10 Best Red Rock Canyon Hikes | Red Rock Canyon Trail Map

If you're traveling this summer, check which travel insurance covers COVID-19 (test and treatment abroad). Or buy the Heymondo plan with a 5% discount.

As I mentioned in my things to do in Red Rock Canyon article, hiking in Red Rock is one of the best ways to see this natural area. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area boasts immense sandstone cliffs and peaks, miles of walking and nature paths, and historical Paiute Indian petroglyphs.

Hiking here is one of the best things to do outside Las Vegas, and you can even see the park from Sin City. Of course, it’s not the same as actually traversing the gravel paths and sedimentary outcrops. So, if you want to see all this park can offer, you should check out a few Red Rock trails in this guide.

Whether you’re an experienced hiker or you’re exploring the park with children, you’ll find a Red Rock Canyon trail for your level. I promise you that hiking through this park will be an adventure you’ll never forget.

Keep reading to see the best hikes in Red Rock Canyon, Nevada, as well as tips to help you fully enjoy your trip!

1. Calico Tanks Trail, the most popular Red Rock Canyon hike

First, the Calico Tanks Trail is one of the best Red Rock Canyon trails if you’re down for some scrambling. Your hard work will pay off in the form of sweeping. Besides, this Red Rock Canyon hike gives you an overview of the conservation area’s geology and history.

Hike across a canyon wash, then head up to Calico Hills. Then, this Calico hiking trail goes past an old Indian agave roasting pit, a relic from the old Paiute civilization.

Calico Tanks Trail, Red Rock, Las Vegas hike

1. Calico Tanks Trail, the most popular Red Rock Canyon hike

At one point along the route, you have to climb sandstone steps, which can be a bit of an obstacle if you’re not surefooted. Once you ascend all the stairs, the path becomes flat again, and you can take a breather at the Calico basin. Depending on the time of year, it could be full of water or ice, although it’s likely to be dried out in summer.

  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Distance: 2.2 miles
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Route type: Out & Back
  • Obstacles: Sandstone steps, uneven terrain
  • Elevation gain: 406 ft

2. Calico Hills, another Red Rock trail you can’t miss

The Calico Hills are the colorful sandstone formations that create a stunning viewpoint in Red Rock Canyon. You can hop on the Calico Hills Trail at a few different trailheads, so the route can be as short as 2 miles or as long as 6 miles.

There is a trailhead right outside the Visitor Center, another at Calico Hills I, and a third at Calico Hills II. No matter where you start, you’ll skirt the edge of the sandstone hills, so you’ll be able to take in the red and orange landscape throughout this Red Rock Canyon hike.

Calico Hills, best hikes in Red Rock Canyon

2. Calico Hills, another Red Rock trail you can’t miss

For an easy Calico hiking trail, take the route from Calico Hills I to the Visitor Center. You could also take the same starting point and head north to the Sandstone Quarry. Yet another option is to hike from the Calico Hills I viewpoint to the next overlook, Calico Hills II.

The 2-mile loop from Calico Hills I and back again goes past a natural amphitheater and column, so that’s another interesting Red Rock hiking trail. You can check the trail map to better visualize these routes and choose the best one for your level and schedule.

  • Duration: 1.5 hours-3.5 hours
  • Distance: 2-6.4 miles
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Route type: Out & Back
  • Obstacles: Scrambling
  • Elevation gain: 1,108 ft

3. Children’s Discovery Trail and Lost Creek Canyon, the best hike in Red Rock Canyon

The Lost Creek/Children’s Discovery Trail at Red Rock Canyon is a wonderful interpretive walk to do with kids. It’s an easy-to-follow route with great views, petroglyphs, and, during December and April, a waterfall.

What makes this one of the best hikes at Red Rock Canyon is that it’s a mini history lesson that all ages will enjoy. Along the way, you’ll learn about the 800-year-old rock etchings, the geology of the Mojave Desert, and Red Rock’s flora and fauna.

Children’s Discovery Trail and Lost Creek Canyon, Red Rock Canyon Loop

3. Children’s Discovery Trail and Lost Creek Canyon, the best hike in Red Rock Canyon

Besides being one of the few Red Rock Canyon waterfall trails, this path is right off the Scenic Drive. So, you can hop out of the car and hike this short route before continuing your journey along the paved road.

I highly recommend doing this hike in the spring so you can appreciate the wildflowers and waterfall. Also, be sure to stop and check out the pictographs along the way!

