Red Rock Canyon: What to Do in Nevada’s Hidden Gem

Home to stunning patterned red sandstone boulders and peaks, Native American petroglyphs, waterfalls, and impressive views that span the 13-mile national park, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is, to put it simply, striking. And it’s this stark beauty so close to Las Vegas, NV that may just pull you away from the Strip and down one of its many trails. There’s a certain allure to Red Rocks as it’s intimately called by the climbing community that sparks adventure.

Curious to know what adventures called to me? I’ll share it all with you below, but promise me you’ll also carve out your own adventure as well as there’s so much to see and do in this area!

White Rock Mountain Loop

Distance: 6 miles
Difficulty level: moderate to difficult
Elevation: over 1,000 feet
Entrance: Willow Spring Picnic area
What to bring: sunscreen, hat, plenty of water, sunglasses and comfortably worn hiking boots and thick socks

This trail winds in and out of multiple habitats and encompasses pretty much everything you’d expect on a good hike: a waterfall, solid elevation gain leading to panoramic views, various mountain ranges and rock formations, canyons and the occasional wildlife encounter. According to the park’s map, this area is also the most popular for bighorn sheep sightings!

The trail starts at the Willow Spring Picnic area. Snuggled into vast mountains, the area is easily accessible and offers decent parking – depending on the season. Get up early to avoid having to park down the road.

Add on a visit to the Native American pictographs, which are located just a short walk away from the picnic entrance, and you’re in for another treat! There are signs that will guide you there so keep an eye out for those.

From there, be sure to hop over to Lost Creek Canyon Trail after, a must-do for families with little ones as there’s a discovery area for youngsters. After meandering around this area connect to the actual White Rock trailhead by following a path back to the picnic area and crossing the road.

The White Rock trail takes you up and around the most northwestern part of the National Park with picturesque views of the Lime Canyon and Mount Wilson Wildernesses. Climb up through spotted sandstone boulders, cottonwood trees and mountain ranges splashed with color. Along the way back to the picnic area, stop by La Madre Spring for a quick dip before finishing your trek.

Bouldering

Red Rocks brings the boulders, and boy do I mean that. It’s known in the bouldering community as the “nice place to boulder” and there are many reasons why. There are thousands of bouldering problems here for climbers of any skill level from V0 to V10. Here’s what you should know:

  • Pack it out: Please understand that these climbing areas are precious to everyone and should definitely be seen and played on by anyone wishing to do so. Therefore, it’s extremely important that we do our part by maintaining these areas. Please pick up and pack out your trash and treat the boulders like you would a close family member: with respect.
  • Consult Mountain Project: It’s honestly the best resource to determine which boulders are suitable for your skill level and desire. See more here.
  • Practice safety: Climbing outside is a lot more difficult than it is indoors at the gym. Ensure you have a crash pad and remember that once you reach the top you also need to come back down.
  • Be mindful of weather: Remember sandstone can get damaged when wet and makes for unsafe bouldering conditions.
  • Scope out bouldering problems for beginners: poker chips, plumber’s crack and perfect poser are great V0-V1 problems to either start with or warm up on – make sure you climb up the correct side!

Scenic Loop Drive

The last must-do in Red Rocks that I’m going to suggest is taking a drive into the park and cruising in and out of the landscape taking pictures whenever you see fit.

And if you get the chance and have the ability, I also highly recommend long boarding down this road as it just looks BADASS. Adventure well, my friend!

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