Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Red Rock Canyon was the first designated National Conservation Area in Nevada. It encompasses 195,819 acres and is only about a half hour drive from Las Vegas. It was established in 1990 and is administered by the BLM.  

Geology fans and rock lovers will love Red Rock, and it’s also a favorite with climbers. Hiking, camping, and equestrian opportunities are available, and there is a scenic drive through the Park that highlights some of the special places that are preserved here. This is a Mojave desert site with few seasonal water sources, so make sure to bring your own, and plenty of it when you visit. Elevations reach more than 6500′ in some places, and the temperatures at the canyon floor are generally 7 degrees higher than in Las Vegas proper due to its overall higher elevation than the city. It’s a native habitat to more than 600 plant species in 9 vegetative zones, and home to many types of wildlife, including bighorn sheep, ringtails, and peregrine falcons. Wild horses and burros are also found here. Please don’t feed the burros – those that have learned to associate people with food are frequently hit and killed by cars in their attempts to beg.   

I visited Red Rock in April, 2017 with John Williamson, known for many first ascents of the technical climbs in this area, including the eastern face of highest peak Mt. Wilson. Check out his profile page for links to some of the popular climbing routes here!

Access to much of the area is free, and there is ample free parking along Highway 159 to access trails and climbs. There is a $7 per vehicle fee for the 13-mile scenic drive, unless you have an America the Beautiful Interagency pass, in which case there is no charge.  There is one developed campground; individual sites are $15 per night, and it is closed during the summer. Backcountry camping is possible at elevations higher than 5000′ with a free permit. 

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