Recreation at Red Rock Canyon

Scenic Loop

Red Rock Canyon’s 13-Mile Scenic Drive doubles as a back country byway. It is a 13-mile, paved, one-way scenic drive that passes through arid desert landscapes, red and buff colored rock formations, beautiful sandstone and limestone cliffs that reach elevations of 7,000 feet. 

Not only is the scenic drive beautiful for visitors in motorized vehicles it is also very popular for bicyclists, photographers, joggers and walkers. The road allows for safe travel as it is very wide and traffic is required to travel one-way. Many pull outs provide parking so you can explore the desert on one of the many trails Red Rock has to offer. You may also see visitors getting ready to backpack into the back country, go horseback riding, or traversing the many rock formations by rock climbing.  Watching the rock climbers has enthused and entertained many visitors over the years.

The scenic drive opens at 6 a.m. every day of the year unless Mother Nature provides a flash flood from seasonal rainstorms or the occasional snow storm. The scenic drive closes around sunset – 5 p.m. November through February; 7 p.m. March and October and 8 p.m. April through September 30.

Follow posted speed limits so you can be safe as well as protect other visitors and wildlife. If parking lots are full please do not create your own parking spot by parking off the road and onto vegetation. These plants are native to the arid Mojave Desert of Red Rock and can take decades to regrow. We recommend that you continue to a new parking area or enjoy the drive in its entirety and enter later in the day as your amenity fee receipts are good for the entire day.

Rock Climbing

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is one of the finest rock climbing areas in the world. 

If you have never climbed at Red Rock Canyon and are unfamiliar with route locations, a climbing guide is available with photos, route descriptions, and directions to provide you a brief idea of where to find established traditional and sport routes.  There are also two additional guide books with extensive route information available in local climbing shops.  For detailed information, please refer to any of the three guide books for Red Rock Canyon:

  • Rock Climbing Red Rocks by Todd Swain
  • The Red Rocks of Southern Nevada by Joanne Urioste
  • A Climbers Guide To The Red Rocks of Nevada by Randy Faulk

If you would like to contact any of the climbing staff at Red Rock Canyon, please call (702) 515-5358.

Rules and Regulations
The 13-Mile Scenic Drive is a day use area only.  Late exit permits are available by calling (702) 515-5050.

  • The late exit permit allows you to be in the scenic drive area as long as two hours after the closure of the area.
  • Camping is permitted at the developed campground two miles east of the visitor center on (W. Charleston Blvd) State Route 159.  Camping is not permitted on the 13-Mile Scenic Drive.
  • If you want to sport climb and the parking lot of the area you choose is full, go to the next parking lot and hike back to the desired location, or choose another area.
  • Respect other climbing parties! Some of the more popular long routes get crowded.
  • Allow for space between parties above and below you on the wall.
  • Allow faster parties to climb through.

Rock Type
The main type of rock found in Red Rock Canyon here is Aztec (or Navajo) sandstone, formed years ago through the natural cementing of ancient sand dunes.  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.  Keep in mind however, it is still sandstone.  Because of its friable (crumbly) nature it must be approached with a greater degree of caution than a more dependable rock such as granite.  We suggest waiting 24 to 48 hours after major rains or snow to allow the rock to dry sufficiently for climbing.

Ratings
Routes in Red Rock Canyon are rated via the Yosemite Decimal System.  All class V routes (those involving the use of protection) in Red Rock Canyon range from 5.0 (easiest) to 5.14 (most difficult.) These ratings are based on the skills, abilities and opinions of those climbers that have ascended each specific route.  If you are not familiar with this rating system or are unsure of what level you and your abilities fit in, be sure to choose your first ascents in Red Rock Canyon with care. Red Rock Canyon 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).

Access
Many routes in Red Rock Canyon  require significant walking, hiking and scrambling to reach them.  Keep this in mind when planning for your climbs, not only as a time constraint but also in terms of water.  Red Rock Canyon is located in the Mojave Desert, and even if it is not scorching hot, the air is still very dry.  You should always bring a surplus of water to stay hydrated.

