entrance to the Wilson ranch.

The mountain views from this point are fantastic; Mt. Wilson to the far left, Rainbow Mountain, Rainbow Wall and Juniper Peak, Mescalito straight ahead and Bridge Mountain on the right. The towering red, black and gray mountains combined with juniper, pine and various deciduous trees create our own “color country.” In the fall when the leaves are turning this hike can become a sensory overload!

The next stop along the Pine Creek Trail is a little fixer-upper opportunity called the Wilson Homestead. At first glance it seems to be a plain old foundation from a small cabin, but take the time to look a little closer and you’ll begin to experience the history of this place as you imagine the people that once lived here. You can still see traces of yellow paint on the concrete walls and bits of embedded wood from a window sash.

You wonder what life must have been like for the Wilson family so long ago. Listen quietly to the singing birds overhead, water bubbling peacefully in the creek below, and wind softly blowing through the canyon, rustling the leaves of the trees. There are spirits here, and they’ll tell you their story if you take the time to listen.

From the cabin, the trail continues across the meadow toward Pine Creek. Look closely at the well-traveled dirt path and among the boot tracks and dog prints you’ll see evidence of the nighttime visitors as well.

Deer, coyotes, burros and other critters all leave their prints in the meadow. You can hike a one-mile loop trail from here by crossing the creek and making a right turn. The path can be a little tough to follow so pay attention to the route and try not to make any new short cuts. The loop is a bit more challenging than the main trail, but you’ll be rewarded with deep canyon scenery, lichen-covered boulders and magnificent Ponderosa pine trees.

As you drop down into the wash you can pick your way across the rocks to stay on the loop and return to the meadow, or you can venture further into the canyon along the wash toward Mescalito Peak. The south fork will take you into an area called “The Terraces” and the north route leads into “Fern Canyon” and the famous “Dark Shadows” climbing wall. Be forewarned, however, that these hikes are R-rated and not suitable for all audiences.

Pine Creek Canyon is vastly popular for it’s variety and accessibility. The overall experience scores high on my 1 to 10 rating system, but loses a few points for the steep access trail, crowds of people and noisy rock climbers. Even with those distractions Pine Creek Canyon scores a solid seven boots!

 

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.

Take a Hike – Oak Creek Canyon Trail

By Tom Pfaendler

Bouldering is the fine art of leaping gazelle-like from the top of one boulder to the top of another, to another, in rapid succession without permanently damaging yourself. This back-wrenching activity is serious fun and an old guy like me has no business doing it. But we happen to live next to one of the best bouldering areas in the world, and every once in a while I just have to venture out to Oak Creek Canyon and give it a try.

There are two ways to find this beautiful canyon nestled between Mt. Wilson and Rainbow Peak. The shortest route is from the north and can be found by driving twelve miles around the Scenic Drive, then following dusty Oak Creek Canyon road to the parking lot. The mile-long access trail (actually an old road) runs straight as an arrow due west, is and very rocky. If you choose to go this way, try not to twist your ankle early on, there’s plenty of opportunity for that later.

The South Oak Creek Canyon route is longer, but somewhat more interesting, and it’s the way I chose to go for this article. To get there, follow highway 159 west about four miles past the Visitor’s Center and look for the Oak Creek Canyon sign. You’ll have to park along the highway, but there is plenty of room on both sides of the road. The trail leads through an old campground to a sign that announces the “New Oak Creek Trail System.” From here, it’s a 2.5-mile walk northwest to the canyon. The first mile or so follows another old rocky road through the desert. You’ll likely be sharing this route with mountain bikes and horses, as this is a popular spot for both of those activities. In fact, the bikers have cut a little side-trail along the main road, which makes things a bit smoother going for us hikers, too.

As you come around the Knoll (the little potato-shaped mountain standing alone at the foot of Mt. Wilson), the scenery changes dramatically. The open desert and noise from the highway disappear and the hard rocky road beneath your feet gives way to a soft red dirt path. You’ll find yourself now in a little forest of pine and juniper trees with Mt. Wilson towering to the west, and the Knoll beckoning with its own series of trails to the east. This would be an excellent spot for a family picnic, or to just spend the day exploring the base of Mt. Wilson, but… world-class bouldering is waiting only a short mile away!

As you continue along the path toward Oak Creek Canyon, it abruptly becomes narrow and harder to follow. (Bikers and horses usually turn east here, following the red dirt path around the Knoll). Just pick your way northwest through the brush and keep heading toward the canyon. You’ll soon discover how this canyon got its name; there are desert oak trees everywhere! Obviously, there’s year-round water down there somewhere, but it’s hard to see through all the growth.

The trail continues along the south canyon rim making its way around some big boulders and slowly dropping downward, where it roughly intersects with the trail from the north parking area. This is a gorgeous, almost secret area hidden between two magnificent mountains, but it can be a little challenging to get down here. Except for the native blue jays, songbirds, butterflies and other critters that call this canyon home, you’ll probably have the whole place to yourself.

Standing on the bottom of Oak Creek Canyon, you’ll see that this entire wash is a series of huge sandstone boulders. Big, colorful, round and just waiting for you to try out your rock hopping chops. You can follow the canyon west for another mile or so, but only by bouldering (or by helicopter… that’s how Search & Rescue will get you out). Keep in mind that this is a wash and if it looks like it might rain, stay out of here!

