Red Rock Canyon Scenic Byway
NileGuide Expert Says:
The hilly, curvy road is a blast to drive--but look out for bikers and hikers.
Off Nevada State Route 159
Las Vegas, NV 89124
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area has one paved road through its protected lands. The Red Rock "Loop," as locals refer to it, is a 13-mile, one-way scenic drive that weaves past the spectacular rock formations in Red Rock Canyon. The road itself is great fun to drive--if you like winding, curvy, slightly hilly roads with no guardrails. The Loop is a favorite photo-shoot backdrop for car clubs of all kinds, precisely because it's a such an enjoyable drive. This is a one-way road, but in its former life, this road was two-lanes. Drivers who like to take it slow should move to the right and let the faster cars pass.
The first pull-outs on the Loop overlook the Calico Hills. These overlooks are crowded with tourists, hikers, photographers, and rock climbers. Take a good look at the Calico Hills and you're likely to find several climbers clinging to its vertical rock walls.
Sandstone Quarry is another popular stop along the Scenic Drive. Its name signifies exactly what it formerly was, and visitors who want to stretch their legs but not go for a hike will find this a good stop, but there are no picnic tables here.
High Point Overlook has a roomy parking lot and coin-operated binoculars. You can see the southwestern tip of the Las Vegas Valley from here, along with an expansive view of Red Rock's cliffs. If you can catch a full moon rising over the Calico Hills, it makes a great picture from this spot.
Further down the road, drivers will find picnic tables at Willow Springs, close to the Children's Discovery Trail and the Lost Creek Trail. (Experienced 4WD drivers may want to try Rocky Gap Road, which goes over the mountains here. Check on road conditions before attempting this drive).
Photographers adore the Red Rock Scenic Loop, and if you're in this group, plan on pulling over often. Red Rock's scenery appears frequently in movies, and it's also a favorite spot for weddings, romantic drives and picnics.
Visitors who don't want to hike or climb can still enjoy a drive along the Loop, which ends back at State Route 159. The Red Rock Overlook sits just off SR159, and it has covered picnic tables. Drivers can pull in here for a panoramic view of Red Rock Canyon, and there's no entrance fee. A short trail climbs a hill just east of the parking lot, and several benches give people the chance to stop and rest, or simply to stop and enjoy the view.
The Red Rock Canyon Scenic Loop is open from daylight to dark; hours change according to the seasons. Admission is $7 per vehicle.