If you need access to the 13-Mile Scenic Drive to stay late, call (702) 515-5050.  A two hour late pass can be issued, depending on the climbing route.  Overnight passes can be given for grade V routes.  This pass allows you overnight parking along the scenic drive for the given number of days.  If you leave your vehicle parked along the scenic drive without a permit, your vehicle will be cited and possibly towed at owners expense.  Overnight camping is allowed at the developed campground two miles east of the visitor center on W. Charleston Blvd (State Route 159.)  Camping along the base of the main escarpment or in any canyons is prohibited. C amping is also allowed on bivies on specified routes.

Important Safety Tips 

  • This is the desert; winter can be very cold and snow is not uncommon in the winter months, In the summer months temperatures can reach an excess of 110 ° F (43 ° C) . Summer storms can cause very cold conditions on long backcountry routes, and canyons can flash flood, without warning.
  • There are poisonous animals in Red Rock Canyon.  Rattlesnakes, black widows, bees, wasps, and velvet ants are all creatures to keep a distance from.
  • Sandstone is naturally porous and friable rock.  It is a local request that routes are given 24 hours to properly dry.  This helps to protect existing routes from key hold breakage.
  • Bolting along the main escarpment, which is a wilderness area, is illegal and should not be done.  Bolting is legal along Calico 1 & 2 but should be done only after consulting the climbing staff, a local climbing shop, or the Las Vegas Climber's Liason Council.
  • Lock your vehicle while climbing and do not leave tempting or valuable items in plain view.  Do not leave your wallet in the car at all, even hidden. 

Please
Respect the natural and cultural resources of this beautiful land, leave all natural features just as you found them.

  • Don't litter, pack out what ever you pack in.  Practice, "leave no trace ethics" and do not leave your toilet paper or cigarette butts behind.
  • Don't build any ground fires, or cover your own stove, cook only with a barbecue grill.
  • Respect the rights of other visitors to enjoy Red Rock Canyon.
  • Climbing is prohibited on or within fifty (50) feet of cultural sites.

Bivy Permits
You may get a overnight bivi permit for routes on Mt. Wilson, Levitation Wall, Rainbow Wall,  Bridge Mountain, Hidden Wall and the Buffalo Wall.  The bivi permit does not allow you to camp in the canyons, but it does allow to you stay on the wall.  The following is a list of all areas that will be available for one or two night bivi permits. These permits are for on route, or summit bivies only.

  • Mount Wilson : All routes on Mt. Wilson are available for a one night permit.
  • Levitation Wall : All routes on Levitation Wall are available for a one night permit.
  • Rainbow Wall : All routes on Rainbow Wall are available for a one or two night(s) permit.
  • Buffalo Wall : All routes on Buffalo Wall are available for a one, two, or three night(s) permit.
  • Bridge Mountain : All routes on Bridge Mountain are available for a one night permit.
  • Hidden Wall : All routes on Hidden Wall are available for a one night permit.

Hiking Trails

Please stay on established trails in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Cutting across switchbacks damages soils and plants, and severely damages the trail. Thin black crusts of moss and lichen cover open areas and protect desert soils from wind and rain erosion; any foot traffic quickly destroys the crusts which heal very slowly.  If is it necessary to hike off trail, hikers should spread out in small groups, and hike on rock areas as much as possible.

Each year people are lost, injured, and sometimes killed while visiting Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. For your safety, please follow these simple rules:

  • When hiking, stay on established trails and watch your footing at all times.  Steep slopes and cliff edges are dangerous.
  • Do not roll or throw rocks and other items from high places; other visitors may be below you.
  • Watch for snakes on the rocks.
  • Temperatures can exceed 110 °F (41 °C) in Red Rock Canyon.  Drink four liters of water per day in the summer, but do not drink untreated water as it may be contaminated. Carry water on your hike, at least a gallon per person per day in the summer.
  • Avoid drainages after thunderstorms or severe weather because of flash floods. Stay away from high points during thunderstorms; lightning can kill.
  • Wildlife may appear to be tame, but may attack if threatened.  Stay a safe distance away while observing animals.
  • Watch children closely; they often do not recognize potential dangers.
  • The burros at Red Rock Canyon are not domesticated animals and can be dangerous.  Do not feed or pet the burros.  Feeding burros encourages these animals to congregate on roadways where many have been killed and injured by vehicles.  To observe these animals safely: pick a safe place to stop; pull completely off the roadway, observe the burros from a distance.  Staying in your car is the safest way to photograph and observe the burros.
  • To protect resources, please do not collect plants, rock specimens, fossils, or disturb the wildlife.
  • Let someone know where you will be hiking. There is a voluntary hiker's registration at the visitor center.
  • Dress appropriately; wear footwear suitable for hiking and consider wearing a hat.
  • Be aware of the weather.  Mountain thunderstorms can cause flash flooding in the canyons and nearby washes.
  • Please, if you pack it in, pack it out and dispose of properly.
  • Be aware of the closure hours for the scenic drive.

The following is a brief list of the more popular hikes in the area. It is best to carry a map of the area.  Maps of the Red Rock Canyon  are available for sale at the bookstore in the visitor center. 

HIKING TRAILS IN THE SCENIC DRIVE VICINITY 

1. MOENKOPI LOOP: Triassic fossils and various desert flora can be seen on this open country trail which starts at the visitor center just west of the weather monitoring station and traverses a prominent limestone ridge. In addition to panoramic views of the Wilson Cliffs, there are connecting trails to the Calico Hills area (2 mile loop, easy).

2. CALICO HILLS: This trail runs along the base of the Calico Rocks from Calico Basin to Sandstone Quarry. Distance is variable since the trail can be accessed at either end or from either of the two Calico parking areas. A side trail runs from the fee booth parking lot and connects with this trail (distance variable, easy to moderate).

3. CALICO TANKS: From Sandstone Quarry the trail heads north from its junction with the Turtlehead Peak Trail to just past the Agave roasting pit site. Just beyond this site, the trail veers up a side canyon to the right where it follows ascending rock terraces to a large natural water tank (tinaja). Water may be present in the tanks after seasonal rains. (2.5 miles round trip, moderately strenuous, rock scrambling and route finding skills recommended).

4. TURTLEHEAD PEAK: From Sandstone Quarry the trail heads north over a narrow rise, in and out of a wash, then continues for a short distance along the northwest side of Turtlehead Peak. Scramble up a ravine to the saddle and follow the steep ridge to the top. The trail is intermittent and composed of loose rock. (5 miles round trip, very strenuous).

5. KEYSTONE THRUST: From upper White Rock Springs parking lot take the trail north across the wash, and up the hill. The Keystone Thrust trail " T's" off the La Madre Springs loop to the right approximately 1/4 mile from the parking lot. Take the right fork up the stairs to where it then joins an old jeep road, continuing uphill to the left. The trail traverses a low ridge, heads down into a small canyon, onto the Keystone Thrust Fault where the gray limestone meets the red and tan sandstone. (2.2 miles round trip, moderate hike).

6. WHITE ROCK TO WILLOW SPRINGS: From the upper parking lot at White Rock Springs, take the trail on the west side to where it splits. The trail to the right descends to a guzzler (man made water hole). The trail to the left heads downhill and through a wash, then climbs over a ridge and drops you into the Lost Creek area (2 miles). From there it is only a short distance to Willow Springs. Starting from Willow Springs, just reverse the previous instructions. (4.4 miles round trip, easy to moderate hike).

7. WHITE ROCK/LA MADRE SPRINGS LOOP: This trail can be started at White Rock Springs or Willow Springs, and can be done in either direction. By starting at Willow Springs, hikers can deal with the steep climb to White Rock near the beginning of the hike, rather than at the end. When you come to a fork with a sign reading "White Rock Springs 2.2 miles", take the uphill trail to the left. Follow it to White Rock upper parking lot, continuing east from the lot. When the trail forks, go left and follow the trail until it intersects an old dirt road. Follow that road downhill to where it forks to the left, returning you to Willow Springs, or right to La Madre Spring. (6 miles round trip, moderate).

8. LOST CREEK CHILDREN'S DISCOVERY TRAIL: From the Lost Creek parking area, take the trail to the right. The Willow Springs Loop intersects this trail and shares it until it splits off at Site #3. Continue on this loop until just beyond Site #4, where another path heads uphill to a seasonal waterfall. Return by the same route. This popular trail may be crowded at times as it is used by many school groups. (.7 mile round trip, easy).

9. WILLOW SPRINGS LOOP: From the parking lot, follow the trail by the pit toilets south. This takes you past a pictograph site and Agave roasting pits, to the Lost Creek Parking lot. There the trail heads to the right to where the two trails fork, at Site #3. Bear to the right and continue to the Willow Springs Parking lot. Part of this trail is paved and is readily accessible from the parking lot. (1. 5 miles round trip, easy).

10. LA MADRE SPRINGS: From the Willow Springs Parking lot, walk the dirt road west up the canyon, cross a wash and go to the right when the road splits. Continue uphill to the dam, then follow the foot trail to the springs. Return to Willow Springs the same way. (3 miles round trip, moderate).

11. SMYC TRAIL: This trail can be accessed from either Lost Creek or Ice Box Trail. It follows the terrain at the base of the escarpment and connects the two trails mentioned above. (2. 2 miles round trip, moderate).

12. ICE BOX CANYON: From the parking lot, the trail heads down across the wash and up the other side toward the canyon. The trail is well defined as it leads you up the side of the canyon for approximately 1/4 of a mile. It then drops into the bottom of the canyon. From this point the trail becomes a route over or around boulders as it continues upstream. The official trail ends at the large ponderosa pine tree in the bottom of the canyon (2. 5 miles round trip). To reach the upper pool filled by a seasonal waterfall, be prepared for some tricky wall scrambling, and a 3 mile round trip. Return to the parking lot the same way. (moderately strenuous).

13. DALE'S TRAIL: This trail can be accessed from either Ice Box Trail or Pine Creek Trail. It follows the terrain at the base of the escarpment and connects the two above mentioned trails. (4. 4 mile round trip, moderate).

14. PINE CREEK CANYON: Take the trail downhill from the parking lot, following it toward the canyon. The trail is intersected twice by the Fire Ecology Trail and by Dale's Trail, then forks near the old Wilson homestead foundation. This part of the trail is a loop and is easier to follow to the left where it goes downhill, across a stream, then uphill to the intersection of the Arnight Trail. Continue up the canyon crossing the wash, and eventually return to the main trail on the opposite side of the homestead. Follow it back to the parking lot. (2. 9 mile round trip, moderate).

15. FIRE ECOLOGY TRAIL: This double-loop trail, accessed via the Pine Creek Trail, exits and enters the Pine Creek Trail from the south. Take the trail to the left heading toward the escarpment, across a bridge and over a rise to enter the second loop. Return across the same bridge and follow the trail back to the Pine Creek Trail. (.75 miles round trip, easy).

16. OAK CREEK CANYON TRAIL: Take the Oak Creek turnoff from the scenic loop drive to a small parking lot. The trail heads across the open desert to the mouth of Oak Creek Canyon. (2 miles round trip, easy).

17. ARNIGHT TRAIL: The Arnight Trail connects the Oak Creek parking lot with the end loop on Pine Creek Trail. Starting at the parking lot, across from the Oak Creek Trail head, it heads toward the escarpment gaining elevation until it joins the Pine Creek Trail just above the loop junction. Approximately 1/2 mile before the trail connects with Pine Creek, another trail called the Knoll Trail intersects it on the left. (2. 4 miles round trip, moderate).

18. KNOLL TRAIL: This trail links the upper sections of the Arnight Trail and the Oak Creek Trail, following the base of the escarpment and will eventually connect with First Creek Trail. (1.9 mile one-way, easy to moderate). You can combine this trail with the Oak Creek and Arnight Trails for a 3. 5 mile round trip, moderate hike.

19. FIRST CREEK CANYON TRAIL: Take Charleston Blvd. (State Route 159), south of the scenic loop terminus, for 2.6 miles to the First Creek Trailhead. The trail leads to the mouth of the canyon, following the left side of the wash for a distance; some rock scrambling is required thereafter. Seasonal waterfalls can be found in the canyon. (2 .5 miles round trip, moderately strenuous).

20. GRAND CIRCLE ADVENTURE: This trail starts at the fee booth parking area, heads toward the Calico Hills Trail and onto Sandstone Quarry, then continues on to the White Rock Springs upper parking lot. From there, it heads down the hill toward Willow Springs, but veers to the left at a junction on top of the ridge. It then crosses the scenic loop drive and continues downhill to the visitor center. (11 miles round trip, strenuous).

21. ESCARPMENT BASE TRAIL: A combination of the SMYC, Dale's and Arnight trails, this is a good one-way hike or a more adventurous round-trip. The one-way version requires parking a vehicle in Lost Creek and car pooling down to the Oak Creek parking area. (5. 2 miles one way; moderate). The round trip version can be done from either end. (10. 4 miles round trip, strenuous).

