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Exploring Red Rock Canyon with Kids

Last Updated on December 4, 2016 by Jody Halsted

Rock Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is one of the more popular off-Strip destinations for those visiting Las Vegas. With its dramatic vistas and distinctive red rock formations, Rock Rock is a beautiful example of the Mojave Desert landscape. However, a visit to the park with kids can require some extra planning, particularly for those who choose to visit during the hot Las Vegas summers. Here are some of the best hikes, scenic overlooks, and picnic spots for traveling with family to Red Rock Canyon.

Red Rock Canyon, Nevada
Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

Calico Basin

The basin consists of colorful sandstone formations, and it is somewhat greener than other portions of the conservation area thanks to three nearby springs. Although the majority of the Red Rock Canyon area requires an entrance fee, Calico Basin does not. This is a great stop if you’re short on time.

If you’re arriving at Red Rock from Charleston Blvd., look for the small sign for Calico Basin / Red Spring and turn right. You’ll find several covered picnic tables at the Red Spring Picnic Area. Up the steps, a boardwalk takes visitors on a short hike complete with educational signs that explain the geology of the area. This is a great place for an impromptu family photo or for a stroll with young children.

Hiking near Calico Tanks, red Rock Basin, NV
Hiking near Calico Tanks

Scenic Drive

Red Rock Canyon features a 13-mile scenic drive that has plenty of places to stop for hiking or a picnic. Before you start the one-way loop, stop by the LEED gold-certified visitor center. Inside, you’ll find a gift shop and a few displays, but the real fun is outside. Go through the back door of the building to see several unique interpretive displays about desert life with an “Air, Earth, Fire, Water” theme.

Once you start the scenic drive, highlights include the Calico Tanks area and impressive views at the High Point Overlook. Easy and moderate hikes that you’ll encounter during the scenic loop include the 0.75-mile Lost Creek – Children’s Discovery Trail and the more challenging Calico Hills trail.

tortoise sign, Red Rock Canyon, NV
Watch for tortoise as you drive through Red Rock canyon

Red Rock Overlook

After you’ve completed the drive along the scenic loop, turn left as you exit the park and you’ll find the Red Rock Overlook. This is the perfect spot for a picnic at one of the covered picnic tables. Take the short hike up the little overlook trail to find a quiet spot that offers lovely views.

view from visitor center, Red Rock Canyon, NV
View from the Red Rock Canyon Visitors Center

Beat the Heat

Summers at Red Rock Canyon can be very hot. After all, it is located in the Mojave Desert! It’s important to have reasonable expectations and be prepared. If you plan on hiking, limit your time outdoors to the early morning hours. If you must visit in the afternoon, opt for a trip to the visitor center and the scenic drive rather than spending lots of time in the sun. No matter what you do during your time at the park, be prepared with drinking water, sunscreen, and a good map. It’s also a good idea to bring a first aid kit if you will be hiking. Also, consider telling someone your plans (where you’ll be and when you’ll return) before you head out.

Red Rock Canyon offers families plenty of ways to explore this unique part of the Southwest U.S. Whether you’re up for an all-day hike or an educational stop at the visitor center, Red Rock should be included on your Las Vegas itinerary.
 
 

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3 Comments

  1. Do you have any tips to make Las Vegas a family destination?

  2. There are lots of family-friendly things to do in Vegas. There’s a great aquarium at Mandalay Bay and the dolphin and lion habitat at the Mirage. We also like several places off the strip like Springs Preserve, the Discovery Children’s Museum, and Spring Mountain Ranch State Park.
    Staying at a hotel on the Strip is always fun, but for families I think staying at a hotel off the Strip is a good option.

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