Wanderlust America

The Ultimate Guide to Red Rock Canyon

The Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is located just a few miles from Las Vegas and encompasses 195,819 acres within the Mojave Desert. It is one of the best places to visit outside of Sin City and is just a 30-minute drive away. If you decide to visit, you could be driving through an expansive display of red sandstone peaks and walking among thousands of years of geological history. In this guide, we will share some of the best things to do when in Red Rock Canyon and how to get there.  

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Things to do at Red Rock Canyon

  • Red Rock Scenic Drive – It is one of the most obvious things to do when you are at Red Rock Canyon. Make sure you bring your camera along on this 13-mile stretch that has views of Red Rock’s most famous attractions. You can travel on this road either in a car or use a bike. The best time to drive or bike is just after sunrise so you can see Red Rock in all its glory.   
  • Calico Tank Trails – The trail is just over 2 miles and has some brilliant views to offer. Even though the hike isn’t too long, it does require a bit of scrambling and hiking but you will be rewarded with some amazing views at the end of it. You can see the famous Sandstone cliffs and the Calico Tank water hole as well.   
  • Calico Hills – If you love hiking, make sure to check out Calico Hills. It runs from the basin at the base of Calico Rocks to a wonderful sandstone summit. It requires some hard work to finish this hike, so it is recommended only for experienced hikers.   
  • Ice Box Canyon – Ice Box Canyon is another sight that you must see while you are at Red Rock Canyon. It is a very splendid attraction given the red sandstone that defines this area. Ice Box Canyon is a very narrow canyon that has white, yellow, and gray-stripped rocks, and getting there will require some climbing to do. You will also be able to see one of the waterfalls in Red Rock when you cross the boulders.   
  • Lost Creek – If you wish to see a beautiful waterfall in Red Rock then you must visit Lost Creek. Remember, to visit between December and April when the temperatures aren’t as hot. There is also a Lost Creek – Children’s Discovery Trail that is worth doing. It is a very short and easy trail where you can take children along with you and discover a variety of flora and fauna on the way.   
  • Petroglyph Wall – This is again something not to miss, especially if you’re visiting with kids. It is a 20-minute walk that you can easily complete with children from the Willow Spring Picnic Area. You can, along with children, examine the carved pictographs that are engraved on rock walls that depict ancient symbols and animals. Remember to not let the children take the petroglyphs as the oil from their hands could damage them.   
  • See Wild Burros along First Creek Canyon Trail – It is a 4-mile trail that you will find to be heavily trafficked and is a scenic route through pine trees and willow trees. This area is very regularly visited by wild burros so make sure you have your eyes open to see them.   
  • Rock Climbing – While you might be hiking, you may see some courageous people rock climbing on sandstone cliffs. It is a prime rock-climbing destination, and you can find both beginner and advanced routes throughout the park. All through the park you shall be able to find specially designed routes for sport climbing and rock climbing on cliffs such as Calico Hills Trail 
  • Fly Over by Helicopter – The landscape of Red Rock Canyon is quite magnificent to view but imagine looking at it from a bird’s eye view. Taking a helicopter ride over the entire area is one of the best things to do at Red Rock. This will be an unforgettable experience for you and there are a few helicopter tours available. On one of the tours, the helicopter will depart from the Vegas Strip and go over the Mojave Desert and in the end land at an astonishing lookout point. The tour usually lasts for about 30 minutes, and you also get to enjoy a champagne toast.   
  • Biking – Similarly you can also take a bike tour of Red Rock Canyon. It will give you a different perspective of the park and let you explore about 20 miles along the Blue Diamond and Red Rock scenic paths. You will be able to travel on an electric bike at your own pace. There is also an e-bike tour available where you can luxuriously ride through the area while taking pictures along the way. 
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How to get there

Red Rock Canyon is a 30-minute drive from the Last Vegas Strip. While there are many buses, commercial tours, and even private car services that can be booked from hotels in the strip, no public transport is allowed to enter Red Rock Canyon.   

If you are coming there by driving, set the GPS to Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center or 3205 State Highway 159, Las Vegas, NV 89161 or you can follow the directions given below  

  • Take Las Vegas Boulevard N to I-515 N/US-95 N.  
  • Follow US-95N to NV-613/Summerlin Parkway W.  
  • Take the right exit onto Co Road 215 S/Bruce Woodbury Beltway S.  
  • Take exit 26 for Charleston Boulevard/NV-159.  
  • Turn right into NV-159 W/W Charleston Boulevard.  
  • Follow the signs for Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Center/Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center.

Admission and best time to visit

Red Rock Canyon hours vary by every season  

  • November-February: 6 am to 5pm  
  • March: 6amTO 7pm  
  • April-September: 6 am to 8pm  
  • October: 6 am to 7pm  

The Red Rock Visitor Center is open every day from 9 am to 4:30 pm. There is an entry fee of $15 per vehicle/per day and $5 for bike.   

The best time to visit Red Rock is in the spring or fall as the temperature is lower and you will be more comfortable hiking or rock climbing. April is also a good month to visit as the wildflowers are usually blooming around that time and waterfalls are supposed to be flowing. You will find extreme heat during summers at Red Rock and too cold to do anything during winters.  

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  • Camping – You can book a site at the Red Rock Canyon Campground which is situated just 2 miles from the visitor center. This is the only camp at the park. There isn’t any electric or water hookup at the campground. It does have vault toilets but no showers. Here there are 53 individual sites, 6 RV sites, and 7 large group campsites. Rates start at $10 for individuals and $20 for RV sites.   
  • Hotels – There are plenty of hotels present in the nearby town of Summerlin, Nevada. It is partly within the city limits of Las Vegas so it can be a perfect place to stay if you want to visit both Red Rock and Las Vegas.   


Here are five restaurants to try near Red Rock Canyon  

  • Eat Summerlin Proper  
  • Bonnie Springs Ranch Restaurant  
  • Krayvings  
  • Hearthstone  
  • The Cracked Egg  
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  • Remember to carry a lot of water with you, especially if you wish to go on hikes or trails 
  • You should stop by the visitor center or download the trail maps before going on your trek.  
  • Dress appropriately, as it is very warm during summer. Wear proper hiking and walking shoes as you will have to do a lot of walking and always carry sunglasses and a hat with you.   

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