Best Hiking Trails: Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas, NV

A few years ago, I went to Las Vegas with my then-fiancé. We were both into hiking, so after a couple of nights of gambling and fun, we decided it might be a good idea to head out of the city and get some fresh air. Now, before I talk about hiking in Las Vegas, I will warn you about one thing – the heat. We were there in November, so it was pretty perfect for hiking. If you’re in Vegas in the middle of July though, I’d give hiking a pass. You’re likely to get heat stroke or worse. Save the hiking until the winter months. In the winter though, Red Rock Canyon, just outside Vegas, offers amazing hiking trails with incredible scenery and picture-perfect photographic opportunities.

Red Rock Canyon is about a 15 mile drive outside Vegas. Once you get there, you’ll find at least 20 trails you can choose from. Before you decide on a trail though, make sure you go to the visitor center. We found its employees to be very helpful, and we also got some handy maps, saw interesting exhibits and bought a couple of books at the bookstore.

When we finally got to hiking, we decided to start out with the First Creek Canyon Trail. The lady at the visitor center said it was quite easy, and for a first trail, that’s what we wanted. We took Charleston Boulevard, followed the signs and were soon on the trail. We were thrilled to find it easy going, but with a bit of minor rock climbing and even a couple of small waterfalls in the canyon. The whole trail was only around three miles round trip. After completing this one and emptying the backpack of our packed lunch, we went for something a bit more difficult.

Turtlehead Peak, north of the visitor center, turned out to be five miles roundtrip, had some fairly tough rock climbing sections, and because of a lot of loose rocks on the ground, it required more concentration than other hiking trails. Turtlehead Peak Trail runs along an old river bed then heads up to the peak of Turtlehead (as the trail name suggests). Make sure you hike all the way to the peak, because the view of Vegas from up here is phenomenal and well worth the climb, even if it is a bit strenuous.

Next time you’re thinking about Las Vegas, enjoy the gambling but don’t forget there are some pretty cool, nearby hiking trails too.


467197080's picture
Jan 6, 2010 at 4:55 pm ZC14207 said:

It should be pointed out neither of these trails require actual rock climbing. Turtlehead, which is a difficult hike for the amount of ascent in a short time, requires a little scrambling and some rock hopping but no rock climbing or even bouldering.