  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Distance: 0.8 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Route type: Loop
  • Obstacles: None
  • Elevation gain: 98 ft

4. Ice Box Canyon Trail, one of the best hikes in Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas

Ice Box Canyon is one of the most scenic Red Rock trails, but it can be strenuous at times. You’ll find the trailhead along the Scenic Drive; from there, it’s a walk through a sunny, gravel wash.

Midway through the hike, you’ll have to scramble over boulders and rock formations, so be careful. At times, the path is uneven or hard to follow, but if you download the map, you’ll be fine.

Ice Box Canyon Trail, hiking through Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

4. Ice Box Canyon Trail, one of the best hikes in Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas

After about an hour of hiking through Red Rock, you’ll find a narrow box canyon offering some respite from the fiery sandstone peaks and desert heat. This is another Red Rock Canyon trail with water, but you’ll only see the waterfall from December to April.

  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Distance: 2.2 miles
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Route type: Out & Back
  • Obstacles: Scrambling, uneven terrain
  • Elevation gain: 577 ft

5. White Rock Hills Loop, one of the best easy hikes in Red Rock Canyon

The White Rock–Willow Spring Loop is a great Red Rock Canyon Loop you can do year-round. You’ll trek through the open desert on mostly flat terrain and get nice views of the White Rock Hills.

Start at the White Rock Trailhead and head southwest before looping back north. You can stop at the Willow Springs Picnic Area before making the return trip. The path is made of mostly gravel, so you’ll want good shoes.

White Rock Hills Loop, Red Rock Canyon waterfall trails

5. White Rock Hills Loop, one of the best easy hikes in Red Rock Canyon

Also, before you get to the picnic area, you’ll pass a spot with old petroglyphs, so it’s worth stopping to check them out. Overall, this Red Rock, Las Vegas hike is a bit long, but it’s good for most skill levels.

  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Distance: 6 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Route type: Loop
  • Obstacles: Not much shade
  • Elevation gain: 1135 ft

6. Turtlehead Peak Trail, the Red Rock Canyon hiking route with the best views

The Turtlehead Peak Trail is one of the best hikes in Red Rock Canyon, but I only recommend it for experienced hikers.

The trailhead is near the Visitor Center, and you’ll take the same route as the Calico Tanks Trail. When you get to the fork in the road, veer left and continue north through the gravel wash. It’ll take a decent amount of climbing to make it to the peak, but you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of the La Madre Mountains and Sandstone Quarry.

Turtlehead Peak Trail, Red Rock hiking trail

6. Turtlehead Peak Trail, the Red Rock Canyon hiking route with the best views

Compared to other hiking trails in Red Rock Canyon, this one is quite challenging, so be prepared! It can be very windy at the summit, and the descent is steep and sometimes slippery. That said, you don’t have to do the whole route since there are exit points along the way. However, if you complete it, you’ll be grateful for the panoramic views from Turtlehead Peak.

  • Duration: 3.5 hours-4.5 hours
  • Distance: 4.6 miles
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Route type: Out & Back
  • Obstacles: Elevation gain, descent
  • Elevation gain: 1,988 ft

7. Keystone Thrust Trail, a scenic Red Rock, Las Vegas hiking route

The Keystone Thrust hike is a great Red Rock state park trail, thanks to its geological significance.

The Keystone Thrust was the meeting point for the Pacific and North American tectonic plates. As the two continental plates pushed against each other, they created the Sierra Nevada mountain range. This continental force also formed Red Rock Canyon and created one of the top Red Rock Canyon day hikes.

Keystone Thrust Trail, Calico hiking trail Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

7. Keystone Thrust Trail, a scenic Red Rock, Las Vegas hiking route

The first portion of the trail is an ascent, so you’ll want to be in decent shape. Also, the last few cliffs can be challenging, but the views at the end are very nice. This Red Rock hiking trail is a good opportunity to see the geological layers within the park. Depending on when you go, you can see colorful wildflowers blooming alongside the red sandstone.

  • Duration: 1.5 hours
  • Distance: 2.4 miles
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Route type: Out & Back
  • Obstacles: Ascent
  • Elevation gain: 567 ft

8. Pine Creek Canyon Trail, one of the most beautiful Red Rock hiking trails

If you’re looking for another scenic hike in Red Rock Canyon, check out the Pine Creek Canyon Trail. Pine Creek Canyon boasts some of the best Red Rock Canyon trails with massive rock walls and a range of desert flora.

