I have never really been the gambling or partying type, so I go to Vegas for a different reason than most. I am drawn to the breathtaking natural desert that surrounds the region. On our last trip out to Vegas, my girlfriend and I decided to head out to do some hiking in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. I had never been before, but my girlfriend promised that it boasted of some of the best hiking and scenery in the entire state of Nevada.
I typically stay on the Strip when I visit Las Vegas, but for this particular trip we booked a discounted hotel package at the Red Rock Casino, Resort & Spa because of its proximity to the canyon. After checking into the hotel, we started off on our journey. Located about 15 miles west of Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is a beautiful display of natural scenery and splendor which you can reach in under 30 minutes drive from the Strip!
We made the much shorter drive from Red Rock Casino to the entrance gate at Red Rock Canyon and paid the $7 day use fee, then rolled down the windows to get a better look at the beauty of the red rock walls. Having been to many deserts, I was expecting the arid landscape to be pretty desolate, but this was surprisingly lush and the red walls were vividly stunning! We quickly parked the car, anxious to start hiking.
It was the beginning of March and the weather was spectacular (by Las Vegas standards at least!). At a balmy 80 degrees, we were never dying of heat, but were actually quite comfortable. While there are trails for all levels of ability, we decided to hike the Calico
Tanks trail. This particular trail starts near the old sandstone quarry, and is a 2.5 mile round trip hike, meaning it’s relatively short, but provides some great views of the red rocks.
Touted as one of the best trails in the conservation area, the Calico Tanks trail is home to “tanks”, which are natural rock cavities that collect water. However, these are dry most of the year, as they were when we came through the area. The trail is mostly uphill, and can be quite steep in places, but is generally accessible to most people. I was excited because we got to do a fair amount of climbing on rocks along the way, which was extremely fun for my adventurous girlfriend and me.
We enjoyed some snacks we brought with us along the way, and were smiling the whole way up. We encountered many different types of plants and we even had the rare opportunity to spot a burro! Once we reached the top, we were rewarded with the most amazing views of the canyon. My girlfriend encouraged me to go a little further past the last tank, and I am sure glad that we did. Upon passing the last tank, we reached a spot where we had a panoramic view of Las Vegas, including the distant Strip. It was simply awe-inspiring. We rested at this viewpoint for about thirty minutes to take some pictures before making the trek back down.
After we returned to our hotel, we indulged in a well-deserved hot stone massage that was simply sublime. It felt so great to relax after a fun, but tiring, hike. Both my girlfriend and I agreed that the day was perfect and the hiking was some of the best we had ever experienced. It was a wonderful trip, and I can’t wait to return to try a different trail!