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Frequently Asked Questions

Friends of Red Rock Canyon


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 .

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


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Mailing Address:

Friends of Red Rock Canyon
1000 Scenic Drive
Las Vegas, NV  89161

Phone: (702) 515-5360 

Fax: (702) 515-5388 


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