You can find the trailhead at the Pine Creek parking lot along the Scenic Drive. From there, hike along the fire ecology route, which leads you through the ponderosa forest. There’s an area where you need to climb up a steep slope, but then you’ll hit a flat plain.

Pine Creek Canyon Trail, best Red Rock Canyon trails

8. Pine Creek Canyon Trail, one of the most beautiful Red Rock hiking trails

In addition to the ponderosa pines, you’ll see wildflowers and Mojave desert shrubs. This Red Rock Canyon off-road trail also passes by the remains of the Wilson Homestead, which was built in the 1920s. The homestead offers a chance to sit down and take a break before continuing on the Pine Creek Loop.

At the peak, you’ll get nice views of the Rainbow Mountain Wilderness Area, a collection of white and red sandstone, gray carbonate ridges, and green pines.

  • Duration: 2.5 hours
  • Distance: 3.4 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Route type: Out & Back
  • Obstacles: Uneven terrain
  • Elevation gain: 515 ft

9. Kraft Mountain Loop, another lovely Red Rock hike in Las Vegas

The Kraft Mountain Loop is another Red Rock Canyon loop that I recommend. This route starts at the Kraft Mountain Trailhead next to the parking lot of the same name. Also known as the Gateway Canyon Loop, it goes across the Gateway Wash and the La Madre Wilderness Area and winds around Kraft Mountain.

This hike in Red Rock, Las Vegas provides a few nice examples of the area’s petroglyphs and geology, too. It’s quite scenic, but the rocky path can be hard to follow at times. It’s a good idea to download the trail map ahead of time.

Kraft Mountain Loop, Red Rock Canyon trail

9. Kraft Mountain Loop, another lovely Red Rock hike in Las Vegas

The descent requires a bit of scrambling, but it’s also in the shade. The elevation gain can be tricky for inexperienced hikers, so it’s a slightly challenging yet fun Red Rock Canyon trail.

  • Duration: 2.5 hours-3 hours
  • Distance: 3.1 miles
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Route type: Loop
  • Obstacles: Scrambling on the descent
  • Elevation gain: 593 ft

10. First Creek Canyon, another hiking trail in Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

If backpacking in Red Rock Canyon is a bit too much for you, consider the First Creek Canyon trail. This is a fun and easy route that’s mostly flat, so you can do it with kids. That said, you’ll want to be careful since the last third of the trail isn’t well-defined.

Walk through the open desert, then turn to the right off this strong>Red Rock Canyon trail to a waterfall. You’ll have to scramble a bit to get to the base of the waterfall, which is usually dry unless you go in the late spring.

First Creek Canyon, hiking in Red Rock, Nevada

10. First Creek Canyon, another hiking trail in Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

While the viewpoints aren’t as exciting as other hikes on the Red Rock trail system, you can see cottonwood and willow trees, and even wild burros.

  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Distance: 3.4 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Route type: Out & Back
  • Obstacles: Last third of the trail isn’t well-marked
  • Elevation gain: 377 ft

Red Rock Canyon hiking tips

Now that you know the best hikes in Red Rock Canyon, here are some tips to make your outdoor adventure more enjoyable:

  • Always check the weather forecast before setting out on any Red Rock Canyon hike.
  • Bring enough water to keep everyone hydrated the entire time.
  • Dress the part! Bring hiking boots/shoes, sunglasses, a hat, and layered clothing.
  • The best months to hike at Red Rock Canyon are September-May.
  • Download ourRed Rock Canyon hiking map so you have it on your phone in case you lose cell service.

Red Rock Canyon trail map

Before I let you go, I want to share this Red Rock Canyon trails map. I suggest downloading this and any Red Rock trail route you’d like to do. That way, even if you lose cell service, you’ll still have the map on your phone.

Also, if you like this guide, you’ll probably enjoy our article on the best things to do in Red Rock Canyon!

That’s it from me! I hope you enjoyed reading about these hikes in Red Rock, Las Vegas. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave me a comment below. Have a safe trip!

Share on Pinterest
Share with your friends










Submit

COFOUNDER & TRAVEL JUNKIE

Hi, I'm Ascen, a globetrotter based in Philadelphia, USA. I enjoy exploring new landscapes and creating in-depth travel guides for Capture the Atlas.

I have felt a special connection with nature and all the inhabitants of the planet since I was a kid. I am passionate about discovering new countries and especially their wildlife, but no matter how many places I visit, I will always belong to the remote beaches of Almería, in Southern Spain.

You can know a little more about me here.

Don't miss out...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.