22. OVERLOOK TRAIL: This paved path leads to the top of a small hill behind the helicopter pad, and is easily accessible from the parking lot, providing a marvelous view of Red Rock Canyon and the escarpment. (.25 mile round trip, easy to moderate, wheelchair accessible).

23. BRIDGE MOUNTAIN TRAIL: This difficult trail is accessed from the summit of Rocky Gap Road.  4X4 vehicle is required. 

 

Commercial Guided Tours

Many visitors would like to enjoy Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Canyon on a tour.  Below is a listing of commercially operating guides which have permits to operate within Red Rock Canyon.  If you or your business would like to conduct business within Red Rock Canyon, you must first obtain a permit to do so.  Please call (702) 515-5361.

Guided Jeep Tours
Bobcat Tours Forrest Johnson (702) 308-0211
Pink Jeep Tours Earl Jobson (702) 895-6777 
Las Vegas Rock Crawlers Tim Conway (702) 376-6214

 

 

 

Guided Hiking Tours

Escape Mountain Bike Adventures  Jared and Heather Fisher (800) 596-2953
Hike This Neil Sobelson (702) 708-2610
Jackson Hole Mountain Guides Mark Limage (800) 239-7642
McGhie's Blue Diamond Bike Outpost Randy McGhie (702) 875-4820
Las Vegas Summit Adventures Charles Packard (804) 654-4453

 

Guided Bicycle Tours
McGhie's Blue Diamond Bike Outpost Randy McGhie (702) 875-4820
Escape Mountain Bike Adventures Jared and Heather Fisher (800) 596-2953
Cycle Vegas Bob McCall (702) 300-1626
Bike Blast Rob Messmer (702) 744-8088

 

Electric Bike, Segway and Scooter Tours
Red-E Bikes John Messmore (702) 544-4261
Segway Las Vegas Tyler George (702) 596-1111
Red Rock Scooter Tours Justin Fisher (702) 800-3315
Scoot City Tours   (702) 699-5700

 

Guided Horse Rides
Cowboy Trail Rides Jim Sage (702) 387-2457
Red Rock Riding Stables April Hooper (702) 875-4191

   

Guided Technical Climbing
American Alpine Institute   (360) 671-1505
Jackson Hole Mountain Guides Mark Limage (800) 239-7642
Mountain Skills Jay Folley (702) 325-1616
National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS)   (800) 710-6657
Red Rock Climbing Center   (702) 254-5604

 

Yoga
Sherry Goldstein's Yoga Sanctuary Sherry Goldstein (702) 240-7666 

 

Picnic Areas

Red Rock Canyon is home to four picnic areas. These areas have beautiful views of Red Rock Canyon and access to some easier trails. All picnic areas are on a first-come, first-serve basis except for the Red Spring group use area, and groups larger than 15 people may need to obtain a permit. Barbeque grills are allowed in the picnic areas during most of the year. The summer season, however, has specific fire restrictions against their use. Inquiries should be made at the visitor venter about fire regulations and dangers.

The Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center Picnic Area has 12 picnic tables and various trash receptacles. It is located to the west of the visitor center parking area and has access to the Moenkopi and Calico Hills trails.

Located about halfway around the Scenic Drive is the Willow Springs Picnic Area. This picnic area has approximately 28 picnic tables, various trash receptacles and toilets. From Willow Springs you can access the La Madre Springs Trail, Willow Springs Loop Trail, Lost Creek Trail, and White Rock Loop Trail.

On State Route 159 is the Red Rock Scenic Overlook Picnic Area. This picnic area has approximately 19 picnic tables, various trash cans and toilets. Approximately half of the picnic tables are covered with aluminum pavilions for shade and inclement weather. From this picnic area, you can access the paved Red Rock Scenic Overlook Trail.

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; reservations are required by to reserve the group site, which can be made by calling Red Rock Canyon at 702-515-5371. From Red Spring, you can access the wheelchair accessible Red Spring trail boardwalk.

Road Biking

 

Photo of road bikers at Red Rock CanyonRiding a bicycle is a great way to enjoy the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. State Route 159 and the 13-Mile Scenic Drive can provide an excellent workout and an opportunity to view Red Rock Canyon’s sights from a whole new perspective.   

Road bicycles are allowed on all paved or unpaved roads and two-tracks; however no bikes are permitted on any trails on the 13-Mile Scenic Drive.  

