Well, I was impressed by the Valley of Fire State Park to the east of Las Vegas. But Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area on the west side of Vegas left me speechless. Now, I hate to say this after visiting such a beautiful place, but I left my camera in the hotel room, so I did not get any pictures. But follow the links provided at the bottom of this entry and you'll be able to see pictures others have taken, and all of them will be much better than anything I can take.
First of all, getting to Red Rock Canyon was a bit troublesome for me. I consulted Google Maps for the location and found the park to be located on Red Rock Parkway, sometimes called Blue Diamond Parkway. So, with this information in hand, Donna and I left Sam’s Town on the Boulder Highway, took Flamingo west across the Strip to the west side of town, where we hopped on the 215 and headed north for a short distance. There was never any sign with the above roads named. I did, however, notice a smaller brown park sign indicating I needed to take exit 26 to get to Red Rock Canyon. So, I took the exit, but there was no sign at the intersection there. But we felt sure this was the road (Charleston Avenue). So, we headed west out of town on Charleston through attractive new residential sections. The multilane road soon gave way to a two-lane highway, and the entrance to the park is just a few miles farther down the road.
Caution: bicycle riders were out in force on the day we visited the park, even though it was only Thursday. Please watch for them.
As you approach the park, you know you are in for a treat for the colors of the hills ahead of you come to life.
As with the Valley of Fire, this park is well-maintained and well-planned. The park is huge, almost 200,000 acres. After you enter the park, pass through the multi-booth pay station. We were able to use our senior National Parks Pass (which only cost us $10 at the time we bought it and is good for life) to gain free admittance to the park. Without a pass, the daily fee is $7.
Just inside the pay station is a Visitor Center. From this point on, this is a one-way road moving in a counter-clockwise direction. This scenic loop road of about 13 miles loops up the east side of the canyon then curves to come back along the west side of the canyon. It only covers a fraction of the park.
There are numerous points of interest along the loop, many with restrooms and picnic facilities. Hiking trails are abundant. Speed limit tops out at 35 mph although many stretches are greatly reduced. Watch for bike riders throughout the loop.
We hope to return some day and do a bit of hiking. According to the literature we picked up at the gate, there are 19 trails in the park, ranging from .75 miles to 6 miles. Hike ratings vary from easy to strenuous. There are also more than 2,000 rock climbing routes available. In fact, it is one of the top 5 rock climbing destinations in the country.
Some links of interest that contain photos: