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Having been to Las Vegas multiple times, I have always wanted to take some day trips from the strip. Red Rock Canyon is truly breath taking and the pictures on Google do not do it justice. Just driving into this park it felt like entering prehistoric times and that a dinosaur was going to jump out at me at any moment! The only other time I had this feeling was at Monument Valley.
Arriving at Red Rock Canyon
Red Rock Canyon is about 40 minutes west from the Las Vegas strip and encompasses 195,819 acres within the Mojave Desert. Luckily my friend lives right next to it, so I stayed at her house overnight so I could head out early.
If you are not interested in hiking you should still make this park a stop on your trip to Las Vegas. There are so many wonderful view points without any hiking at all! The entrance fee is $15 per vehicle and totally worth it! If I had more time in Las Vegas I would have gone more than once. Once you pay the entrance fee you will be given a map that points about all the trail heads, parking, and view points along the scenic loop.
When to Visit
Get to Red Rock Canyon early in the morning! Especially if you are visiting Las Vegas during the cooler fall, winter, and spring months. I visited during summer and still went super early in the morning to beat the heat. The parking lots for the view points and hikes were almost completely when I arrived, but had filled up about half way when I left.
Because I went during summer it was not as busy.
Getting To Red Rock Canyon
There’s no public transportation to Red Rock Canyon so renting a car for a day is probably the best way to get here.
How to Pick a Hike in Red Rock Canyon
With 26 hiking trails in Red Rock Canyon to choose from, it’s hard to pick one. I was only in Vegas for a short time and only had time to do one hike. So talking to a local, Gary, suggested Calico Tanks. He said the Calico Tanks hike would offer an incredible view of the Las Vegas strip. And he was right! The view from the top of Calico Tanks was incredible! So thanks Gary for this amazing recommendation.
Hiking Calico Tanks
Calico Tanks is a moderate to challenging hike. There is quite a bit of uphill and unsteady terrain to cover. I hiked Calico tanks with my DSLR, tripod, and a 24 ounce bottle of water.
The hike starts off pretty flat then ascends higher and higher until you get to the “tanks.” The tanks is like a pond that fills with water when it rains in Las Vegas. Since I went in the middle of summer the tanks were empty. Once you pass the tanks, you climb up some rocks and you will have a beautiful view of the Las Vegas strip.
After getting to the view point, there’s actually quite a few rocks and ledges you can climb. If you are afraid of heights, though this may be a bit scary for you!
Best Time to Hike Calico Tanks
Calico Tanks is quite a popular hike in Las Vegas and I’d suggest you do this hike early in the morning. Arriving at the view point in the morning, I was the second to first person there. But about half an hour later more and more people arrived. There where were about a dozen people at the viewpoint by the time I left.
I hiked Calico Tanks in the middle of July so hiking it in the morning is better to avoid the heat. Unlike Valley of Fire, Calico Tanks has some shade when you are in the valley, so it was not as hot.
What to Bring for a Day Trip to Red Rock Canyon
I went to Red Rock Canyon in the middle of summer so it was pretty hot. Bring plenty of water to drink, and keep it in this bottle to keep it cold!
Though hiking through Calico Tanks there was quite a bit of shade I still recommend wearing a UV shirt – CHECK PRICES, because there are areas of sun, and the Las Vegas sun is intense!
Red Rock Canyon Scenic Drive
After your hike, or if you don’t want to hike definitely take advantage of the Red Rock Canyon scenic drive. The Red Rock Scenic drive is a 13 mile one way loop around the park. There’s so many beautiful overlooks and stops on this scenic drive that you’ll want to stop at them all to take a picture!
If you want even more hikes near Las Vegas, Valley of Fire is amazing! It’s only about a 1 hour drive from Las Vegas.
Travel Tip for Red Rock Canyon
There is limited cellular coverage at Red Rock Canyon. Even though it’s hard to get lost here, you are still in the desert. Bring plenty of water with you and download the Google map of the entire area while you are on wifi. With the Google Map on your phone, you will know where you are because your GPS will still work without cellular coverage.
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