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:
- Rock Climbing Red Rocks by Todd Swain
- The Red Rocks of Southern Nevada by Joanne Urioste
- A Climbers Guide To The Red Rocks of Nevada by Randy Faulk
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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