In about six more weeks, temperatures in Las Vegas will be in the mid-90s (35 C). Right now, highs are in the 80s. Visitors who like the outdoors can find plenty of afternoon jaunts to take them away from the slot machines. This is a great time to enjoy the pleasant weather, and if you like to hike, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is full of trails. The hikes range from very easy nature walks to challenging assaults, like the trail to the top of Turtle Head Mountain.
The entrance station to Red Rock is just off State Route 159, and a 13-mile scenic loop will take you through the area, past sandstone cliffs and desert landscape. You’ll receive a brochure at the entrance station, and it has descriptions of all the hikes. Short trails include the Children’s Discovery Trail and the Fire Ecology Trail (part of the Pine Creek Trail), both of which lead to desert water sources. Before you set off into Red Rock, stop at the visitor station, especially if you haven’t been in a desert environment before. Most importantly, take water! No matter how nice the temperature is, it’s a desert, which means it’s very dry.
Red Rock is popular with rock climbers, and as you cruise the scenic road, scan the vertical cliff faces of the Calico Hills and you’ll spot climbers roped to the sandstone. Better yet, pull over if you want to get a good look–the loop road is a winding, narrow road that you’ll want to keep your eyes on. The highest point at Red Rock is marked with a large pull-out. This vantage point will let you see into the Las Vegas valley and over the mountainous landscape. Time your visit just right, and you might be there when the sun is setting and a full moon is rising to the east. It’s a sight sure to explain why Red Rock Canyon captivates so many people, locals and visitors alike.
Upper right photo of Turtle Head Mountain courtesy of Exothermic / Joel יוֹאֵל
Other photos courtesy of Terrisa Meeks