History and Background of Red Rock Canyon State Park
Some of the first humans who came to Red Rock Canyon State Park were the native Americans. The area was a source for fresh clean water, plant life, and animal life that was otherwise scarce in the surrounding desert.
Then, in the early 20th century, European Americans settled in nearby Las Vegas. They created the Excelsior Company that operated a small sandstone quarry near the Northern area of the scenic loop. It was eventually deemed unethical, and the plant was shut down.
Since then, it has become a protected landmark and enjoyed by all who come and visit. It has even been used for filming locations. You can see the beautiful scenery in the films “Bells of San Angelo” and “The Stalking Moon.”
It lays within just 15 miles of Las Vegas and can easily be seen from the infamous Las Vegas strip. More than 3 million people visit Red Rock Canyon State Park every year!
3 Boondocking Areas Within 7 Miles of Red Rock
Boondocking Site 1.
You can camp for free all along Lovell Canyon Road near Mountain Springs (on the back side of Red Rocks, away from Vegas). You simply follow 160 through the canyon, then turn right on Lovell Canyon, and choose your perfect spot. We had excellent cell service while there, plus Joshua Trees, and great views. There are miles and miles of dirt trails you can hike or mountain bike on as well, which is a nice added bonus.
Boondocking Site 2.
Dispersed camping is allowed in wilderness areas and within 200 feet of designated roads and East of the Bird Creek Range. This property is adjacent to the Cottonwood Valley Bike/Equestian/hiking Trail System. (See Map Below for Directions)
Boondocking Site 3.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area has one developed campground. Red Rock Canyon Campground is located two miles east of the visitor center on West Charleston Blvd (State Route 159). This campground offers 71 individual sites and 7 group sites. The campground is closed in the summer due to extremely high temperatures. There are no electrical, water and sewer hook-ups.
There is no dump station for recreational vehicles. There are no showers. Shade structures are available throughout the group sites and many of the individual sites. Backcountry camping is allowed within Red Rock Canyon NCA above 5,000 feet; backpack camping along the Rocky Gap Road is popular. The backcountry area is remote with no drinking water or firewood for campfires. There is no developed trail system in the backcountry.
Boondocking Site 4
Blue Mass Scenic Area Dispersed camping. Free Dispersed camping in the Bureau of Land Management N/A District. No reservations. First come, first served. Tippett, Nevada
GPS: 39.762963, -114.284811
There are 26 hiking trails to choose from at Red Rock Canyon. For great exercise and beautiful views of Red Rock Canyon, pedal along several trails in Cottonwood Valley. This designated area is just south of the scenic drive, right off highway 160. There are more than 50 miles of stacked loops; pick the adventure and distance right for you!
Horseback riding is allowed on dirt roads and two-tracks, and on some designated foot trails. Riding is prohibited on paved roads unless crossing is necessary or if the road is closed. Inquire at the visitor center for more information about trails open for horseback riding. Guided horseback rides in the Red Rock Canyon area are also available.
How to Get to Red Rock Canyon State Park
Red Rock Canyon State Park is located just a little past the Las Vegas Strip! You can find your way there through Charleston Boulevard, which turns into SR 159. Or, if you are coming from the south, you simply take Blue Diamond Rd/SR 160 West, to the junction with Route 159.
You will know when you’ve arrived because the scenery is spectacular!
Things You Can See at Red Rock Canyon State Park
There are so many things to see at the beautiful Red Rock Canyon State Park. The Aztec Sandstone is vast and you’ll be swept away by their sheer size and their vibrant, red color.
There are also areas of Red Rock Canyon State Park where you can see dinosaur tracks and even tracks of ancient arachnids, like spiders and scorpions.
There are many areas where you can still see ancient petroglyphs, left behind by the Kawaiisu Indians, who inhabited the area long ago. You’ll also find spectacular scenery, a wide array of birds and other wildlife, and sunsets like nothing you’ve ever seen before!
You’ll definitely want to bring a camera for this trip!
Camping, Amenities, and Costs
The Camping Costs at Red Rock Canyon State Park may vary, but you’ll be happy to discover that even at the most expensive, it still won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
Depending on when you want to camp, the costs can run you anywhere between $10.00-$60.00 a night.
The prices vary depending on how many people are camping and around what time of year that you want to camp. Make sure to book your camping trip early though! Often times, Red Rock Canyon State Park gets filled pretty quickly.
Their official website suggests booking 6 months in advance, to ensure that you can have your spot. The earlier you book your stay, the better.
Some of the amenities that Red Rock Canyon State Park offers are; grills, picnic tables, trash receptacles, fire pits, water spigot, fresh drinking water, vault toilets, and even campfire programs.
And for those of you who can’t imagine vacationing without your pets, Red Rock Canyon State Park happily allows pets! So, feel free to bring your four-legged friends along!
Things to See and Do at Red Rock Canyon State Park
Red Rock Canyon State Park has some very fun things that you can check out and experience! Along with its many hiking trails, you can also take a group tour of the canyon! The tour even offers snacks and water.
Just like the hiking trails, you’ll enjoy some amazing scenery and nature, only more in-depth. It’s a wonderful way to really take in all that nature has to offer.
Another fun thing to do in Red Rock Canyon State Park is to check out the Red Rock Casino! If you’re feeling lucky and maybe want to try your hand, you could always see if some major big bucks might be in your future.
Red Rock Canyon State Park also has a massage parlor, where you can go to relax and get pampered. They offer massages and aromatherapy products.
If you enjoy the wilderness aspect of Red Rock Canyon State Park, then you’ll love that you can take a horse ride through the canyon, go bird watching, and even go hunting at this beautiful park.
