Las Vegas

 

Red Rock Canyon

Only some 25 kilometers outside of Las Vegas city limits, there is one of the best examples for the fact that the most beautiful sights of Nevada’s Southwest isn’t necessarily what you see along the Strip. Red Rock Canyon has the status of a National Conservation Area and is thus a designated protected landscape. Hundreds of thousands of Vegas tourists take the opportunity of the short distance from Sin City to marvel at the sandstone rocks here or to hike, climb the rocks or explore the area by mountain bike. To reach Red Rock Canyon from Vegas centre, one has to follow Charleston Boulevard (Nevada State Route 159), which will ultimately lead to the habitat’s Visitor Center in a looped road.

NV Red Rock Canyon

The Visitor Center is open daily from 8 am to 4:30 pm. Here, guests will have to pay the entrance fee for the area (currently $7 per car), but the Center also provides a wealth of information about the Conservation Area and the various outdoor opportunities. Most visitors follow the route designated as “Scenic Drive”, which covers many points worth seeing within the area in a loop and also leads to a number of scenic viewpoints. Also from this road, several trailheads can be reached which bring hikers deeper into the canyon; there are parking lots available at each trailhead. The loop road is also popular with bikers.

The scenery of and around Red Rock Canyon is the result of millions of years of geologic activity. Thus, the characteristic red coloring of the rocks is a result of the oxydation of sediments left behind from the ocean that had been in this place about 600 million years ago. Later, for many thousand years, the area was only known to indigenous peoples, who would find excellent hunting conditions here. There are several locations where Indian petroglyphs can be found as witnesses for this chapter of Red Rock Canyon history. 

The area is a habitat for many animal and plant species. There are Joshua Trees here, for which the Sonora desert is famous, as well as various species of yuccas. Between the rocks, agaves are growing and further up at higher altitudes, pine trees and juniper can be found. As far as fauna is concerned, desert tortoises are living here and also lizards, salamanders, rattlesnakes, a number of toads and frogs and other amphibious species, but also a small population of bighorn sheep and wild donkeys - feeding them is strictly prohibited, by the way. Furthermore, more than 100 bird species can be found in Red Rock Canyon.

Many of these species can be seen when hiking the area or on a climbing tour. Red Rock Canyon is one of the most popular rock climbing areas of the country, there area several possible trails with various difficulty levels. For hikers there are also various different trails available with varying lengths; these can be reached via the Scenic Drive. It is strongly advised not to leave the trails. Hikers should be aware of the fact the day time temperatures in the summer can easily go beyond 40 C, thus bringing enough water is a necessity. Also, in the rock area, there is a chance for thunderstorms occurring very suddenly.


 

 

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