Planning your visit to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

View of Calico Hills ant Turtlehead Peak

Safety

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.

Flash FloodsFlash Flooding photo

When hiking, avoid canyons during rainstorms and be prepared to move to higher ground. While driving, be alert for water running in the normally dry desert washes and across road dips. Flooding occurs here more quickly due to the topography. Do not walk or drive through flood water flowing across a road.

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.

Heat

Temperatures can average more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer months. The best protection against heat is drinking plenty of water and limiting exposure to the sun during the hottest parts of the day. If you feel dizzy, nauseous or get a headache, immediately get out of the sun and drink plenty of water. Dampen your clothing to lower your body temperature. To be safe, bring more water than you think you will need.

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.

Fees and Passes

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area began collecting amenity fees in 1998. As you travel around the 13-mile scenic drive, your fees are evident in interpretive and educational programs for visitors and school groups, well-maintained roads, interpretive trail signs, restful picnic areas, clean restrooms and trash receptacles. Conservation of critical habitat for desert tortoises and other wildlife, protection for wild horses and burros, and cultural resource preservation are benefits of your support of this area. Trail maintenance and repair, as well as law enforcement support are funded by amenity fees to sustain a safe place for you, your family and friends to recreate.

Timed entry reservations are required for the Scenic Drive between October 1 - May 31 for entry between 8 a.m. -5 p.m. Timed entry reservations can be made at Recreation.gov by visiting https://www.recreation.gov/timed-entry/10075177, or by calling (877) 444-6777.

America the Beautiful Pass Program CardAmerica The Beautiful Pass

The America the Beautiful Pass Program - The National Park Service and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Program began in 2007, replacing the National Parks, Golden Eagle, Golden Age and Golden Access passes. These are interagency passes that will be honored by the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Reclamation at fee sites across the nation. Information on this program can be found at www.blm.gov/programs/recreation/permits-and-passes/passes.

Passes are available at the entrance station. Funds received from pass sales at Red Rock Canyon are used provide and maintain amenities.

A number of passes are accepted:

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area Daily Pass 

Private Vehicle                 $15
Motorcycle                       $10
Bicycle                              $5
Pedestrian                        $5

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area Annual Support Pass

Annual Pass                     $30

America the Beautiful - The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Passes

Annual Pass                                                 $80
Military Annual (active duty)                     Free
Senior Pass (62+ years old)                      See a Visitor Assistant for prices
Access Pass (permanent disability)        Free (lifetime)
Every Kid Outdoors (4th graders)              Free (Vouchers are required -- information is available at https://everykidoutdoors.gov/index.htm)

A special invitation to 5th graders is also available for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year. More information and required vouchers are available at https://www.nps.gov/kids/fifthgrade.htm

Pass Usage Guidelines

Passes are valid for:

  • One personal car (for all pass types)
  • One or two pass owners on two motorcycles or scooters. Signatures of both people must be on the pass and must match identification. Senior and Access Pass are valid for the pass owner on one motorcycle only
  • Up to four adult bicyclists
  • Up to four pedestrians
  • Children under 16 are always admitted for free

Veterans and Gold Star Families

Standard amenity fees are waived for Veterans of the United States Armed Services and Gold Star Families. More information and Gold Star Family vouchers are available at https://www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/veterans-and-gold-star-families-free-access.htm.

2021 Fee Free Dates

In 2021, more than 2,000 national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges, and other federal lands will waive standard amenity fees on selected dates. At Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, the following dates are fee free:

  • September 25, 2021    National Public Lands Day
  • November 11, 2021    Veterans Day 

2022 Fee Free Dates

In 2022, more than 2,000 national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges, and other federal lands will waive standard amenity fees on selected dates. At Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, the following dates are fee free:

  • January 17, 2022         Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • February 21, 2022       President's Day
  • June 11, 2022              National Get Outdoors Day
  • August 4, 2022            Great American Outdoors Day
  • September 24, 2022    National Public Lands Day
  • November 11, 2022    Veterans Day 

Commercial Fee

If you are planning to bring an organized group or tour group to Red Rock Canyon, please contact an Outdoor Recreation Planner at (702) 515-5350/5361 for more information.

Other Fees

There are other activities at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area which would require payment of a fee:

  • Camping: $20/individual site per night, $60/group site per night (Reservations at Recreation.gov)
  • Group picnic area reservation: $40 (Reservations at Recreation.gov)
  • Wedding permit: Varies
  • Professional/commercial photography permit: Varies
  • Special recreation permit: Varies

Weather

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area averages 294 days of sunshine per year (211 clear days, 83 partly cloudy days) with an average annual rainfall of 4.13 inches and an average humidity around 29 percent. The average temperature is 66.3 °F (19 °C.)