There is a lot to do nearby, as well, just around the corner from Red Rock Canyon State Park. There are shops, a water park, and even a museum!
Top 9 Hiking Trails in Red Rock Canyon State Park
1. The Girl Scout Trail
This trail leads around the beautiful Calico Hills and it overlooks the Girl Scout picnicking area. On this trail, you’ll enjoy scenic views and wildlife. It’s just a little over a mile long and fairly easy to hike.
2. The SMYC Trail
This hiking trail is moderate but does have a few steep inclines. It’s a quieter trail, very tranquil. You’ll enjoy some spectacular viewpoints of the canyon, on this trail.
3. Lost Creek Trail
If you’re looking for an easy trail, less than a mile, you should check out the Lost Creek Trail. On this trail, you will be sure to see many wondrous things, including ancient petroglyphs.
If you visit during the right time of year, you might even get to enjoy a seasonal waterfall.
The Lost Creek Trail is a little over 4 miles and a moderate hike, but it leads you to some beautiful areas of the park and even a tranquil little creek. You are sure to spot many birds in this area of the park.
4. Moenkop Trail
If you want panoramic views and gorgeous desert flora, then you’ll definitely want to hike the Moenkopi Trail. This trail is easy to hike and just shy of 2 miles. This is the trail where you’ll also get to see some dinosaur footprints!
5. Turtle Head Peak
The Turtlehead Peak Trail is a must-see for the more experienced hikers. This trail is about 4.5 miles long but very strenuous. Be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks to get you through it.
You’ll be left breathless by some of the spectacular views on this trial though. You’ll experience a thrill up in that part of the canyon.
6. La Madre Spring Trail
La Madre Spring is another gorgeous trail you need to hike in Red Rock Canyon State Park! This trail is moderately difficult and is about 3.6 miles.
On this trail, you’ll get to see the contrasting areas of the canyon; everything from the vibrant stone to the lush trees and creeks. This is one trail you’ll want to take your camera on! It boasts spectacular scenery.
7. Bridget Mountain Trail
Bridge Mountain is a difficult hike, not for the faint-hearted. It is 15.8 miles long and you will battle a lot of uphill spots and steep inclines in others.
But, despite the challenge this hike presents, it boasts some truly gorgeous scenery, wildlife, creeks, flora, and panoramic views that are sure to leave you breathless. It is one of the most loved trails at Red Rock Canyon State Park.
8. Ice Box Canyon
The Ice Box Canyon Trail isn’t an easy hike. It’s moderate difficulty and about 2 miles long. But, if you can manage the hike, it will lead you to some of the cooler areas of the canyon. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot waterfalls, rivers, creeks, and so much more.
9. Knoll Trail
Last, but certainly not least, is Knoll Trail. This trail is about 3.6 miles long and moderately difficult to hike. It has a lot of shaded areas though and you are sure to spot a lot of wildlife along the way. That area has a lot of deer, lizards, and vibrant butterflies.
Red Rock Canyon FAQ
1. How much does it cost to go to Red Rock Canyon?
Fees & Passes
Type of Entry Length of Pass Current Fees
Car/Truck 1 Day $15 per vehicle
Motorcycle 1 Day $10 per vehicle
Bicycle/Pedestrian 1 Day $5 per person
Commercial Tour Vehicle (bus, limo, taxi, ride-share, etc.) 1 Day $15 per vehicle + $5 per person
2. How far is the Red Rock Canyon from Las Vegas?
25 miles – Red Rock Canyon is located about 25 miles west of the Las Vegas Strip.
From the Strip and Downtown Las Vegas, the Conservation Area can be approached from Charleston Boulevard, which will turn into SR 159.
Or from the south, take Blue Diamond Rd/SR 160 west to the Junction with Route 159.
3. How long does it take to drive through Red Rock Canyon?
About 40 minutes to just drive through the scenic loop. Should you take the time to visit some of the off-road spots much longer.
There’s a couple of overlooks and very easy, short walk things to look at that would stretch the visit to 60-90 minutes.
For those that want to see more and hike a bit, you could easily spend 3-4 hours at this park.
3. Why is Red Rock Canyon famous?
The red color of some of the outcrops of the Aztec Sandstone is due to the presence of iron oxide or hematite. Exposure to the elements caused iron minerals to oxidize or “rust,” resulting in red, orange, and brown-colored rocks.
4. Which is Better Red Rock Canyon or Valley of Fire?
Both are great and I would recommend all of the three parks including the Gold Butte Primitive Area. You will need a sturdier vehicle for Gold Butte.
Red Rock is an easy “short” day trip and can combine with lunch or other meals at Red Rock casino.
Valley of Fire – to be done properly would be a longer all-day trip with multiple hikes and possibly a roundtrip through Lake Mead.
5. What gear will I need for Red Rock Canyon?
Wear good hiking shoes or athletic shoes, long pants, and long sleeves to protect you from prickly vegetation and sun exposure. Bring with you a first-aid kit, snacks, and an extra layer. *Hike in pairs.
6. Is Red Rock Canyon the Same as Valley of Fire?
Both are beautiful areas to explore the red sandstone found in the area. Valley of Fire and Red Rock Canyon in Las Vegas is not the same thing.
Red Rock Canyon is about 25 minutes west of the downtown Las Vegas and Valley of Fire is about 60 minutes north-east of downtown Las Vegas.
7. Is Red Rock Canyon Safe To Visit Alone?
Steep slopes and cliff edges are dangerous. Do not roll or throw rocks and other items from high places; other visitors may be below you. Watch for snakes sunning on the rocks or shading between them. Temperatures can exceed 110 °F in Red Rock Canyon.
You might also like some of the articles from our website about boondocking and travel.
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