Red Rock Canyon
National Conservation Area
After a few days at the crap and blackjack tables in Las Vegas, it will be time to take a break. Hop into a vehicle and head out to Red Rock Canyon. Red Rock Canyon is less then an hour's drive west of Las Vegas and has many significant geologic features. The area is a good place to kick back and just enjoy nature's wonders.
The most significant geologic feature of Red Rock Canyon is the Keystone Thrust Fault. A thrust fault is a fracture in the earth's crust where one rock plate is thrust horizontally over another. About 65 million years ago, it is believed that two of the earth's crustal plates collided with such force that part of one plate was shoved up and over younger sandstones. This thrust contact is clearly defined by the sharp contrast between the grey limestones and the red sandstones. The Keystone Thrust Fault extends from the Cottonwoood Fault (along the Pahrump Highway) 13 miles northward to the vicinity of La Madre Mountain, where it is obscured by more complex faulting.
13-Mile Loop Drive offers sightseeing, vistas and overlooks. If your time is limited, stop at either of the Calico Vista points. Both offer good vantage points for photographs of crossed-bedded Aztec sandstone. For easy walking access to the sandstone, stop at the Sandstone Quarry parking lot. There you can see large blocks of stone and other historic evidence of the quarry activity as it occurred shortly after the turn of the century.
Picnic sites are available at Red Spring and Willow Spring. Additional pullouts, offering views of wooded canyons and desert washes, are located at Icebox Canyon, Pine Creek Canyon and Red Rock Wash.
Several short hikes offering a diversity of environments and scenery are accessible from the loop drive. A short trail to the bottom of the canyon at the second Calico Vista leads down to the Aztec sandstone and, after seasonal rains, to small pools of water. There is easier hiking at Sandstone Quarry where many small canyons await exploration. The Calico Hills are riddled with natural water catchments called potholes or tinajas (tee-nah-haz). After rains these natural water tanks fill up with water and may be home to small insects, insect larvae and fairy shrimp.
A spring that flows year-round and a seasonally cascading waterfall await the visitor after a short, 0.3-mile hike to Lost Creek.
Icebox Canyon has a maintained trail which leads in for .8 mile; the end of Icebox Canyon is reached in another half mile by "boulder hopping" in the canyon bottom.
One of the most popular hiking trails is into Pine Creek Canyon. A two-mile round trip hike leads to the ruins of a historic homestead near a running creek, surrounded by large ponderosa pine trees and other water-loving vegetation.
Click Here for a map of the area.
There are hotels and motels in Las Vegas with something for every taste and price range. For more information and a complete list. Click Here. (Rates, availability and reservation online)
BLM Information and Regulations
HEAT, COLD AND DEHYDRATION
Carry water with you. Most people need a gallon a day while hiking. Extra clothing, layers of clothing and hats protect you in the summer sun and winter cold.
Be wary of nearby storms; violent downpours can cause flash flooding in areas untouched by rain. Do not cross low places when water is running.
All natural and historic features such as animals, plants, rocks and Indian artifacts are protected. Do not disturb, damage or remove.
The 13-mile Loop Drive is one-way only. Driving off designated roads is prohibited.
Climbing on sandstone requires equipment and experience; it is a soft, crumbly rock. Sandstone cannot be climbed within 24 hours of major rain storm.
Fires are allowed at designated sites, either in the cooking grills provided or in your own container. Ground fires are prohibited.
Treat wildlife with respect. Wild burros may bite or kick causing serious injuries. Please DO NOT feed burros or other wildlife.
DOES ANYONE KNOW WHERE YOU ARE ?
Please tell a responsible party where you are going, your route, when you will return, how many are in your party, your vehicle description and license number.
Red Rock Canyon NCA 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%. The average temperature is 66.3 degrees (19 degrees centigrade).
SEASONAL HIGH & LOW TEMPERATURES
HIKERS should stay on established trails. 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. Off-trail hikers should spread out in small groups, and hike on rock areas as much as possible.
CLIMBING is prohibited on or within fifty (50) feet of prehistoric rock carvings or paintings to protect them from damage. Placing bolts is prohibited in all wilderness and wilderness study areas. White chalk marks and brightly colored slings or anchors detract from the visual experience. Limit their use when possible.
BICYCLES are allowed on all paved or unpaved roads and two-tracks, but not on designated hiking trails. 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.
HORSEBACK RIDING is allowed on dirt roads and two-tracks,and on some designated foot trails. Riding is prohibited on paved roads unless crossing is necessary or if the road is closed.
BACKCOUNTRY CAMPING is allowed in RRCNCA along the Red Rock Summit Road (Rocky Gap). Backpackers should camp above Switchback Spring, well away from water sources. Ground fires are prohibited throughout the RRCNCA because of high fire danger, and slow recovery of vegetation in the dry climate. Camping stoves are the preferred alternative. Charcoal fires are allowed in developed areas only. Hunting is only permissible during hunting season and with a license. For more information about hunting call the Nevada Division of Wildlife at 486-5127. Casual shooting or target shooting is prohibited throughout the RRCNCA.
Glass containers may not be carried on trails or outside of developed picnic areas.
All pets must be on a leash in developed picnic areas and on designated trails. Leaving a pet unattended and tied to an object is prohibited.
Please carry out all trash, litter is an eyesore and a hazard to wildlife. Trash cans are located at all parking areas. Human and dog waste are becoming serious health and sanitation problems in high use areas. Plastic bags are provided at trail heads to allow users to carry waste out and deposit it in toilet vaults.
As visitation to the RRCNCA continues to increase it will be vital to the health of the resources for each user to minimize the impacts of their visit.
The following activities require permits in the RRCNCA:
* backcountry use
* commercial use
* rock climbing
* special events
Map of area
Las Vegas Field Office managed by the
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
HCR 33, Box 5500
Las Vegas, NV 89161
(702) 363-6779 (fax)
Cities & Towns
Parks, Monuments, and Points of Interest
Hoover Dam: Highest concrete dam in the western hemisphere impounds Lake Mead.
Wilderness & Recreation Areas
Mojave National Preserve: The Desert Protection Act created the 1.4 million-acre Mojave National Preserve in the heart of California's Mojave Desert.
Related DesertUSA Pages
- How to Turn Your Smartphone into a Survival Tool
- 26 Tips for Surviving in the Desert
- Your GPS Navigation Systems
May Get You Killed
- 7 Smartphone Apps to Improve Your Camping Experience
- Desert Survival Skills
- Successful Search & Rescue Missions with Happy Endings
- How to Keep Ice Cold in the Desert
Survival Tips for Horse and Rider
an Emergency Survival Kit
Share this page on Facebook:
DesertUSA Newsletter -- We send articles on hiking, camping and places to explore, as well as animals, wildflower reports, plant information and much more. Sign up below or read more about the DesertUSA newsletter here. (It's Free.)