Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

With steep mountains of gray limestone above striking sandstone cliffs, Red Rock Canyon is full of dramatic landscapes. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area preserves over 300 square miles in the Mojave Desert west of Las Vegas. Despite this grand size, Red Rock Canyon is easy to explore. Reaching the park is a breeze (it is less than twenty miles from the Las Vegas Strip) and much can be seen from a 13-mile long Scenic Drive. Several trails depart from the Scenic Drive allowing visitors to explore rugged canyon and unique rock formation.

Highlights of Red Rock Canyon

  • Hike up a multi-colored sandstone canyon to a basin of water accompanied by views of Las Vegas.
  • Ride or drive this picturesque road to hit up highlights throughout Red Rock Canyon.
  • Hike through spectacular sandstone formations in the Calico Hills near the start of Scenic Drive.
  • See pictographs and a seasonal waterfall on this circuit bordering Red Rock Wash.

The Bureau of Land Management manages Red Rock Canyon NCA. While you might expect a BLM park to be minimally developed, this is not the case. Red Rock Canyon has a large visitor center, numerous well-established trails and information panels. To stay overnight in the park, check out the 72-site Red Rock Canyon Campground. Red Rock Canyon receives over two million visitors each year.

There is an entrance fee at the start of the Scenic Drive of $15 per vehicle ($10 for motorcycles or $5 for bicycles and pedestrians (prices as of 2019). National Parks (America the Beautiful) passes can also be used for entry.

Most visits are built around the Scenic Drive in Red Rock Canyon, which lives up to its name. This is a gorgeous circuit by car and a particularly picturesque pursuit on a bike. The Scenic Drive is a one-way road, so start with hikes at the beginning of the loop, visiting unbelievable sandstone formations in the Calico Hills. Bikes use the right lane of this two-lane road, so drive slowly and in the left lane.

Dogs are allowed on all trails in the park on leashes.

Hikes in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

The trails below are listed in the order that they are reached when traveling on Scenic Drive, a one way road through the park. The final hike on this list, Red Spring Boardwalk, is not located on Scenic Drive.

Calico Hills TrailCalico I and Calico II
This hike of 0.8 to 2.75 miles or more explores dramatically shaped and colored sandstone formations in the Calico Hills near the start of Scenic Drive.
Calico Tanks TrailCalico Tanks Trail
This 2.5-mile hike ventures up a colorful canyon to a pond in a sandstone-framed basin alongside a great view of Las Vegas.
Lost Creek CanyonLost Creek Canyon
This short hike visits Lost Creek Waterfall, a seasonal waterfall in a steep canyon above Red Rock Wash.
Willow Springs LoopWillow Springs Loop
This 1 to 1 1/3-mile circuit travels along Red Rock Wash, exploring desert landscapes, Native American rock art, and potentially a seasonal waterfall.
Red Spring BoardwalkRed Spring Boardwalk
This easy 0.55-mile nature trail circles a meadow at the base of the Calico Hills and visits a small but relied upon spring.

 

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