Current Weather Forecast

Red Rock Weather Brochure

Seasonal high and low temperatures

 JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High 545764718191979588756253
Low  293238445463706959473529

 

Reservations

Timed entry reservations are required for the Scenic Drive between October 1 - May 31 for entry between 8 a.m. -5 p.m. Timed entry reservations can be made at Recreation.gov by visiting https://www.recreation.gov/timed-entry/10075177, or by calling (877) 444-6777.

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area accepts reservations for all Campsites, The Red Spring Picnic Area and weddings.

Campsites

Reservations may be made for up to 14 nights in a row. We recommend you reserving well in advance for our busiest months which are March and October.

For individual campsites, there is a limit of 10 people and two vehicles per site. Vehicles must fit on the campsite parking area.

There are three types of individual sites: 

  • Walk-to site ($10/night, pass discounts do not apply) You must walk-in 50 to 100 feet from the parking area. Grills and Picnic Table provided.  
  • RV sites ($20/night. Federal Lifetime pass discounts apply) Pull-through and back-in sites with grills and picnic tables and no tent pads. There are no utilities. Water is nearby but filling of RV tanks is not permitted.
  • Regular Individual Sites ($20/night) Both RV and tenting is available. Tents must stay on tent pads. Up to two vehicles per site as long as they are on the parking pad. Tables, grills, and fire rings are available (when no fire restrictions are in place). Half of sites have shade structures. 

Service fees apply to all sites through Recreation.gov. Reservations available up to day-of, if sites are available.

Groups of no less than 10 and no more than 20 people may reserve one of the seven group sites at the Red Rock Campground.

To make a reservation, visit https://www.recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/250877 or call (877) 444-6777.

Red Spring Picnic Area

The Red Spring Picnic Area is located off on State Route 159 on Calico Basin Road, just two miles east of the Red Rock Visitor Center. Red Spring has 12 picnic tables, various trash receptacles and toilets. The picnic tables are covered with aluminum pavilions for shade and protection from inclement weather. The Red Spring Picnic Area has grills during the cooler seasons. It is wise to call the visitor enter to inquire about the grills and fire regulations. Red Spring has a large group area to accommodate up to 50 people. From Red Spring, you can access the wheelchair accessible Red Spring Trail Boardwalk.

To make a reservation, call Recreation.gov at (877) 444-6777.

FAQs

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 roundtrip.

How high are the peaks we can see along the Scenic Drive?

Approximate heights of some of the peaks in the conservation area:

Mt. Wilson 7,050 feet
La Madre Mountain 8,150 feet
Bridge Mountain 6,750 feet
Rainbow Mountain 6,800 feet
Turtlehead Peak 6,350 feet
   

What is the elevation at the visitor center? What’s the highest point on the Scenic Drive?

Visitor center 3,720 feet
High Point Overlook 4,771 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, gasoline and small store in the Town Of Blue Diamond. More offerings are available to the east in Summerlin.

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 wildlife 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.

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.

Photography

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

Non-commercial still photography (photographs of scenery or wildlife) does not require a film permit if none of the above criteria apply.

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) 515-5381.

Weddings

Thank you for your including Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in your wedding plans. We have a wedding permit system to ensure your wedding is as special as possible while protecting Red Rock Canyon's unique resources.   

An approved Special Recreation Permit (SRP) is required for all weddings. Applications must be submitted ​no more than 180 days from your wedding to a minimum of 30 days in advance of intended use. SRPs are available on a first come, first served basis.

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area offers four 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 Boardwalk Platform in Calico Basin
  • Ash Spring Overlook in Calico Basin

The Visitor Center Amphitheater is temporary unavailable for weddings or special events.

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.

The Visitor Center Amphitheater is available 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. The last wedding time scheduled is starting at 3:30 p.m. and to end at 4:30 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 depends on the site: Amphitheater = 200; Red Rock Overlook = 50; Ash Spring foundation in Calico Basin = 12; Red Spring Platform = 50. There are limits to the number of vehicles per location as well. 

A member of your party must have a copy of approved permit in hand at time of wedding. Failure to abide by regulations will result in denial of future permits and possible issuance of a citation by BLM personnel or law enforcement.

Fees for wedding  permits depend on if you use an existing permitted company, have any paid photography, officiant, or other paid services for the wedding, or if you have unpaid or reimbursed services. Minimum fees for non-commercial groups are the greater of $115 or $6/person. 

Currently permitted chapels include the permit fees in their fees. The following wedding chapels and companies have commercial permits to perform wedding services at Red Rock Canyon NCA for Fiscal Year 2021 are at this link: Red Rock Canyon Wedding Permittees. New commercial permits, where an officiant and/or photographer are paid, are limited to one time permits with the minimum of $345.

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 are included in your permit.

If you have any questions or comments, please call (702) 515-5371 or e-mail  RRC_Reservations@blm.gov .

 

Pets

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.