All bikes are obligated to follow motor vehicle road regulations on the scenic drive and highway; particularly those laws relating to one-way travel on the scenic drive, riding abreast, and slow traffic keep right.

Mountain Biking

 

Photo of mountain bikerWhile road bikers can primarily be seen on State Route 159 and the 13-Mile Scenic Drive, Red Rock Canyon also offers exciting opportunities for mountain biking as well. Bicycles are allowed on designated paved and unpaved roads and on trails designated for mountain bike use. However bikes are not permitted on any trails off of the 13-Mile Scenic Drive nor in designated wilderness areas. The trails can be accessed form two main trailhead and parking areas utilized by mountain bike riders:

  1. Cottonwood/Late Night Trailheads off of State Route 160, approximately four miles west of the State Routes 159/160 intersections (Cottonwood Valley Trails System)
  2. Mile maker 12 on Kyle Canyon Road/State Route 157 (Twilight Zone Trails)

To make your trail riding experience more memorable, please follow these guidelines:

  • Yield the right of way to other non-motorized recreationists. Move off the trail to allow horses to pass and stop to allow hikers adequate room to share the trail.
  • Slow down and use caution when approaching another and make your presence known well in advance.  Simply yelling "bicycle" is not acceptable.
  • Maintain control of your speed at all times and approach turns with anticipation of someone around the bend.  Be able to stop safely within the distance you can see down the trail.
  • Stay on designated trails to avoid trampling native vegetation, and minimize potential erosion by not using wet or muddy trails or shortcutting switchbacks.  
  • Avoid wheel lockup. If a trail is steep enough to require locking wheels and skidding, dismount and walk your bike. Locking brakes contributes to needless trail damage.  
  • Ride directly over water bars or dismount and walk your bike. They are placed to direct water off the trail and prevent erosion.
  • Respect public and private property, including trail use signs, no trespassing signs, and leave gates as you found them.  If your route crosses private property, it is your responsibility to obtain permission from the landowner.  
  • Do not disturb wildlife or livestock.
  • Do not litter. Pack out what you pack in and carry out more than your share whenever possible.
  • Always be self sufficient. Your destination and travel speed will be determined by your ability, your equipment, the terrain, and the present and potential weather conditions.
  • Do not travel solo in remote areas. Leave word of your destination and when you plan to return.
  • Always wear a helmet.
  • Ride only on roadways, trails, and slick rock. The desert crust (microbiotic crust) is fragile and takes up to 50 years to recover from footprints, waffle tracks, etc.
  • Toilets in unimproved areas -- move off trail, and dig a one foot deep pit, cover after use.

Horseback Riding

As long as there have been horses and burros in the Red Rock Canyon area, humans have used these steeds to explore and assist with settling the west.  Now equines are primarily a means to enjoy and explore the wildernesses and relive a feeling of our pioneer past.

Horseback riding is limited to designated equestrian trails within Red Rock Canyon. The trails can be accessed form four main trailhead and parking areas utilized by equestrian riders: 

  • Cottonwood/Late Night Trailheads off of State Route 160, approximately four miles west of the State Routes 159/160 intersections (Cottonwood Valley Trails System)
  • Exit of the 13-Mile Scenic Drive, two miles west of the entrance on State Route 159 (Scenic Drive Trails)
  • White Rock parking area, located off of the 13-Mile Scenic Drive (Scenic Drive Trails)
  • Mile maker 12 on Kyle Canyon Road/State Route 157 (Twilight Zone Trails)

Visitors wishing to explore Red Rock Canyon on horseback, whether they bring their own horses or take advantage of the permitted guided equestrian tours, need to be aware and follow some simple rules. Suggestions specifically for horse use can be found at www.LNT.org.

Don’t have a horse? You’re in luck! 
Red Rock Canyon has several permitted tour guides who can help you explore in a unique and exciting way.  Novice to experienced riders are welcome to participate. 

Camping

Campground Location
3293 Moenkopi Rd
Las Vegas, NV 89161

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area has one developed campground.  Red Rock Canyon Campground is located two miles east of the Visitor Center on west Charleston Boulevard (State Route 159) and then one mile south on Moenkopi Road. 

General Information
The campground is accessible 24 hours a day.  There is no check-in for individual sites, however, payment of fees must be made within 30 minutes of arrival at the self-registration station. Campers with tents and recreational vehicles are intermixed in the area. 

