The 195,819-acre (79,245-hectare) Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Nevada comprises a network of narrow canyons, seasonal waterfalls, rock art sites, and surreal rock formations with ample opportunity for hiking, biking, rock climbing, and desert wildlife watching, all a short drive from Las Vegas.
Red Rock Canyon, with its large formations of red rocks and ample outdoor activities, sits a world away from Las Vegas, despite being visible from the city. Rock climbers come to conquer the 3,000-foot (914-meter) red sandstone walls of Keystone Thrust, while mountain bikers find optimal conditions on the Mustang Trail. Some of the best views of the American Southwest landscape come from the Red Rock Canyon Overlook, a 13-mile scenic loop through the park that gives visitors a look at the Mojave Desert scenery from the comfort of a car or bicycle. Tour options are plentiful—horseback rides, guided hikes, electric bike rides, Segway, and scooter tours, or even a romantic hot air balloon ride.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Red Rock Canyon is a must-see for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure travelers.
- Wear comfortable shoes suitable for walking over uneven ground.
- The canyon provides little shade, so don't forget to bring sunscreen, a hat, and plenty of drinking water.
- Most tours from Las Vegas last four to six hours.
How to Get to Red Rock Canyon
Red Rock Canyon is located 25 miles (40 km) west of the Las Vegas Strip. Since there are no public transportation options between Las Vegas and the canyon, most visitors either take guided tours with return transportation from Las Vegas hotels or drive their own vehicles via SR 159.
When to Get There
Red Rock Canyon is open throughout the year, with slightly shorter hours during the winter season (November to February). The visitor center is open daily. For optimal hiking conditions, plan to visit between November and March; expect temperatures as high as 120 degrees F (49 degrees C) during summer.
Things to See In and Around Red Rock Canyon
Because the Red Rock National Conservation Area covers such a sizable swathe of desert, it's home to many worthy natural attractions. The Calico Hills are one of the park's most famous sites, accessible via a moderate hiking trail. Visitors will find old agave roasting pits from Native American history along the Calico Tanks Trail, while Willow Springs boasts petroglyphs. Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, situated adjacent to Red Rock Canyon, was once a working ranch owned by millionaire Howard Hughes.