One of the most scenic places in southern Nevada is as popular with tourists as it is with locals. More than one million people make the journey to the incredible Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area every year, which gets its name from the fantastic red sandstone formations that can be found throughout the region. Whether they’re traveling from across Nevada or across the globe, the magnificent desert landscape is certainly worth the trip.
The startling contrast of red sandstone layered through gray limestone in the sheer cliff faces, some of which reach a staggering 1,800 feet, is an incredible natural wonder that won’t soon be forgotten. The sandstone is part of the same geologic formation, known as the Navaho Formation, which is also found throughout the southwest United States.
Red Rock Canyon, which measures more than 195,000 acres, is Nevada’s first National Conservation Area and serves as a prime example of the unique qualities of the Mojave Desert. Although the recreation area is just 17 miles west of the Las Vegas Strip – close enough that peak tops are visible from the Las Vegas Valley – it’s worlds away in terms of atmosphere.
Beyond the spectacular sightseeing and photographic opportunities, Red Rock offers an array of recreational pursuits. Visitors can horseback ride, picnic and rock climb, which is a very popular activity in the conservation area. Horseback riders will find numerous trails authorized for equestrian use among the fiery red sandstone of this BLM manages area. Equestrians should inquire about water and other hazards before tackling trails. There is also a 13-mile scenic drive, over 30 miles of fantastic hiking trails and a visitor center with a bookstore and exhibit rooms.
Serious rock climbers covet the challenges of Red Rock Canyon's towering sandstone ridges and huge boulders. With more than 1,200 named routes, there are plenty of choices for every ability. Most of the rock is Aztec sandstone, and the desert varnish rock is considered to be the most difficult.
YDS: 5.2 - 5.14b
Getting There: Red Rock Canyon is 20 miles west of Las Vegas on State Route 159. Some of the most popular crags are:
Cannibal Crag: 19 routes ranging from 5.6 - 5.12d
Dog Wall: Moderate routes with one 5.7 and several more advanced climbs.
Panty Wall: Popular for its 5.6 to 5.12a routes Magic Bus: Routes range from 5.8 to 5.10a
Black Corridor: Very popular for its high concentration of routes and for the fact that its almost always shady. Routes range from 5.9 to 5.12a.
Some classic climbs are:
Tunnel Vision: 5.7 on the Angel Food Wall
Dark Shadows: 5.8, good desert varnish challenge
Olive Oil: 5.7 on the Rose Tower
Getting There: Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is located 18 miles west of Las Vegas on State Route 159.