U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
The Southern Nevada District Office offers great opportunities for climbing on public lands.
One of the country’s premier sandstone climbing locations is Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The district office also offers other climbing locations.
Keyhole Canyon – The rock at Keyhole Canyon is a quartz monzonite, which is similar to the rock at Joshua Tree National Park. The climbs at Keyhole Canyon are all half a rope length or shorter. There are a few bolted routes, but the ethic of the area is traditional climbing and no new bolting is recommended. Keyhole Canyon is home to the Keyhole Classic Bouldering Competition every year in mid-October.
Keyhole Canyon has a wealth of Native American rock art. Design elements include both pictographs in red ocre paint and incised petroglyphs. In addition, several areas exhibit cupules or dished out circular depressions in the rock surfaces. Please respect this cherished resource and protect them for future generations. Do not climb or boulder within one hundred feet of all rock art. Potential effects to rock art include oils from hands created by touching the elements and other direct physical contact, bolting, and indirect affects from misplaced camp fires/smoke damage, shooting, etc.
Keyhole Canyon is located south of Boulder City on Highway 95 south. To get to Keyhole, travel south on Highway 95 for roughly 15 miles from the junction of Highway 95 and Highway 93. Watch for a dirt road on the left side of the highway, turn left on the dirt road and follow it for 2.2 miles. After you cross under a set of power lines turn right (south) and travel 1.8 miles to the turnoff for Keyhole Canyon. The turn off for Keyhole will be on your left. A detailed map of how to get to Keyhole Canyon is located in the back of Rock Climbing Red Rocks by Todd Swain.
Arrow Canyon – The climbing at Arrow Canyon varies from vertical climbing to overhung cave climbing. The routes vary in grade from 5.8 to hard 5.12, with the majority of the routes in the 5.11 grades on the vertical walls and 5.12 in the two caves. Arrow Canyon is a slot canyon and has the potential for flash floods. Beware of climbing in the canyon if there is any rain in the area.
Arrow Canyon has two access issues that climbers should be considerate of to preserve the climbing possibilities in Arrow Canyon. First, Arrow Canyon has religious significance for the Moapa Tribe. Potential impacts to the petroglyphs include degradation through physical contact with the elements, bolts, indirect effects from misplaced camp fires/smoke damage, fire arms/shooting, etc. Arrow Canyon has a high concentration of Native American rock art, predominately in the form of petroglyphs. In addition, the canyon also contains several historic period names incised into the limestone. The canyon also exhibits several other site types in the form of historic rock foundations, rock shelters and hunting blinds. The area has also been identified as a potential traditional cultural property. Do not climb on or with in 100 feet of any rock art. The second access issue climbers need to consider: Arrow Canyon was designated as wilderness in November of 2002. This means that you will not be able to drive all the way into the canyon. Rock climbing can continue in the Arrow Canyon Wilderness, but at this time there is no new bolting allowed.
To access Arrow Canyon you must follow the directions that were given to you up until the point in which it ask you to turn left on the paved road. What you'll need to do is continue on State Route 168 and go approx. 1/4 mile past the paved road (approx. 11 miles from I15) mentioned in the directions given to you. You will make a left on to a well maintained dirt road that has an arc made of telephone poles and a short white fence on either side of the entrance. Markers behind the telephone poles mark the "Designated Route" to the canyon. Follow the markers for approx. 2 miles and you will reach a barrier where the road ends and the Wilderness boundary begins.
Urban Crag - The Urban Crag is located on Lone Mountain in the northwest part of the Las Vegas Valley. The Urban Crag is appropriately named; there are houses all around the base of Lone Mountain and one municipal park.
The climbing at the Urban Crag is all sport climbing and the climbs are all half a rope length or shorter. The climbing ranges from slab climbing to overhung cave climbing. The grades at the Urban Crag range from 5.8 to 5.12. The best time to climb at the Urban Crag is when it has been raining in Red Rock and the sandstone is wet or during the winter. The Urban Crag is south facing and can be warm.
To get to the Urban Crag, travel north on Highway 95 and exit Cheyenne west bound. Travel west on Cheyenne until you reach Buffalo. Turn right (north) on Buffalo and travel to Craig Road. Turn left (west) and travel until you hit Jensen Street. Jensen parallels Lone Mountain. Park in the municipal park and walk up and left to the Urban Crag.
There are two guidebooks available for the Urban Crag, and other limestone climbing areas around Las Vegas. The two guidebooks are; Islands in the Sky, by Dan McQuade, Randy Leavitt, and Mick Ryan, and the other guide is Las Vegas Limestone, by Roxanna Brock.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area - Red Rock is one of the finest rock climbing areas in the world. 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.
All class V routes in Red Rock range from 5.0 to 5.14. If you are unsure of what level you and your abilities fit in, be sure to choose your first ascents in Red Rock with care. Red Rock Canyon NCA 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).