know before you go

Know Before You Go – Tips to Stay Safe

Bureau of Land Management

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

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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 

Email: info@friendsofredrock.org

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