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Hiking Las Vegas Blog
In 2018, there were over 42.1 million visitors to Las Vegas, and odds are, most came to gamble in the casinos and take in the shows. But the entertainment capital offers a whole lot more, including some fantastic scenic hikes just a short drive outside of the city.
Keep in mind that the best time to visit for getting out on the trails is between November and March when it’s cooler. Hiking in the summer during the day isn’t advised as temperatures can reach as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit in some places – in the shade.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Just 17 miles west of Las Vegas in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation area, there are over 30 miles of scenic hiking trails. The Calico Hills are near the visitor center and are the area’s signature feature. You can access it from several points along the trail that runs from the visitor center to the Sandstone Quarry which runs along the front side of the red stone ridge before leading into the heart of the stunning rock hills and boulders. While the total length of the hike is six miles, most opt to hike a shorter portion, making it easily doable as a quick day trip from the city.
If you’re looking for something longer, the White Rock-Willow Spring Loop traverses 4.4 miles of diverse scenery, from desert and cactus to mountains and pine trees, with opportunities to spot view petroglyphs, bighorn sheep and other wildlife along the way. Adding the La Madre Spring trail will bring you to a year-round spring and bring the trek to a total of six miles.
Valley of Fire State Park
Only an hour’s drive from Las Vegas, you’ll find Nevada’s oldest and largest state park. It’s home to stunning rock formations that make it look as if the landscape is shooting fire from the sands of the desert. Created more than 150 million years ago through erosion, you’ll be able to see them along with ancient petroglyphs and trees by hiking, with a number of easy, short and colorful options for all levels and ages of hikers.
If you only have time for one hike here, make it the 1.2-mile Fire Wave trail which brings breathtaking vistas of the colorful rock mounds and hills that are stretched out in every direction. In the spring, there are colorful wildflowers, and just about any time of year you might glimpse some bighorn sheep too. The trail leads across a sandy slope from the parking lot, bringing views of the red rock ridges and mountains in the distance. Brilliant hues or orange, pink, yellow and red will be laid out before you, bringing the opportunity to explore both on-trail, and off.
Less than 45 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, Lake Mead straddles the border between Arizona and Nevada as one of the world’s largest manmade lakes. It’s famous for its awe-inspiring scenery that includes views of Joshua trees, red sandstone rocks and lava hills in addition to providing the opportunity for all sorts of outdoor adventures, including hiking. While there are multiple options, the Red and Black Mountain trail is 5.6 miles round trip and brings spectacular views of both Lake Mead and Las Vegas.
Branch Whitney is the author of Hiking Las Vegas and creator of the 52 Peak Club where members hike to the best 52 Peaks around Las Vegas, NV