More than a million visitors each year come to experience the splendor at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Las Vegans are fortunate that this gem is located only a hop, skip and jump away.
The park is accessible via West Charleston Blvd or Nevada State Route 159. Daily entry is only $7 per car; $3 for motorcycles, bikes and pedestrians, and an annual pass is sold for $30. The Vistor Center is open 8:00am-4:30pm every day. It offers information and interpretation about recreation opportunities, wildlife, vegetation, geology and there’s even a gift shop. Beyond that, Red Rock Canyon features a one-way 13-mile scenic drive. Several side roads and parking areas provide access to many of the trails in the area. There are more than a dozen hikes possible and each varies in length and difficulty.
Early spring it is possible to find waterfalls rushing over the canyon edges. It is a treat to witness this rare phenomenon in the desert. Two trails offer a good chance of spotting seasonal waterfalls.
Lost Creek-Children’s Discovery is a great trail for families with young children. It is an interpretive trail that introduces kids of all ages to the many different features of the Mojave Desert at Red Rock Canyon, including petroglyphs, lessons of desert life, and a hidden waterfall in the canyon. The trail is just shy of a mile long and it is about an hour hike.
Ice Box Canyon is a good hike for a hot day. The trail takes you through a cool box canyon that doesn’t see much sun therefore it is considerably cooler than the open desert. This 2.6 mile trail is fairly easy and only takes a couple hours, but it can be a challenge due to obstacles. Those hiking with children should practice extreme care. At the terminus of the narrow canyon there may be pools formed by the waterfall.
It is great to pack a picnic, rest and enjoy the scenery before trekking back on the trail. The waterfalls entice visitors, but use extreme caution when admiring the falls and frolicking around the wet rocks. The rocks become extremely slippery. Injuries are quite common. In fact, when I last hiked Ice Box Canyon, a woman slipped and plummeted into the ice cold pool beneath the falls. Fortunately, a team of experienced hikers were picnicking. They rallied us together to rescue the woman, after assessing her extent of her injuries – gash to the head – she was eased off the cliffs of the canyon. We donated dry clothes to the woman to keep her warm and then with the help of the hikers she was led out safely.
Let this serve as a reminder than disaster can strike in an instant, have fun, but remember safety first. It is also advised to keep hydrated, wear sunblock and watch out for the occasional flash flood. Taking these precautions will protect you from the dangers that could ruin a good time.