By Matthew Brown
Roughly an hour’s drive northeast of Las Vegas lies a true Silver State treasure, which the state officially recognized as such in 1935 when it dedicated it as Nevada’s inaugural state park.
Since, the area—given its name for the red sandstone formations that define it—has welcomed world travelers interested in camping, hiking, picnicking, photography, and history.
The visitor center, open daily, offers a comprehensive history lesson. Numerous educational exhibits keep guests occupied for hours, as does the gift shop, which sells postcards, books, cactus candies, and various souvenirs. Also, early native inhabitants of the region, and later the Shoshone and Southern Paiute people of Moapa Valley, left petroglyphs (carvings) that are visible on a number of the park’s trails.
If a day trip is not enough, there are two campgrounds—available on a first-come, first-serve basis—with a combined 72 units (20 are RV-friendly). Shaded tables, grills, water, fire pits, and restrooms await visitors, and a dump station and showers are available. Three day-use group areas, each accommodating up to 45 people, can be reserved by calling the park.
Spring and fall are the optimal tourist seasons, as summer highs routinely exceed 100 degrees, and winter mornings and nights can be bitterly cold. In early spring, the park hosts the annual World Atlatl (a notched stick used by prehistoric peoples to add slingshot power to the throwing of a spear) Association contest.
Discover: Petroglyph Canyon Trail provides one of the park’s premier views of Indian rock art and ends at Mouse’s Tank, a stream-worn basin that holds water even in extreme drought and is named for a renegade Southern Paiute who preyed on Indians and settlers alike in the 1890s.
Good to Know: An entrance fee is charged per vehicle upon entering the park. Use of the campgrounds requires an additional fee. Pets are welcome, but they must be kept on a leash of no more than six feet in length and are not allowed in the visitor center.