Red Rock Canyon
beating the heat in nevada
Welcome to Red Rock Canyon, one of - if not the, most popular Park in Nevada! This beautiful slice of life sits on the Mojave Desert and is home to stunning hikes, views, climbs, and tortoises! [I know I know, the excitement is real].
I am not kidding when I say stunning views. This park is a hidden red gem right outside of the Las vegas strip! It is a National Conservation Area so it falls under the Annual National Park Pass [America The Beautiful Pass] but if you don't have one, or forgot yours like me, then it's just $15 a car for the day, but here is full breakdown of the fees.
13 mile drive
'its not called the sceninc drive for nothing...'
My mom and I came to the park for just the morning and did not pack our hiking gear on the trip. I was a little nervous we wouldn't get to see much in the park without hiking - but luckily for us (and you) there is an amazing scenic drive!
stop 1: Calico I
For starters the 13 mile drive is actually the only road that takes you through the park and to all your hikes + stops! It is only a one way road though, so don't plan on skipping stops and coming back. After stoping at the visitors center and getting the low down of the day you will head straight for the first stop at Calico I! The views are some of the best of the day honestly because you see what your about to dive into. From here there are two hikes both easy and about 2 miles long. They give you an awesome hand out when driving in that has every hike listed with detailed descriptions and information but if you like to plan ahead they also listed all the hikes on their website right here!
The next stop is Calico II but we chose to do a drive by sight-seeing here sense we were going to use the hiking trails.
stop 2: sandstone quarry
Driving up to the Sandstones is a sight like no other! The rocks are so vibrantly red and white it looks as if someone was out there with a big o'le paintbrush. It was here we learned that of course the rocks get their beautiful red color from iron! The hiking trail here is called 'Turtlehead Peak' and is for sure on my hiking bucket list! This park has tons of wildlife but the fact they had tortoise blew my mind! How cool would it be to see one wild!? We asked about them at the visitors center and here are the tips:
HOW TO SEE A TORTOISE
- Come early. They are not fond of the heat and like to hang out in there dens when it gets real hot. The Park Ranger said he saw them early this morning but it might be to late once we arrived (around 10 am).
- Pay attention to the tortoise signs. They have SLOW signs in areas they are frequently spotted and crossing the street.
- Try the Turtlehead Peak trail! This might be your best bet at seeing them! I know one day I will come here early in the morning and see for myself :)
stop 3: high point overlook
If you make any stop of the day let it be this! High point overlook got its name because it is the highest point on the scenic drive! You will stand at 4,771 ft above sea level. This view here cannot be beat. There are also some walking areas around here - and people told us they saw a jack-a-lope here! Besides the view there was the most beautiful tree here. My mom was in love with it! :) There are also some Joshua Trees in the park which was SO cool to see! I can't wait to go to Joshua Tree National Park one day.
After high point overlook there is a trail for a petroglyph hike. There is also a stop called Ice Box Canyon that has many hiking trails but we just drove by.
STOP 4: REd rock wash overlook
This last stop is kind of a hidden gem. The parking area is tucked away and only holds about 4-6 cars! My mom and I were so glad we pulled off though because it provided an epic view looking back at Red Rock Canyon. There is also a vast 'valley' full of lively plants and animals! My mom saw a Jack-a-lope here and I saw a chipmunk. It was also so pricless because I saw a blooming Cactius! Now that is truly a sigh to see - honestly one of the most beaustiiful things!
In all Red Rock Canyon is home to over 26 hiking trails, 2,000 rock climbing routes, driving and biking options - it's basically the ultimate adventure outside. It is such a beautiful park and amazes me to see right outside of busy Las Vegas. Supporting our National Park Services helps keep our planet running - so go out and see all Mother Nature has to offer!