16 Sep Exploring Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
After looking at the typical August temperatures for Las Vegas and the current forecast of 106º, we decided that it might be best to explore the Red Rock Canyon area by car. I desperately wanted to explore the nature surrounding the city, and taking a spin on the 13-mile road through the park seemed like a great alternative to the inevitable burn we would subject ourselves to on a hike in that type of weather.
Fast-forward to our arrival in Las Vegas and you will find a very different weather report than the typical dry heat known to plague the area. We arrived a day after rainstorms and flash floods struck the area and daunting clouds were still lingering overhead. With humid air and washed out roads, our plans were suddenly changed when we arrived at the canyon less than an hour after getting off the plane. The floods had weakened the roads through the park and they were closed for safety reasons, but we were still free to explore the park on foot if we wished.
My original visions of hiking in the excruciating heat were long gone due to the fresh 70º weather we were experiencing, so we set off for a hike instead. At first I was slightly disappointed that the road was closed, but then I remembered that I had originally wanted to hike in the first place, so really, it couldn’t have worked out better.
We first took a spin around the visitor center and had a look at the stunning views and the outside exhibits. I didn’t have a chance to spend much time browsing the exhibits, but they all looked very interesting and they discussed elements of the local area in vibrant, colorful displays. In addition to the hiking and visitor center exhibits, the park is also a great spot for rock climbing, mountain biking, and horseback riding.
Next up was the hike—we set off on the Calico Hills trail which is a 2-6 mile hike along the base of the Calico Rocks and the length varies depending on which starting point you choose. The hike is rated moderate, but I would consider the portion of the path we took to be pretty easy except for the time when we started following a path that was actually just a small clearing in the grass. I’m not sure how far we actually hiked, but we ended up heading back when our tummies starting rumbling for lunch. Since we weren’t expecting to hike, we didn’t plan out our meal times too well.
After heading back to the visitor center, we were going to take one more quick look around inside, only to find that it was closed! We weren’t quite sure why it was closed in the afternoon when the hours on the door stated it should be open, but apparently the entire park had shut down for the day. When we were exiting the park, we were stopped by people who wanted to get inside, but the entrance was closed. We told them the visitor center and the road through the park were closed as well, and we all assumed it was due to the weather. I felt bad there were so many people unable to get in, but I was glad that we were able to enter just in the nick of time.
This was one instance where the rained-out option was actually better than our original plan, and I’m so glad we were able to get out and do some hiking in such gorgeous weather. I have a feeling that opportunities like that don’t come around too often in the dry heat of the desert!