Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is a great desert getaway just a short drive from Las Vegas. If you’re looking to take a breather from all the bright lights on the Strip, this is a nice option for a full or half day.
Red Rock Canyon has a US$7 admission fee per vehicle (as of November 2017). That fee is waived if you have an interagency pass. Additional permits are required for rock climbing or late exits. One campground is located two miles east of the visitor center and costs US$15 (as of November 2017).
The visitor center is located just after the fee station. There, you can learn about the geology and wildlife at the park, buy souvenirs in the gift shop, and fill up your water bottle. A nice view of the rocks can also be found.
The main attraction is the one-way 13 mile scenic drive. There are several different overlooks on the route, many with trailheads. If you’re into hiking, there are 26 different trails to choose from of varying degrees of difficulty. On my second visit, we did one trail which I’ll write about below.
The first stop on the scenic drive is Calico I, where you’ll be able to learn more about how the rocks were formed and why they have a red color. There are great views on both sides of the road.
Next is Calico II, which has more red rocks to admire.
The third stop is Sandstone Quarry, where an actual quarry was once located. Here, you can access the popular Calico Tanks (#3) and Turtlehead Peak (#4) trails. Both are on my list for next time!
High Point Overlook, one of the best viewpoints on the entire scenic drive, is next. I’ll let the view speak for itself:
At Lost Creek is where we decided to do our short hike, the Willow Springs Loop (#9). Since we had my dad with us, we wanted to do an easy trail that wouldn’t be too much trouble for him. Unfortunately, we found it wasn’t well-marked (along with another group that was ahead of us) and we only did a portion of it.
The last few stops on the scenic drive aren’t as colorful, but we stopped to take a look. First is Icebox Canyon, followed by Red Rock Wash Overlook and Pine Creek Canyon.