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Things To Do While In Vegas: Red Rock Canyon

Updated: Feb 17

Just a short thirty-minute drive from the neon lights of Vegas, Red Rock Canyon offers a sanctuary of natural beauty and vibrant landscapes. The conservation area promises adventure, fresh air, and a quiet respite from wild Vegas nights. 

red rock canyon

I hired a car for my week in Vegas because I wanted to dedicate my daytime to exploring off-strip. Aside from Red Rock Canyon, I visited Grand Canyon West, Boulder City, and Lake Mead, all within reasonable day trip driving distances from the heart of Vegas. 

With a day pass costing only $25 per car, Red Rock Canyon is accessible to everyone who wants to immerse themselves in natural beauty. The heart of this natural conservation area is its 13-mile scenic drive, a one-way loop that guides visitors through a panorama of the canyon's highs and lows. Note that it's advised that you make a reservation on their website prior to visiting.

Numerous scenic stops and trailheads along this drive offer a unique perspective on the canyon's geological formations; there's enough there to spend more than a couple of days exploring all levels of hiking trailheads, but the following is a leisurely itinerary that worked for me on my half-day visit to the canyon which is probably what is realistically management when you are working with late nights and fuzzy mornings. 

red rock canyon

Calico Hills 1 

My day began around noon at the Calico Hills 1 Viewpoint. It's the first stop on the scenic loop and conveniently near the park's entrance. The view of the red rocks against the blue sky is mesmerizing, and it's surprising how big they are. I spent about 15 minutes here and walked down the hill a bit to take photos. 

Calico Tanks

I decided to do the Calico Tanks hiking trail, which blends scenery with a workout. It takes about two hours if you are relatively fit. The hiking took about 80 minutes, there and back, and I spent 40 minutes having a picnic at the end, where there are incredible views over Las Vegas, including the strip in the distance. 

red rock canyon

Note that you need supportive shoes. I did it in cute hiking boots that didn't support my ankles enough. Next time, I'd wear classic hiking boots because there are a lot of boulders to walk up and down, and you have to balance and use agility on this hike. 

Overall, the hike delivered what it promised—a blend of nature, beauty, and a challenge. The first part of the trail is flat and easy, then it progressively becomes more challenging and is gradually mostly uphill, so the walk back is much easier. There are many markers, but pay attention because losing them and going off course is relatively easy. 

I loved the view of the Vegas Strip. I could've stayed looking at the Vegas Vista contrasting nature and human creation for longer. 

red rock canyon

Hilltop Viewpoint

Midway through the scenic loop, the Hilltop Viewpoint offers a panoramic of the canyon. In the second half of the scenic loop, the scenery changes from the typical orange sandy desert look to more greenery. 

Pine Creek Canyon 

Pine Creek Canyon was my final stop. I would've liked to have done more of the hike there. I went for about 30 minutes and turned back because the sun was starting to set, but on my next trip, I'd go back and do more. The lush greenery and the hidden waterway offer a change from the arid beauty of the Calico rocks. The trail feels like a desert oasis, showing the diverse ecosystems within Red Rock Canyon.

charlotte ahern at red rock canyon

Red Rock Canyon is an experience of engaging with nature that offers the complete opposite of everything else associated with Las Vegas. I recommended spending a 9am-5pm day at Red Rock Canyon to allow for more than the five-hour taster I got. 

As a travel blog dedicated to uncovering the world's most aesthetic and inspiring destinations, my journey through Red Rock Canyon reminded me of the beauty waiting just beyond the city's edge that we sometimes overlook. 

For those who travel with a desire for luxury found on the strip but also want adventure and to get in a workout while seeing something beautiful, Red Rock Canyon is the perfect day escape from the strip. 

It's a place where the rugged beauty of the desert meets the refined pursuit of aesthetic travel and is an excellent place for hiking or photography enthusiasts. It's for you who seek to infuse your travels with beauty, adventure, and freedom. It is a testament to the allure of the natural world, inviting us to explore, reflect, and ultimately appreciate how our planet astonishes us. 

Find out about more Red Rock Canyon and their trails on their website here.

Share Your Thoughts

Have you been to Red Rock Canyon? Are there any hikes you recommend? I'd love to hear from you.


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