Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

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.

 

General Info

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).

 

Visitor Center

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.

Visitor Center at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Nevada

Visitor Center

Visitor Center at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Nevada

Visitor Center

View from the visitor center at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Nevada

View from the visitor center

 

Scenic Drive

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.

Calico I at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Nevada

Calico I

Calico I at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Nevada

Calico I

View from Calico I at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Nevada

View from Calico I

View from Calico I at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Nevada

View from Calico I

Next is Calico II, which has more red rocks to admire.

Calico II at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Nevada

Calico II

Calico II at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Nevada

Calico II

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!

Sandstone Quarry at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Nevada

Sandstone Quarry

Sandstone Quarry at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Nevada

Sandstone Quarry

High Point Overlook, one of the best viewpoints on the entire scenic drive, is next. I’ll let the view speak for itself:

High Point Overlook at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Nevada

High Point Overlook

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.

Willow Springs Loop at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Nevada

Willow Springs Loop

Willow Springs Loop at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Nevada

Willow Springs Loop

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.

Ice Box Canyon at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Nevada

Ice Box Canyon

Ice Box Canyon at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Nevada

Ice Box Canyon

Red Rock Wash Overlook at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Nevada

Red Rock Wash Overlook

Pine Creek Canyon at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Nevada

Pine Creek Canyon

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