Filed under: Nature & Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation & Hiking, State & National Parks
The Gorgeous Red Rock Canyon, NV…
While we were staying in Las Vegas, Nevada, this past week, we took a little drive out of town to visit the beautiful Red Rock Canyon. RRC is a National Conservation Area (the land is managed by BLM) so we were able to get in for free with our National Parks Access Pass; otherwise, admittance for your vehicle is $7.
We first made a stop at the modern visitor’s center, where the younger kids did a scavenger hunt – RRC is working on a Jr. Ranger program but is is not completed yet. At the visitor’s center there were a few fun, interactive activities like making rubbings off of (reproduction) petroglyphs, and looking at pollen and insect wings through microscopes. Outside of the visitor’s center is an easy, handicap accessible walk through a very nice courtyard full of displays and statues (in the courtyard were all the animals that the kids had to find for their scavenger hunt). While we were at the visitor’s center, we also picked up a NV state road map and the visitor’s guide to the park. The visitor’s guide had hours, rules, a map of the park, and a page of hiking trail descriptions.
After a quick sack lunch in the parking lot (which has RV friendly parking), we drove the one-way 13 mile scenic loop of the canyon; tho I read that to see the actual Red Rock Canyon, you have to go off-road with a high clearance 4×4. We were content to check out the beautiful red rocks that we could easily view from the loop! :) The drive is along nicely paved roads, and while it is curvy, the road is wide enough for larger rigs. -And on a side note; while I can’t vouch for these tours themselves, we saw some very cool guided tours being conducted in snazzy pink rigs – the company was PinkJeepTours.com…- their custom Tour Trekker vehicles are quite unique - I could so drive one of those on our trip filled with my kiddos (too bad they only seat 10! LOL! Looked fun!)
We did want to get out and check out the formations, but we also wanted to make it a short jaunt both because of the weather (chilly day) and because the little ones were more in the mood for naps than hikes. We found the PERFECT spot for getting out if you are pressed for time or are traveling with littles and don’t want to venture far from the car… Take the drive until you get a little more than half way around the loop, and take the Lost Creek Road. Up Lost Creek are 3 parking areas (not really room for large rv turnarounds unless it’s not a busy day) - pull into the third parking lot, which also has restrooms and quite a few nice picnic tables up close to the rock face. Right straight in front of the sidewalk and picnic tables is a small ledge, and in the left hand corner of the ledge (looking on) is a cave :) You cannot see it from below, but the boys discovered it while they were climbing, and we almost couldn’t leave! They discovered that you can also access the cave from a hole in the rocks higher up, and an earlier explorer tied a rope at the top for future spelunkers! The boys had a great time checking out every inch of the cave - thank goodness they pack all sorts of ‘necessities’ on their belts, and were well equipped with flashlights (be sure to pack one if you hope to explore the cave!)!
If cave exploring isn’t your cup of tea, there were tons of other hikes, of varying difficulties and distances, and through diverse landscapes. Also, it seems that RRC is a popular destination for rock climbers, apparently it is one of the top 5 climbing destinations in the US. Our first day spent there checking out the Lost Creek area was so enjoyable that the guys went back the next day and hiked up Ice Box Canyon; according to the hiking guide the walk into Ice Box Canyon is 2.6 miles with a 300 ft. gain – it’s supposed to be of moderate difficulty and take approx. 2 hours. If you are used to getting out, the hiking guide seems to be a bit pessimistic – our 6 y.o. hiked Ice Box with no problems, and it took the guys less than 90 minutes to complete (with said 6 year old).
Red Rock Canyon is a beautiful drive and a fabulous place to get out and explore! While there isn’t any camping in the park, nearby Las Vegas has no shortage of RV parks (you can search for nearby campground listings over at Woodall’s Family Campground Listings). We were pleasantly surprised at the beauty that we discovered in this little area of the park; the scenic drive covers only a minuscule portion of the over 195,000 acres that make up the conservation area. And while we are not overly impressed with the ‘family friendliness’ of Las Vegas itself, we will definitely come back to this area to tour the beautiful Red Rock Canyon again and earn those forthcoming Jr. Ranger badges!!!