I’m always amazed at how unique each of the Red Rock canyons are, and Oak Creek is no exception. While being somewhat less accessible than the other canyons, Oak Creek offers great beauty and satisfaction for those of us who must have a little rock scrambling in their lives. So, grab your water bottles, lace up those high-top ankle-supporting boots and make some tracks of your own into Oak Creek Canyon. The bouldering alone would score nine boots out of ten, but the mile-long, rocky access roads and braided canyon trails only earn five, so the overall hiking experience averages a respectable seven boots. Hey, as soon as my ankles heal, I’m going back!

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.

Take a Hike – Moenkopi Loop Trail

By Tom Pfaendler

If you’re an early riser, there’s a treat waiting for you at Red Rock Canyon called the Moenkopi Loop Trail. This easy two-mile walk is perfect for anyone who is hungry for a quick taste of desert life; but if you can get up coffee-early and make it out here by six in the morning, there is a special magic that you just can’t experience at any other time.

The soft light caresses the Wilson Cliffs revealing all the color and drama of the escarpment. The air is cool and sweetly scented. It’s quiet… still… Here at last is a place where you can start the day in peace, reflect on life, commune with the desert and all of its rich history and still make it to work by 8 o’clock! If you prefer a more social experience, the Interpretive Association offers the popular “Moenkopi Morning” hikes first thing every Wednesday.

Moenkopi is a Hopi word that means “place of running water”, but I recommend that you pack a bottle of H2O anyway, just in case. The trailhead is near the visitor’s center, at the southwest corner of the tortoise habitat.

The path is well marked and features several interpretive signs as you wind through the desert among the yuccas and creosote, black brush and desert trumpets. There are a couple of forks in the road that lead north to the Calicos and even link to the eleven-mile Grand Circle Adventure, but just follow the signs and stay on the Moenkopi trail to enjoy terrific views of the famous Calico Hills from this unique vantage point. As you begin the gentle ascent up the hill, the cement-like caliche in the path gives way to gray limestone, which forms terraces with little cactus gardens growing between the rocks.

A 230-million-year-old seabed forms the top of the hill. Look closely and you can find fossils of seashells and plants! There are some nice barrel cactus growing up here, a few strawberry hedgehogs and not one, but several pincushion cacti growing among the limestone! This is probably the best place in Red Rock to see this elusive little cactus.

A wooden bench marks the halfway point on the Moenkopi trail, and is a great place to sit for a while and take in the view. At 100 feet above the visitors center and roughly centered in the park, this spot serves up a really rich 360-degree view of Red Rock Canyon! The trail continues down the backside of the hill along a sloping shelf of limestone (this might be a likely “place of running water” during a rainstorm), then eventually deposits you onto an old caliche and gravel service road for the remaining half-mile walk back to the visitors center.

The Moenkopi Loop Trail is a dish best served in the morning. It gains a full point for the pincushions, but loses half a point for the rather boring return along the old road. On my one-to-ten rating system, the Moenkopi Loop Trail earns four-and-a-half boots, which is pretty good for a one-hour “Taste of Red Rock” experience!

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.

Take a Hike – Le Madre Springs Trail

By Tom Pfaendler

One of the roads less traveled at Red Rock is the La Madre Springs trail. To get there, park your car at the Willow Springs picnic area near the old Rocky Gap road. Lace up your boots nice-n-tight and grab lots of water.

This would be a good time to do some slow stretches to loosen up those leg muscles, too. If you have an off-road vehicle it is possible to drive another half-mile or so up to the trailhead. It’s slow going over some pretty rocky terrain, but this is the only place in Red Rock that you’re allowed to use that SUV, so go ahead. Whether you drive or walk up Rocky Gap, be sure to stop and read about the huge Agave Roasting Pit located on the south side of the road.

From the trailhead you’ll hike up a long 10% grade as you wind around the backside of White Rock Mountain. Some relief comes about halfway up to the springs when the trail levels out and you find yourself in a park-like setting with a nice, soft, tree-lined path.

At this junction of the White Rock Loop & La Madre Springs trails there are two flat-topped “sittin” rocks. Pull up a boulder and rest here for a while. This is actually the prettiest point on the hike and some of the best scenery that you’ll find anywhere at Red Rock, and you’ll likely have it all to yourself! From here you are totally surrounded by mountains.

The limestone La Madre range (“The Mother” in Spanish) is right behind you; North Peak and Bridge Mountain are to the West and directly in front is the big dog himself, White Rock: a magnificent three-headed mountain with its impressive alluvial fan spread out at your feet. Believe me, driving by on the scenic loop you just have no clue that White Rock Mountain is this majestic.

Continuing up the trail toward the La Madre Spring you’ll come across two old concrete pads. These are the remnants of the Las Vegas Archery Club that closed in 1975 when the BLM acquired this land for an expansion of Red Rock Canyon NCA. From here it’s a short walk up the road to the springs. A little dam was built here in 1968 creating a nice pond and one of the biggest riparian areas at Red Rock. There are plants and birds and bugs of every description here, and of course this is a popular year-round watering hole for the bighorn sheep, mule deer and other mountain critters.

The pond marks the official end of the trail. The path, however, continues through the wetland and up the ravine into the La Madre Mountains. If you choose to explore beyond this point, be sure to wear long pants for protection from the overgrown plants, bugs and assorted no-see-ums. Your efforts will be rewarded with several small waterfalls and pools as you follow the spring. There’s even an old rock miner’s shelter up here that makes a good spot for a backpack lunch.

Overall, this old jeep trail is a good aerobic workout with a lot of interesting cultural resources to see along the way. The “backside” view of White Rock Mountain is awesome and earns the La Madre Springs trail six out of ten boots!

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