Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area - Frequently Asked Questions

 

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 are the cones on the side of the road before the exit of the Scenic Drive?
cones protecting restoration projectThis activity occurring along the Red Rock Canyon Scenic Drive is a shrub planting effort by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) fire program. A 1,600-acre wildfire, called the Scenic Fire, occurred in 2006. Blackbrush and Ephedra (Mormon tea) seed were collected from the adjacent land and grown nearby at the nursery of the College of Southern Nevada. These plants are Mojave Desert natives, and though some species of plants are able to re-sprout after a wildfire – such as Creosote bush and Yucca – Blackbrush and Ephedra do not survive wildfire well, and the BLM chose to aid in the re-establishment of this missing link in the burned landscape. In November of 2009, 2,000 seedlings were two years old and ready to plant. Forty crew members from the Nevada Conservation Corps were enlisted for the planting. The protective cones visible from the road aid the young plants by providing protection from drying winds and discouraging animal browse.  Rabbits, rodents, burros and other animals find the young shrubs a tender meal, so the shield is scheduled to be in place until the shrubs have grown enough to survive some natural nibbling. In addition to establishing the plants, the BLM also enlisted the expertise of the United States Geological Service to study the survival rate of the plantings and to monitor the overall recovery of the burned area. Different mulch and watering techniques were utilized as the shrubs were planted to determine the most effective means of ensuring success when there is a need to re-establish these shrubs in the future.

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 roundtrip.

How high are the peaks we can see along the Scenic Drive?
These are approximate heights of some of the peaks in the conservation area.

Mt. Wilson7,050 feet (highest point on the escarpment)
La Madre Mt.8,150 feet
Bridge Mt.6,750 feet
Rainbow Mt.6,800 feet
Turtlehead Pk.6,350 feet
                                  
What is the elevation at the visitor center? What’s the highest point on the Scenic Drive?
Visitor center3,720 feet
Highest point4,771 feet (at High Point Overlook)

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 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.

  

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