By Chris Moran
There are 19 trails at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area; I didn’t hike one of them.
Instead, I wandered off the path and scrambled up the towering sandstone outcroppings. I couldn’t resist — I wanted to see the red-and-white-striped rocks up close, especially after spotting groups of people, including families with young children, doing the same thing.
I had a blast. It was fairly easy to walk over the rock slabs — red because of iron oxide in the stone — and pick my way up to the top of a boulder, where I had a view of the Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center and the 13-mile loop drive off of which are numerous trailheads. Because it was spring, the sagebrush and other plants growing in the valley areas still were very green, and the temperature was moderate (the average high in March is 64 degrees Fahrenheit, according to www.weather.com, but it can be in the 90s during the summer months). Even so, I carried drinking water — the Red Rock Canyon Visitor Guide suggests carrying one gallon per day if you are hiking.
Besides hiking — and scrambling over rock slabs — bicycling, rock climbing and horseback riding is done at Red Rock Canyon NCA. Every spring, an annual rock climbing festival —Red Rock Rendezvous, an event for beginning to advanced climbers — happens at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, a Nevada state park within the 196,000-acre Red Rock Canyon NCA.
A great place to orient yourself before embarking on your adventure is the Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center, which has information and exhibits on the area’s natural history, geology, wildlife and more, as well as a gift shop.