  • There are no electrical, water and sewer hook-ups.  
  • There is no dump station.  
  • There are no showers.
  • Shade is provided at all of the group sites and half of the individual sites.
  • Restrooms are vault toilets. 
  • Water faucets for drinking water are located throughout the campground.  
  • No firewood available on-site.
  • Picnic tables, campfire rings & grills are located at all sites except the walk-in sites.
  • Walk-in sites don’t have campfire rings, shade structures or tent pads.
  • Campground closes over the summer from around Memorial Day to Labor Day.
  • Check in is 12pm, check out is 11am.

Individual Campsites 
The campground has 72 individual campsites (including 14 walk-in, 5 RV & 3 accessible sites).  To make campsite availability fair to all, there is a 14-day limit in effect. Individual sites are not reservable.

  • Limit 10 people per campsite.
  • $15 per night per site.
  • Two vehicles per site.
  • A sand tent pad is provided for approximately 2 tents.

Group Campsites
The campground has 7 group campsites which are available through reservation.

  • 10 to 15 people per site.
  • $40 per night per site.
  • Up to eight vehicles per site.
  • Each site has about 12 areas for tents.
  • Not a day use area. At least 10 campers must be spending the night.
  • Each group site has about 12 areas for tents, some of which can fit 2 small tents.
  • Check in required
  • Commercial groups require additional permitting
  • Reservations made on www.recreation.gov

Campground Rules
You are responsible for knowing campground rules and regulations.

  • Generators are permitted between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
  • Quiet hours are from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. (the use of generators, radios, music players etc., are prohibited during this time).
  • Pets must be leashed and attended at all times. Waste must be cleaned up & thrown away.
  • Maximum 14-day limit in any 28-day period.
  • America the Beautiful (the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Series) Senior and Access pass holders receive a 50% discount on individual site camping fees. No discount on group sites.
  • No refunds are issued for individual sites.

Campground Availability
It is not suggested to arrive in the middle of the night in the hopes of locating an empty campsite, especially during the fall and spring. The Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday periods are also very busy as are other holiday weekends.  

To Assist You 
Campground hosts live on-site and volunteer for the Bureau of Land Management.  They are there to assist you in making your visit as enjoyable as possible.

Backcountry Camping

Backcountry camping is allowed within the core area of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area above 5,000 feet.  A paperless permit is required and can be obtained by calling: 702-515-5050 and leaving your informaiton after the voice message. 

The backcountry area is remote with no drinking water or firewood for campfires.  Campers must select a previously disturbed campsite and must camp father than 200 feet from springs and riparian areas. 

There is no developed trail system in the backcountry.  Ground fires are prohibited, camping stoves are permitted.  To minimize conflicts with wildlife, pets should be on a leash and pet waste must be cleaned up.

Please carry out all trash.  Litter is an eyesore and a hazard to wildlife.  Trash cans are located at parking lots along the Scenic Drive and in Willow Springs.

There is also one developed campground at Red Rock Canyon.

Whether in the backcountry or developed campground, all stays are limited to 14 days.

Off Highway Vehicles

Off-highway vehicle travel is a fun activity if done safely. Off-highway driving in Red Rock National Conservation Area is limited to designated roads only and cross country travel is prohibited to provide for public safety, and preservation of the area.

Four wheel drive (4X4) high clearance vehicles are recommended on all of the unpaved designated roads. The 13-Mile Scenic Drive is limited to street licensed vehicles only.

Some great off-roading opportunities include:

  • Rocky Gap Road - An extremely rough, four-wheel drive road. Expect narrow road conditions with numerous washouts. Not recommended for passenger cars or other low clearance vehicles. Like all off-road trips, preparation and caution are highly recommended.
  • Cottonwood Valley - An undeveloped area that features several unpaved routes. Be prepared for washouts and sandy areas.

Red Rock Canyon has several permitted tour guides who can help you explore in four wheel drive vehicle. 

To help ensure a safer and more responsible off-highway vehicle experience within Red Rock Canyon, please take a moment to check out Tread Lightly!

Night Skies

Located only miles from Las Vegas, yet set among dark mountains and starry skies, Red Rock Canyon is an excellent place to view the night sky and related astronomical objects. 

