I have visited Las Vegas several times, mostly for business and shopping. This time, during our last road trip in October, we had an extra day left before flying back home so we decided to spend the afternoon in Red Rock Canyon. After having seen some of the greatest wonders of nature on our trip, we were a bit skeptical about visiting “just a random canyon” but we really needed a break from the Strip. And we were more than pleasantly surprised.
Red Rock Canyon is a part of USA National Parks System, which means you can use your America the Beautiful Annual Pass if you have one. Otherwise the entrance fee is only 7$ per vehicle which is a real bargain. If you don’t have a car, search for the tour operators who are offering trips to the canyon, you can also find them on the Strip. Red Rock Canyon entrance is about 30 minutes’ drive west from mail Las Vegas Boulevard (less than 30 kilometers).
Even if you think you know it all, I suggest you make a stop at Visitor center to get a map and a spectacular panoramic view of the valley you are about to visit. Trust me, it is worth it. You will see some plants and animal species exhibits, and you even have a chance to see the habitat of Desert Tortoise (turtle), Nevada’s official state reptile. Almost no chance to see it outside 🙂 You don’t have to worry about toilets on your way – they are located at several stops along the loop, however there are no water stations so make sure you fill your bottles in the center before you hit the road.
The scenic drive is about 20 kilometers long and it offers quite a few stops for taking pictures and stretching your legs. By stretching I mean you will have to make a few steps to take those awesome shots with your camera, however you don’t need special shoes for that – unless you want to take one of the hiking trails. All of them are carefully marked on your map, just make sure you plan your visit carefully and chose the right ones. Some of them are quite long (from 30 minutes to 6 hours), and keep in mind that the scenic drive is a one-way road, so you will have to make another loop if you miss something.
We didn’t go hiking because we were a bit tired from the whole road trip, besides we found the scenery beautiful enough to observe from the road, with a few stopovers. We had clear skies and the colors were truly amazing. The red color looked like some of the rocks were literally on fire, while the grey and white rocks and mountains had a special charm of their own. I was fascinated by the serenity of the place and I almost envied those few bikers we met along the way. Not to mention the climbers who I am sure get an awesome experience hugging those beautiful red rocks. You can check my other photos in my Facebook album.
Red Rock Canyon scenic drive is one of the top things to do in Las Vegas and if you have an extra day to spend in the “Sin city”, I strongly suggest you take a rest from the Strip and feel the touch of Mojave dessert.