This post is a little “off-brand”, if you will. After all, I usually write about international travel — this blog is called Ashley Abroad for a reason.
But last spring, I became so enchanted with a place — Red Rock Canyon, Nevada — that I felt compelled to write about it here. And explain all the reasons why you should consider visiting Red Rock Canyon, too.
But first, you may be wondering — what’s a girl from Michigan doing on a camping trip in Nevada? I was invited by my friend Ben, one of my best friends from high school, who was planning a camping and climbing trip there. Though I didn’t climb, I hiked, read books, and drank IPAs to my heart’s content. It was blissful. My friend Mike, who I went to Coachella and Russia with, also tagged along.
Where is Red Rock Canyon?
Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area is 15 miles east of Las Vegas. It takes about 20 minutes to drive there from to the Strip.
Though it’s very close — you can see the Luxor Pyramid from the campsite — Red Rock Canyon feels incredibly remote. There’s no cell service. There are no buildings. Despite the proximity to Las Vegas, you feel like you’re hundreds of miles from civilization.
Why is Red Rock Canyon worth visiting?
In short, you visit Red Rock Canyon to experience pristine nature. Named for its sandstone rock formations, which present themselves in dazzling layers of red, orange, and pink, Red Rock Canyon may be one of the most beautiful national parks in the US.
Many people also visit Red Rock Canyon for the rock-climbing — it has some of the best multi-pitch climbing in the country (more on that later).
What are some activities you can do there?
At Red Rock Canyon, you can hike, camp, horseback ride, bike, and rock-climb, among other things. If you’re the slightest bit outdoorsy, you’ll have a great time.
5 reasons to consider visiting Red Rocks Canyon:
You can visit for the day.
If you’re staying in Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon is an easy day trip. And after you’re done hiking and climbing, you can return to your air-conditioned room on the Strip. It’s kind of the perfect balance.
Red Rock Canyon Campground is super nice.
But if you do want to camp, the campground is very plush, as far as campgrounds go. Most campsites have picnic tables, grills, and firepits with benches. Even the bathrooms were nice.
There’s some of the best rock-climbing in the country.
At Red Rocks, climbers have access to more than 2,000 documented rock climbing routes. Many of the routes are multi-pitch, meaning you’re going up so high you need multiple belay stations on the way. At some points, my friends were hanging hundreds of feet in the air. (I was very happy to be on the ground at that point.)
Fun fact — Alex Honnold, of Free Solo fame, lives nearby. Who knows — you might run into him climbing!
It’s worth noting that Red Rocks is not for beginners. But if you’re an experienced free climber, you’ll have a great time.
There’s fantastic hiking.
At Red Rocks, there are more than 60 miles of hiking trails. The trails are beautiful, weaving through the stunning sandstone canyons and dotted with Joshua trees and beavertail cacti.
I especially loved hiking the area a little to the west of Winter Heat Wall. The wavy rocks looked like something Dr. Seuss had dreamed up.
There’s a 13-mile scenic loop you can drive.
If you’re more of a “let’s drive through this beautiful, rugged place” kind of traveler, never fear! There’s a gorgeous 13-mile scenic loop. So if you’d rather look at mountains than climb them, that’s okay too.
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All in all, this was one of my favorite trips of the year. A chance to see some of my best friends, spend time in nature, and watch other people climb. What could be better?
Have you ever visited Red Rock Canyon?
The campground prices vary by season and site type. See prices here.
Red Rock Canyon Campground is closed from June 1 – August 31, but is open the rest of the year.
Individual campgrounds provide vault toilets, trashcans, and drinking water. Read more about the campsite here.
Beware of rattlesnakes, coyotes, and rodents in the area.