Night Skies
The darkest spots in the Conservation Area are located off of State Route 160 south of the Visitor Center.  Trailheads at Cottonwood Valley and Late Night are located in dark, flat, expansive areas of Red Rock Canyon, and thus provide wide open views of the night sky.  Before going, be sure to consult a sky chart, or your favorite website to determine what stars and planets are visible. 

Meteor Showers
Meteor shower photoThese dark areas also make for excellent meteor shower viewing.  A wide variety of objects besides planets orbit the sun.  These objects, usually comets or asteroids, may have orbits of thousands of years.  When they finally approach the sun, they heat up and partially disintegrate, leaving a trail of dust and debris.  As the earth also orbits the sun, it occasionally passes through these left behind debris trails.  As we do, the space debris burns up as it enters the Earth’s atmosphere, causing a meteor shower. 

Although there are numerous meteor showers taking place yearlong, major events are more easily visible.  Major yearly events include the  Quadrantids on the night of January 3rd-4th, the Lyrids on the night of April 21st-22nd, the Perseids on the night of August 12th-13th, the Orionids on the night of October 21st-22nd, the Leonids on the night of November 17th-18th, and the Geminids on the night of December 13th-14th.

The best time see meteor showers are early in the morning, a few hours before sunrise.  In the early morning the earth is turning towards the sun, and thus toward a warmer section of space.  This warm area contains more meteors than in the evening when we are turning towards cold space.  

Sunrises and Sunsets
Sunrises and Sunsets in the desert are interesting; visitors can see much farther in the dry desert air, towering mountains present complex light and shadows, but the lack of clouds can limit sky color.  To see the best sunsets and sunrises, look for partly cloudy days and a location where you can remain far away from the appropriate horizon. 

The Red Rock Overlook and the Highpoint Overlook are the best places to view sunrises and sunsets, as both points offer wide views to the east and west.  The Red Spring Boardwalk also offers excellent views to the east. These areas are open at 6:00 a.m., please check closing times as they change during the year.

Best Places to view the Full Moon
Hiking under a desert full moon is a special experience.  Generally, flat, open areas are best to view the moon.  The First Creek and Oak Creek areas off of State Route (SR) 159 are excellent trails.  Because mountains separate Red Rock Canyon from the Las Vegas Valley to the east, it is difficult to find a spot to see the moon initially rise over the eastern horizon.  However, there are spots near SR 159 and the Moenkopi road near the Red Rock Campground that patient visitors can observe the moonrise.  Remember, the full moon always rises at sunset, making for a once a month opportunity to photograph both the full moon and the colors of sunset. 

Guided Public Star Parties and Hikes
Star Party photoRed Rock Canyon works in partnership with the Las Vegas Astronomical Society to bring “Astronomy in the Park” to the public. Astronomy in the park occurs various times of year with a multi-media presentation on specific subjects such as “Jupiter”, “Meter Showers”, “The Rings of Saturn” etc. After these presentations the Las Vegas Astronomical Society provide various types of telescopes to view night objects. The members are amateur astronomers much like ourselves and are very happy to answer any questions from equipment to celestial objects.

Red Rock Canyon also offers “Astronomy Hikes” by a naturalist with the Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association; the hikes are on an easy trail with little elevation gain. These hikes offer an opportunity to discover astronomy in a small group setting.

For dates, please check the websites at  www.redrockcanyonlv.org or www.lvastronomy.com

Geocaching

Geocaching is an outdoor treasure finding game using GPS-enabled devices.  By using specific GPS coordinates, a geocacher attempts to find a geocache, a container with a log or an item inside, hidden at that location.  Although fun and appropriate for some locations, it is not allowed at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. By going off established trails, disturbing natural resources and abandoning property (a geocache) our public lands can suffer. One option for intrepid geocachers is to search for "virtual caches," "earth caches," and USGS Benchmarks, which help minimize the impact to Red Rock Canyon.

Target Shooting and Hunting

Target shooting can be a fun activity if done safely and is generally allowed on BLM managed public lands. After public input, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation was closed to target shooting in 1993 to provide for public safety. 

Following Nevada Department of Wildlife and Red Rock supplementary rules, hunting and trapping are allowed only in specific areas within Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. 

Visitors are not allowed to possess loaded weapons in Red Rock Canyon unless involved in hunting in accordance with local, state and federal regulations.

A hunting map is available here.