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Red Rock Canyon Loop

Canyons and Sandstone Cliffs

Mileage12 miles (20 km)
DurationThe duration is an estimate of a one-way drive and does not include any stops or side-trips.30 minutes
SeasonsThe seasons listed are the best seasons for this scenic drive. If Winter is not mentioned, the road may be closed during the winter.All Seasons
RoadwaysRed Rock Canyon Road
Forest PassesSome of the adventures on this scenic drive require an admission fee that these passes cover. Please read the drive description for more information.America the Beautiful Annual Pass
ServicesThe cities or towns listed have either Food or Services such as gas, hotels, pharmacies, etc.Summerlin, NV, and Blue Diamond, NV
Rating
4.0 average from 30 votes
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Elevation Graph for Red Rock Canyon Loop

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Natural areas along this route require an entrance fee used to protect and maintain our most scenic treasures. Save time by purchasing your forest passes before you go.

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Description

Less than 20 minutes from Las Vegas, canyons made of sandstone cliffs dominate the vista. Created by millions of years of geological forces, fractured faults where the earth’s crust collided and fossilized sand dunes, this area is a large contrast to the city.

A rock sculpture in Red Rock Canyon
A rock sculpture in Red Rock Canyon

This scenic route travels through the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The park is open from 6am to 8pm during the spring summer and 6am to 5pm during the fall and winter. The park does require a fee and the America the Beautiful is accepted.

To reach Red Rock Canyon from Las Vegas, head west on West Charleston Boulevard/NV-159 until you reach the Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area.

As you enter the park, we recommend a stop in the Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center (I1). An outdoor exhibit divided into four themes, Earth, Air, Fire and Water offers a chance to learn about the history, geology, animal and plant life. The cooler temperatures of the Conservation Area provide relief for wildlife and over 200 different mammals including burros, rabbits, coyotes, bighorn sheep, red-tailed hawks, golden eagles, hummingbirds and even a few wild horses, bobcats and mountain lions can be found here.

Leaving the visitor center, the scenic drive climbs into the Calico Hills where sandstone hills have been separated by the canyons. Within a few miles, stop at Sandstone Quarry (H1), which in addition to other trails, a 2.5-mile hike will bring you to the Calico Tanks. The Calico Tanks are rare pools of rainwater that collect in the sandstone indentations making it a popular location for wildlife watching.

Leaving the Sandstone Quarry, the drive will continue to climb. Take advantage of the various pullouts, especially High Point Overlook which is just above 4,000 feet of elevation and provides a spectacular panoramic view of the canyon and surrounding beauty.

Shortly after High Point Overlook will be the parking area for the White Rock and Willow Springs (H2) hike. While the full 4-mile hike to Willow Springs may not fit into your schedule, you should consider walking part of it and enjoying a picnic.

A couple of miles ahead will be the trailhead to Ice Box Canyon (H3) where you can enjoy a 2.6-mile hike through the hot desert and at the end, you will be rewarded by the seasonal waterfall, where you can cool down for your trek back.

Continuing the loop, stop at the Red Rock Wash Overlook (V2), which provides another perspective of the Red Rock Canyon.

The scenic drive continues until you arrive at NV-159. From here, stop at the Red Rock Canyon Overlook (V3) and consider heading to Las Vegas for a different type of scenic drive.

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