A 40-minute drive from the Vegas Strip leads to Red Rock Canyon, a National ConservationArea offering a peaceful break from the city buzz. Situated in the Mojave Desert, the 3000-foot canyon was formed 65 million years ago when tectonic shifts pushed the limestone sediments from under the ocean. The sandstone minerals have oxidized over the years giving it its unique reddish tint. The area was inhabited by various Native American tribes, Petroglyphs showing drawings and depictions made by these civilizations can also be explored.
A 13-mile one-way loop drive leads around the park’s most iconic locations and is open between 6 am to sunset. Red Rock Canyon also offers endless hiking possibilities at all levels of physicality. The Moenkopi Loop is a short and easy trail with gorgeous views of the Wilson Cliffs, keep an eye out for ancient fossils and different flora throughout the trail. The Petroglyph Wall is another popular trail, leading to the 800-year-old landmark.
For more challenging trails, the Pine Creek Canyon trail presents views of the Ponderosa pine forests, protected by the canyon walls. Similarly, the Calico Hills trails lead from the calico Basin to the Sandstone Quarry. The Keystone Thrust trail passes by the point where the tectonic plates collided giving birth to this marvelous location.
The canyon offers a series of challenging mountainous trails with La Madre Mountain being the highest point in the park at 8154 feet. Visitors can follow trails like the White Rock Mountain Loop with close to 1000 feet of elevation variance and the North Peak leading to the summit of this limestone mountain. Similarly, the Bridge Mountain trail involves a 15.8-mile strenuous hike to the breathtaking peak. To beat the desert’s scorching heat, it is recommended to start your trails early and stock up on water supplies.
When traveling with children, the informative Visitor Center, open between 8 am and 4:30 pm is a good starting place followed by the Lost Creek Children’s Discovery Trail which provides an overview of the area’s habitat, pictographs, and diverse landscape. Red Rock Canyon is home to close to 600 different flora species and wild animals including rabbits, squirrels, and wild burros. The park also offers picnicking possibilities such as the Wilson range and Willow Spring Picnic Area. Overnight stays are possible at the Red Rock Canyon Campground.
Red Rock Canyon guarantees entertaining activities for visitors of all ages, from a relaxed picnic to a scenic drive through or a trail rewarded by panoramic views, this area is definitely worth the $15 entrance fee.